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An Angler's Journal: A Celebration of Trout

By King Montgomery

We are blessed in our region with many miles of trout streams that range from city-bound delayed-harvest creeks to near pristine mountain waters that are home to our precious native brook trout, and many varied habitats in between. Freestone or spring creek -- all hold this elusive, tantalizing creature that comes in several different flavors including primarily rainbow, brown and brook trout.

The past few years have been tough on our trout, particularly in the summer months. The lack of rain along the Eastern seaboard has caused streams, rivers and lakes to run low, stressing the habitat, and sometimes taking its toll on aquatic critters, including fish. During these times, be sensitive to the impact and let the trout alone. Go catch the more ubiquitous bass or bluegills in a pond or reservoir instead; or take advantage of the bountiful Chesapeake Bay.

Trout fishing in much of our area was pretty good last year, including on many of the mountain trout streams and larger rivers in Western Maryland's Garrett County. And just north of Baltimore, Gunpowder Falls between Prettyboy and Lock Raven reservoirs is fishing well again. Nearby Pennsylvania and Virginia have thousands of miles of good trout waters, and even little Delaware has a few creeks worth fishing. West Virginia has native trout waters galore, some that haven't even been named. Trout are all around us.

Yes, trout live in beautiful places -- places that we as intruders must respect and take care of. When we go trout fishing, we go as visitors, not as owners, for we cannot and should not lord it over nature nor try to own her. And the trout belongs to no one, yet everyone including bait fishers, casters of metal spinners, and fly anglers (who are probably closest to the trout of them all) may fish for them in equal measure.

Anglers and hunters are the first-line stewards of the land and water. We are the vanguard of conservationists because we are often in the field and on the stream. We appreciate the natural bounties and value good habitat, including all the plants and animals -- large like the deer and small like the trout -- that comprise a sensitive and balanced ecosystem. We must sound the alarm when things are wrong on our waters, when others motivated by profit pollute the water and air.

When we enter a stream or river we become part of it. When the current laps our legs -- bare, clothed or encased in waders -- the water seems to enter us and flow out the other side, not leaving us but rather taking a piece of us along on a ride to wherever it is going. And we will again join the water and the land when our time on earth is up.

We can never go back to the way things used to be before we damaged and scarred our natural environment. But we can do the best we can with what remains, and try to improve on it as much as possible so we and our progeny can feel the thrill of nature, of the outdoors, and of trout.

King Montgomery is an award-winning outdoor and travel writer/photographer who fishes with all types of tackle in many kinds of waters for just about anything that bites.

Issue 1.4: May 18, 2006