Message from the President
By Tom Starrs
This is my first President's Message as our Chapter's new President. I hope to fulfill this role well. I am following in the footsteps of some great past leaders of this Chapter, most recently, Brenda Foster. Brenda did a fantastic job over the past few years revitalizing this Chapter and building an outstanding leadership team (The MDTU Board of Directors). Her accomplishments were numerous. We are well poised for the future. Brenda continues to work with our board overseeing our largest and most ambitious stream restoration project in our chapter's 40 year history - the Jones Falls project. Our region (Central Maryland) is blessed with dozens of wild trout streams, while this very fortunate, it also creates a lot of opportunity for a Trout Unlimited Chapter. There are a lot of things that need to be done.
Every year, just after the new year begins, I make several journeys around central Maryland with a fly rod in hand. There are a handful of streams that I make my way around to see how they are doing. These are a special group of streams that are not on any stocking list. These are a select few of Maryland's many wild trout streams. These streams are important to me because I found them on my own some 30 years ago. I have gone back every year since then to check on them and catch a few trout to be assured that they are still doing fine. These streams all contain either wild brown trout or native brook trout or both. No matter what life was throwing at me, I have never missed a year or failed to catch a trout in these few streams. They are out of the way streams that I rarely, if ever, see anyone else fishing them even though I have caught brook trout up to 12 inches and browns up to 20 inches in these creeks.
This past Easter weekend I visited one of these streams in northern Frederick County. As I made my way past hordes of fishermen on Maryland's "opening day" of the put and take streams, I felt optimistic that this was a good day to check out one of my beloved little streams. Upon arriving, I was thrilled to see the stream looking good with a nice spring flow although very clear. Getting out my 7 foot 4 weight I tied on a black woolly bugger - my "go to" fly. Working several nice pools that I was certain had some nice wild browns. I got nothing, not a follow or a miss. I did not even see a trout in the clear water. Unusual, I thought. Seeing some stonefies coming off I switched to a dry fly and fished the riffles trying to bring one up and still nothing! Now I am getting worried. I recalled from my angler log that the last trout I caught on this stream was on July 1st the previous summer before the intense heat and low water of August and early September. I always felt that if the trout will make it through that period, the "dog days" they will be fine for one more year. I was wondering what was going on here knowing that this stream has some threats above where I was fishing (long un-shaded stretches, no streamside cover and a huge pond allowing the water to heat up). This stream had brook trout 30 years ago but in recent years only the more temperature tolerant browns remained. Could we have now lost the browns? I decided to fish a traditional wet fly, a smaller pattern close to the size of the stoneflies that were still coming off. I went back through the pools I just had fished 30 minute earlier, a tactic I never employ on this type of stream. Casting the wet fly into one of the nicest pools I saw a nice brown of about 14 inches come out of the depths to follow the fly and then turn back into the deep pool. I was elated. Now there was a nice trout! The stream is alright. Back where I started, I fished the first pool again. Stripping the wet fly through on the first cast had me hooked up with a small 6 to 7 inch wild brown. Holding the fish briefly before releasing it I said "there you go, the cycle of life continues". Everything is alright.
That little trout meant a lot to me on that Saturday. I never want to lose a trout stream. This however, happens all too frequently. This is precisely why I got involved with Trout Unlimited in the first place. I wanted to see the places that I loved protected. There is a lot to do.
Let me hear from you. Give me a call, send me an email, or come up to me at one of our next meetings or MDTU event. Tell me about a place that is special to you, a place that you don't want to lose. Let's talk about what we can do together. This chapter is looking for people. Good people, young and old. People who want to make a difference. There is a lot to do.