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Fly fishermen hooked on proposed DNR changes

April 14, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Inland fishing changes proposed by the Department of Natural Resources have impressed some fly fishermen loyal to Beaver Creek.

The department will be holding a public meeting April 25 to discuss proposed changes to inland fishing regulations for 2006 at the Greenbrier State Park visitors center.

Steve Early, assistant director of the department's fishery service, said among the possible changes discussed will be expanding the catch-and-return trout fishing area at Beaver Creek. It would come at the expense of about 1/3-mile of the existing put-and-take area of the creek to the north side of Interstate 70, he said.

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Catch-and-return areas operate with fly fisherman putting the fish back into the water after catching them and using only artificial flies, instead of lures or bait, to help control the mortality rate, Early said. He said put-and-take areas are stocked once annually for short-term recreational fishing, and those who fish there keep what they catch.

He said that lost area of put-and-take fishing will be relocated to Middle Creek in Frederick County, Md.

Mike Saylor, president of the Beaver Creek Watershed Association said the move will help the creek. Saylor said catch-and-return fishing is the best option for recreational fishing throughout the year for locals and travelers because there are more fish available in those areas.

"When the state stocks the stream, you have good fishing in the put-and-take areas for only a short amount of time, and then you have few recreational purposes in the area because the fish have been effectively taken out of the stream," Saylor said.

Saylor said he believes those who frequent the put-and-take areas are generally not as concerned with conservation.

"There's an awful lot of fisherman whose prerogative is to catch as many fish as possible and 'fill my freezer,'" Saylor said.

Doug Hutzell, president of the mid-Atlantic Council of the Montana-based Federation of Fly Fishers, said expanding Beaver Creek's catch-and-return area will help promote the area's ability to become a stream of wild, rather than stocked trout.

Hutzell, who lives near Beaver Creek, said wild trout have been laying eggs in the area in recent years, and conditions exist there to sustain a wild trout population in the future.

"The quality of water and food source is abundant to keep wild trout thriving," Hutzell said. "We don't want stocking."

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