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Free fish - self-service

Maryland opens freshwater spots to all

Maryland opens freshwater spots to all

June 08, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Twenty years ago, John Cristman had just been laid off from his job at a local manufacturing company.

Sitting on his back porch, he tried to sort out his life and plan his next move.

His first decision - find a hobby to forget his troubles.

Cristman always had loved the outdoors, so a friend suggested he try fishing.

He did, and he's been hooked ever since.

The Hagerstown resident stood on the edge of the lake at Greenbrier State Park on Saturday morning and prepared to launch his boat for a day on the water.

"I may come back empty-handed, but this will still be the highlight of my weekend," he said.

Cristman has a fishing license, but he was joined Saturday by others who didn't.

It all was legal, though, thanks to the State of Maryland, which offered a free fishing day.

According to Dave Weesner, a park ranger at Greenbrier, anyone could fish in any of Maryland's freshwaters on Saturday without a fishing license.

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Free fishing also will be offered next Saturday and on the Fourth of July.

"Maryland has been doing this for quite a while - at least for the past 5 to 10 years," Weesner said.

Unfortunately, few people take advantage of it at Greenbrier, he said.

"Most people who come to the park are here for picnics or swimming," Weesner said. "But the opportunity is there."

David Drawbaugh of Williamsport brought his fishing kayak to Greenbrier on Saturday for his first outing this year.

Drawbaugh said he had a fishing license and would have been there regardless of the free event.

"I'm coming off ankle surgery and I'm finally beginning to heal, so I was anxious to get back out on the water," he said.

Drawbaugh said the lake is stocked with bass, sunfish and "all kinds of stuff."

"But nothing was biting today," he said. "That's why they call it fishing, not catching."

In addition to the free fishing days, Weesner said Greenbrier State Park will host a fishing program for children this summer.

The "Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs" summer clinics are sponsored by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The five-day program is open to boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 15.

Children will learn how to assemble a rod with the proper tackle, casting styles, safety, fishing etiquette, catch-and-release techniques, environmental issues and water safety.

The DNR will supply the equipment and bait.

Program dates are July 7 to 11, July 14 to 18, July 21 to 25, July 28 to Aug. 1 and Aug. 4 to 8.

For information about the program, call the DNR at 1-877-620-8367, ext. 8721. Out-of-state residents may call 410-260-8721. Information also is available at www.dnr.maryland.gov.

· For information about the program, call the DNR at 1-877-620-8367, ext. 8721. Out-of-state residents may call 410-260-8721.

· Information also is available at www.dnr.maryland.gov.

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