“Daddy! Mommy! I got one!”
By: Randy Dwyer
With this exclamation a wonderful memory is shared between parent and child. A memory that will likely last a lifetime and lead to life-long enjoyment of the great outdoors. Bonding moments like these are happening every year at the “put-and-take” streams, ponds and lakes across Maryland.
In order for these memories to be created, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources must start a year earlier, raising approximately 500,000 brown and rainbow trout at their four different in-state hatcheries. Many of these trout are dedicated to “Put-and-Take” waters with the goal of offering localized recreational fishing opportunities and a chance for citizens to enjoy the outdoors.
Past angler preference surveys conducted by the department showed that the Put-and-Take program received very high marks and is strongly supported by a wide range of anglers from all demographics across Maryland. It provides ample fishing opportunities to those who don’t have the means, or time, to fish the naturally reproducing trout found in our state’s cold-water locations, and at the same time, it reduces the fishing pressure on most of the existing wild trout populations.
In 2022, a new fishing regulation was implemented to protect Maryland’s native brook trout population. Any brook trout caught in “put-and-take” waters must be returned as quickly as possible to help maintain this rare natural resource.
I encourage you to visit the Trout Stocking Guide and to sign up for trout stocking notices on Facebook and Twitter. Another excellent resource is the Maryland Trout Stocking Map. Here you will find locations near you and stocking dates across the state.
What many anglers don’t know is that the department’s trout stocking program is funded completely by the sale of non-tidal fishing licenses, trout stamps and a Federal Sport Fish Restoration Program, which is a special excise tax on boating and angling equipment.
Trout Stocking - Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Before you head out, be sure to acquire your license and check out the latest regulations from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. If you want to take a youngster out to create a few memories of your own, they can fish without a license as long as they are under the age of 16.
I also encourage you to visit the Maryland’s Fly Fishing Trail. Maryland is the first, and only state to have created a state-wide fly-fishing trail. The trail highlights 48 sites, touches every county and Baltimore City, and spans the shorelines of the Chesapeake Bay to the mountain streams in Western Maryland.
In addition to the cold-water trout stocking program, state hatcheries also have warm-water hatchery programs that annually raise over 2.5 million American and Hickory Shad, large and smallmouth bass, walleye, tiger muskellunge, channel catfish and many more species that are stocked into numerous local waters and rivers around the Chesapeake Bay.
When you're ready to enjoy our great outdoors and create lasting memories with a child or grandchildren in Maryland, get travel planning resources at Visitmaryland.org. By doing so, you’ll be entrusting the next generation with protecting our precious natural resources well into the future.
About the author: Randy Dwyer is the past President of the Potomac Patuxent Trout Unlimited #236 Chapter, serves on Mid-Atlantic Council of Trout Unlimited, a member (organizer) of the Maryland Fly Fishing Trail Team and is a member of the Coldwater Fisheries Advisory Committee.