Monday, June 2, 2008

Urban Kayaking...1861

I took advantage of some free time on sunday night and put the kayak in on the lake down the street from our house. This short trip is very convenient but a little sketchy sometimes due to the very urban element and the water quality (this lake, once a Baltimore City Reservoir, is blamed for the city's typhus outbreak ca. 1869....although since typhus is typically spread by lice and rats, I think this may be an unearned reputation).

Regardless, I put in around 6pm, upstream of the 1861 pumping station. There are no boating facilities or ramp of any kind, so it's always interesting to see how many other boaters are out. This time - two other boats out. The weather was warm (80) and the wind was calm so it was a pretty easy outting. Just for fun, I took along my light spinning tackle in case I ran into any fish.
I've been fishing this 100-acre lake for about 6 years, and paddling it for 2 years, and I have yet to catch a largemouth bass over 12", even though I have seen them in the water. I believe the reasons behind this are:
1) constant sedimentation and runoff of fine silts (poor egg/fry survival)
2) poor water quality in general (fish stress and disease)
3) extremely high carp population in the "upper lake" (carp feed on bass eggs)
4) persistent illegal harvest of undersize fish (do I need to elaborate?)
5) my lack of finesse with soft plastic lures (just being honest!)

Anyway, it can't hurt to try, right? I paddled around for a bit looking for birds, because the area represents a pretty unique bird sanctuary - a decent forested buffer around the lake is owned by the City, and most of the nearby residential lots are 20+ acres in size, also forested. Over the years, I've seen or heard a wide variety of orioles, thrushes, and warblers while on the lake. Didn't hear or see anything too interesting, other than this yellow-crowned night heron, who was stalking a bullfrog along a shoreline.

Our little lake has an awful lot of fish habitat. In fact, if the water quality and carp problems were ever addressed, it would be a very high quality fishery, for that reason alone. The primary types of habitat structure available are stone cliffs, woody debris, and overhanging branches.

Angler's nightmare - but a great place to hunt for food if you're a fish

The best cliff on the lake - like an iceberg, most of it is underwater....

Look at this long-eared sunfish!

I did eventually see a nice (2lb or so) bass snuggled up next to a floating log, but I pretty much ruined that opportunity by hitting the log with my kayak....he slinked away into deeper water.

I caught over 30 crappie, they were extremely fiesty and wild (not stocked fish), and the colors on some of them were stunning!
The sun started to set and, not wanting to be locked in a City Park at night, I boogied on back to where I had put in. The search for the last bass in Baltimore City will have to wait...and I imagine all the little guys I caught were happy to be left alone after I released them all.


tugboatdude said...

the night rider strikes again!well dude I wish I could go fishing.looking forward to getting into some fish when I come up there next month.get gonna get you!

Kirk Mantay said...

It's gonna be great. At worst, we can take the SS Gut Runner up to PA or down on the eastern shore.

Anonymous said...

Let's do the eastern shore- just east of CB4!

J said...

Really enjoying your blog. I like your pictures. Many of the spots I do not recognize, while others like this one, I do. The wife and I just bought our first canoe a few months back. We are going to have to take it out there this spring. Thanks for sharing.

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