Last week, Maryland launched America’s first statewide Fly Fishing Trail, a collection of 48 sites including two in each county and two more in the City of Baltimore. The trail is a product of Fish & Hunt Maryland, a partnership between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of Commerce that “promotes fishing, hunting and shooting sports…to increase the economic impact of tourism in Maryland via the state’s abundant natural resources.” The Trail is divided into five regions, Western Maryland, Central Maryland, Capital Region, Eastern Shore, and Southern Maryland.
Maryland’s Trail focuses each site on a unique fly fishing experience, “from native brook trout in small Western Maryland streams to largemouth bass in Eastern Shore ponds to striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay.” It touches not only those species but also more than a dozen others, even including northern snakeheads and channel catfish. A unique and diverse team of dedicated fly anglers developed the Trail over the past two years. Chairman Rich Batiuk, retired Director of Science for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program and a pillar of the Free State Fly Fishers Club, explained to Bay Bulletin why he signed on for the project.
“I’ve been a fly fisher for 50 years. We get passionate; we like to help, to share flies, techniques, and yes, even spots. We also want to extend our sport broadly, to break the stereotypes about elitism and expense, to encourage women, people of color, younger anglers. Fly fishing has so many aspects: thinking about waves, winds, structures, thinking like a fish, having something to do so you don’t look foolish standing in a stream, just looking. It’s the whole process, and it’s a lot easier than most people realize. That feel, the tug, the catch, the release. We refer to Maryland as ‘America in Miniature,’ with so many opportunities in such a small area.”
Batiuk says the trail aims to connect people to local businesses—guides and instructors, fly shops, related businesses and clubs. “The Trail packages that all up and make it accessible. Also, we want people to learn about the Trail’s fly fishing opportunities through all of the four seasons. The menu changes every week, like a good French restaurant, and it’s open, 24/7/365.”
Visit the Fly Fishing Trail’s website for more information and blog posts from writers who capture the quiet charm, the accessibility, and even the sometimes adrenalin-pumping excitement of fly fishing in Maryland.
-John Page Williams