We caught rockfish on the fly last fall along the rocky banks of West Covington Park in South Baltimore, to the east of the Hanover Street Bridge. To be more specific, that’s the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, and I’ll probably hit it again this month and next. When I mention this, people ask me: “Do you eat ‘em?” Or, more commonly, the question is, “Would you eat ‘em?” The rockfish we caught last year were between 14 and 20 inches, and they looked as healthy as any striper I’ve seen taken from the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. Take-home size this season in Maryland is 19-28 inches. Since the rockfish, or stripers, are migratory, I don’t think they stay in Baltimore waters for very long, so my answer is, “Yes, I’ll eat maybe one of legal size.” But I doubt I would make a habit of taking home rockfish every week from the Middle Branch, or anywhere in the harbor. Not yet, anyway. We have a long way to go before we have what the Baltimore Office of Sustainability and Blue Water Baltimore call a “fishable, swimmable harbor.” That’s a great community goal. I don’t know about the swimmable part, but the fishable part has been looking pretty good. The “edible” part is another story. Here’s a column I wrote about fishing the harbor in 2015.
I mention this today because the Maryland chapter of Trout Unlimited has a speaker from the United Kingdom next week, and one of his specialties is fishing urban waters. His name is Theo Pike and he’s the author of “Trout In Dirty Places.” His talk, free and open to the public, is the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 16 in Towson, and here are the details.