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Drinking water and excellent bass fishing

According to the Baltimore City website, Loch Raven Reservoir is the largest of three area reservoirs that together provide up to 405 million gallons of water per day to Baltimore City and Baltimore County. It may surprise you that one of the major sources of your drinking water is also a freshwater fishing hotspot.

The reservoir is home to almost every kind of freshwater fish including pike, trout, catfish and crappie, but most fishermen come out to the water to fish for bass. “Loch Raven has the best bass fishing in Baltimore County, so there are always a lot of people out on the water,” said Kevin McComas, the managing operator of The Loch Raven Fishing Center.

The Loch Raven Fishing Center has been in operation since the late 1950s. Baltimore County leases the land from the city to run the operation. “[The reservoir] is out in the county so it made more sense for the county to run it,” said McComas, an employee of the center since 1981.

The center rents small fishing boats and canoes and also has the only boat ramp that provides access into the reservoir. Annually, about 600 boat permits are purchased by fishermen who trailer their boats in and out of the water there. Additionally, there are 150 seasonal docking spots near the center.

“The permits and docking spots are purchased by the serious bass fishers. They tend to have top of the line freshwater boats as well as electronic tracking equipment,” said McComas.

However, the reservoir is not just for serious fisherman. “Majority of the people that come out are novices looking to spend the day out on the water,” said McComas.

Take Dimitri Kovtun for instance. Kovtun has recently moved to Baltimore from Kiev, Ukraine. He has had a hard time adjusting to life here in Baltimore, but fishing on the reservoir reminds him of his native city. “This was the first time I was out fishing here. It has a lot of potential, I’ll definitely be coming back,” he said as he showed off the two bass he caught that day.

Going to the fishing center to rent or launch a boat isn’t the only way to fish in the reservoir, plenty of people fish from the shore. One of the more unique fishing spots is the Dulaney Valley Road Bridge that runs over the reservoir. On the east side of the bridge there are three small areas where hopeful hunters can be seen casting their rods over the edge down into the water.

“We love it here,” said Tom Morgan of Towson. Morgan and his 10 year old son Ian have been fishing from the spot all summer. “We’ve been up here about 15 times over the past few months,” said Morgan. The father and son were having a slow day, but said they’ve been having a lot of luck over the past few months.

Further north on the bridge Tim Bockman and his father Chet were preparing their jigs hoping to catch some catfish. “This is my third time here. I hate fishing but it gets my father out of the house, so we come,” said Tim.

McComas recommends medium to medium-light fishing rods if you’re looking to come down to the reservoir and hook some bass. Most fishermen prefer to use lures, but some like to use shiners. “One thing to remember about freshwater fishing is to use small hooks and it’s always better to err on the side of light,” said McComas.

Mike Smith, of Baltimore, has recently begun to fish in the reservoir for ecological reasons. “I used to only fish salt water in the bay, but it’s so polluted now. The reservoir is a nice alternative. Hopefully it’ll stay as clean as it is now,” said Smith.

According to Smith, the fish from the reservoir have thicker bodies as compared to the bay fish and he’ll eat the fish from the reservoir.

“The only downside I’ve found is that the fish tend to be more fickle here than the bay,” said Smith. “But there is a great variety of fish being caught here. Some of the fish guys have been catching here, the Maryland Department of Natural Resourceswasn’t even aware they were living in the reservoir.”

The reservoir also offers plenty of non-fishing related watersport activities. The fishing center rents canoes as well as fishing boats.

“Lots of people come and rent the canoes just to be out on the water for the day. You see lots of families come out with picnic baskets to row around for the day. At certains times during the year you’ll see more than a few birdwatchers come and rent the canoes,” said McComas.

McComas has seen the number of kayakers that use the water increase drastically over the past five years.

“There is a lot to do out on the water and it’s really just a good place to spend a nice day,” said McComas

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How a stretch of closed roadway can draw a crowd: Every weekend thousands of Baltimore City and County residents converge on Loch Raven Drive.

Loch Raven Reservoir: Baltimore's Great Escape

Mixed results for Loch Raven cleanup: The fourth annual Loch Raven Reservoir cleanup was held on Oct. 9, 2005.

Skeet, trapped and hooked: The distant blasts of shells exploding from the barrels of shotguns can be heard throughout the Loch Raven Reservoir Watershed.