Friday, September 25, 2009

Get Out There and Do Something

In case you missed it, Mr. Hayward Putnam has one of his classic articles in today’s Aegis that should be entitled “Get Out There and Do Something.” This is an awesome time of year and even though I hate saying goodbye to summer, I do love the fall and all it offers.

Here in Bel Air, the trees are just starting to get some color. Last weekend I was in West Virginia backpacking and the trees were ablaze in color, most notably the fiery reds of the maple trees. The colors of the trees right before the leaves fall is like the grand finale before the silence and gray of winter sets in. With mild temperatures, it is a great time to get outside for walks, hikes, and festivals during the day or settle in at night with a campfire, a camping trip or even a backyard camping expedition.

It somehow got past me that tomorrow (9/26/09) is National Hunting and Fishing Day. Thanks to Mr. Putnam for the reminder. Maryland DNR has a big event planned. For more information you can click here. Bow season is in full swing right now as is squirrel season. Good reports of fishing below the Conowingo Dam with reports of stripers, catfish and walleye. In addition to the Susquehanna, we are lucky to have Deer Creek, the Gunpowders and many ponds in Harford County. A great place to introduce kids to fishing is at the pond at Bynum Run Park on Route 22 by John Carroll. With a bobber, hook, and some nightcrawlers you can catch catfish and bluegill till the kids are tired of fishing.

There’s lots of other stuff going on like the Fall Festival at Steppingstone Museum. You can also see my previous post of things going on over the next few weeks.

One more note before I finish. I’m not a big TV watcher and it’s rare I actually recommend someone watch TV, but this Sunday (9/27) from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on PBS is Ken Burns’ new documentary series National Parks. The link takes you to the PBS page. From the trailer it looks like a phenomenal show. May you watch it and be inspired to get outside!

Friday, September 11, 2009

6 Events in 6 Weeks (read now and get a bonus event FREE)

It is Fall festival time and even though I doubt I will make a lot of blog posts about what's going on every weekend I wanted to list some of the stuff happening over the next 6 weeks or so. Some of it is pretty cool and a lot of it is family oriented. Most of it is a great excuse to get outside and do something.

Starting out this weekend, on Sunday 9/13/09 from 12-4 (coinciding with the Raven's game) is Music in the Vineyard at Fiore Winery. You can bring a picnic lunch and enjoy music with the family. Tasting and a glass cost $5.

Also this weekend is the Darlington Gun Show. Both Saturday and Sunday 9/12-13/09 at the Darlington VFW. Hunting season is right around the corner.

On Sunday, September 20th is the Annual Bel Air Festival of the Arts in Shamrock Park. Lots of local artists and vendors.

The same weekend is also the Maryland Wine Festival at Timonium Fairgrounds both Saturday and Sunday 9/19-20/09.

The following weekend is the Harford County Wine Festival at Rockfield Manor, Saturday and Sunday 9/26-27/09, Saturday 12-7 and Sunday 12-5. Normally I would direct you to Rockfield Manor's website for more information but apparently their website is down due to non-payment. Tsk-tsk. It's if you want to give it a try.

I'm not sure why we have so many wine related things to do and we don't have a half decent Oktoberfest. I'm really bummed they don't do the traditional Oktoberfest at the Baltimore Armory any more. That used to be really cool. I'd love to see an Oktoberfest come to Bel Air...not a cheap imitation at one of the bars, but the real deal at the Bel Air Armory or something. I know there is the supposed Oktoberfest at Timonium Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 10th, but that's more like a preakness drunkfest than a real Oktoberfest. Not that I have anything against preakness or drunkfests mind you. They're just not Oktoberfest.

Anyway...on Saturday October 3rd is one of my favorites...the Darlington Apple Festival 10-5 in downtown Darlington. You should make this trek at least once in your life. As you may have guessed, there are lots of apples, and apple pies, but there's also a lot of other fun fall festival stuff including tractor rides and vendors.

On Saturday, October 17th is the Harford Fall Festival at the Equestrian Center. Lots of fall fest and family centered fun that all benefits the Harford County's food bank and homeless shelter.

If I missed something (I'm sure I did) leave it in the comments or shoot me an e-mail @ belairlife @ and I will add it in.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The post that got me fired aka Fishing @ Conowingo on a Friday

All week long as I’ve driven to work in the morning, the voices in my head have nagged at me, “It sure is a beautiful morning. It would be a great morning to be fishing up at Conowingo.” All week, logic has prevailed over the voices, however this morning I must have been off (new coffee maybe?) and was suckered in by the final blow of “come on, you know a bad day of fishing always beats a good day of work.” And with that, the tackle was loaded into the jeep and off I went.

It’s been a long time since I fished below Conowingo Dam on a weekday. I was sure there would be other fishermen, but I was glad to see it was not really crowded. In the couple of hours I was there, the fishing was a little on the slow side (meaning I didn’t catch anything). I saw about a dozen rockfish caught with only one keeper. The only guys catching rock were the guys willing to crowd shoulder to shoulder to reach the dam tailrace. There were about 6-10 guys fishing that way this morning using inline weights and either a small spoon or a chartreuse jig. Although most of the guys fishing at the dam appear well weathered by life, they are real nice for the most part and usually more than glad to show you what tackle they are using and explain how they are fishing it. You’ll get a better response if you strike up a conversation when they are stringing up their line as opposed to during their cast and retrieve. There’s definitely a camaraderie among the regulars.

There were plenty of catfish being caught by the guys (and a few kids, has Cecil not gone back to school yet?) fishing further downstream from the tailraces. Most of the catfishers were using cut bait on bottom rigs. There were also a couple of fishermen in kayaks fishing the current breaks by the island, but I didn’t watch them long enough to see how successful they were. I enjoyed seeing a decent group of guys fishing for cats from the new fishermen’s wharf built by Exelon.

The new wharf is really nice and handicap accessible. To say it is solid would be a gross understatement. If water flow from the dam is low, the wharf isn’t quite at waters edge, but still fishable. It is very well constructed and offers much better access to the shoreline both for fishermen and for spectators. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say I really appreciate the effort Exelon has gone to in keeping the area below the dam accessible and fishable. If you go there, please respect the place and take your trash out with you!! Don’t leave line, broken tackle or packaging on the rocks.

As I ate my late morning lunch before heading out I sat and watched the birds, another popular past time at the park. I was pretty sure I saw one eagle, but it disappeared from my view behind the island before I was sure. There were plenty of turkey vultures circling overhead. The sea ducks were pretty successful at snagging minnows from the tailrace. And I saw a heron perched about midway at the base of the dam for a bit.

The best way to get current information on the fishing at Conowingo is to either catch one of Mr. Hayward Putnam’s articles in the Aegis or just go up there and see for your self. I’ve not found any other reliable reports for the dam, but if you know of any please leave them in the comments or send me an e-mail (e-mail address is on the top right side of the page).