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Rutherford’s Travels: Fly Fishing at Morgan Run Natural Environmental Area

Lt. Governor Boyd K. RutherfordOn a beautiful autumn day in October Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio and I traveled to Carroll County, Maryland to explore the nearly 2,000-acre Morgan Run Natural Environment Area. Natural environment areas are typically 1,000 or more acres and are home to significant geological or ecological resources. Development is typically limited to trails, interpretive facilities, and limited support facilities. Like our state parks and natural resource management areas, they are managed by the Maryland Park Service.

Secretary Haddaway-Riccio and I wanted to try our hand at fly-fishing during our visit to Morgan Run, which features a wheelchair-accessible fishing area — the first of its kind when it was completed in 1995. Since that time, the Department of Natural Resources has significantly increased the number of accessible properties across Maryland. Plans are underway to further improve accessibility at Morgan Run, as well as improve the stream bed to address erosion and other impacts of severe weather events. This trip to Morgan Run was a first at-tempt at fly fishing for me, a “city boy” raised in Washington, D.C., and for Secretary Haddaway-Riccio, a saltwater angler who grew up on the waters of the Eastern Shore. I’ve done some river fishing in my time, but fly fishing is new to me. I found it relaxing and more interactive than river fishing. Fly fishing also seems more sporting than the casual fishing I’ve done in the past: where I sat or stood in a boat, dropped a hook in the water, and hoped for a bite. While fly fishing, you typically spot a fish and try to fool them into thinking that the fly you cast is an insect dropping into the stream and wandering around. (I know there are some fly fisherman out there yelling, “it’s not that simple!”) Serious anglers fishing from their boats will point out the science of locating the fish you want, and making a decision on the appropriate bait to use. I suspect both methods are challenging and engaging in their own way.

Morgan Run is a catch-and-release stream stocked by the Department of Natural Resources with rainbow trout and largemouth bass. That day, we found brown trout in the waters at Morgan Run, which surprised our guide, John Neely, chair of the Maryland Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission. He shared that DNR had not stocked brown trout there in many years, although they would later in the fall. Maybe they are still in the area because of, well, reproduction. I think I got the hang of fly fishing fairly quickly, at least that’s what John told me. Though, he may have been “kissing up” to me because I know the governor.

Full disclosure: I did not catch a fish at Morgan Run, but a more experienced fly fisherman did.

If you’re not a fisherman, but still looking to enjoy the outdoors in Carroll County, Morgan Run Natural Environment Area also includes popular hiking and equestrian trails. I hope you enjoyed this dispatch from my travels.

Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford is the ninth lieutenant governor of Maryland. He plans to visit all 75 Maryland State Parks before his term ends in January 2023. You can follow his travels at governor. You can also follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @BoydKRutherford and with the hashtag #LGStateParkBucketList. Article appears in Vol. 25, No. 1 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine.