Getting hooked

Charlestown’s Lake Charles is the perfect spot for fishing, friends, and fun

Created date

May 23rd, 2019
Lake Charles is a freshwater lake located at Charlestown, the Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md.

Lake Charles is a freshwater lake located at Charlestown, the Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md.

Maryland is home to 50 rivers and creeks, as well as dozens of streams, lakes, and ponds. As long as the temperature is above 40 and the winds are below 10 mph, you’ll likely find Bill May on one of them, casting a line from his flatwater kayak.

“I go out on Liberty Reservoir, Loch Raven Reservoir, Piney Run, a lot of ponds on the Delmarva Peninsula, and even some sections of the Susquehanna and Potomac. You can fish the Delmarva ponds year-round,” says Bill.

Bill shares his knowledge and expertise of the area’s waterways and wildlife as an outdoor columnist for the Carroll County Times. Over the last 35 years, he has authored hundreds of fishing and wildlife conservation stories.

When he wants to fish but doesn’t feel like dragging out his kayak, Bill doesn’t have to forgo his favorite pastime. Lake Charles, a three-acre, eight-foot-deep, man-made lake is right outside his front door at Charlestown, the Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md., he calls home.

“I try to get down to the lake about twice a week,” says Bill. “You can catch a healthy-sized fish about 11 to 15 inches, and there are even a couple in there that are about four pounds.”

Located amongst Charlestown’s picturesque 110-acres, Lake Charles is brimming with bass and bluegill stocked by Charlestown’s Fishing Club, led by Bill. The lake also attracts a wide variety of wildlife including deer, squirrels, fox, geese, hawks, herons, cranes, and even bald eagles.

A grand visit

“It’s a nice place to fish and a feature for people to use with their grandkids when they come to visit,” says Bill.

That’s exactly how fellow Charlestown Fishing Club member Bob Ricketts feels.

“I have a grandson who is seven years old,” says Bob. “Last fall I took him down to the lake twice, and he had a ball. There are smaller fish in the pond, like bluegills, which are easy to catch with a worm or a piece of chicken. He caught about 30 fish in less than an hour. He was just in heaven.”

Bob and his grandson are not alone. According to the 2018 Special Report on Fishing by the Outdoor Industry Association, in 2017, more than 49 million Americans from across the country took to the nation’s waterways to enjoy recreational fishing at least once during the calendar year.

Bob understands the lure of the sport. He took up fishing in high school while living in Virginia.

“I was fortunate enough that my father, who was in the military, was stationed near Williamsburg. We lived on the military base and when you walked out our back door, 50 feet away was a big lake full of fish,” says Bob. “We lived there for a year and a half. During that time, I could fish until my heart’s content.”

Before moving to Charlestown three years ago, one of his favorite fishing holes was Centennial Lake in Columbia, Md.

“It’s a beautiful, clean lake, and you can actually eat the fish you catch,” says Bob. “The fish are all large-mouth bass, which is a very moist, white fish and not bony at all. You can filet them, and they are gorgeous.”

Because it’s a private lake, no license is required to fish at Lake Charles. Community members adhere to a catch and release policy, and barbless hooks are also required to protect the fish.

Bill says, in the future, the club hopes to host a fishing tournament for kids at the lake. Until then, he continues to fish every chance he gets.

“I try not to get overscheduled with too many things here at Charlestown because I like to have time to go fishing,” says Bill. “When the weather is right, you have to go.”

Local Fishing Holes

There are plenty of freshwater fishing spots to choose from within a short drive from Charlestown in Baltimore County and nearby Howard County. Check out these hot spots listed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:

Centennial Lake (Howard County): A 50-acre impoundment on the Centennial branch of the Little Patuxent River. Fish species include largemouth bass, tiger muskie, panfish, channel catfish, and rainbow trout.

Gunpowder Falls (Baltimore County): From Prettyboy Reservoir in northern Baltimore County, downstream to Loch Raven Reservoir in lower Baltimore County, ten miles of “world-class” trout fishery. Fish species include: brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout. Includes put and take areas, as well as catch and release.

Patapsco River (Carroll, Baltimore, and Howard Counties): Fish species include smallmouth bass, rock bass, redbreast sunfish, hickory shad, American shad, and rainbow trout.

Loch Raven Reservoir (Baltimore County): Fish species include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, white perch, crappie, chain pickerel, walleye, catfish, yellow perch, and northern pike.