6 Best Bet Family (Fishing) Vacations

School's out, and Mom and the kids are ready for some exciting time away from home. Here are six not-so-faraway places to get away from it all this summer! (June 2006)

Multi-tasking has become a common term associated with today's typical lifestyle. It seems there simply isn't enough time in the day to accomplish everything you need to without combining a few chores.

The same philosophy can carry over to your leisure time. If fishing is your main avocation, but other family members aren't into it on such a hardcore level, perhaps a vacation that allows several outdoor pursuits is in order. Our region's network of state and federal public lands offers a wide variety of options that include hiking, camping, sightseeing tours, picnicking and sunbathing among the attractions. These trips can satisfy a variety of interests without draining the family budget.

What follows is a three-month look at six potential family vacations, all of which provide an outlet for the anglers in your family. From cool, wooded mountains to sun-drenched beaches, there's some place for everyone!

JUNE

Gunpowder Falls State Park, Maryland

Gunpowder Falls State Park covers about 18,000 acre in Harford and Baltimore counties, which must be considered a vast public area for a developed region. The park provides a plethora of outdoor activities, with fishing being high on the list. Angling options vary from trout fishing opportunities to warmwater species in tidal areas. The park is divided up into several areas. Since Gunpowder Falls is a day-use facility, it provides an excellent outlet for a quick trip from the Baltimore, Washington and Frederick areas.

Gunpowder Falls is strongly associated with quality trout fishing, with both wild and stocked trout are available. An extensive network of trails covers over 100 miles. Swimming is available, as are mountain biking, road biking, horseback riding and tubing.

For more serious anglers, the catch-and-release section, located on the upper section of the Big Gunpowder Falls River, may suit the bill. This special project water is in the Hereford Area of the park. Anglers can expect to have their skills tested when fishing for the native hatched trout found in this section. Four other areas are managed as put-and-take trout fisheries. They include another portion of the upper Big Gunpowder Falls River, the lower Big Gunpowder Falls River, Little Falls and Beetree Run, and also the Little Gunpowder Falls River. Good trout fishing is often available on these waters into early summer.

Tidal fishing is available at the Dundee Creek Marina, found on the lower end of the Gunpowder River.

Over 10 individual trails are included in the network of hiking options in Gunpowder Falls State Park. They average about three miles in length. Short walks of a mile or so can be accomplished on the Jerusalem Village Trail, while the more enthusiastic (and fit) hikers may want to tackle the 21-mile Northern Central Railroad Trail.

Several canoe/kayak trips can be arranged, varying in length from about three miles to over 11 miles. A swimming beach is located in the Hammerman Area of the park. A 0.9-mile stretch of the river is designated as a tubing area, with inner tubes available for rent. Mountain bikers can choose from the 11.6-mile run located in the Sweet Air Area or the 3.1-mile Lost Pond Trail. Road runs from 7.5 miles up to 40 miles can be arranged, depending on the biker's level of fitness and time constraints.

A former railroad bed serves as the corridor of a horseback trail running from Ashland to York, Pa. The Freeland Parking Area provides the most room for horse trailers.

You can obtain a host of more detailed information by logging on to www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/gunpowder.html.

Allamuchy Mountain State Park, New Jersey

What better way to start the summer than by taking to the hills of northern New Jersey and the state parks found there? Allamuchy Mountain State Park is one of these gems.

Allamuchy Mountain State Park is in southern Sussex County, just north of Interstate 80. Visitors can choose from a variety of activities. Besides the coldwater and warmwater fishing options, there are hiking trails, a natural area, boating and canoeing. While camping is not permitted within Allamuchy State Park, nearby Stevens State Park offers camping facilities.

For the coldwater angler, the main attraction of Allamuchy Mountain State Park is the Musconetcong River, considered one of the top trout streams in the state. Several miles of it flow though the park. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife stocks the river frequently with brown, rainbow and brook trout. Come June, the bulk of the trout fishing attention may be waning. But there should be plenty of leftover trout for the June angler, particularly if river flows stay good and the weather is not too hot.

Besides the good trout fishing, the angler can fish for warmwater species in a variety of settings, including Cranberry Lake, Jefferson Lake, Allamuchy Pond and Deer Park Pond. Common species are largemouth bass, sunfish, yellow perch and chain pickerel. Channel catfish have been stocked in Jefferson Lake. Cranberry, the largest of the lakes, covers 179 acres. Outboard motors are permitted on it. Jefferson Lake is 46 acres and is limited to electric motors only. A boat concession can be found next to the launch ramp on Cranberry Lake. Rowboats may be rented there.

Another feature of Allamuchy Mountain State Park is the Allamuchy Natural Area. This 2,440-acre area features over 14 miles of trails. Activities permitted on the trail system include hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The northern section of the park contains another 20 miles of unmarked trails where hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding are allowed. Trails located within the park include a three-mile section of the Sussex Branch Trail and a 10-mile section of the Highlands Trail.

Canoeist and kayakers are not forgotten in Allamuchy. A three-mile water trail on the Musconetcong River runs from Waterloo Road to the Saxton Falls Dam.

Folks wanting to camp in the area can find camping options in nearby Stephens State Park, which offers 40 tent and small trailer campsites. Fire rings and picnic tables are located at each site, with flush toilets within walking distance. Stephens State Park also has picnic tables and charcoal grills for day-trippers.

One other noteworthy feature of Allamuchy State Park is Waterloo Village. According to the Division of Parks and Forestry, Waterloo Village takes the visitor through time from a 400-year old Lenape Indian Village to a bustling port along the once-prosperous Morris Canal. Expect to see working m

ills, a general store, a blacksmith shop and several historic houses. Music programs are presented during the summer months.

JULY

Fenwick Island State Park, Delaware

With summer in full swing and ocean water temperatures on the rise, it's time to consider a trip to the beach. Fenwick Island State Park, located along the Delaware coast between Bethany Beach and Ocean City, Md., is a fine destination.

Fenwick Island State Park is in Sussex County, Delaware. The park runs for three miles along a narrow barrier island found off the Delaware and Maryland shores. It provides a relaxing setting proximate to the more hectic pace of the nearby resort communities.

Surf-fishing in the Atlantic Ocean is the main angling attraction of Fenwick Island State Park. Also, party boats that fish out of nearby Ocean City, Md. offer offshore fishing at a reasonable price.

This barrier island separates the Atlantic from Little Assawoman Bay. The area that is now Fenwick Island State Park was established as a public area in 1926 and was designed a state park in 1966. Since that time, it has remained in a wild state in a region that has seen heavy development.

Fenwick Island State Park covers about 442 acres. Surf-fishing is made much easier by means of the Surf- fishing Vehicle Permit, which allows anglers with four-wheel-drive vehicles access to the park's shoreline.

Detailed information on specific requirements for a permit can be obtained by logging on to the Web site: www.destateparks.com/know/fees/otherfees/surffishrate.htm. The fee for a permit is $65 a year for Delaware-registered vehicles, and $130 for out-of-staters. Permits can be purchased at the state park office and the bathhouse gift shop, as well as online. Access to the shoreline is permitted only at designated dune crossings.

During breaks from fishing activities, state park visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming and surfing. During summer months, lifeguard patrols run from 9 a.m., until 5 p.m. Umbrellas, chairs and rafts can be rented at the park. The slope of the beach on Fenwick Island is gentle, so an extensive swimming area exists. A new bathhouse was recently constructed, one that includes changing rooms and showers. A designated surfing area is also featured at Fenwick Island State Park.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey

We can thank those who, decades ago, successfully fought against the proposed Tocks Island Dam for the area now known as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Now administered by the National Park Service, this area provides a wide host of recreation possibilities, rather than being inundated by backwaters. A stretch of 40 miles of the Delaware River is found with the Water Gap National Recreation Area.

One of the greatest free-flowing rivers in the East, the Delaware provides a wide assortment of angling opportunity, perhaps the best-known being the annual American shad spawning run. While the run will have been over by the time folks visit the park in July, there will still be a lot to fish for. The options are not limited to the river either, as ponds and creeks within the area provide additional options.

In the river proper, anglers can enjoy good fishing for smallmouth bass. Other species include walleye and muskie, both of which tend to be found in the slower, deeper pools of the river. The Delaware Water Gap NRA encompasses portions of not only New Jersey, but Pennsylvania as well. A cooperative agreement between the two states allows fishing from either bank of the river with either license. But this does not apply to ponds and tributaries of the river within the park.

The small ponds of the park provide good fishing for warmwater species such as panfish, pickerel, sunfish and catfish. Some of the ponds are also stocked with trout in the spring -- a good option for younger or less-skilled anglers. Many streams feeding the river are also stocked with trout. Depending on the weather, some trout may still be in the streams by this time of the year. Trout are also often caught in the river at stream mouths.

As you might expect, many of the activities of this area revolve around the river. Canoeing and kayaking are popular. Rentals are available on the New Jersey side of the river at Delaware River Rafting and Canoeing, Inc. in Delaware, N.J. For more information on rentals, phone 1-800- 543-0271.

Camping is permitted in designated sites. Some areas have been closed due to the flooding that took place last season, so it will pay to plan ahead. A list of campsites can be viewed by logging on to the Web site: www.nps.gov/dewa/News/RIVRlist.html. More information on the features of the recreation area can be had at the Web site, www.nps.gov/dewa.

AUGUST

Tuckahoe State Park, Maryland

In Queen Anne's County lies 3,498-acre Tuckahoe State Park, a gem of a site found not far from the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay.

Tuckahoe Lake, a 60-acre impoundment of Tuckahoe Creek, provides fishing for species like panfish, largemouth bass and chain pickerel. The pond was originally used to power a gristmill. Though the lake covers about 60 acres, only about 20 acres are open water. The remainder is flooded woodlands. The pond reaches a maximum depth of 7 feet at the dam. Depths of 5 to 6 feet are common in the open-water portion of the lake. Gasoline outboards are not permitted.

The family will find an assortment of amenities at Tuckahoe State Park. A family camping area offers 51 sites, 33 of which feature electric hookups. A central bathhouse is also provided. In addition to the campsites, the park offers four cabins available for rental. Each cabin sleeps four and features electricity, air conditioning, a grill, fire ring and table.

Another feature of Tuckahoe State Park is the Adkins Arboretum, which has nearly three miles of surfaced walkways running through the assortment of native trees and shrubs. Wildlife such as bald eagles, ospreys and great blue herons are commonly seen at this park.

While you can bring your own canoe, visitors also have the option of renting kayaks, paddleboats and canoes at the park office. A multi-use trail network includes four separate trails and can be used for hiking, biking and horseback rides.

More information on Tuckahoe State Park can be obtained by calling the park office at (410) 820-1668.

Delaware Seashore State Park, Delaware

What better way to end the summer than a final trip to the beach? The water is warm and the fish should be biting. And Delaware Seashore State Park provides a great venue to do both swimming and fishing.

This state park is located on a barrier island that separates the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and both Rehoboth Bay and Indiana River Bay to the west. Covering 2,825 acres and stretching for six miles, it is considered a beach-goer's paradise.

Surf-fishing is popular off the east side of the island. Certain beach are

as are designated as surf-fishing areas. As with Fenwick Island, four-wheel drive vehicular traffic is permitted in some areas with a special permit.

Good angling options also exist along the banks of the Indian River Inlet, where you'll also find a special fishing pier for persons with disabilities. Clamming and crabbing are permitted within some areas of the two bays. During your stay, check with officials for the specifics. The Indian River Marina offers all necessary amenities for the boater. Charter boats also fish out of this marina.

Surfers will find a designated surfing area located along the seashore north of the inlet. Windsurfing and sailing have become popular within the bays.

On Burtons Island, a short nature trail affords scenic views of the salt marshes and bay islands, where gulls are often spotted.

With the tourist season winding down, some park services may not be available after mid-August. Details can be obtained by calling the park office at (302) 227-2800.

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