Our State' Top-Rated Family (Fishing) Vacations

Here are six select picks where you and your family will find things to do for everyone to enjoy -- from horseback riding to fishing, relaxing on the beach and more! (June 2007)

Photo by Robert H. Cleveland Jr.

Multi-tasking is a common phrase in today's society, as folks struggle to satisfy the many responsibilities they're faced with. If accomplishing several goals at one time is necessary during the workweek, doesn't it make sense to include that concept during our leisure time as well?

The Mid-Atlantic region boasts numerous public areas well suited for combining a family vacation with a bit of fishing fun. From small ponds teaming with bluegills to open waters containing large striped bass, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey have something to offer everyone.

Here's a look at six options for combining your summer vacation with an angling adventure.

JUNE

Allaire State Park,

NEW JERSEY

Located in Monmouth County, near the town of Farmingdale, Allaire State Park provides a long list of features likely to keep a family entertained. You'll find a variety of angling options, both in the park and nearby.

Fishermen visiting Allaire State Park in June may be able to take advantage of trout stocked in the spring by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. Each spring, the Manasquan River receives hatchery trout, some of which remain in the river during the early summer. Two ponds are also located within the park, with the focus there being to provide angling action for children.

The Manasquan Reservoir is located a short drive from the state park. That reservoir covers 1,200 acres and contains a good population of warmwater species. You can target smallmouth bass, hybrid striped bass, tiger muskies, bullheads and an assortment of sunfish species.

Boats are limited to electric motors only or may be non-powered craft. There is a $5 daily launch fee to use the lake's ramp.

During non-fishing hours, it will be easy to entertain the troops. Allaire has several attractions, many of them of a historic nature.

Allaire Village -- known as the Howell Works during the early 19th century when the town was active -- contains the historic remnants of cast and pig iron production. Included are a general store, blacksmith shop, carpenter's shop, manager's house, foreman's house and a church. The Pine Creek Railroad provides a look back to the era of steam and diesel, narrow-gauge railroads.

The park also contains a Nature Interpretive Center. Nature walks are provided on a regular basis during the summer season. Several hiking trails bisect the park, ranging in length from .5 miles to 16.5 miles. Some trails are open to horseback riders as well as hikers.

Camping is available in a number of forms. There is a site, with fire rings, for 45 tents and trailers. These sites also have picnic tables. Flush toilets and showers are within walking distance. Also found within the park are four yurts, circular tents built with a wooden frame. Yurts feature a wooden door, window, wooden floor, deck and two double-deck bunk beds.

Six shelters are also located within the park. These are cabin-like structures that contain a wood stove and two double-decker bunks.

Allaire State Park can be reached from exit 98 off the Garden State Parkway, or exit 31B off Interstate 195. Additional information can be obtained by calling the park office at (732) 938-2371.

Brandywine Creek State Park, DELAWARE

Brandywine Creek State Park is another venue that offers, among its angling choices, a chance at early-summer trout fishing. Warmwater species are also present.

Members of your family who are trout anglers will want to check out Wilson Run for the chance of catching trout left over from the spring stockings done by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. June often provides good opportunities for stocked trout.

You'll probably have much of the stream to yourself, since after Memorial Day most folks quit fishing for stocked trout. A cool spring with lots of rain often equates into plenty of surviving rainbow trout. In addition to the standard license, trout fishing requires a trout stamp. Both fishing licenses and trout stamps can be purchased at the park office.

Brandywine Creek contains smallmouth bass, bluegills and crappies. The creek is large enough to accommodate a canoe or kayak, but such a craft is not necessary to fish it properly.

Stonewalls that were built in the late 1800s divide the 933-acre park, which was once a dairy farm. The park contains the state's first two nature preserves: Freshwater Marsh and Tulip Poplars, named after its stand of 190-year-old tulip poplars. Expect to witness a wide range of habitats at Brandywine, as well as rich bird life that includes songbirds and hawks.

The park maintains 14 miles of trials for fitness, wildlife observation and photography. The Rocky Run Trail and Greenways Trail wind along the creek. Other activities include picnicking and disc golf. Horseback riding and biking are permitted on some trails. Check with the park for further details.

If the weather is warm, you might choose to tube Brandywine Creek. Canoeing is another popular activity in the park. The interpretive program offered at the park includes canoeing at a cost of $16 per person.

Camping is one of the amenities the park does not provide. Hosts of lodging options are available in nearby Wilmington, however.

Brandywine Creek State Park is located three miles north of Wilmington at the intersection of state routes 100 and 92. The entrance is on Adams Dam Road. Additional information on the park can be obtained by calling the park office at (302) 577-3534.

JULY

Sandy Point State Park,

MARYLAND

Sandy Point State Park, located on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, offers myriad angling and non-angling options. The park sits just north of the western end of the Bay Bridge.

For the serious angler, Sandy Point provides a great spot for headquartering a trip aimed at striped bass, known locally as rockfish. Once threatened, the striped bass fishery has responded in fine shape, thanks to more stringent regulations.

Throughout the summer months, anglers can target stripers of various age-classes in the bay waters near Sandy Point. Charters are not available directly through the state park, but it's not di

fficult to arrange a trip through local private marinas and sporting goods outlets. It would be wise, however, to do so in advance of visiting the park.

Other species commonly taken from bay waters proximate to Sandy Point include perch and croakers. Bluefish are an important fish, but tend to show up later in the year.

Anglers/vacationers bringing their own boats to the park will find a full- service marina that features 22 ramps. Six finger piers are provided, available on a first-come, first-served basis. The marina store sells fishing licenses, crabbing permits, bait, tackle and fuel. Also found at the store are snacks, drinks and limited picnic supplies.

A separate launch area is available for windsurfers, sail boats, canoes, kayaks and catamarans.

The park also has a boat-rental concession that offers 16-foot motorboats powered by 6-horse outboards, which can be rented for $13/hour. A $100 deposit is also required.

Folks who prefer to fish from shore will find good spots to cast from: numerous rock jetties as well as a fishing pier located next to the launch ramps. A crabbing area is also provided here.

Non-anglers will find Sandy Point a great place to enjoy the sun. The park's beaches are considered among the finest on Chesapeake Bay. Lifeguards are provided during the summer season. Amenities at the beach include showers and restrooms.

Picnic areas are found next to the beach, including 12 large shelters in the park. These are rentals, and must be reserved in advance.

Daily admission to the park is $5 per person for residents, $6 for non-residents during weekends. During weekdays, the fee is $1 less.

Lodging can be found in nearby Annapolis. Sandy Point State Park is located near the west end of the Bay Bridge on U.S. Route 50/301. Take Exit 32. You can obtain additional information by calling (410) 974-2149.

Delaware & Raritan Canal

State Park,

NEW JERSEY

A July visit to Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park will give the family a chance to enjoy various fishing option, and also partake in a history lesson.

This canal was built in the early 1800s as a link connecting New York and Philadelphia. Today, 36 miles of the main canal and 22 miles of the feeder canal still exist. Along this corridor lies the D&R Canal State Park exists.

The main and feeder portions of the canal contain a variety of self-supporting warmwater species, including bass, sunfish, perch and pickerel. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife also stocks the canal with trout each spring, so the chance to catch a trout or two exists.

On canal waters, only craft powered by oars or electric motors are permitted. Launch facilities are limited to those suitable for cartoppers. You can rent canoe from private concessionaires in Griggstown and Princeton.

For anglers seeking more of a challenge, it's only a short distance to the Delaware River from most portions of the park. During the summer months, the primary focus on the river will be smallmouth bass. Boats can be launched at the Bulls Island Recreation Area on the Delaware. There is no horsepower restriction.

Allaire Village -- known as the Howell Works during the early 19th century when the town was active -- contains the remnants of cast and pig iron production.

During a break in the fishing action, your family can check out these features of the D&R Canal State Park:

'¢ Prallsville Mills, near Stockton, a charming 19th-century mill complex, contains both grist and linseed oil mills.

'¢ Griggstown, in Somerset County, is the site of a wooden canal bridge, the Mule Tenders Barracks, the Bridge Tenders House as well as the Griggstown Mill.

'¢ About a mile away, a pleasant walk along the towpath, is found the Griggstown Lock. Picnic tables and grills are found at the lock.

'¢ Additional canal structures are located in Blackwells Mills (also in Somerset County). Picnic tables and grills overlook the river.

The park contains multi-use trails as well as the towpath. The Main Canal Trail is 34 miles in length, and the Feeder Canal Trail is 31.5 miles long. Both are ADA accessible. The Six Mile Run Reservoir Site provides recreational resources for biking, hiking and horseback riding.

Parking is available in designated parking lots along the canal towpath. The main canal runs from Trenton to New Brunswick, with a break at the Route 1 crossing. The feeder canal stretches from Trenton north to Frenchtown along the Delaware River. Camping is not available within the state park, but can be found at the Bulls Island Recreation Area, which has 69 tent and trailer sites. Call (609) 924-5705 for more information on the D&R Canal State Park.

AUGUST

Janes Island State Park,

MARYLAND

Vacationers can expect to find peaceful surroundings and a variety of fishing opportunities when they plan a trip to Janes Island State Park in August. Janes Island is found along the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay in Somerset County.

Headboats fishing out of nearby Crisfield probably provide the best option for the serious anglers in your family. Depending on migration patterns and weather, the species present will include croaker, summer flounder and sea trout. Some fishing is also available from docks and canals located within the park.

Janes Island State Park exists as two separate areas. A developed mainland section contains cabins and camping areas. Another portion is accessible only by boat.

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Janes Island is part of the Beach to Bay Indian Trail, which trail follows travel patterns established by the American Indians and later followed by the first European settlers. The area was first settled by the Paleo Indians some 13,000 years ago.

Among the amenities at Janes Island State Park, visitors will find a boat launch, boat rental, campsites, picnic tables, shelters and a visitor's center. Along with the fishing, activities include crabbing, canoeing, kayaking and swimming.

Facilities for camping include 104 campsites, each with its own picnic table and fire ring. Sites can accept both tent and vehicle campers. Also found within the park are four modern cabins that can accommodate up to six people each. These cabins must be reserved in advance.

The picnic area has 25 tables and grills. Two picnic pavilions are located at the park, and these must be reserved beforehand. Janes Island has a boat ramp; 25 slips are provided for campers for a small fee. Canoe and kayaks can also be rented.

The park lies in Somerset County near Crisfield and can be reached by taking state Route 13 to Westover. Then take state Route 413, approximately 11 miles to Plantation Road. I

t's about a 1.5 miles to the park's entrance. For additional information, the park office can be reached at (410) 968-1565.

Cape Henlopen State Park

DELAWARE

A trip to Delaware's Cape Henlopen is a great way to end the summer. It's a great place to enjoy the salt air, as well as the fishing from this peninsula, which separates Delaware Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

Flounder are among the fish commonly taken by anglers visiting Cape Henlopen, particularly ones trying their luck from the quarter-mile-long fishing pier found there. A bait and tackle store is located near the end of the pier. Of course, seasonal migrations and the weather patterns will do much to determine which species will be available during the late-summer time frame.

Among the amenities at Janes Island State Park, visitors will find a boat launch, boat rental, campsites, picnic tables, shelters and a visitor's center.

Along with that fishing pier, Cape Henlopen is known for its quality surf-fishing. Surf anglers are well accommodated by the park. Dune crossovers allow pedestrian and vehicle access to the designated fishing areas. A surf-fishing vehicle permit, available at the park office, is required in order to drive onto the beach. The fee is $65 per year.

The park is also well set up for campers. About 150 sites are located on the pine-covered dunes. Most of the sites have water hookups.

The fun-in-the-sun group will enjoy the two spacious beaches located within the park. The northern beach features a changing room and showers. A food concession is also found there. A basketball court and 18-hole disk golf course are among the park's other features your family can enjoy.

Cape Henlopen State Park is located one mile east of Lewes, a half-mile past the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal. For additional information, call the park office at (302) 645-8983.

So there you have it -- six fine places to think about for your family's summer vacation getaway. It won't take you long to reach any of these places. Once you do arrive, it's time to forget about everyday life for a little while--and maybe catch a fish or two to boot!

Find more about Mid-Atlantic fishing and hunting at: MidAtlanticGameandFish.com

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