Naomi Sollins is only 3 years old, but the young angler already has a whopper of a fish tale to share.
Not only did she catch a trout in a Baltimore city stream – a rarity in itself – but Naomi caught one of the few yellow "palominos" among the 450 rainbow trout added to the Stony Run stream over the weekend.
"Can I put it back in the stream?" Naomi asked her father, Elie Sollins, a social worker from North Baltimore.
The father and daughter knelt by the trickling stream and gently held the yellow trout in the water until it wiggled out of their hands and glided back into the tea-colored water.
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About 30 children and their parents turned out in the rain Sunday to fish for trout in the newly vibrant urban stream, which runs for 3 miles from Northern Parkway to Remington before spilling into the Jones Falls.
The fourth annual "Huck Finn Day" was sponsored by the Maryland chapter of Trout Unlimited, which also supports a Trout In The Classroom program in several Baltimore schools. The group paid nearly $900 to stock the stream, chapter president Norma Haynes said.
"This is real cool, to have trout in the middle of Baltimore city," said Tom Giannaccini, a volunteer at the event.
The 450 rainbow trout arrived by truck on Friday after a four-hour drive from Casta Line Trout Farms in Goshen, Va. By noon, seven volunteers had arrived to scoop them out bucket by bucket. For the next two hours they poured the 10-to-12-inch long fish into the Stony Run between Wyndhurst Avenue and Cable Street.
They also added five 15-to-18-inch trout. That included the three palominos, genetically engineered to be yellow to encourage fishing and habitat protection, said Tom Gamper, chairman of Trout Unlimited's education and youth outreach committee.
The group has been stocking the Stony Run for four years, normally in October, when the water temperatures are close to an ideal 51 degrees. On Sunday the water was 59 degrees. But the nearly $10 million restoration of the upper part of the Stony Run has paid off, as some trout have survived summer.
In September employees with the state Department of Natural Resources conducted an analysis of life in the stream using an electroshock method that stuns the fish long enough for them to surface and be counted.
What they found was, well, shocking.
An adult trout added to the stream in October 2016 had survived along with four juvenile trout placed in the stream in April by Baltimore Lab School students participating in the Trout In The Classroom program. There was also an abundance of bullfrogs and bait fish such as stream chubs, white shiners and black-nose daces.
"A stream that was marginal more than a decade ago is restored and now teeming with life," Gamper said. "It's remarkable. It really shows the healing capacity of an urban watershed."
The stream restoration has provided enough deep pools for trout to find cool water to survive hot months.
Darin Crew, who works for Blue Water Baltimore, fished Sunday with his children Eloise, 8, and Henry, 5.
"You forget how much nature adapts to survive," he said. The fact that a trout survived the summer "just blows my mind."
Jeff Mendel and his 8-year-old son Eli caught three rainbow trout within the first 20 minutes of the event. Eli caught one on his first cast.
"They were all rainbows," Eli said. "And they were all really mad at us."
"Let's get some more," his father said. They went sloshing through the wet leaves and mud to find a new spot to fish.