Fish were biting, the water was clear and the sky was blue at Lake Needwood in Rockville on Saturday.
Rain filled the newly dredged, man-made lake with more water than it has held in years. Families came out in force to enjoy reduced rate boating, expert help in baiting hooks for fishing, a children’s fishing tournament, kayak tours and pedal boat races. It was all part of Montgomery County Parks' celebration of the lake's reopening.
The Stoney family of Rockville tried it all.
They kayaked and paddle boated and ate lunch along the water before boarding a pontoon boat for a one-hour excursion.
“It’s our first time here,” Rufus Stoney said. “I’ve driven by before but never knew it was back here. I love it, we’ll be back next week.”
This was the first visit to the lake for many of the visitors. The parks department counted more than 70 canoe rentals, more than 80 row boat rentals and 119 paddle boat rentals, said Christine S. Brett, the department's enterprise chief.
"Another favorite ride of the day was the Needwood Queen pontoon boat with over 100 passengers enjoying the view of the lake. Any of the passengers on the lake probably saw a turtle, or heard a fish splash and watched the ducks swim by," she said.
Some, such as the Wright family of Silver Spring, took out canoes to fish on the lake.
Lake Needwood is 30 feet deep on the south end, said park employee Chris Adkins of Gaithersburg. The shallower north end of the 75-acre lake is between 12 and 18 feet deep, he said. Before the 2011 dredging the shallow end was only 1 to 4 feet.
“Fish have bounced back since the dredging,” he said.
The day started with a fishing tournament for children.
Afterward, families tried catching some of the large mouth bass, trout, catfish, bluegill and crappie that live in the water. Most of the fish caught were too small to keep, but Ozzie Knotts of Rockville, fishing with his son and grandchildren, had better luck. Jim Knotts, his son, was making dinner plans for a catfish that could be seen flailing its tail through a plastic bag.
For his daughter, Annie, 8, it was, “The first time she’ll be able to eat a fish we caught,” Jim Knotts said.
The lake and adjacent trails are part of Rock Creek Regional Park.
Naturalist Lisa Droubi from Meadowside Nature Center talked to children about the birds and other wildlife that live around the lake and passed out eagle and owl skulls and feathers for children to hold. The highlight was a millipede she let children touch.
Cailey Harrington, 4, and her brother, Bryce, 6, of Wheaton, had such a good time at the fishing tournament, paddle boating and listening to the nature talk, they did not want to go home. Their parents promised that, although it was their first visit to the park, it would not be their last.