Centennial Lake

Located in Howard County

Owner - Centennial Lake is owned by Howard County Parks and Recreation and is located within Centennial Park near Columbia.

History - Centennial Lake is a 50-acre impoundment on the Centennial Branch of the Little Patuxent River. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources first stocked Centennial Lake in 1985 with largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish and redear sunfish. Initially, catch-and-return black bass regulations were established by Howard County to protect the bass from harvest as the population developed. Unfortunately, electrofishing surveys indicated Centennial Lake was developing an overabundance of small, slow growing bass. The main problem with Centennial Lake was the profusion of the exotic submerged aquatic plant, hydrilla. Hydrilla had become so dense that the unbalanced population of bass was unable to utilize a developing and limited forage base. In 1989, trophy bass regulations were enacted which allowed all bass less than 11 inches to be harvested while protecting larger bass from harvest. The intent of the regulation was for anglers to reduce the number of small bass. Harvest of the small bass would reduce competition and increase growth rates among the remaining bass. Unfortunately, catch-and-return black bass fishing had become popular among bass anglers and the thought of harvesting small bass was not popular even if it could improve the bass population in Centennial Lake.

In 1991, Howard County Parks instituted a hydrilla eradication program with the use of an aquatic plant harvester and an aquatic herbicide. By 1992, most of the hydrilla was eradicated providing easier access for largemouth bass to the expanding forage base. With the elimination of hydrilla, the submerged aquatic plant spiny naiad became established in Centennial Lake. The naiad has not shown the highly invasive characteristic hydrilla had when infesting the Lake and provides cover for the variety of fish species in Centennial Lake. Today, Centennial Lake still has an overabundance of largemouth bass, however; growth rates and condition of bass in Centennial Lake are comparable to bass in other lakes of the State.

Physical/ Habitat Description - Centennial Lake is a small suburban impoundment. It is typically clear but can become murky following storm events. Algae blooms are common as a result of increased nutrient loads from storm related run-off and during the fall as aquatic vegetation die back. Centennial Lake contains submerged aquatic vegetation during the warm months of the year that can become a nuisance to shoreline anglers. Centennial Lake has expanding beds of lily pads in many locations around the perimeter of the Lake. The Lake is relatively shallow with a mean depth of 10.2 feet and contains several small shallow coves. Tree downfalls in the Lake from the surrounding forested buffer provide additional habitat. The Lake is completely surrounded by a paved path that provides the angler with access to nearly the entire perimeter.

Fish Species - Centennial Lake contains an overabundance of largemouth bass, however; many nice bass (> 12 inches) are available to anglers. Largemouth bass up to 6 1/2 pounds have been collected during population surveys. Rainbow trout have been stocked into Centennial Lake since 1992 as part of the State's put-and-take trout program. The trout fishery is very popular and provides anglers suffering from "cabin fever" the opportunity to get out and catch hatchery raised nine to twenty inch trout for the creel during the spring. Rainbow trout are also stocked in the fall. Tiger muskie fingerlings, a sterile, hybrid cross of northern pike and muskellunge, have been stocked into Centennial Lake each year since 1995 with the exception of 1997 and 2002. Large tiger muskies (> 36 inches) are now swimming in Centennial Lake and provide an explosive fight for anglers who hook into one. Channel catfish have been stocked into Centennial Lake as recently as October of 2001 when 450 two to four pound adults were stocked. Many anglers target channel catfish in Centennial Lake and catch large ones. Most success with catching the channel catfish occurs during the early morning and late evening hours before the park closes. Centennial Lake provides an outstanding sunfish fishery. Quality size bluegill, pumpkinseed and redear sunfish are available to the angler and can be found throughout the lily pads, especially during the fall. Black Crappie round out the list of fish species available to anglers with nice size (9-12 inch) crappies available.

Restrictions - Centennial Park is open at 7:00 a.m. to dusk or as posted. The boat ramp is open March through November. All boats are required to have a boating permit. Daily permits may be obtained at the boathouse and cost $5. Seasonal permits are available at the boathouse. Only class A boats are allowed, 16 feet or less in length, with electric motors. Rowboats and canoes are also permitted and can be rented from the boathouse. The west end of the Lake is marked by buoys and is designated a wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary is off limits to fishing.

There is a closed season on black bass in Maryland from March 1 through June 15. Catch-and-return angling for largemouth bass is permitted during the closure. Centennial Lake is managed under trophy bass regulations, which allow the angler to creel five bass less than 11 inches or four bass less than 11 inches and one bass ³15 inches from June 16 through the end of February. There are no size restrictions on channel catfish, rainbow trout, sunfish or crappie, however; channel catfish and rainbow trout have a daily creel limit of five and sunfish and crappie have a daily creel limit of 15. Tiger muskie must be 36 inches to creel and have a daily limit of one. Please consult your Maryland Freshwater Sportfishing Guide for license requirements and fishing regulations concerning Centennial Lake.

Directions - From I-70, take Route 29 south. From Route 29, take Route 108 west. Main entrance to Centennial Park is one mile on right.

Contact Us - Comments and questions regarding Centennial Lake can be directed to:

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Fisheries Service
Patuxent Work Center
17400 Annapolis Rock Road, Woodbine, Maryland 21797
customerservice@dnr.state.md.us

General Centennial Park information can be found by contacting: 410-313-4700