Maryland bass anglers freeze for charity

When the temperature outside is hovering around the freezing mark — and the water is, too — most of us stay inside, wrapped in a Snuggie with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

But not Charlie Dougherty and friends.

No, Dougherty will be walking — willingly — into the icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay, when the water is likely the coldest of the season.

He and 13 other members of Maryland B.A.S.S. Federation Nation’s largest club, Team Outcast, will be participating in the 16th Annual Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, Jan. 28, 2012, at Sandy Point State Park. It’s the largest polar bear plunge in the United States, and it raises millions of dollars each year for the Special Olympics.

Team Outcast has a fundraising goal of $1,000, and as of today, the team is halfway there. If you’d like to help Team Outcast support the Special Olympics, click here to make a donation or here to follow the team on Facebook.

"Team Outcast, in its second year, has already become the largest B.A.S.S. club in Maryland," said Dougherty, the club's president. "We decided we wanted our club to be about more than just fishing and that we could use our large membership in some way to give back to the community.

"One of our members came up with the idea of our club participating in the Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for the Maryland Special Olympics, and the idea was unanimously accepted by the members."

“While it may sound absolutely crazy to jump into the frigid water," said Jon Stewart, senior manager of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, "it doesn’t surprise me at all that a Federation Nation club would do something like this to support a worthy cause.”

Dougherty will join the other 13 plungers on that cold January day. His teammates will be Charles Tawney, Bill Ackerman, Rod Bailey, Tom Bavaro III, Joe Devoe, Eric Flutka, Travis Metz, Matthew Raab, John Roberts, Alan Rosenberger, Andrew Sams, Jason Strozier and William Zinkhan.

"The rest of the club will be there cheering us on," said Dougherty.