Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | March 26, 2014
This Saturday is the big one for put and take trout fishermen; for outdoorsmen whether they be a hunter or fisherman or both there is nothing that tugs at the child inside of us as much as the thought of opening day. Many will find it hard to sleep the night before and there will be plenty of glances at the bedside alarm clock during the night. For those with young anglers in the house, enjoy and bath yourself in all the excitement and anticipation and for those older, find comfort in spending time with your old fishing buddy. Fishermen have been checking out their gear and tackle shop shelves for weeks now and it all comes to fruition this coming Saturday. Parking and the best streamside fishing spots will be at a premium as will dry feet and the rest of you unless you dress properly because the weatherman is telling us there is a 70% chance of rain.
Despite a late start due to ice conditions at the trout holding facilities the stocking crews have been very busy making sure all areas that are due to be stocked for this Saturday’s opener have a generous supply of trout. John Mullican sent in these pictures of stocking trout during yesterday’s snow storm; all in a day’s work of being a fisheries biologist.
Courtesy of John Mullican
Most likely wherever you decide to fish you may hear some whoops, hollers and excitement at some point when someone catches one of the trophy sized breeder trout that are placed at every trout management area. May luck be on your side and you are the person who manages to heft one of these beasts up onto the bank. If you do catch a Rainbow Trout over 20- inches visit one of our award centers and register your trophy to receive a certificate and entry into the Maryland Fishing Challenge. Entrants are eligible to win several large prizes including a boat, motor and trailer donated by Bass Pro Shops. To find out about the Maryland Fishing Challenge and how to enter, be sure to check out the website.
Freshwater fishermen have had other types of fishing on their minds as well as trout for the last few weeks and have been testing out their favorite fishing holes for a mix of species. If you check the angler’s logs you will see a wide variety of fishing opportunities even though it has been cold.
Chain Pickerel are a fun target for fishermen when the water is cold and ponds normally clogged with vegetation in the summer months are open and near snag free. Spinners, swimming minnow lures and spoons are all good early spring choices for Chain Pickerel. Bank and small boat fishermen have been enjoying good fishing for Channel Catfish in the tidal rivers. Crappie can be found holding near structure near deep edges and Largemouth Bass are being found in transition areas looking for a little warmth. A small jig or minnow under a bobber works great for crappie and Largemouth Bass will strike a variety of soft plastic jigs and crankbaits this time of the year. Although the upper Potomac has been running a bit high and cloudy lately, fishermen have been enjoying some good fishing for Walleye and Smallmouth Bass. The best fishing tends to be in the eddy areas where fish are holding out of the strong currents. Small jigs, tubes and sassy shad type lures have been good choices for fishing close to the bottom. Benjamin Powell was fishing from the shoreline when he caught this nice Walleye and others on the upper Potomac recently.
Courtesy of Benjamin Powell
It has been quite a spring so far as cold water temperatures have caused expected spawning runs to be delayed and fast paced when a day or two of relative warm and sunny days causes spawning to bust loose. The Yellow Perch spawning runs are over for the most part now and fishermen saw White Perch arriving at traditional spawning areas over the past weekend. Yesterday’s snow and cold temperatures put the skids on most spawning activity but predicted warmer weather for the next week will put White Perch spawning into high gear. There may be a little lag time as water temperatures are slow to change and melting snow will also be bringing an influx of cold water into the spawning reaches of the tidal rivers. Fishermen may find that the top of the flood tide might bring in the warmest water temperatures and therefore cause the White Perch to be the most active. A small chartreuse grub, crappie jig or shad dart tipped with a piece of bloodworm or grass shrimp and under a bobber is hard to beat when fishing in close quarters for White Perch.
Water temperatures today are hovering around the 43-degree mark in the lower Susquehanna River and the Conowingo Dam has been releasing water as much as twice per day. Snow melt is not going to be helpful for elevating water temperatures so it will take a few days at best for the White Perch fishery to begin to show some signs of life. Despite cold water temperatures there are Striped Bass in the Susquehanna Flats area and most likely many of them will be males. It will take some warmer water temperatures to put any of them in a feeding mood.
Fishermen looking to shake the cobwebs out of their fishing gear and boats with a little Striped Bass catch and release fishing out in the bay may find it hard to find ready and willing fish; water temperatures are still in the high 30’s on top and the bottom for most of the bay. There has been very little activity reported at the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant discharge by drift and jig fishermen. There were reports of some Striped Bass action in the lower Potomac River but were not large migrant fish coming into the bay but smaller resident fish. It would be safe to assume that when things do warm up a bit any large Striped Bass moving up the bay will be near the warmer surface water.
Most Ocean City area fishermen have been sitting it out for the most part. Most captains still feel the water is too cold for a good Tautog bit on the inshore and offshore wreck sites and the Black Sea Bass season doesn’t open until May 19th. There was some talk among locals of some large Speckled Trout caught recently in the coastal bays.
“There is no substitute for fishing sense and if a man doesn’t have it, verily, he may cast like an angel and still use his creel largely to transport sandwiches and beer.” – Robert Traver
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.