Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | February 09, 2012

Fishermen are starting to get serious about fishing this week due to the beautiful weather. This time of the year is usually relegated to getting equipment in shape and going to outdoor shows to see what new tackle is out there and that new fishing rod you just got to have. There is some good striped bass action off Ocean City and there is plenty of yellow perch action going on.

The fisheries service will be at the Pasadena Fishing Flea Market along with Licensing on February 18th and 19th at the Fairleigh Heights Fire House on Route 2. Come look for some bargains (there is usually plenty), buy your fishing license and stop by to chat with us.

The relatively warm winter weather has water temperatures in the bay and tidal rivers and creeks about 5-degrees warmer than what fishermen and fish expect this year. The coldest water temperature noted in the lower Susquehanna was 38-degrees last week and fishermen are reporting 42 degrees in the Elk and Northeast Rivers today. Yellow perch are behaving differently this year and are either staging or actually moving up the tidal rivers towards their spawning areas. Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna are not seeing the patterns of fishing they did last year. The smaller yellow perch are schooled up in deeper water as expected but the larger fish seem to be somewhere else. Throwback ratios in the lower Susquehanna, Northeast and Elk Rivers are very high. It would be a calculated guess that the yellow perch in that 12" to 14" size range could be swimming freely in shallower waters looking for something to eat. Early reports are coming in from traditional tidal rivers; of yellow perch being caught; two weeks ago at Martinake State Park on the Choptank and at Hillsboro on the Tuckahoe yesterday. There have been reports of scattered catches at Gray's Run (Bush River), Wayson's Corner (Patuxent River), Allen's Fresh (Wicomico River) and traditional tidal rivers where yellow perch are found. Brothers Tyler and Aiden Dunlap got to go fishing with their dad on the Sassafras recently and caught this nice yellow perch on a 1/8oz jig. Be sure to check out their Angler's Log of February 6th.

Photo Courtesy of Mike Dunlap

At present fishermen in boats are doing well when fishing close to the bottom with scented soft plastics and live minnows at the mouths of the tidal rivers in channels and holes. Bank fishermen are employing small grub jigs and minnows. If you've got the itch to get out; buy your fishing license and check out your favorite spots and you might be lucky enough to be there at the right time and be that guy who's able to say "you should have been here yesterday".

Freshwater fishermen in the upper reaches of the tidal rivers and small ponds and lakes everywhere are having fun catching chain pickerel. They're good fighters and usually charge a lure with total abandon. Crappie are schooled up deep in some of the larger reservoirs such as Loch Raven around bridge piers and marinas in the tidal Potomac and Patuxent Rivers are always good places to look. Largemouth bass can be found holding deep along ledges and drop-offs and small, slow and close to the bottom is the mantra for successful fishermen; grubs, blade lures and hair jigs worked very slow or dead sticked can entice a pickup by a bass hunkered close to the bottom.

John Mullican sent us the following report from the upper Potomac. Always check river levels before heading out. When river levels are at manageable levels, walleye fishing is expected to be good. Hair jigs and grubs worked through the current breaks below dams and major ledges are your best bet when the water temperatures remain in the 30s. During winter warm spells and as spring progresses crankbaits can be productive too. For the die hard smallmouth angler winter can be a tough time to catch many fish. The bass that are caught, however, can be large. Try crawling small hair jigs very slowly along the bottom in areas with little current. Pause often and let the jig sit. The hit will be a mushy feeling similar to pulling in leaves or a slight tap. Warming trends following a rain event can bring great fishing even in the middle of winter.

In early January a few fishermen got out on the ice at Deep Creek Lake and ice fished in some of the coves but that was short lived and the ice, what little there is of it is very unsafe. Fisheries biologist Alan Klotz recommends fishermen try some of the trout catch and release areas and mentioned the Trophy Trout section of the lower Savage as a good place to fish for trout. The pre-season stocking of trout has begun and will go through the month depending on flow conditions and weather. Fishermen can check the latest trout stockings on the following link.

Fishermen at Ocean City have been catching some large striped bass this week by trolling large Mojos, Stretch and Tomic lures. Large striped bass are moving along the beaches on their journey north and the shoal areas within 3-miles of the beach has been the place to troll; most captains are fishing north of the Ocean City Inlet. January was an exciting month for tautog fishing and a new state record 23lb tautog was caught by Charlie Donahue of Philadelphia while fishing on an Ocean City head boat that specializes in this type of fishing. Fisheries biologists aged Charles's big tog to be 10-years old. At least one other 20 lb tog was caught last month and weather permitting the good fishing continues this month.

Photo Courtesy of Mike Kinder

There is an angler in all of us. We all have different styles; but what brings out the best is being in tune with the world around you. - Frank Moore


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.