Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 08, 2015



Despite some retreating towards cooler weather now and then; we are actually making progress toward warmer weather. Many of our spring spawning runs of anadromous fish are occurring, although sporadically. Striped bass are staged in the Choptank, Patuxent, Potomac and Nanticoke Rivers and ready to spawn as soon as water temperatures come up a few degrees. The Susquehanna/upper bay area are quite a bit cooler and spawning will occur there towards the end of the month. This is a great time for trout fishing in many of the state's trout management waters (listed in our guide under Nontidal Fishing) and many families are enjoying time together at local fishing areas. Brothers Ryan and Matthew Bishop got to go fishing with their dad at Little Antietam Creek and enjoyed some quality Maryland trout fishing.


Photo Courtesy of Ryan and Matthew Bishop

White perch spawning runs have been active in most of the Chesapeake Bay's tidal rivers now for the past week and continue in pulses of activity in relation to fluctuating water temperatures. Water temperatures in the upper areas of most tidal rivers are holding around 46º F at the moment; white perch ideally prefer a water temperature between 53º and 57º to spawn. Warmer weather is predicted towards the end of the week so this weekend promises to be a good time to fish the spawning areas for white perch. The narrow upper reaches of the rivers and creeks is where the white perch spawn but they can be intercepted farther down the rivers where they tend to stage. At the spawning areas there have been a lot of smaller white perch with waves of larger perch arriving in unpredictable intervals. At the spawning areas where water ways tend to be constricted and overhead tree branches and sunken wood claim a toll, most are using shad darts tipped with a piece of worm, minnow or grass shrimp. In the deeper and calmer waters a bobber and bait can be used. In the staging areas farther down river, bottom or bobber rigs baited with minnows, grass shrimp, garden worms or bloodworms are used. A bonus to fishing the staging areas is the fact that many of the larger white perch caught are post spawn fish heading back down the river. Channel catfish and post spawn yellow perch can also be found in these staging areas.

Alewife herring, along with hickory shad, are making their annual spring spawning runs up the tidal rivers. Blueback herring will follow in a couple of weeks, they can often be seen splashing close to shore as they chase each other in small groups. The spawning run of hickory shad at Deer Creek usually does not occur until later this month due to colder water temperatures in the Susquehanna River. The alewife herring and hickory shad can be caught on small shad darts or spoons and provide some fun catch and release action.

The Chesapeake Bay is slowly warming up but it is a long process and at the moment water temperatures are holding about 48º. At the Susquehanna River area water temperatures are a little colder due to cold runoff coming down the river. A few striped bass are being caught in the catch and release area around the Susquehanna Flats this week. Most are smaller male fish but a few very large female fish are also being caught. Crankbaits and soft plastic jigs have been the most common baits being used this week. Channel edges leading up to the shallow areas of the flats have been a productive place to fish for fish seeking a little warmer water that has been warmed by the sun's rays. Warm sunny weather will do much to improve this catch and release fishery and many of the larger female striped bass are still moving up the Chesapeake Bay.

At Sandy Point State Park there has been some catch and release striped bass action this week at the point. Surf fishing tackle, circle hooks and gobs of bloodworms or cut bait on a bottom rig have been standard fare. Warm clothes and most of all a good pair of knee boots are important items to have. Any striped bass being caught and released from shore needs to be met in shallow water and not dragged up on the sand. The slime layer on a fish is its first protection against maintaining proper fluid levels in surrounding tissues and also external infections. The Matapeake Fishing Pier is another place where striped bass catch and release fishing can occur. Anyone considering striped bass catch and release fishing needs to be familiar with the areas of the main bay where it is permissible; the tidal rivers where the striped bass spawn are strictly off limits to catch and release fishing for striped bass and are being actively patrolled by the Natural Resources Police. The fines are stiff and most often a license suspension occurs for violators. The Fisheries Service map page contains a lot of valuable maps for Maryland fishermen and the areas open for striped bass fishing are contained there.

Trout fishing continues to be a big draw this week for anglers all over the state as trout production crews and regional staff are busy with additional stockings in many of the trout management areas this week. Conditions have been near ideal with good water flows, plenty of trout and milder weather. This is a unique type of fishing for those who have to go to work or school during the day. Parents and children can meet up at home grab some gear and be off to a local trout management area in short order. Eduardo Marte missed the opening day of trout season but managed to go yesterday on the Little Gunpowder and enjoyed catching some trout.


Photo Courtesy of Eduardo Marte

The locals at Deep Creek Lake are reporting open water on the main lake and coves this week and the state boat ramp is now open. Fishing for a variety of fish such as walleye, smallmouth bass and yellow perch has been good along the edges of the main lake. Northern pike as well as their smaller cousin the chain pickerel are being targeted in the cove areas.

The upper Potomac River continues to be in good shape for smallmouth bass fishing this week. Targeting current breaks, underwater ledges and areas near large rocks are a good tactic. Diving crankbaits, soft plastics that resemble crawfish and tubes are good baits to use. Water temperatures in the upper Potomac are near 55º.

Lakes, reservoirs, ponds and any other classification of freshwater impoundment have been drawing the attention of anglers looking for some fishing fun now that spring weather is upon us. Largemouth bass are becoming more active, especially in shallower areas where water temperatures are warmer. The largemouth bass are in a pre spawn mode of behavior and often can be found in transition areas leading to the shallower spawning areas. Soft plastics, crankbaits and spinnerbaits worked close to the bottom are a good bet. Sunken wood or any other kind of structure is a good area to target. The tidal rivers and creeks are not to be overlooked for they also hold some fabulous largemouth bass fishing opportunities. The tidal Potomac and feeder creeks are very popular for largemouth bass fishing. MaKenzie Barrick got to go fishing with her dad and brother at a local pond and had some catch and release fun with largemouth bass.


Photo Courtesy of MaKenzie Barrick

Crappie are holding deep near structure such as bridge piers, fallen tree tops, sunken wood or marina dock areas. They can be caught by placing a minnow or small jig under a slip bobber, usually about 3' to 5' deep and retrieved very slowly. Bluegills can be found in transition areas leading up to shallower coves where they will be spawning towards the end of the month of early May.

Things are still pretty chilly in the Ocean City area, water temperatures near shore are 45º this week. There is not much going on in regards to fishing in the surf or inlet but there is some offshore action for tautog. A few boats have been venturing out to the wreck sites farther offshore to fish for tautog and the occasional cod. On fair weather days, boats will head out to the canyon areas for deep drop fishing for tilefish.

"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation; rivers are veins of the earth through which the life blood returns to the heart." - Roderick Haig-Brown, 1946, A River Never Sleeps

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.