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Freshwater Fishing Reports 2008 Year In Review

Western Region, District I - Garrett and Allegany Counties

Savage River Trophy Trout Fishing Area

The Savage River tail water is one of Maryland’s top fishing destinations for trophy wild brook and brown trout. Our 2008 surveys showed that adult trout densities are at near record levels with an average of 1,376 per mile throughout river. A beautiful Savage River Trophy Trout Fishing Area Brown TroutThe highest numbers were found in the Fly-Only Area with 1,716 adult trout per mile. Brown trout dominate the population, while brook trout still maintain about 25% of the total numbers, with a few rainbow trout in the river to add to the fishing experience. The numbers of quality size brook trout (> 8 inches) and brown trout (> 12 inches) inhabiting the river is remarkable; with brook trout up to 12 inches and brown trout up to 18 inches being collected in the 2008 survey. Reproduction was considered fair for brook trout, while the 2008 brown trout year-class was considered poor. Flow management from the Savage River Reservoir Dam will continue to be a challenge as necessary repair work still needs to be done on the release gates. We will continue to update the status of the Savage River Reservoir Dam as information becomes available.

The Youghiogheny River Catch and Release Trout Fishing Area

Youghiogheny River Catch and Release Area’s trout population continues to improve after the record hot summer of 2005. The upper station near Hoyes Run has the highest trout densities, about 1,000 trout per mile, while even the lower A trophy rainbow from the Youghiogheny River Delayed Harvest Area, Friendsville, MDSang Run area had densities more than 500 per mile. Big brown trout measuring 22 inches and rainbow trout measuring 17 inches were collected in 2008. The population is about 50/50 brown and rainbow trout, supported by annual fall fingerling stockings. Our Hatchery staff at Albert Powell and Murley Spring Facilities did an outstanding job in providing fingerling rainbow and brown trout, as well as a generous donation from the Yough Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Brookfield Power, WISP’s Orvis Guide Service, and Western Maryland Fishing Guide Association brought the total number of fingerlings stocked in the Yough River C&R TFA to 57,950. Also, anglers should try to fish the Youghiogheny River Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Area near Friendsville. This relatively new special management area received some trophy rainbow trout this fall, and they should still be there in early 2009.

The North Branch Potomac River

With 50 miles of managed trout water ranging from Put and Take, Delayed Harvest, Catch and Release, and Zero Creel trout management areas, the North Branch Potomac River offers something for everyone. In 2008 we stocked the river upstream of Jennings Randolph Lake via CSX rail-truck to get trout into the remote Delayed One of the big rainbow trout donated by the Conservation Fund's Freshwater InstituteHarvest Trout Fishing Area bordering the Potomac State Forest, and will continue to do so in 2009. The upper Catch and Release Trout Fishing Area downstream of the Jennings Randolph Dam is the place to go for a “Trout Grand Slam” as we collected brook, brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout during 2008. We also supplemented the trout population with about 18,655 brown trout fingerlings divided up between the upper and lower Catch and Release Areas. The Put and Take Areas at Barnum and Bloomington benefited from the generous donations of large rainbow trout throughout the year from the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute. These trout caused quite a bit of excitement at when at the end of a line!

Anglers experienced another good year on the North Branch Potomac River’s Zero Creel Limit for all trout species from Westernport to Pinto in 2008. Our electro-fishing surveys show that fingerling stocked brown and rainbow trout continue to show excellent growth and survival rates. Through a cooperative effort with the West Virginia DNR Fisheries Division and the Freshwater Institute, we stocked about 51,000 fingerling rainbow trout in this section of the river during 2008, which translates into great fishing potential for 2009. Big brown and rainbow trout were found throughout the Zero Creel Area, but the best trout fishing area is from Westernport to Black Oak.

North Branch Potomac River Catch and Release Black Bass Fishing Area

Tom Waldrop, Kenny Wampler, and Marcus Wilson pose with Kenny's NBPR tiger musky Smallmouth bass become the dominate game fish species in the North Branch Potomac River from the Keyser to Cumberland section of the river. Our surveys showed that an abundant year-class was produced in 2007, and there were lots of these yearling bass present in the 2008 surveys. The adult smallmouth bass collected during our surveys show a diverse age and size structure with a high percentage of the population in the quality and preferred size classes. Even the occasional trophy tiger musky is still caught in this section of the river. Fisheries Service and the Boating Service continue to work on improving access to the river in 2008 by identifying lands suitable for public access, especially in the Pinto area of the river.

Deep Creek Lake

Studies conducted in Deep Creek Lake during 2008 showed Maryland’s largest lake is home to at least 18 fish species, including the popular game fish and panfish species– walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, and bluegill. Walleye are considered abundant, and the adult population hosts a large percentage of fish in the 16 to 18 inch size class, with fish measuring up to 26.5 inches in our sample. Another exceptional year-class was produced in 2008, with a catch rate of 110 young-of- year walleye per hour of electro-fishing effort. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are abundant in Deep Creek Lake as well, and their populations contain a high percentage of adults in the quality (>12 inches) and preferred (> 15 inches) size range. We even collected a quite a few largemouth bass in the five to eight pound size class. Reproductive success was considered “good” for smallmouth and “fair” for largemouth bass. Yellow perch data were also obtained in 2008 to gain more knowledge on this species life history in Deep Creek Lake, and to make future fishery management decisions. Anglers wanting to catch a really big fish should try Deep Creek Lake in the early spring for some monster northern pike like the one captured by Jake Knox of McHenry, MD.

Broadford LakeStriped bass fingerlings being stocked into Broadford Lake 2008

Broadford Lake in Mountain Lake Park is another great place to fish in Garrett County. This 230 acre impoundment is home to good populations of largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegills, pumpkinseeds, yellow perch, and chain pickerel. Broadford Lake had been stocked with stripers up until the mid-1980’s and has produced some outstanding trophy striped bass over the years. During 2008 we re-introduced 2,000 striped bass fingerlings, and we can’t wait to see how big these fish grow!

Western Region, District 2

Smallmouth BassSmallmouth bass are undoubtedly the Potomac’s most sought after game fish. This important resource is monitored annually by seining during the summer to assess year class strength and electro fishing during the fall to assess the relative abundance, size structure, and condition of adult bass. Our electro fishing surveys on the upper Potomac River last fall confirmed what anglers reported all year – 2008 was one of the best years ever for smallmouth fishing! Low flows, very clear water, and heavy vegetation growth did, however, present challenges for both anglers and biologists and prevented us from conducting surveys in the western stretches. In the end, eight sites were sampled from Edwards Ferry to McCoy’s Ferry resulting in the collection of nearly 700 smallmouth bass. The overall electro-fishing catch rate for quality-size smallmouth bass (11 inches and larger) throughout the upper Potomac River in 2008 was 34 bass/hour, considered excellent.

Anglers may be surprised that the catch rate for quality-size bass did not differ greatly between the lower, middle, and upper (1 site) river or inside and outside of the Catch-and-Release Area. This can be attributed, at least in part, to angler’s reluctance to harvest bass. A 2007 census of Potomac River anglers found that 90% never or almost never harvested bass from the river. Of those that did harvest bass, most only harvested “one for the wall.” For these reasons and to simplify regulations, the Maximum Size Bass Fishing Area between Dam 3 and Dam 4 was replaced with the standard, nontidal Statewide regulations Smallmouth Bass Young of the Yearfor large and smallmouth bass (12” minimum size, 5 fish per day creel, catch-and-release season March 1 through June 15) effective January 1, 2009. The largest smallmouth bass collected was caught from the middle Potomac and measured 21 inches in length and weighed 5 pounds.

A total of 100 seine hauls at 13 sites between Seneca and Spring Gap were made during July to evaluate smallmouth bass year class strength. The relative abundance of juvenile bass is expressed as the average number of young bass captured per haul. The overall mean 2008 catch was 1.4 bass per haul, slightly below the long-term (1975 – 2007) mean of 1.9. Anglers should not be concerned about the below average hatch. Year classes have been above average since 2005, including the record hatch in 2007, and these will ensure plenty of smallmouth in the coming years. In fact, anglers will certainly notice an increase in the abundance of 9 to 11” smallmouth in 2009.

WalleyeWalleye have gained popularity and offer Potomac anglers fishing diversity. During the frigid winter months when smallmouth fishing is slow, walleye bite readily. Consistent reproduction between 2004 and 2007 has increased catch rates. In the 25-mile section between Dam 3 and Dam 4, where walleye are most abundant, mean electro fishing catch rates increased 61% from 2007 to 2008. Nonetheless, successful reproduction in river systems is highly variable, effected by flow and turbidity during spawning and the early life stages. High flows during last April and May reduced recruitment of most river species. No young walleyes were observed during 2008.

The Potomac walleye population has an excellent size structure with the majority of walleyes measuring between 15 and 20 inches (62%). Twenty-nine percent of the walleyes collected during the fall surveys exceeded 20 inches in length! Anglers should keep in mind that only walleyes 15” to 20” Muskellungemay be kept from the Potomac River from January 1 through April 15, all walleyes over 20” must be released during this time.

The upper Potomac River is also home to Maryland’s only muskie fishery. While the source of this self-sustaining population isn’t clear, there’s no denying the quality of the resource or its jump in popularity. Length, weight, age, and size structure data is continually collected from muskellunge captured during electro-fishing surveys as well as from angler-caught fish. The current size structure is excellent. Although the proportion of younger-aged individuals in the population increased in 2008 as a result of strong recruitment 2005 through 2007, six percent of the muskie captured in 2008 exceeded 42 inches in length! Properly handling and releasing muskie will ensure that the Potomac remains an excellent fishery. No young muskies were observed during 2008.

Monocacy River

The Monocacy River, Maryland’s largest tributary to the Potomac River, is a significant smallmouth fishery in its own rite. Several types of sampling gear are required to survey the Monocacy because of the rivers smaller size. The lower sections are generally sampled using a lightweight, electro-fishing boat whereas the Monocacy Rivershallower upper reaches are sampled using barge-mounted electro-fishing equipment while wading. A total of 395 smallmouth bass were collected from seven sites between LeGore Bridge and the mouth during 2008. The size structure of the smallmouth population was considered good and was fairly consistent throughout the river. Smallmouth abundance, however, was much greater in the lower river. The distribution of smallmouth was certainly effected by the below-average flows experienced during the late summer and fall. Smallmouth bass reproduction in the Monocacy during 2008 was also slightly below the long-term average.

An additional electro fishing survey was conducted in the lower Monocacy (catch and release bass fishing area) to obtain a population estimate of smallmouth bass. The survey was a depletion survey, used most frequently in smaller, wadable trout streams. Measuring smallmouth bassIn a depletion survey, several passes are made through a measured station attempting to collect every fish of the target specie(s). Based on the number of fish collected during each pass, a regression predicts the number of fish in the sample area. The survey estimated a density of 224 smallmouth bass 11 inches and greater in length per mile and 54 smallmouth bass 14 inches and greater per mile. The largest smallmouth collected from the Monocacy during 2008 measured 17.7 inches in total length and weighed 2.6 pounds.

Maryland’s warmwater rivers provide an exciting diversity of fish species and year-round fishing opportunities. Even if you can’t travel to the waters listed above, great light-tackle fishing can be had in many of the smaller tributary streams throughout the watershed. For more information on fishing opportunities in the Potomac watershed, I can be reached at or 301-898-5443, good fishing in 2009.

Central Region

The year of 2008 was challenging and rewarding for anglers in Central Maryland. Trout StockingInvasive aquatic species began appearing in earnest throughout the state. Didymo, Northern Snakeheads, Flathead catfish, Rusty Crayfish, and Zebra Mussels will impact recreational anglers and our resources for years to come. Not all the news is bad however; Central Maryland still contains many outstanding fishing destinations with great populations of bass, trout, and panfish.

The invasive algae, Didymo, were documented in January of 2008, in the Gunpowder Falls tailwater in Baltimore County. Didymo growth can coat the stream bottom and impair habitat for trout and aquatic insects. A simple wash of boots and gear with a 5 % salt solution is effective in killing this unsightly nuisance. More information can be found here

Put and Take trout fishing still remains a spring time tradition throughout the region. Rainbow TroutA total of 100,000 rainbow and brown trout are stocked within Central Maryland each spring. These fish are stocked into publicly accessible streams and ponds throughout the area.

Our summer stream sampling revealed surprisingly good numbers of wild trout surviving in cold, high-quality streams in the region. You may cross one of these streams on your commute to work each day and never suspect it contains a brown trout such as the one pictured.

Northern Snakeheads made a rare appearance in Northwest Branch in Montgomery County. Northern SnakeheadsAn alert angler spotted a pair in a pool while fishing for put and take trout and reported it to DNR. Inland Fisheries biologists Charlie Gougeon and Todd Heerd responded with help from MD National Capitol Park and Planning staff and were able to capture the pair with electro-fishing gear in a matter of minutes.

We still are uncertain about the origin of these fish, did they swim upstream from the Anacostia River or did someone illegally stock these fish into the stream?

Brown TroutThe annual fall electro-fishing survey of the Gunpowder Falls tailwater in Baltimore County was again successful in documenting an excellent population of wild brown trout. We electro-fished 3 segments of the Gunpowder from Prettyboy Dam downstream to Monkton. A total of 1234 brown trout were captured in the 3 stations. Based upon our data, the Gunpowder Falls has an average of 2019 brown trout per mile in the 9 miles of publicly accessible stream from Prettyboy Dam downstream to Monkton.

Paul Roberts of Gunpowder State Park holds a beautiful wild brown captured during one of our surveys.

Loch Raven Reservoir should continue to provide excellent largemouth bass fishing in the years to come. A fall electro-fishing survey on the reservoir found a high density of 12 inch and larger bass. For those interested in cold water action, chain pickerel are also abundant in this weedy reservoir. Black crappie, yellow perch, and white perch are all abundant and round out the menu for those who enjoy panfish.

Black CrappieCharlie Gougeon holds an exceptional black crappie from Loch Raven Reservoir captured in a springtime survey.

Southern Region

Lake Artemesia

Inland Fisheries conducted an electro-fishing survey on Lake Artemesia in the fall of 2008 in order to assess the fish community in the lake. Results showed little change in the composition of the fish population. Although a few really nice bass are caught in Artemesia each year the population is still dominated by many small fish of poor quality, a typical result of overcrowding. Other species found during the survey included bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, black crappie, bullhead catfish and rainbow trout. The black crappie population looked good with the larger fish measuring 11” in length. An angler creel was initiated earlier in 2008 using creel cards that were available at three self-serve boxes located at both access points to the lake and the restroom/office building. The creel survey was conducted in order to gauge angler preference. Most respondents were targeting primarily largemouth bass but other targeted species included bluegill, crappie and trout. No one reported harvesting largemouth, most creeled sunfish. Only one angler responded that he would harvest a bass and that fish would need to be at least 12” in length.

Myrtle Grove

Myrtle Grove Pond was also surveyed in November. Largemouth Bass The average length of bass caught during the 2008 survey was 12 inches, an increase from 9.3” in 2004. The overall number of bass collected decreased from earlier surveys but this may not be bad news since those samples showed that there were too many small bass in Myrtle Grove. Note for all pond owners: More fish is not always better. Ponds that are over-crowded with a predator species (bass) tend to have small, thin, unhealthy bass and not enough forage fish to keep the overall fish community in balance. The largest bass collected in Myrtle Grove this fall topped the scales at 5.5 lbs and was 20.75” in length. The black crappie population in Myrtle Grove also appeared to be doing better with several fish over 14” in length being found.

Tidal Potomac and Upper Bay bass fishing tournaments

Both the tidal Potomac and the Upper Bay provided largemouth bass anglers with many hours of enjoyable fishing in 2008. Inland Fisheries collected information on 150 organized bass fishing tournaments in 2008. Most were held out of Smallwood State Park on the Potomac River or Tyding’s Ramp on the Upper Bay, but a number of tournaments were also held at other ramp scattered around the Chesapeake Bay. The average lunker reported from organized bass fishing tournaments on the Upper Bay weighed almost 5 lbs. in the springtime and over 4 lbs. in the summer/fall season. The average lunker on the tidal Potomac weighed over 5 lbs. in the spring and over 4 ½ in the summer/fall. The average fish caught for both areas throughout the entire tournament season was approximately 2 lbs.

Tidal Bass – Potomac, Patuxent, and the Upper Bay

Inland Fisheries conducted both a young-of-year (YOY) survey for black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) and a fall population study in the tidal freshwater portion of the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers and the Upper Chesapeake Bay. Largemouth BassThe Potomac YOY survey averaged 5.01 bass per 100 meters of shoreline, a decline from the last two years but similar to catches prior to 2005. Of all the areas sampled (Oxon Creek to Nanjemoy Creek) those with the best reproduction were Piscataway and Mattawoman creeks. It was great to see good numbers of YOY bass in Piscataway again this year. As many of you may know, the submerged grass beds (SAV) all but disappeared in Piscataway Creek 6-7 years ago. As the SAV declined, so did the bass population in the area. Thanks to the resurgence of SAV in Piscataway we’ve seen a great improvement in the number of bass found there. Let’s hope this trend continues. The fall sampling showed little change in the largemouth bass population in the tidal Potomac River.

The Patuxent YOY survey averaged 0.53 bass per 100 meters of shoreline and was about as good as it has been in the past. Typically Western Branch and the area above Wayson’s Trailer Park produces the highest number of young of year fish. Western Branch, the area around Wayson’s corner and the shoreline above Jackson’s Landing is the best area for finding adult largemouth bass.

Mud PuddleThe number of YOY found in the Upper Bay (Swan Creek to the Northeast River) was slightly higher than previous years with the best areas being in the Northeast River and around Garret Island. Catch rates for adult largemouth bass, according to electro-fishing samples, were similar to previous years with the Northeast River and the western side of the Susquehanna River holding the highest numbers of adult fish.

Northern Snakehead continue to expand their range on the tidal Potomac River. Inland Fisheries responded to several calls throughout the year by concerned citizens who believed they spotted northern snakeheads way up in some of the tributaries to the Potomac. In at least one case, over 60 juvenile snakeheads and two adults were found in small puddle that formed earlier in the year when a tributary to Mattawoman Creek flooded and later receded. This puddle was located over 12 miles from the mouth of Mattawoman Creek.

Trout fishing

Inland Fisheries stocked over 20,000 rainbow trout in 13 lakes and ponds in Southern Maryland. (See the Maryland 2009 Fishing Guide for put-and-take trout fishing areas). This very popular program continued to provide Southern Maryland anglers with a seasonal trout fishing opportunity that many would not have been able to enjoy had it not been so close to home.

Eastern Region

Whether in a boat, or from the shoreline, the Eastern Shore provides diverse opportunities for the freshwater angler! To start with, most of the tidal bass fisheries of the “Shore” are in fine shape. In 2008, we completed electro-fishing surveys on the Wicomico and Choptank Rivers as well as Marshyhope Creek. Largemouth BassAll three have good bass populations, but our results suggest that Marshyhope Creek and the Wicomico River were the best of the three. The Wicomico in particular produced a great number of truly large bass in the 4-5 pound range. The most productive areas were right around the docks of the Port of Salisbury, so large boats and motors are not needed to fish this area! There are still plenty of bass available to anglers in the Choptank, but the River is still in a “rebuilding” mode. It was stocked with over 29,000 bass this past spring by our staff. With continued stocking and monitoring, we are confident that we can re-establish the Choptank bass fishery to its former level.

In 2004, Wye Mills Lake experienced a disastrous fish kill due to low dissolved oxygen levels. Electro-fishing surveys in subsequent years suggested that a few bass and bluegill fish survived the event by ascending the small streams that enter the lake. Restockings of largemouth bass and bluegill were completed, to supplement the surviving populations. In 2008, an electro-fishing survey was completed, and we are pleased to report that the fish stocks are recovering nicely. Although no true whopper bass or bluegills were collected, the abundance of quality bass and bluegill are very good. In fact, adult bass abundance was twice as high as it was in 2004, prior to the fish kill event!

In a similar situation, Galestown Community Lake’s water control structure (dam) failed during a storm event in 2006, draining the Lake.
Galestown Community Lake Before and After New Structure
Dam repairs were completed this spring, and the lake is back to full pool. Stockings of bass, bluegill and golden shiners were completed this year to re-establish the sportfish populations. The new water control structure and embankment have been improved to include a large section for shoreline access.

Each year, our staff enhances our public impoundments by deploying fish habitat structures. The structures are made from recycled Christmas trees and concrete blocks, and deployed into our impoundments on a 3-year rotational basis. In 2008, 25 structures were sunk into Wye Mills Lake and Stemmers Run Reservoir. Our electro-fishing surveys have shown that bass and panfish have quite an affinity for them.

Restoration and Enhancement Program

Warm Water Hatcheries

Our warm water hatcheries culture fish species for many Fisheries Service projects including tidal bass enhancement, corrective stocking in state lakes and rivers, farm pond stocking and the fishing rodeo program. Cultured species include largemouth bass, small mouth bass, hybrid sunfish, redear sunfish, yellow perch, bluegill, walleye, golden shiners and striped bass. The facilities are located at Unicorn Lake Fish Hatchery on the Eastern Shore and Manning Hatchery in Southern Maryland.Panfish

In addition to warm water species culture, these hatcheries perform anadromous (migratory) species culture for restoration projects. They also culture rainbow trout for regional put and take stocking projects, alleviating pressure on our traditional coldwater culture facilities. The diverse nature of culture responsibilities for the warm water hatcheries results in complex utilization of staff and resources. It is unusual to produce warm water, cool water, cold water and anadromous species all at a single facility.

Development of new culture strategies, and refinements to existing strategies, is a continual process at these facilities. We are working to develop procedures to spawn walleye at Manning Hatchery. These fish were previously outsourced from other states. In an effort to improve production and biosecurity, in-house spawning is preferred. The staff at Manning Hatchery has had great success spawning locally collected walleye brood fish.

New largemouth bass culture techniques are also under development. Experimental trials in 2008 indicate the potential to tank-spawn largemouth bass rather than using traditional pond-spawning methods. Tank-spawning is beneficial because it allows hatchery staff complete control over water quality, temperature and predation. If further trials support previous results, tank-spawning could be expanded to production scale at Manning and Unicorn hatcheries.

Manning Hatchery staff also continued to modify their traditional culture methodologies for anadromous species. Improvements in hickory shad culture techniques produced more hickory shad larvae for restoration projects than in previous years. Early life Atlantic sturgeon culture techniques show continued improvement and 2008 produced the highest larval and juvenile survival to date.

Current research at these hatcheries also focuses on new marking techniques to identify hatchery fish in the wild. One technique uses a flourochrome compound called calcein to mark hatchery fish. Fish are immersed in a calcein solution, which chemically binds to all the bony or calcified structures (fin rays, vertebrae, scale margins, otoliths). When excited by blue light of a specific wavelength, the marked structures will fluoresce, or glow under the light (Se-mark™, Western Chemical, and Ferndale, Washington). This provides biologists with a non-lethal method to identify a captured fish as hatchery origin. This information is Largemouth Bass Calcein (Flourochrome compound)useful in population assessment and monitoring survival and movement. Experimental work thus far indicates that exposure to sunlight can impact long-term, external mark detection. Therefore, the technique might not be ideal for use with pelagic species, such as shad or bass, and might be better suited for bottom dwelling species. Atlantic sturgeon might be a good candidate based on their habitat preference. Investigation into the potential to mark sturgeon with calcein has been ongoing and we hope to demonstrate some success with these prehistoric denizens of the deep.

In 2008, Manning Hatchery participated in a cooperative project with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Maryland Fishery Resources Office (MFRO) to investigate the potential for migratory species to act as host organisms for freshwater mussels. Freshwater mussels have a unique life history in that they require a host to complete the reproductive cycle. Mussels expel glochidia (larvae) into the water column. These glochidia attach themselves to the host species where they transform into juvenile mussels. After transformation, the mussels drop off the host fish to continue their life cycle. This relationship does not harm the host species. The Eastern elliptio (Elliptio complanata) is a freshwater mussel species that is common throughout the Chesapeake Bay region but seems to be less populous above large dams. It is possible that large dams block movement of species that are critical to the Eastern elliptio life cycle. One potential species is the American eel. In order to determine host preference, glochidia were introduced into tanks with American shad, hickory shad, blueback herring, alewife and American eel. Preliminary results indicate a strong preference for American eel as a host species. This finding could have significant impact on management strategies for both eels and mussels. Many large dams incorporate fish passage protocols to pass shad and herring but these methods are not usually successful for eel passage. Additionally, mussels occupy an important ecological niche as upstream filter feeders. DNR and MFRO will continue to investigate this important issue and evaluate potential mitigation strategies.

Warm water hatcheries regularly cooperate with USFWS and U.S. Food & Drug Administration to conduct aquaculture drug research. Data generated by DNR is used to evaluate the safety and efficacy of new therapeutants proposed for use in aquaculture.

Meadow Mountain Youth Center Aquaculture Facility

The Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) and DNR conduct a cooperative program to educate incarcerated youths in the field of aquaculture. Students are taught many of the basic skills that are required to operate and maintain aquaculture systems through lecture, practical laboratory exercises and testing.

A pilot project was initiated to utilize the DJS Meadow Mountain Youth Center course curriculum as a mutually beneficial project to grow fish for DNR programs. Students successfully reared trout and hybrid sunfish at pilot scale. Due to the great success of the initial pilot, DNR and DJS will team up to operate a production-scale project in 2009. This will permit expansion of the educational opportunities for the students. It will also produce fish for children’s fishing rodeos and other recreational fishing opportunities in Maryland.

The project has three primary goals:

      1. Promote the education of underprivileged youth in all aspects of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) and other environmental education activities
      2. Produce fish for youth and other recreational angling activities
      3. Refine RAS construction and operating techniques

Several outcomes should benefit the incarcerated youths. Students that complete the program will be awarded a certificate in general aquaculture techniques. This will allow students to return to their communities with valuable job skills in the environmental technical field. This will help transition students from the center to the productive work force. Knowledge of new methodologies will contribute to development of the aquaculture industry in Maryland by providing a source for trained workforce and technology transfer.

DNR will gain a new source for hatchery-produced fish and benefit from data generated by experimental RAS trials conducted by the students. This will free up resources at state culture facilities and contribute to the knowledge base for state culture biologists.

This unique project serves the needs of many communities. It allows students to actively participate in a project that benefits all Maryland citizens and works to encourage youth involvement in outdoor activities.

Coldwater Hatcheries

Hatchery TruckStaff at the coldwater hatcheries continued to deal with the lingering impacts of a 2006 whirling disease event at three trout culture facilities. The situation required indefinite closure of two net-pen culture facilities and a temporary closure of the Bear Creek Rearing Station. This has reduced the production potential for trout but staff are utilizing every resource at their disposal to maximize their efforts and minimize the impacts on the angling public and the coldwater fish populations.

In spite of the current limitations, hatchery staff were able to stock over 350,000 spring trout into Maryland waters. Approximately 21,000 fish were placed for fall stocking. Stocking was supplemented by the donation of over 27,000 pounds of trophy-sized trout from the Freshwater Institute. More than 178,000 fingerling trout were produced and stocked for put and grow fishing opportunities.

Staff are vigorously pursuing any potentially beneficial production opportunities. Albert Powell Hatchery is now culturing some large, holdover rainbow trout that average over two pounds each. They are also using satellite rearing facilities to raise large brown trout. These fish were stocked in the fall and some of them exceeded five pounds.Weighing Trout

Bear Creek staff are dependent upon smaller satellite facilities to rear fish while they work to certify the rearing station to be free of pathogens such as whirling disease. The goal is to get the facility back into limited production as soon as possible. Concurrently, staff are conducting experimental trials with recirculating aquaculture system technology. There are currently three experimental systems in operation at Bear Creek. This technique is promising since it lessens the dependence on surface water for fish culture and permits control over rearing conditions. This greatly reduces the chance that pathogens will enter or leave the facility.

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