Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 15, 2015



Chesapeake Bay fishermen will certainly be on edge this coming Friday evening as they go to bed with dreams of trophy striped bass on their mind. Anyone who fishes or hunts knows and shares the expectations of opening day which is not much different than those we all felt as kids on Christmas Eve. Due to a very cold spring striped bass fishing conditions will be a little different this year. A large portion of the spawning striped bass are still up in the spawning reaches of the major spawning rivers and active spawning has only just begun earlier this week. The better fishing lies ahead in the next couple of weeks but that will not deter the excitement of this Saturday's opening day. Anyone near a Chesapeake Bay marina will be hearing the low growl of diesel engines warming up at the dock in the pre dawn hours and the roar of those engines and whine of outboards as they clear the many ports around the bay.

The water temperatures in the striped catch and release area around the Susquehanna Flats area continue to be rather cold; the NOAA Buoy showed a chilly 46° yesterday near the mouth of the Susquehanna River. Striped bass are moving into the area and there have been some large fish caught and released in the past week. Lures such as diving crankbaits, soft plastic jigs and swimming plugs have been good choices for lures. Water flows through the Conowingo Dam have been above normal but water clarity has generally been good. Water temperatures are still too cold for hickory shad runs at Deer and Octoraro Creeks but white perch are showing up in the Susquehanna this week.

The Spring Trophy Striped Bass Season kick off is this coming Saturday and no matter what marina you visit around the bay; captains and crew are busy getting boats ship shape this week. There will be a lot of boat traffic and most boats will be pulling planer boards so it will take a lot of cooperation to avoid unpleasant line crossing situations at some of the more popular locations. Pre spawn striped bass headed for the upper bay spawning locations will be moving along the steeper edges of the shipping channel. Most knowledgeable captains know that striped bass do not like engine noise and many will be cruising close to the surface so those that can start fishing early will have the best chances of hooking up.

The striped bass started spawning yesterday in the upper Choptank River so the Nanticoke, Patuxent and Potomac should be kicking off also. The magic water temperature for spawning is around 56° and cooler and cloudy weather will slow things down today. The big girls are quite often the first to spawn so with a little luck, fishermen may see the first of the post spawn fish leaving the spawning rivers this weekend. The False Channel will be a good place to check for fish leaving the Choptank. The Tangier Sound Channel, Holland Straits and Buoy 72 are good choices for the Nanticoke River, Cove Point to Point No Point for the Patuxent and the sharp channel edge out in front of St. George's Island is a good place to troll on the lower Potomac River. Large parachutes and bucktails dressed with sassy shads will be two of the more common lures used and chartreuse and white will be favorite colors in most instances to bring a fish up on deck such as this nice fish caught in a previous season by Angelina Watts.


Photo Courtesy of Rich Watts

We are under some different regulations this year and folks will have to be careful when measuring fish that are in the 36" to 40" size class. Fish are measured by what is called "total length" which is the measurement from the snout to the end of the tail. If the fish measures close to the 36" to 40" slot, don't put yourself in a bad situation; just release it, there are plenty of other fish out there. The new regulations for 2015 are as follows.

A person may only take or possess:

  • One striped bass between 28 inches and 36 inches or one striped bass larger than 40 inches from April 18, 2015 to May 15, 2015.
  • Two striped bass larger than 20 inches, only one of which may be larger than 28 inches, from May 16, 2015 to December 20, 2015 (previous reports incorrectly had Dec 15 as last day).
  • EXCEPTION: A person may only keep one striped bass between 20 inches and 26 inches in the Susquehanna Flats and the Northeast River, as described in COMAR 08.02.15.09A(3), from May 16, 2015 through May 31, 2015.

    Striped bass fishermen should remember that this Saturday is only the start of the Trophy Striped Bass Season and there will be better fishing ahead towards the end of April and the first week of May. As most have observed just about all fish spawning runs have been late this year and striped bass are no exception.

    The white perch are still being found in the upper sections of the bay's tidal rivers this week. In many areas post spawn and pre spawn fish can be encountered. The Susquehanna River is perhaps the exception due to water temperatures still holding in the upper 40's. Channel catfish are also being caught in the upper and middle sections of the tidal rivers. Hickory shad have been showing up in several of the white perch spawning areas on the Choptank, Potomac and Patuxent Rivers and those fishing with shad darts have been enjoying some fun catch and release action.

    Trout fishing continues to be one of the bigger shows in town this week as stocking crews deliver more trout to many of the trout management waters. Trout anglers have been enjoying the good fishing opportunities being offered at many locations due to supplemental stockings and really get excited when they hook into one of the trophy trout being stocked at every location. Shawn Golden sent in this picture of a trophy trout that he caught in Beaver Creek that weighed 12.3 lbs.


    Photo Courtesy of Shawn Golden

    You can find out where the latest stockings are taking place by checking out the trout stocking website to obtain some long range planning as well as updates and there are maps to guide you to what areas are stocked. You can also be notified when the stockings have actually occurred by subscribing to the fisheries email list.

    Regional fisheries biologists are reporting that water conditions in most areas are in great shape for trout fishing and of course water temperatures are certainly cold enough. There is a very promising weather forecast for this weekend so conditions should be ideal for some fun trout fishing at your favorite fishing hole. Powerbait dough baits are perhaps the most popular bait being used for put and take stocked trout but garden worms are another good choice when using bait. Fly fishermen can use a variety of nymphs, wooly buggers and similar type flies and spin fishermen know that trout love small flashy spinners and spoons.

    Deep Creek Lake has been providing good fishing this past week for a mix of species as water temperatures creep into the upper 40's in the open waters of the lake. The coves are a little warmer due to the warming rays of the sun in the shallower waters. In the main lake crappie are being found around deep structure; small minnows or jigs under a slip bobber has been a good choice for catching them. A mix of large yellow perch, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass are being caught along shorelines. Some of the better largemouth bass fishing is occurring at the mouths of the shallow cove areas.

    The warming rays of the sun and milder air temperatures are causing ponds, lakes, reservoirs and rivers to warm up and causing many resident fish to become more active. Largemouth bass are in a pre spawn mode of activity this week and can be found holding in transition areas leading to the shallower coves and creeks. Shallow diving crankbaits and soft plastics are good choices for baits and any type of sunken wood or similar structure in these areas are good places to target. This happy fisherman is all smiles with this nice largemouth bass caught and released from a local pond.


    Photo Courtesy of Alan Englebrecht

    Ocean City area fishing is still in somewhat of a deep freeze this week. There have been a few boats drifting inside of the inlet trying to put the first summer flounder of the season on the deck with no success so far. Last week more than a few flounder fishermen headed down to Wachapreague where the first flounder of the season are usually caught with no success down there either. Water temperatures are holding around 47° this week just outside of the inlet so flounder guys will just have to be a little more patient.

    There are some charter and private boats going offshore to wreck sites and finding good fishing for tautog and a few Atlantic cod are also being caught. Deep drop fishing has been good along the canyon edges for tilefish.

    "The fish you release is your gift to another angler, as it may have been another angler's gift to you." - Lee Wulff, 1939

    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.