Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 06, 2011

Boat yards have been a buzz and travel lifts are working overtime as fishermen finish up that last coat of bottom paint and get their boats berthed for further preparations. Those that trailer their boats can be seen in backyards and driveways throughout the region getting everything ship shape. The anticipation of the opening of the trophy Striped Bass Season next Saturday is bubbling over; it rivals the excitement of a 7-year old child the week before Christmas. Fishermen have been getting out on the bay to practice a little pre-season catch and release by either trolling or by light tackle jigging. The Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant (CCNPP) warm water discharge is just about the most popular and productive place to practice some catch and release light tackle jigging for striped bass and fishermen have been enjoying themselves while being very careful with the big fish. Water temperatures in the middle and lower bay are holding in the upper 40's so it's a natural that striped bass migrating up the bay take time for a little spell in what one might consider a dip in a hot tub for fish. Jay Fleming recently fished the CCNPP discharge with some friends and had a ball catching and releasing large striped bass while light tackle jigging. He sent us an angler's log with some amazing pictures such as the one below.

Photo Courtesy Jay Fleming

Shore based fishermen have been catching and releasing striped bass at prominent points on the bay and few are as popular as Sandy Point State Park. Stout surf fishing gear, circle hooks and bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or cut bait are the ticket to the fun. Fishermen are reminded though to come prepared with heavy tackle, rubber boots so one can meet the fish in shallow water for removing the hook. Dragging these pre-spawn fish up on the sand causes severe injury to the slime layer that is essential to their survival. Responsible fishermen already know that is illegal to target striped bass in the spawning reaches of the tidal rivers. The striped bass are already spawning now in the Choptank, Nanticoke and Patuxant Rivers so let them procreate to their fullest; a good reproductive year and a strong year class of young striped bass would be a fine thing indeed.

Water temperatures in the Susquehanna flats region are still at or below the 45-degree mark; a warm spell will help raise the temperature and the catch and release fishery there should improve soon. A few industrious fishermen have been trying their luck for the last week or so and a few large striped bass are beginning to be caught and released. When the water is this cold many fishermen start with circle hooks and fresh cut bait from gizzard shad or herring and drift through areas that may hold fish. Alan Knapp sent in an angler's log from an April 5th fishing trip there and reported that he and his fishing buddy caught and released 10 striped bass from 21lbs to 35lbs in 8-hours of fishing; be sure to check out his report and pictures.

Photo Courtesy Allen Knapp

Fisheries biologists that are surveying hickory shad report that they've found them holding in the Susquehanna; so all it takes is a warming trend and the fish will soon be entering Deer and Octoraro Creeks; providing some exciting catch and release action for fishermen. Word is that fishermen are beginning to catch them at Fletcher's on the Potomac this week. White perch continue to move slowly move down the tidal rivers after their spawning runs and fishermen are catching them by fishing with bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp from shore or small boats in the channel areas. Channel catfish are very active now and no doubt fishermen drifting cut bait on circle hooks in the Susquehanna Flats area will be catching them while targeting striped bass. The tidal rivers have plenty of them also and they can make a tasty shore side lunch when deep fried in your favorite batter with hush puppies; a real treat and a lasting memory when taking young anglers fishing.

The trout management areas continue to offer some wonderful fishing opportunities for fishermen whether your target is a trout dinner from one of the generously stocked put and take areas or just enjoying the fun of catching and releasing trout in the non- take management areas. Water levels are good and the weather looks promising through the weekend so get out there and enjoy. If you have a young angler, be sure to check the trout stocking website on the Fisheries Service Home page and take them to a youth only fishing area.

Fishing for largemouth bass continues to be good this week as warming water temperatures in the freshwater and tidal river areas causes the bass to be more active. They are in a pre-spawn feeding mode and are looking to build up body stores for the coming spawning time. Emerging grass edges and sunken wood are always good places to look for bass as are creek mouths. Small crankbaits, spinnerbaits work well along edges and dropping a whacky rigged plastic worm down through sunken wood is always a good bet.

Photo Courtesy John Mullican

The western region fisheries biologists report fishing for walleyes, large yellow perch and smallmouth bass has been very good at Deep Creek Lake. Grass edges and steep edges have been productive places to cast or troll crankbaits or drift live bait. John Mullican reports that the upper Potomac has calmed down and fishing has been good for a mix of walleyes and smallmouth bass. John happened to mention during a discussion of recent high water levels, that he couldn't help but notice the carcass of a deer hung up in the shore side tree branches about 8' over his head at a local boat ramp. At first glance one might not notice, but that is leaf debris from high water levels stuck in the tree branches above biologist Mark Toms in this picture from some recent walleye survey work on the upper Potomac.

Fishermen in the coastal areas near Ocean City are catching a few tautog in and around the Ocean City Inlet area. Water temperatures are still in the 44-degree range so the best tautog fishing is at the end of an ebb tide. Offshore the party boat fleet is finding tautog and a few cod fish on the wreck sites. The bite has tended to be a bit slow because of cold water temperatures but some impressive sized tautog are being caught. Surf fishing prospects tend focus around pesky skates and the hope of an undersized striped bass. It will be close to a month before the post-spawn striped bass coming out of the Chesapeake begin to make their way along Maryland beaches.

Take my friends and my home... as an outcast I'll roam: Take the money I have in the bank: It is just what I wish, but deprive me of fish, and my life would indeed be a blank. -Lewis Carroll 1832-1895


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.