Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 17, 2013

Fishermen have been busy for months buying new rigs, repairing or dressing up old equipment and lures and their attention then turned to making sure boats are in tip top shape for this weekend's season opener of the 2013 trophy Striped Bass season in the Chesapeake Bay. The forecast is for slight chance of rain and moderate winds. Overcast conditions will be favorable since fish cruising close to the surface do not like bright sun. Many captains have learned that some of the best opportunities on opening day are right at dawn before bright sun and boat traffic scatter fish. We dug this picture up from a 2008 fishing report of Kyle Kuba with a big Striped Bass he caught while fishing with his dad during the spring trophy season. We hope Kyle is out there this Saturday fishing once again with his dad for trophy Striped Bass.


Photo courtesy of Tim Keagy


The major spawns that occurred last week hold a lot of promise for fishermen hoping to catch a Striped Bass of a life time this Saturday. Typically the largest females are the first to spawn so these fish are exiting the spawning rivers this week and heading out into the bay. Water temperatures on the surface are about 53-degrees and 10-degrees warmer than deeper depths so these large fish will be cruising relatively close to the surface. Striped Bass do not like engine noise so planner boards or flat lines allowed to troll far behind the boat will most likely get the most strikes. This type of fishing is the big league so large parachutes, bucktails, spoons and Storm Shads will be the order of the day. If you are lucky enough to catch one of these beasts over 40" long be sure to visit one of our award centers and enter your fish in the Maryland Fishing Challenge. Perhaps your luck will continue and you'll win a boat, motor and trailer, an exotic vacation fishing trip or one of the other major prizes. A list of award centers and contest rules can be found on the Maryland Fishing Challenge site.

Last weeks 90-degree weather pushed the first major spawn of Striped Bass in most of the spawning reaches. The Choptank, Nanticoke, Patuxent and Potomac all experienced major spawning activity by Striped Bass; the Striped Bass program biologists even reported significant spawning in the upper bay areas. Usually the spawning in the upper bay sites occurs later than the other rivers. Fishermen looking for some fun catch and release fishing in the Susquehanna Flats area reported poor fishing once the fish moved up into the spawning areas. The good news is that these fish will be headed down the bay and should offer good fishing opportunities for fishermen looking for a trophy sized Striped Bass from areas above and below the Bay Bridge. The post -spawn Striped Bass heading south from the upper bay sites typically follow the steepest sides of the shipping channel. The steep edges at Podickory Point, the Dumping Grounds and Bloody Point, Buoy 83 or the Gas Buoy will all get their share of attention. Land based fishermen will get their chance at Sandy Point State Park and the Matapeake Fishing Pier as well as private docks. The Bay Bridge piers will also be an excellent place to troll and jig.

The Striped Bass pouring out of the Choptank River will most likely follow the False Channel out into the bay before turning south; the Nanticoke fish will slip through the Hooper Island Straits, Kedges Straits or head down Tangier Sound. The Patuxent and Potomac Striped Bass will of course move down the rivers and directly out into the shipping channel areas. The steep western edge of the shipping channel from Chesapeake Beach south to Cove Point is always a traditional good location to troll as well edges like Buoy 72. In the lower Potomac River channel edges near St. George's Island and Piney Point are excellent places to troll.

Fishermen who have been checking for Hickory Shad at the Deer Creek area were rewarded with another pulse of shad moving into the area early this week. As most know, coordinating when you can go and when the hickory shad are there can be a frustrating experience at times. Moderate temperatures this week may have a positive effect on the spawning run being of a more stable nature and hopefully fishermen will be enjoying good fishing through the week. Fisheries biologist Jim Thompson was in the area yesterday and reported excellent catch and release fishing for fishermen using hot pink and green spoons in the overcast conditions.


Photo by Jim Thompson


White Perch are still spawning in the upper reaches of the region's tidal rivers but this activity is on the decline this week. They will be soon moving down the tidal rivers into more traditional locations where they will provide fishermen good fishing through the summer months. Fishing for channel catfish in the tidal rivers has been good and they will soon be spawning also as evidenced by the roe the females are carrying. I had the opportunity to catch a mess of nice channel catfish on the upper Choptank last weekend and I was amazed to see that they were stuffed full of specks of Striped Bass fat from the spawning females. It was almost as if they had turned into filter feeders since the specks of fat were very small. It was interesting to note that much of that fat has now begun to float to the surface and large flocks of laughing gulls have arrived at the spawning reaches and are pecking at the specks of fat.

Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake have been enjoying the open water fishing opportunities. Northern pike should soon be leaving the shallows where they have been spawning and fishermen have a good chance of intercepting one of these big fish before they skulk into the depths of the lake to find cool refuge for the summer months.

Fisheries biologist Matt Sell sent in a report for us about the recent walleye fishing opportunities in Deep Creek Lake. The ice went out very quickly last week and by the weekend, the water temps were already into the low-mid 40s, which were pretty much ideal for spawning. The fish are shallow and we had success in less than 6' of water. Suspending jerkbaits were the best producers, cast tight to shore and slow twitched back to the boat. Most of the fish caught are going to be 15-20" males this time of year, with the larger females typically spending little time shallow. The females will usually move shallow, spawn with the plentiful and eager males and then move back to deeper water. The spawn should continue for a few more days, but the cold front forecasted for the weekend will likely slow things down significantly. With the season opening today, I would expect higher than average harvest rates for the first week of the season and getting back to 'normal' by the weekend.

Fishermen have been enjoying good freshwater fishing for largemouth bass and a long list of other freshwater species. The largemouth bass are now moving freely in shallower waters due to warmer water temperatures and are feeding aggressively as they begin to enter their pre-spawn phase of activity. Crappie fishing in the tidal Potomac has been very good in the Wilson Bridge area, at the Spoils and in and around structure such as sunken wood and dock pilings in other areas as well as lakes and reservoirs. Billy Graham was fishing with a minnow recently in a Cecil County lake when he caught this behemoth of a crappie that came within a half ounce of the state record of 4lbs. 7oz caught by Jason Morrison in 2004.


Photo Courtesy of Billy Graham


Trout fishermen continue to enjoy the in season stocking of trout in many of the put and take areas. Water flows have been good and of course the weather has just been marvelous for getting outside and enjoying some spring time fishing. Many of the other trout management waters such as delayed harvest, catch and release and artificial only are providing excellent fishing and a little more elbow room.

The beautiful weather has brought out fishermen along the beaches and near the inlet at Ocean City to try some surf fishing or perhaps some tautog fishing around the rocks and bulkheads near the Ocean City Inlet. Surf fishermen report a few skates and even some king fish. The tautog fishing in and around the inlet is rapidly becoming an item as water temperatures approach the 50-degree mark. There have also been some short Striped Bass caught around the bridge piers of the Route 50 and Route 90 Bridges. Fishing for large tautog continues to be very good offshore at many of the wreck sites off of Ocean City.

"The true fisherman approaches the first day of fishing with all the sense of wonder and awe of a child approaching Christmas. " - Robert Traver, 1960

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.



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