Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 18, 2012

More than a few fishermen will have a hard time sleeping soundly Friday night as they periodically peek at their alarm clocks waiting to get up and head off with family and friends for the opening day of the trophy striped bass season. Whether it is opening day of a favorite hunting season or fishing season; few things stir the souls of outdoorsmen more than the traditions of opening day.

Fishermen looking for catch and release action with large pre-spawn striped bass were finally rewarded for their patience last week and the action has hit high gear this week. Casting spoons such as the Tony Accetta's and soft plastic jigs has been two of the best lures to use this week. Wind can be an issue on some days and fishermen are also reporting an "on and off" situation on some days in regards to action and they are also reporting sighting some spawning activity.

The run of hickory shad in the lower Susquehanna River continues this week and fishermen report the run at Deer Creek is peaking and fishing in the lower river is being affected by water releases from the Conowingo Dam. "Plenty of water released- good fishing, no water released- not so good for fishing". Fishing for a mix of channel catfish and flathead catfish near the dam remains very good this week and white perch are also entertaining fishermen. Lavianna Lambdin is lucky enough to have grandparents who will take her fishing so that she could catch this nice 12" white perch in the lower Susquehanna recently.

Photo Courtesy of Mike Pearthree

This coming Saturday is of course a big day for striped bass fishermen out to mix it up with trophy sized fish. Captains will be doing their best to jockey into trolling position along the shipping channel edges and couple that with planner boards that seem to be venturing farther and farther on port and starboard each year; it might be difficult to maneuver out there. There is a substantial spawn going on in the Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers and even up on the Elk River this week; spawning will continue to occur into early May. Post-spawn striped bass will be heading south out of the tidal rivers this week so Choptank fish will most likely follow the False Channel out into the shipping channel and Nanticoke River fish are going to slip out through Hooper's Island or Kedges Straits or follow the channel down Tangier Sound. Most fishermen know that the steep sides of the shipping channel on the west side tend to be a super highway for large migrating striped bass due to strong currents there. Steep channel drop-offs such as Bloody Point, the Gas Buoy, Breezy Point, Cove Point and Hooper's Island Light also tend to gain the attention of large striped bass moving north or south in the bay.

If you are lucky enough to catch a striped bass larger that 40" don't forget to visit an award center near where you make port to get an award certificate and to be entered in the Maryland Fishing Challenge. On September 8, 2012 someone is going to be drawn to win the grand prize of a boat, motor and trailer and others for thousands of dollars worth of prizes. All fishermen should check out the freshwater and saltwater divisions and be familiar with minimum sizes so when you catch that whopper (and you will) you can enter your fish. Fishing Challenge

Perhaps some of the best fishing opportunities will be close to the surface where water temperatures are around 61-degrees this week; so if you don't have planner boards let those flat lines out way back there. Striped bass do not like engine noise and will shy away from boats on the move. Every year there has to be a new hot lure or color and it seems John Deere green is the new color in town for sassy shads and parachutes this year.

Shore based anglers should not feel left out; there are plenty of good fishing opportunities from fishing piers such as Matapeake and prominent points such as Sandy Point State Park. Fresh cut menhaden and bloodworms will be baits of choice; although white perch can chew up a big gob of bloodworms fairly quickly. Fishermen hopefully understand that the tidal rivers are still off limits to targeting striped bass.

White perch have moved into the lower sections of the tidal rivers and are offering good fishing this week. Channel catfish are also plentiful and can be caught most anywhere. Reports of croakers showing up in the lower Potomac continue to circulate but so far only a few have been reported; this should change very shortly and Point Lookout and the mouth of the Wicomico River are traditionally the first places to catch them.

There are a lot of wonderful freshwater fishing opportunities out there this week in all regions of the state. The lakes, ponds and tidal waters of the state are offering all kinds of fishing fun. Starting out in the western region there are walleye and smallmouth bass in the upper Potomac River and Deep Creek Lake, excellent trout fishing in all of the trout management waters and largemouth bass, crappie and bluegills in most bodies of water.

Fishermen in the other regions of the state are enjoying the bounty of generous trout stockings in the put and take trout management areas. Hatchery staff continue to have a few tricks up their sleeves with the continued stocking of large trout that can exceed 8lbs in size in a trout stream near you.

Largemouth bass are a favorite with freshwater fishermen and for good reason since they fight so well, entertain us with explosive strikes and are distributed widely in waters all over the state. Largemouth bass are in a pre-spawn mode this week and are aggressively feeding. Fishing grass beds either with topwater lures over the grass or other presentations such as spinnerbaits around the edges continues to be very productive. Soft plastic jigs and crankbaits near transition zones such as channel edges and sunken wood and docks are another good bet. Randy Rogers holds up a whopper largemouth for a quick picture before returning it to a Harford County farm pond.

Photo Courtesy of Paul Badders

Water temperatures in the Ocean City area continue to rise and surf temperatures are now in the low 50's. Surf fishermen are picking away at large striped bass and medium sized bluefish. Fresh cut menhaden baits have been the bait of choice with fishermen and also with skates and dogfish. Flounder season opened and area fishermen were able to get into some action right off the bat from the Thorofare south to the airport. A couple of real nice doormat sized flounder were checked in at local shops. A few striped bass are also being caught in and around the inlet and back bay areas.

Tautog fishing continues to be good inside the inlet from bulkheads, the Route 50 Bridge and for those fishermen with access to a boat; the south jetty remains the best place to catch some nice tog. Offshore the Ocean City fleet has been finding good fishing for tautog on the wrecks with limits catches being common.

"A friend of mine, an ardent purist, was challenged once by a golfing acquaintance as he turned loose a large trout he had just netted." Why go to all that trouble to catch a fish," the exasperated golfer demanded, "if you don't want to eat it?" "Do you eat golf balls?" my friend inquired." Corey Ford, 1958


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.