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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 8, 2010

Maryland Fishing Challenge Featuring Diamond Jim

September 7 marked the quiet beginning of the 2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge as the 2010 tournament ended officially at midnight on the 6th. The fishing challenge is open to all who fish recreationally in Maryland, making this the largest fishing tournament in the world.

All an angler needs to do to advance in the celebration is to:

Go here for the rules— www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp.

Fishing in Maryland Expo and the Maryland Seafood Festival

The first Fishing in Maryland Expo in conjunction with the Maryland Seafood Festival begins this Friday, September 10 at Sandy Point State Park anchored by the world famous Crab Soup Cook-off and the Maryland Fishing Challenge Grand Awards Celebration. DNR Fisheries will also have a booth inside the Fishing in Maryland Tent along with some of the state's great supporting fishing organizations, Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Marine, World Fishing Network, Angler's Sport Center, Kent Island Kayaks, Bill's Outdoor Center, and other conservation organizations. The Fishing Challenge action opens at 11:00 with the grand prize drawings followed by the crab soup cook-off.

Come join us for this, the start of something big— http://mdseafoodfestival.com.

Fishing Action around the State

Tidal Bass

Roger Tregeser, President of the Maryland Bass Federation Nation, reports that largemouth bass fishing in the Nanticoke River and it tributaries seems to be controlled by tidal flow and height. As the outgoing tide slows, the fishing picks up in hot spots such as the Marshy Hope River on the edges where the fish hang around fallen trees and other shoreline structure. "In a small window of three hours we were plucking fish regularly, but it shut off when the tide turned to flood," he says. The B.A.S.S. Mid-Atlantic Divisional Tournament begins this week launching from Phillips Landing just over the Maryland/Delaware line. Anglers from around the world have come to test their skills including several anglers from Zimbabwe. Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Marine is supplying six Bass Tracker fishing boats for the Zimbabweans.

The word from anglers who frequent Middle River, Gunpowder, and Upper Bay waters is that largemouth action continues to be tepid. Branson Williams, a DNR environmental specialist focusing on largemouth bass, catfish, and snakeheads says the bass tend to stick to deeper water with the heat and move up into the grass beds on cooler mornings where the shallow water holds food and comfort. Williams and DNR Tidal Fish Manager Joe Love suspect the heat and lack of rain to be primary factors in making the fish sluggish. Without rain, saltwater wedges will move into freshwater bass-holding areas causing the fish to move upstream and sulk. The action will improve with cooler weather. Continue to fish early when the air is cool to find bass in the shallows. The fish will be feeding along the edges defined by structure such as root wads, snag habitat, piers, and blow-overs where the forage fish hide.

As usual, the Potomac continues to provide good fishing. It seems that you can always catch a bass in the Nation's River.

According to Love, an attractive feature of the Potomac and Upper Bay rivers and creeks is that there are robust grass beds in the middle of the streams holding predators and prey. The midstream grass makes the fishing interesting, a bit more complex, and often quite good in spite of warm water and tides.

"This the time of year when salt water tends to creep up the Bay and effect the fishing, moving the bass up into fresher, cooler water. Look for the grass in deeper water to change your luck," advises Love.

Meanwhile, in an effort to improve fishing in the Choptank River, DNR retrieved over 70 plump juvenile largemouth bass from a storm water management pond near Denton and relocated them to the river. This project is part of a joint venture between DNR and the State Highway Administration to plant larval fish in such ponds and introduce them to the river when they are large enough to survive and grow to provide good sport for anglers.

DNR Inland Fisheries Southern Region Manager Mary Groves reports that the Triadelphia Reservoir is pretty low right now—down three to four feet. Without rain, the reservoir can drop as much as a foot a week. The impact to anglers is they will not be able to launch boats as the ramps become exposed. Much of the shallow fish habitat is already above water, making fishing more difficult. Call the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission at 301-774-9124 or 301-206-8861 or go online for access information at www.wsscwater.com/home/jsp/content/watershed.faces.

Groves also reports that the DNR annual Tidal Bass Surveys in the Potomac and Upper Bay will begin next week, running for about six weeks.

Chesapeake Bay

I will testify that the top-water striped bass and bluefish action was enfuego over the Labor Day weekend on Saturday and Sunday with these signature Chesapeake Bay species competing for more than their share of the bay anchovy smorgasboard east of the Hill, Bloody Point, and along the rocky edges of Poplar Island. Then on Labor Day, it was all but over. Maybe the fish were full.

While they were eating, they would go for anything including threadbare bucktail jigs, dented silver spoons, chipped Chug Bugs, Stingsilvers, Crippled Herrings, and in the case of the snapper blues, anything made of soft plastic and the very tip of an index finger.

This has been the building story all summer as several schools of striped bass have made Eastern Bay theirs. The bluefish and even some Spanish mackerel are recent additions to the party as the cool evening winds mark the end of summer. The best window of opportunity has been the closing of the day as the sun grows large and orange on its way to the horizon. In those last precious moments of the day, the fishing becomes legendary, and then as quickly as it begins, it ends in time to save your marriage. If your boat is quick and you don't dally, you'll be home before the rest of the family is in bed. If you take them along in the first place with a bucket of fried chicken, you'll be a hero.

Further up the Bay, reknowned light tackle guru Richard Borneman in Havre de Grace reports that everyone's crabbing. "There's more crabs than anyone seen in years," he says. "Local crabbers are loving life and the locals are catching crabs right off the town bulkhead."

Borneman adds that the smallmouth bass fishing has been good in the Susquehanna River using top-water lures such as the classic Heddon Tiny Torpedo or small crank baits and rubber worms. There are some white perch and yellow perch in the grass beds on the Flats, but it's been too hot for great fishing. "It'll kick in as things get cooler," he says.

DNR Eastern Regional Inland Fisheries biologist, Brett Coakley notes that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Department of the Environment have lifted the water contact advisory issued on August 5 for Smithville Lake in Caroline County. Current water samples indicated only slight levels of the potentially harmful algae, which prompted the original advisory. Such algal blooms are normally short lived in such ponds and are a function of hot weather and dry conditions.

Neil Villanueva shows off his first flounder, caught from the Oceanic Fishing Pier in OC on August 26., click to enlarge.

"This time of year, the algae begin to dissipate and the fishing improves," says Coakley. "It would be better with some rain, but we can expect fishing activity to pick up in the ponds as everyone settles in to school schedules and the weather cools."

Freshwater

DNR Fisheries Service Western Regional Manager Al Klotz reports that Garrett and Allegheny County stream flows are at historic lows. Fishing smaller streams can be difficult at best. Tailwater streams such as the Savage River Trophy Trout area and the North Branch of the Potomac downstream of Jennings Randolph Lake continue to provide excellent fishing. The Savage River tailwater is fishing particularly well right now with wild brown and brook trout waiting in the current seams to straighten out your leaders. Klotz enthusiastically recommends that September anglers carry flying ant imitations as swarms of the ants are blowing around. The trout love them and eat them like Cheerios.

Klotz also provides a Deep Creek Lake fish kill update. DNR's most recent survey indicated that the issue lingers but is much abated with only a few floating walleye, yellow perch, largemouth bass, and one huge carp. DNR has identified a bacterial culprit, which caused a spike in mortality in July. With cool weather, the issue is apparently diminishing and Deep Creek Lake continues to be an excellent place to go fishing.

Oceanside

Steve Doctor, a DNR fisheries biologist in Ocean City confirms that the spectacular white marlin bite is still crazy between the Washington and Norfolk canyons out to 800 fathoms. Some hot-shot captains and crews fooled as many as 25 on Tuesday. Wahoo and yellowfin tuna are scattered and biting just outside the Hotdog. Sea bass and flounder fishing is good when the water is clear. But the weather has created turbid conditions particularly inshore and in the back bays. Nonetheless, the flounder are getting bigger with more 19-inch keepers coming off the wrecks and in the bay. As the water clears, the inshore and bay fishing will pick up.

"It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming."

John Steinbeck

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe Evans is the Fisheries Service's communications specialist. He came to DNR after five years as the editor of a regional boating and fishing magazine. As an award-winning freelance writer, he has published features in national magazines on fishing, hunting, and the environment including assignments on salmon tagging on the Ponoi River on the Kola Peninsula of Russia and bonefishing in the Los Roques Archipelago in Venezuela as well as the high trout streams of Southern Chile. He has written definitive features on some of the mainstays of conservation and fishing including Lefty Kreh, Stu Apte, and George Hommel.