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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 16, 2010

Maryland Fishing Challenge Awards Celebration

The sixth annual Maryland Fishing Challenge Featuring Diamond Jim Finale event held in concert with the 43rd annual Maryland Seafood Festival last Saturday at Sandy Point State Park introduced thousands of Seafood Festival goers to the excitement of fishing in Maryland while taking the awards celebration to a higher level. Best estimates indicate more than 2,000 anglers and their families and friends, plus another 1,000 or so Seafood Festival guests gathered at the main stage to witness the Fishing Challenge sponsors present about $70,000 in prizes, including a boat package from Tracker Marine, tackle packages from Bass Pro Shops and Bill's Outdoor Center, a kayak package from Kent Island Kayaks, another kayak from Bass Pro Shops, and an all-expense paid trip for two to Tobago from the World Fishing Network.

More than 1,900 anglers from as far away as California qualified to participate in the grand prize drawings by catching citation award fish from a list of 64 eligible species, or by being selected from one of the 50 DNR-sanctioned youth fishing rodeos across the state, or by catching a specially-tagged Diamond Jim striped bass throughout the summer. All of the rodeo winners received a commemorative medallion from DNR Secretary John Griffin and a unique fishing trip donated by each of the 24 supporting fishing organizations such as Trout Unlimited, the Maryland Saltwater Sportsmen's Association, The Coastal Conservation Association, The Maryland Bass Federation Nation, the Maryland Charter Boat Association, and the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen's Foundation.

The Tracker boat, motor, and trailer package was won by 13-year-old Garret Boylan of Finksburg, Md. who qualified by catching a 15-inch white perch in Liberty Reservoir in June. Kurt Hodschild from Pasadena, Md. won the Tobago trip. All participants received special edition Heat Gear shirts from Under Armour.

Five striped bass anglers joined the celebration to receive giant $500 checks for catching tagged Diamond Jim imposter stripers.

The excellent combination of great weather, the world's largest fishing tournament, fabulous prizes, sublime seafood, and cold beer made for a perfect day and increased the inspiration to fish hard and often while keeping an interest in protecting and improving our natural resources.

The 2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge is underway now www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp.

Fishing Action around the State

Bass

Ed Riley of Woodbine, Md. outfished other Maryland bass anglers last week in the Bass Federation Nation's Mid-Atlantic Divisional on the Nanticoke River to become the latest qualifier for the National Championship, which will be contested on the Red River out of Shreveport, La. in October. This will be Riley's third trip to the championships after qualifying in 2003 and 2004. The next possible stop on the tour is the 2011 Bassmaster Classic in February. Brian LaClair from Denton, Md. but fishing for Delaware, also qualified for the National Championship.

Cavin Young from Virginia won the Mid-Atlantic Divisional overall by fishing top water baits in the mornings and spinner baits in the woods when the tide was low, to take the title and a place in the National Championships in October. LaClair finished in second place. Delaware anglers crushed the rest of the fleet to take the team title 203-1 followed by the Virginians, the West Virginia team, a team from Zimbabwe, the Pennsylvanians, and the Jersey guys with the Marylanders bringing up the rear. Maryland's struggles notwithstanding, 15-year-old Johnny Duarte won the upper age group to advance to the Junior World Championship, and he won a spinning combo from Gander Mountain.

Bass master Ken Penrod reports that the drought and heat continue to hinder the bass action along the tidal Potomac River. Nonetheless, certain spots persevere with good fishing especially for stripers, catfish and largemouth bass. The gap between Key Bridge and Little Falls in the District is offering good smallmouth fishing with occasional performances from feisty largemouth bass and walleye.

Wilson Bridge catfish have been willing to play according to Danny Grulke, who recommends crankbaits, Mizmo tubes, and buzzbaits. Grulke and his fishing pals recently wrestled in more than 200 pounds of cats in a four and half-hour stretch using peanut bunker along the channel edges.

Brian Barnes reports pretty good bass fishing on the Nanticoke and Pocomoke Rivers when the tide is falling. Start your fishing with a Rapala DT06 in the hot mustard color. Creature plastics and Big Mouth spinner baits are also good choices. The upper reaches of the Nanticoke River and the middle sections of Marshyhope Creek are your best choices at the moment, as are the edges between Snow Hill and Dividing Creek on the Pocomoke.

Chesapeake Bay

DNR fisheries biologist Harry Hornick who heads up the striped bass research team says there are plenty of fish around the Bay Bridge. Live lining spot is the best method for fooling large fish around the pilings when the sun is high. The surface activity will heat up in low light conditions as small breaking blues and stripers corral the forage fish where the water meets the air. Match your lure to the baitfish, which are mostly small translucent bay anchovies.

We're hearing credible reports of steady bottom fishing success around the mouth of the West River, the South River, Thomas Point, Tolly Point, Hackets Bar, Eastern Bay and Love Point. White perch are on the bottom with bluefish and large stripers mixed in around the lumps and the holes.

The word is out about a robust school of red drum, which has moved up from Virginia into Maryland's portion of the bay as far north as the Stone Rock. Richard Jenkins, fishing with his son in law, Brian McCormick caught a bright redfish near the Sharps Island Light on Monday. Others have reported redfish action near the Target Ships and Tangier Sound particularly west of Bloodsworth Island.

Richard Jenkins shows off a red beauty

Inland Fishing

DNR Inland Fisheries Operations Manager Charlie Gougeon reports that low water conditions are much the same as last week in spite of the bit of rain that fell on Sunday. Drought conditions prevail and the stream fishing is difficult. This means that tailwater trout fishing remains the best bet for trout anglers.

With drought conditions, municipalities are calling for increased releases from the reservoirs, meaning pretty good fishing but tricky wading below the dams.

Gougeon recommends casting big streamers such as a black wooly bugger into the deep pockets where the larger fish, emboldened by the deeper water, will move out for a tasty morsel. The Masemore Road area of the Gunpowder River is a great place to start since it offers easy access, good wading, and good flow from the Pretty Boy Reservoir.

The Savage River tailwater is also fishing well for Browns and Brookies as is the Upper Potomac below the Jennings Randolph dam.

When fishing these tailwater sections, bring a stout wading staff and take care as the rapid flows from the dam will make wading more hazardous.

DNR also reminds wading anglers to rinse out their felt-soled wading gear in a five-percent saltwater solution and dry them out completely before moving to another stream to avoid transporting invasive species such as Didymo (Rock Snot).

Better yet, don't use felt soled boots.

Trout stocking is set to begin in October depending on weather and water conditions. DNR is prepared to place about 20,000 trout, including 19,400 rainbows averaging a pound each and about 600 two-pound browns. Historically, the second week of the month has been a dependable starting time for trout stocking. DNR staff will assess each stream and make a decision on the fly about when to release these fish in each location. The DNR Trout Stocking information hotline is 1-800-688-3467. It will be updated weekly beginning October 1. DNR will also post the information at www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/stocking/ once the stocking is complete.

Oceanside

The spectacular white marlin bite is still on between the Washington and Norfolk canyons and south. Persistent wind and waves have continued to keep the inshore waters cloudy, which puts a damper on flounder and sea bass fishing.

"If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."

~Doug Larson

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.