The big event for most tidewater fishermen finally happened this past Saturday for Maryland and visiting fishermen; the opening day of the spring striped bass season. Fishermen that have been catch and release fishing out on the bay waters for the last month found the scene a little different this past Saturday. The weather was perfect, warm and hardly a ripple on the bay; it seemed that if it floated it was out there on Saturday and letís not forget who fishermen share the bay with; namely sailboats and generally pleasure boat craft. Add planer boards and lines trailing long distances behind fishing boats and it painted a very interesting picture that demanded tolerance and patience with your fellow man. For many dads and friends the excited look of a youngster or an older person who was just as excited as a youngster; it was worth the effort by far. Nine year old Kyle Kuba stands with his dad on a rocking boat this past Sunday with the biggest fish heís ever caught and perhaps his biggest smile.
The catching part of Saturdayís fishing seemed to follow a typical pattern that is often seen in fishing; 10% of the fishermen caught 90% of the fish. Those fishermen who left the dock in the pre-dawn darkness and found themselves at their favorite location by dawnís early light got into fish immediately; at least in parts of the middle and lower bay regions. The migrating post-spawn fish that are heading south are traveling close to the surface and they donít really take kind to boat traffic. Planner boards get those lures trolled close to the surface away from the engine noise and the early birds were able to troll areas that had not seen any boat traffic yet. As the day wore on most boats reported a slow pick of fish now and then and of course some locations proved to be better than others. Some of the better fishing was reported at Thomas Point, Buoy 83 to Buoy 84, the CP Buoy off Taylorís Island, Breezy Point and below Buoy 72. Chris OíBrien who is Naval Academy Midshipman holds up a real whopper of a striped bass he caught while trolling with some of his classmates off Thomas Point on Saturday. Chris mentioned that a benefactor only known as Skip invited him and several of his class mates to go fishing just for the sheer joy of sharing the enjoyment of fishing with them.
Fishermen in the upper bay below the Brewerton Channel found slim pickings over the weekend but with striped bass now actively spawning in the Elk River post-spawn fish will be moving southward through the region soon. A number of fishermen found a similar situation near the mouth of the Choptank River where only on Thursday the 17th of April fishermen had found large numbers of striped bass while practicing catch and release. The situation at the mouth of the Choptank most likely represented the post-spawn striped bass from the big April 12th spawn on the upper Choptank reaching the mouth of the river on the 17th and were most likely in the Solomonís area by Saturday. Once the fish have spawned in the freshwater areas the urge to head for cooler and more saline waters is tremendous and the post-spawn fish think nothing of swimming 5 to 10-miles a day depending on currents and tides. The shipping channel running down the middle of the bay tends to act as a striped bass freeway offering them the easiest and quickest way up and down the bay. One reader wrote in this week that he couldnít understand why the striped bass were spawning in the deep waters of the Elk River this past weekend and not on the Susquehanna Flats. Striped bass spawn in deep water that has a strong current so that the neutrally buoyant eggs can tumble along in the current as they develop. If they sink to the bottom and settle into the mud they die; the Susquehanna Flats catch and release area is a staging area only and that is the reason catch and release fishing is allowed there. Catch and release of actively spawning striped bass in a spawning reach could spell disaster for a saltwater fish such as a large striped bass due to the overwhelming stress; when it finds itself in a freshwater environment. Catch and release of pre-spawn striped bass in a staging area such as the Susquehanna Flats when waters are cool presents little stress to the fish if done properly. Kenny Greiss shows the proper way to cradle a big fish for a quick camera shot before releasing it.
Striped bass spawning will continue to occur to a lesser degree in the Nanticoke, Choptank and Patuxent Rivers for the rest of the month. The big rivers such as the Potomac and Susquehanna are seeing the peak of their spawning activity this week if the weather continues to be warm. The striped bass fishing out in the shipping channel waters will only get better in the next couple of weeks so if you were snuffed out on opening day donít despair; there is better fishing ahead. Shore based fishermen were not to be left out of the action this past weekend and many fishermen could be seen fishing from prominent points and fishing piers. Sandy Point State Park is one of the more popular places to try oneís luck and Eugene Choe and Jenny Keller stopped to show their prize catch in the parking lot at Sandy Point State Park before packing up after a very successful fishing trip.
Fishermen in the lower bay region are now seeing large numbers of croaker moving into the lower Potomac River and the Tangier Sound area. White perch have moved down into the lower sections of the tidal rivers and are offering good fishing opportunities.
Freshwater fishermen are enjoying good fishing for largemouth bass in all areas of the state as largemouth bass are staging near shallow spawning areas and actively feeding before spawning. Trout fishermen continue to enjoy good fishing in many of the put and take trout fishing areas throughout the state. Eight year old Dan Hogan proudly holds up a nice rainbow trout he caught while fishing with his dad at the Unicorn Lake Spillway on the upper eastern shore recently.
Oceanside fishermen are beginning to catch flounder in good numbers in the back bay areas behind Ocean City and Assateague Island this past week. Tautog fishing in the inlet area remains good and surf fishermen are still waiting for the northward striped bass migration to arrive. The party boats heading out to the wreck sites are reporting limit catches of large tautog by the fishermen on board.
The NOAA-DNR Cooperative Oxford Laboratory in Oxford Maryland is celebrating Oxford Day this Saturday April 26th with an open house. Fisheries biologists will be on hand with live fish and sampling equipment and ready to answer questions from the public about their research and restoration efforts. There will be live turtles and crabs on display and children will have the opportunity to create their own personalized junior scientist T-shirt. Federal Chesapeake Bay biologists and researchers will also be on hand to demonstrate and explain some of the research going on in the Chesapeake Bay. The open house will be from 12:30 to 3:30 and donít miss the parade through town at 11:00; itís a one of a kind spectacle.
The picture on left shows the efforts put forth by the Youghiogheny Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Youghiogheny River Watershed Association along the Catch and Release stretch of the Yough. These dedicated men, women, and children spent last Sunday afternoon celebrating Earth Day by doing this massive clean-up along this popular trout fishing destination Ė their work is much appreciated by fellow fishermen and fish alike!
Quote of the Week:
"A life in harmony with nature, the love of truth and virtue, will purge the eyes to understanding her text."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We usually get a lot of photos this time of year, if you submitted a photo and don't see your picture in the regular report please look in the photo gallery that we run this time year.
Click here for
this week's gallery (7 photos).
Click here for information concerning harmful algae blooms
Click here to view recent bay satellite images at mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/NASAimagery/EyesInTheSky.cfm.
A Couple of Closing Notes...
Don't hesitate to e-mail your recent
fishing/crabbing photos and trip information. Send your photos via E-mail by the
following Monday in order to be included in the next update. The file should be
in .jpg format with the longest side sized at 600 pixels. Please try to keep the file
size small, under one megabyte. The photo should clearly depict the angler(s), fish, and ethical
handling practices. For information on ethical angling practices please
reference the Catch and Release information located at URL:
Include the following information:
Weight/length of catch
If anyone in your picture is under 18
years of age, we must have a
signed by that person and a parent/guardian before we can post your picture.
Send your photos and information to
Until next week,
MD DNR Fisheries Service
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