Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 30, 2014
"When it rains it pours"; most everyone remembers those words on the container of Morton's salt. Well we sure did get a lot of rain last night and today, which is causing many of our rivers to rise to flood stage and placing recent spawning of several important species of fish in peril. Time will tell what effect this will have on our recent spring spawners as we all keep our fingers crossed.
Recently catch and release Hickory Shad fishermen have been finding rather disappointing fishing at the mouth of Deer Creek due to cool water temperatures. Fisheries biologists collecting Hickory Shad brood stock reported yesterday that the Hickory Shad are holding in the channel area of the lower Susquehanna, just out of casting distance for shoreline fishermen. Warmer temperatures that are predicted for the end of the week and the weekend may kick this fishery back into high gear. The water release flows at the Conowingo Dam have been reduced this week but predicted rainfall in the upper Susquehanna watershed may change that by the weekend. White Perch have moved into the lower Susquehanna River in large numbers this week and can offer some great fishing for fishermen using bloodworms on bottom rigs. Fishermen hoping to catch and release a big Striped Bass in the Susquehanna Flats area continue to find tough fishing conditions this week. Cool weather and rain have not made for the best fishing conditions but fishermen are catching a few fish on crankbaits and bait. Perhaps the warmer weather in the forecast will spur this fishery into gear by the weekend. Fisheries biologist Jim Thompson runs the fish passage program at the Fisheries Service and is responsible for fish passage devices that are commonly called fish ladders. Jim has sent us a really cool video he made of a fish eye view of the workings of a fish ladder. The video is 3-minutes long but I'm sure you will find it very entertaining, enjoy.
Upper bay fishermen continue to report a nice steady pick of trophy sized Striped Bass from the steep channel edges above the Bay Bridge in the Podickory Point, Love Point and Triple Buoys areas. Chartreuse and white parachutes or bucktails trolled in tandem or singly have been the most common presentations. Large Storm lures are also being used with some success.
Middle Bay region fishermen have been working the western side of the shipping channel from Thomas Point to Cove Point with very good results this week. The large Striped Bass have an affinity for traveling along that steep edge and a weakness for large parachutes and bucktails. The steep edges around Bloody Point and the False Channel have also been very productive places to troll for Striped Bass this week. There is still some Striped Bass spawning going on in the upper Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers this week so a new wave of post-spawn Striped Bass may be leaving those rivers within the next week. Dad does the job of holding up Darin Zagalsky's recent catch for the camera as they enjoy a day of fishing together near Thomas Point.
Photo Courtesy of Darin Zagalsky
Fishermen in the lower bay region have been focusing a lot of their attention around traditional hot spots such as Cover Point, Point No Point, the Hooper's Island Light and the channel edge near Buoy 72. They are also finding good results in the Tangier Sound channel areas and in the lower Potomac River near Buoys 7 and 9 on the Virginia side as well as out in front of St. George's Island where the channel edge is steep. Fishermen are still reporting spawning Striped Bass in the Chain Bridge area in D.C. so there will be additional fish coming down the river in the near future. Most likely there is still some Striped Bass spawning going on in the upper Patuxent River also this week.
Recreational fishermen reported the first confirmed croaker catches over this past weekend in the lower Potomac River around Bushwood and Point Lookout. Most were caught on bloodworms and bottom rigs along with a mix of White Perch. In the Bushwood area at the mouth of the Wicomico River fishermen are also reporting large catches of medium sized Blue Catfish which many fishermen are now specifically targeting due to their fine table fare. Croakers are also being caught at the mouths of the Nanticoke, Wicomico and Pocomoke Rivers in the Tangier Sound region. Most of the catches have been coming from relatively shallow waters and White Perch are also being caught in those areas.
Freshwater fishermen continue to enjoy the rewards of generous in season stockings of trout in many of the trout management waters spread throughout the state. Trout program crews have been busy stocking trout and fishermen have been busy catching them and having a good time. The crowds are down so there is a little more elbow room and the weather is generally warmer and there is the opportunity to catch a whopper size trout like this beauty that Keith Craig caught recently at Middle Creek.
Photo Courtesy of Keith Craig
Fishermen are finding good fishing for a variety of fish at Deep Creek Lake this week; pre-spawn Largemouth Bass are holding near the entrance areas to shallow coves and Smallmouth Bass are being found on rocky points. Northern Pike and Chain Pickerel are being found in the back of cove areas and Walleye and Yellow Perch along shoreline and deep grass edges. Crappie are holding near structure such as bridge piers and deep sunken wood.
The upper Potomac River has been offering excellent fishing opportunities for Smallmouth Bass for the past few weeks for fishermen using soft plastic jigs, tubes and crankbaits. Recent rainfall is expected to cause the river to rise over flood stage so fishermen will most likely see unsafe and unfishable conditions through the weekend.
Largemouth Bass fishermen have been finding plenty of opportunities for catch and release fishing for pre-spawn bass in portions of the tidal Potomac and many of the creeks that feed into it. The bass tend to be holding near the mouths of the smaller creeks and coves where they will soon be spawning. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits tend to two of the most popular choices for baits at this time. Fishermen are starting to encounter more Northern Snakeheads as water temperatures begin to warm up in the tidal areas of the Potomac and the feeder creeks, often in shallow areas near emerging grass. Most fishermen who have caught one and taken it home to eat, find they can be a welcomed addition to a day's fishing and fine table fare. Fishermen are reminded though that Snakeheads must be killed by severing the head if they are to be transported from the site where they were caught.
Blue Catfish offer a lot of fishing opportunity in the tidal Potomac. The larger fish tend to be found in the channel areas near Fort Washington and surrounding areas. The smaller Blue Catfish can be caught in shallower water, can be caught in great numbers and make fine eating. It is not difficult for fishermen using bottom rigs and cut bait to be able to catch an ice chest full in short order and they are encouraged to do so since the populations of Blue Catfish are dramatically increasing and expanding their range in Maryland.
Fishermen continue to enjoy the pre-spawn aggressiveness of Largemouth Bass in the many freshwater ponds, lakes and reservoirs spread throughout Maryland this week. The bass are packing on the fat, since once they start to carve out spawning beds shortly they will be holding tight to protect their eggs and offspring. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics are all good choices for baits. Chain Pickerel are always good for some fun action when fishing freshwater areas and Noah Bennett holds up a nice one he caught and released in St. Mary's Lake not too far from Lexington Park.
Photo Courtesy of Noah Bennett
Ocean City fishermen are watching water temperatures slowly creep upward and now are close to 48ºF. There have been a few reports of Black Drum, sub-legal Striped Bass, Northern Puffers and Bluefish being caught in the surf and a whole lot of Clear-Nosed Skates. Inside the inlet fishermen are catching a few Tautog on the bottom of the ebbing tide near jetties and bulkheads. There have also been a few reports of Speckled Trout and flounder being caught now and then. Outside of the inlet the boats that are fishing the wreck and reef sites are catching Tautog.
"There will be days when the fishing is better than one's most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home." - Roderick Haig-Brown