2010 Year in Review: Freshwater

Western Region, District I Garrett and Allegany Counties - 2010

Submitted by Alan Klotz, Western Region Fisheries Manager

Savage River Trophy Trout Fishing Area

The Savage River Tailwater underwent extremely challenging environmental conditions during the winter of 2009-10 with the draining of the Savage River Reservoir to repair the outlet gates in the dam. Late fall and winter were determined to be the most practical time of year to conduct the repair, as inflow and water temperature would be low by reducing impacts to construction and the Savage River Tailwater. The draining of the reservoir and disruptions to the system was unavoidable. The final draining of the reservoir occurred on January 31, 2010 and transported a high sediment load into the river. We measured sediment deposition in the river and found areas 2 - 3 feet thick with fine sand, silt, and organic material. High volume flow releases from the Savage River Reservoir were deemed to be the most effective way to restore the river habitat once the dam repairs were completed. A rain event on March 13, 2010 filled the reservoir and about 4,500 cubic foot per second of water was released over the spillway. Amazingly, nearly all the fine sediment was flushed out of the river system, and clean spawning gravel was added from the reservoir bottom. Once normal dam operations began, the turbidity level in the river eventually decreased, and we started getting reports of good trout fishing! We conducted our annual trout population survey during mid-summer and found adult trout densities averaged about 824 trout per mile in the river, only a 19% reduction from 2009. Most of the trout exhibited optimal body condition. As expected, few young-of-year trout were collected in 2010 due to all the previous sedimentation during the egg stage. Other resident fish species such as sculpins, minnows, and suckers were common in the river and the aquatic insect community made a remarkable comeback as well.

Savage River Reservoir

A $3.92 million grant under President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was awarded for the project.

As stated above, the Savage River Reservoir was completely drained during 2010. In late December 2007, the right emergency gate failed to open and remained inoperable. In July of 2008, a detailed engineering assessment of the structure recommended that all four of the gates be replaced. A $3.92 million grant under President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was awarded for the project. Construction began in November 2009 and completed by late March of 2010. As soon as the reservoir refilled, fish restoration began. We stocked walleye (25,000 fingerlings and 800,000 fry), 12,000 fingerling largemouth bass, 83,700 fingerling bluegills, 9,120 fingerling redear sunfish, 18,000 fingerling black crappies, and 3,850 catchable-size rainbow trout. Shoreline seining was conducted in the Savage River Reservoir in July 2010, and we found that the reservoir fish species are re-colonizing rapidly. We documented fourteen fish species including largemouth bass (adults, stocked young of year (YOY), and naturally reproduced YOY); naturally reproduced YOY smallmouth bass; abundant numbers of juvenile yellow perch; four minnow species; yellow bullheads; and rock bass. The MD DNR Fisheries Service is committed to restoring the reservoir fishery that anglers have enjoyed over the years.

The Youghiogheny River Catch and Release Trout Fishing Area

The Youghiogheny River Catch and Release Trout Fishing Area contained a record number of trout in our fall surveys, with fall trout population estimates exceeding the management goal of 1,000 trout per mile. Brown trout and rainbow trout measuring greater than 20 inches were collected in our electro-fishing surveys. Annual fingerling stockings support this fishery and the total number of warmwater-strain rainbow trout fingerlings stocked in the Yough River C&R TFA during 2010 met our management objective. We had fewer fingerling brown trout available, however our hatchery staff was able to provide us with a good number of 8 to 10 inch brown trout that showed good growth and over-summer survival, and these fish should contribute to the long-term population. A cooperative agreement with the Deep Creek Lake Hydro-station to maintain the coldwater habitat through temperature enhancement releases during the critical summer period worked well in 2010, as evidenced by the number of trout present in the river during the fall. On a personal note – my son and I had the best fishing in the river in all the years we fished it! On several memorable outings, we caught and released double-digits of trout, and some of these fish were nice trophy-sized fish!

The North Branch Potomac River (NBPR)

With 50 miles of managed trout water ranging from Put and Take, Delayed Harvest, Catch and Release, and Zero Creel Limit trout management areas, the North Branch Potomac River offers something for everyone. We stocked the Delayed Harvest Area of the river bordering the Potomac State Forest via CSX rail-truck to get trout into this remote area, and an additional stocking was made in the fall. The Catch and Return Trout Fishing Areas downstream of the Jennings Randolph Lake Dam had some good fishing action this summer, and we documented natural reproduction of rainbow trout in this section Pictured below is on of the 12 trout my son Kyle caught on the 4th of July fishing trip. Effective January 1, 2011 – the upper Catch and Release Trout Fishing Area was extended a few hundred feet upstream through a co-operative effort with the Baltimore District of the US Army Corp of Engineers. The Put and Take Areas at Gorman, Kitzmiller, Barnum and Westernport received about 14,895 adult trout – that's a lot of fishing opportunities!

The North Branch Potomac from Westernport downstream to Pinto, MD is managed as a Trout Zero Creel Limit (ZCL) area. We stocked a generous number of rainbow trout fingerlings in the ZCL through a cooperative effort of WV DNR, MD DNR, and the Conservation Fund's Freshwater Institute with the objective of supporting a high quality put-and-grow coldwater fishery. We were not able to conduct our fall electro-fishing surveys due to the low flows prevented us to float our electro-fishing raft down the river. However, we will schedule the sampling in late spring 2011 to see how these trout fared during last summer's record heat and low flows.

The Catch and Return Bass Fishing Area (C&R BFA) of the NBPR from Keyser to Cumberland supports an abundant smallmouth bass population with a few largemouth bass in the deeper, slower areas of the river. Smallmouth bass reproduction was documented for the 14th consecutive year, and reproductive success was considered "good'.

Deep Creek Lake

Western Region staff assisted the MDE Fish Kill investigators with a significant fish kill in Deep Creek Lake during July and August. Most all resident lake species were affected, with yellow perch having the highest observed mortalities. MDE determined that the fish were affected by the bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila and a protozoan gill parasite that is causing necrotic tissue in the gill filaments. MDE determined that elevated water temperatures in the lake set the conditions for the outbreak of this bacterium and protozoan. By September when lake temperatures cooled down, the fish kill subsided.

Despite the fish kill, our fall surveys showed many quality-size gamefish and panfish were still present in good numbers in the lake. In addition, we conducted a nighttime survey for young of year walleye abundance, and it appears the 2010 year-class was the strongest in fie years. Reproduction for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch was considered fair to good. At this writing, the ice fishing season is in full swing, and we are getting reports of good catches of yellow perch and walleye.

Broadford Lake

We conducted a comprehensive fish population survey on Broadford Lake. The lake supports a population of largemouth bass, with a good portion of the bass in the 15 to 18 inch size class. We also collected several smallmouth bass in the rocky shoreline areas. Panfish species such as yellow perch, bluegills, and pumpkinseeds are abundant and are plenty in the harvestable-size class. If you want to catch a lot of chain pickerel - Broadford Lake is the place to fish - this species was the most abundant fish in all sample stations, with a lot in the 14 to 17 inch range. Despite a few year of stocking fingerling striped bass, we were unable to collect any of these fish. If anyone fishing Broadford Lake this year happens to catch a striped bass – please contact us so we continue to evaluate this stocking effort.

Western Region, District II

Inland Fisheries staff are responsible for managing the State's freshwater fisheries. A major facet of this management is monitoring our diverse resources found in impoundments, wild trout streams, and warmwater rivers. The following is a sample of some of our efforts during 2010.

Upper Potomac River

2010 was a pretty tough year for anglers and fish on the upper Potomac River. The year began with moderate floods on January 26 and March 14. The March flood inundated the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in many spots between Dam 5 and Point of Rocks trapping fish as the water receded below the towpath. Fisheries personnel spent many hours monitoring water levels in the canal and identifying where fish were trapped. With the help of angler volunteers, fish were collected using backpack and barge-mounted electro-fishing gear and returned back into the river. Just about every species of fish found in the river was collected from the canal. In the end, over 2,000 fish were saved. It was muddy, slippery, and hard work, but everyone involved felt it was time well spent. Thank you to all that participated.

The early spring floods had other impacts as well. Floods increase nutrient concentrations as soil is washed from the landscape into creeks and rivers. After the high flows of spring receded, the Potomac endured below average flows for much of the rest of the year. Water temperatures exceeded 90°F in spots by July. This set the stage for algae blooms that persisted for most of the summer reducing water quality and making fishing difficult.

Natural reproduction of fish species in the Potomac River has been monitored annually by summer seining surveys since 1975. Smallmouth bass reproduction is highly variable with higher than average spring flows reducing spawning success and fry survival. The 2010 index (1.5 bass/haul) documented smallmouth bass reproduction just below the long-term median value (1.6 bass/haul). Although more difficult to measure, natural reproduction of walleye and muskie was also documented.

Persistent below average flows made the river very difficult to navigate and conduct the fall boat electro-fishing surveys used to monitor the adult fish populations; a couple of sites had to be omitted. Smallmouth bass electro-fishing catch rates in 2008 and 2009 were some of the highest recorded during the past 20 years, particularly in the western stretches. The fall 2010 surveys showed a slight overall decline in the relative abundance of smallmouth bass, primarily fish between 11 and 14 inches in length. Physical condition, however, has improved with the lower density. Bass from the record 2007 year class will be growing into this size class during 2011 improving fishing.

Walleye continue to provide a popular sport fishery and some very large walleye were reported on the 2010 Angler's Log. Many of those 26 to 28 inch beauties are remnants of the record year class produced in 2001. Approximately 10% of the current walleye population exceeds 25 inches in length. The current size structure is indicative of an older-age population. Poor reproduction during 2008 and 2009 has resulted in fewer walleye between 15 and 18 inches than previous years. Walleye produced in 2010 will be between 11 and 13 inches in length this coming spring. Fishermen will need to keep the regulations in mind when venturing to the upper Potomac this spring. The year round minimum size for walleye is 15 inches with a maximum size of 20 inches from January 1 through April 15 on the Potomac main stem (Chain Bridge upstream to the spillway in Cumberland) to protect the large females during the spawning season.

Muskie, the "fish of a thousand casts" (or one very well placed cast), has become very popular with many Potomac River fishermen. Taking advantage of this opportunity to collect a greater volume of population data, Inland Fisheries initiated an angler diary program in 2010. Angler diaries can provide a cost effective method for gathering a large amount of data about a species with relatively low abundance. Participating anglers fill out a simple form (link) recording basic information about each muskie fishing trip they take throughout the year. Don't worry; you don't have to reveal your secret spot, only the general access area. Information from the diaries will be used to calculate fishing effort, catch rates, release rates, and determine population size structure. Participating anglers in 2010 spent 468 hours in pursuit of the elusive muskie catching 85 fish in the process. This means that (very) dedicated muskie chasers will spend about 5.5 hours to catch a muskie, which is actually a very high catch rate and reflects the commitment and proficiency of the anglers that submitted diaries. Fifty-nine percent of the muskie caught were between 30" and 38" in length, 25% were between 38" and 42", and 14% exceeded 42". All of the participants did their part to conserve this valuable resource by releasing all of the muskie they caught.

Beaver Creek Catch-and-Return, Fly Fishing Only Area

From a crack in the limestone above the Albert Powell Trout Hatchery in Washington County flows Maryland's largest limestone spring. With an average flow of 3000 gallons/minute and a nearly constant temperature of 52°F, it is an ideal location to raise trout. It also makes Beaver Creek downstream of the hatchery a productive limestone stream capable of supporting wild trout. Catch-and-release, fly fishing only regulation was established on a one mile section below the hatchery in 2004 to enhance the wild trout populations. The entire special regulation area is on private property and fishing is permitted through the generosity of the landowners. Please respect the landowner's property and privacy by parking in designated areas only and walking along the stream, not through yards. Working together we can continue to have access to quality fisheries on private lands.

The Beaver Creek Watershed Assoc., Wash Co. Soil Conservation District, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, State and County governments, fly fishing organizations and many volunteers have worked hard to complete several major restoration projects aimed at improving in-stream and stream-bank habitat. The most recent habitat improvement project was completed during the summer of 2010. As a result, the wild brown trout population continues to improve substantially.

Inland Fisheries monitors the trout populations in the special regulation area annually. During the last five years, the abundance of adult and young brown trout has increased as much as 200%. You can help protect this resource by keeping wading to a minimum and avoid wading through redds and spawning areas.

Trophy-sized brown and rainbow trout, some exceeding 20 inches, lurk in the deeper pools and hide among the undercut roots. Getting one of these secretive bruisers hooked on a fly is only the first hurdle, landing one on light tippet when it heads for cover may be an even bigger challenge. Beaver Creek offers fly fishermen a unique and challenging spring creek experience.

Ice Fishing

With one of the coldest winters in recent memory upon us, "hardwater" fishermen are getting their season. Greeenbriar Lake and Blairs Valley Lake in Washington County are fishing well for bass, sunfish, crappie, and trout. An ice fly with a maggot or waxworm added will tempt the most fish. Try a spoon or jigging Rapala for larger bass. Light line (4 to 6 lb test) is best. Ice fishing is inherently dangerous so be careful and test things out first on unfamiliar ice. I usually drill a hole in a shallow spot to see how thick the ice is and work my way out from . Less than four to five inches of hard, clear ice and I will wait for another day. Be safe and have fun.

Brook Trout Program

During June, 2010, DNR Inland Fisheries, in cooperation with University of Maryland researchers, as well as volunteers from both federal and private organizations, began a large scale Brook Trout life history project in the Savage River watershed. Nearly 1000 trout, ranging in size from 4" to over 12" were fin clipped and implanted with individually coded PIT (passive integrated transponder) tags in order to study their movements, growth rates, mortality rates, and other important life history traits. The tagged fish are to be tracked periodically, beginning in 2011, using both stationary antennas as well as a portable tag readers linked to data recorders.

Savage Brookie

Physical habitat metrics are also being collected along each of the ninety 50 meter sample segments. Variables such as woody debris counts, pool quality and type, epifaunal habitat and over-all instream habitat are being recorded, among others. Using Excel and GIS, these values will be used to relate fish densities to the available habitat in order to help better determine exactly what types of habitats are needed for strong Brook Trout populations.

The project is currently set to continue for a minimum of 5 years. Once completed, this will be one of the largest in-stream tagging projects to take place on the east coast and will yield invaluable information about one of our most prized gamefish.

Southern Region

Potomac River

Fishing in 2010 remained excellent for anglers in southern Maryland. The Potomac is still the river of choice for the best angling. The Potomac's largemouth bass fishery ranks highly among recreational and tournament anglers alike. Grass beds, wood and drop-offs in Mattawoman, Piscataway and Chicamuxen Creeks were good areas to find concentrations of bass along the Maryland shore. Blue catfish continue to expand in size and numbers throughout the tidal Potomac basin. The most common size group was below 15 inches in length but fish exceeding 30 pounds were not uncommon. An angler from New York reeled in a 79 lb Potomac behemoth in August. Organized catfish tournaments often weigh in fish surpassing 50 pounds.

Branson Williams with a 62 pound Potomac River Blue Catfish. Photo Credit: Ross Williams

Northern snakeheads (NSH) are continue to expand their range in the Potomac and are frequently found during fish surveys. More anglers are reporting northern snakehead catches and specifically targeting snakeheads during their fishing trips. Snakeheads that weigh between 6 to 10 pounds are now common and hooking a fish over 10 pounds is no longer rare. These powerful invasives are becoming increasingly more popular with anglers due to their strength and willingness to annihilate a lure or bait. Snakeheads prefer habitat and food similar to bass so it is not uncommon for a bass angler to inadvertently hook a toothy NSH while fishing lilypads or wood structure. An important reminder to anglers: Upon catching a snakehead, it is required that the angler kill the fish immediately. It is illegal to release a live snakehead or have a live one in possession. Consider making a meal out of it. Snakehead has mild, white flesh and is considered a delicacy. Come on and join the growing numbers of us who partake of this delicious aquatic table fare.

Northern Snakehead. Photo Credit: Mary Groves

The Potomac is also home to many other sport fish. White and yellow perch, striped bass, black crappie and several sunfish species are to name a few. Each one offers angling enjoyment for those who pursue it. Here is tip for panfish anglers who are looking to catch large redear sunfish. We are finding a growing population in Mattawoman Creek in the vicinity of Smallwood State Park. These fish are approaching 11 inches with a thick girth. It is recommended that you use some type of boat while pursuing these fish. They like hiding in the shallows with a heavy grass cover during warm weather and would be a good species to seek with a fly rod.

Patuxent River

The tidal freshwater Patuxent fishery offers diverse opportunities for anglers that enjoy a little variety. Bass fishermen who want to avoid the crowds of the Potomac can have an enjoyable trip on the small PAX River. It does not have the fishery the Potomac has, but it gets people away from the crowds and offers anglers scenic views while catching a few bass. The yellow and white perch fishery of the Patuxent is excellent throughout the year. Yellow perch often exceed 12 inches. The majority of the large white perch migrate down river after spawning.

Fishing for catfish is also popular in the Patuxent. Several blue catfish young were documented during a 2009 electro-fishing survey and a follow up in 2010 showed that numbers of blue catfish offspring equaled the number of channel catfish young. Channel and blue catfish are sought after by fishermen fishing from piers, shoreline and boats. Several striped bass over 50 pounds were collected by fisheries personnel for use as hatchery brood stock during April. Striped bass are also popular among anglers but most are caught in the saltier downstream portion of the river during the open season.

Patuxent River Striper. Photo Credit: Tim Groves

WSSC Reservoirs

Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge reservoirs are man-made impoundments along the upper Patuxent River. Both are roughly 800 acres in size and are managed by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC). Triadelphia lies north of Rocky Gorge and offers a good largemouth and smallmouth bass fishery. Largemouth in the 8 pound range lurk in their hideaways and smallmouth over 6 pounds have been found holding close to submerged rock piles and drop offs. Striped bass, northern pike and walleye are also wary prey collected by anglers and biologists alike, usually caught while looking for other species. Striped bass are sometimes caught in excess of 25 pounds, while the pike and walleye rarely reach 10 pounds. Of interest to biologists is the collection of over 100 small striped bass (10 inches or less) that were collected during a November electro-fishing survey. Young striped bass are often hard to find in the reservoir, even with the thousands of fry and fingerling that are stocked annually by Maryland DNR and WSSC. Good numbers of black and white crappie and white perch provides the opportunity for anglers to fill their creel with some tasty morsels, especially during the spring. For those less conventional anglers, common carp are abundant in Triadelphia and will test your toughest tackle. is also a growing number of anglers who prefer to fish for carp with bow and arrow during the spring spawn.

Triadelphia Striper (25.5 lbs). Photo Credit: Jeff Wible

Rocky Gorge also offers a good fishery for largemouth and striped bass. The largemouth bass are more abundant and easier to find than the stripers. The stripers are more of an open water fish and tend to roam from place to place quickly, but some over 20 pounds are caught every year. Walleye, northern pike and a few tiger musky are willing to ambush an occasional lure passing by. Crappie, sunfish and white perch are also in fair abundance in the reservoir.

Greenbelt Lake

Greenbelt Lake is a small community lake located in the town of Greenbelt. are a lot of small bass in the impoundment, but during an electro-fishing sample in October a 5 and a 7 pounder rolled up beneath the probes. This lake is only accessible by foot. are also small bluegill and crappie and a few chunky redear sunfish available for anglers. Greenbelt Lake also receives several stockings of put and take rainbow trout each year.

Greenbelt Lake Largemouth Bass

Lake Artemesia

Just around the corner from Greenbelt Lake is Lake Artemesia. It is about 50 acres of water with some nice largemouth bass, black crappie and sunfish. It also receives several put and take trout stockings each year. This is a good lake to teach children to fish. The sunfish are usually willing to take a hook baited with a worm. Occasional bass over 8 pounds have been caught in this lake. were no fish surveys conducted in this impoundment during 2010. Cosca Lake

Cosca Lake is small community pond located in Clinton. It has an abundance of bass, black crappie and sunfish. A 6 ¼ pounder was collected during a fall electro-fishing survey. Cosca Lake is a popular lake during the trout stocking season and a favorite for those anglers who need easy access to the shoreline.

Photo Credit: Ross Williams. Cosca Lake Largemouth Bass

Lake Waterford

Lake Waterford in Pasadena was removed from the annual put and take trout stocking list in 2010 due to poor dissolved oxygen in the water. Trout need cool temperatures and lots of oxygen in the water in order to survive, even for a short while. The Maryland Dept. of Environment and the Maryland DNR Inland Fisheries division conducted surveys to determine water quality and fish abundance in the lake. The dissolved oxygen remained poor in the lake throughout the year. A fish survey found some nice largemouth bass, sunfish, black crappie and chain pickerel in the lake. Most of the fish were in the upper part of the lake. Few fish were found in the basin near the dam. Currently, the Anne Arundel County Department of Parks and Recreation, along with other State and Local agencies are assessing what measures can be taken to improve the water quality in Waterford.

Put and Take Trout Fishing Areas

Trout stocking has been scheduled to continue as planned. All of your favorite fishing holes should be brimming with trout before you know it. Thanks again, to our hatchery personnel who do a fine job of raising those nice fish.

Non Native Fish Stocking

This is a reminder to fishermen and aquarists. Please do not release non native species in our waters. After we have seen the invasion of the snakeheads, we continue to see instances where someone stocks unwanted aquarium fish or non native bait in Maryland's waterways. This past year we have seen aquarium fish like Oscars, Red tail catfish and Pacu turn up in fish surveys or angler creels. We are continuing to find remnants of grass carp stocking from the 1980's. Invasive fish are not the only species that can do harm to our native fish species. Invasive aquarium and pond plant, crayfish and even mussels can do irreversible harm. Please do not empty unwanted fish, plants or other aquatic organisms into the water.

Red Oscar. Photo Credit: Ken Fairbrother

Tidal Largemouth Bass Program

MDDNR Biologists for the Tidal Bass Program conducted numerous largemouth bass projects in response to angler concerns, in addition to their annual surveys for 2010. The projects included: spawning sanctuaries in the Potomac River; thermal shock of tournament-caught fish; nesting boxes for hatcheries and the Choptank River; and hatchery-released juveniles. In cooperation with tournament directors and their anglers, information related to catch and initial mortality was collected during black bass tournaments. This information supplemented that gained from the annual survey to generate 12 indices. These indices were used to assess the current status of the largemouth bass population for 7 drainages of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The drainages were: Potomac River, Patuxent River (juvenile assessment only), upper Chesapeake Bay, Choptank River (juvenile assessment only), Wicomico River, Marshyhope Creek, and Pocomoke River.

  • In December and early March, MDDNR Biologists tagged and tracked 20 largemouth bass (≥ 12 inches) from a spawning sanctuary and nearby habitats in Chicamuxen Creek (Potomac River). Largemouth bass used the sanctuary during the spawning season, but few older largemouth bass (≥ 12 in) were caught in the sanctuary; juvenile abundance was higher in the sanctuary than in other sites for previous years.
  • In May, anglers from the Youth Chapter of the Maryland Bass Federation Nation caught twenty largemouth bass from farm ponds of the MDDNR Cedarville hatchery and transferred them to tanks 10 – 15 degrees cooler than the hatchery ponds. For 168 hours, no fish showed signs of stress or died.
  • Volunteers and MDDNR biologists built several types of nesting boxes for largemouth bass spawning in hatchery ponds. Adults sparingly used boxes, which were later modified. Because boxes placed in the Choptank River remained stationary throughout the spring, additional work to place modified boxes in suitable areas of the Choptank River is planned for 2011.
  • There were 310 registered tournaments in 2010. Catch rates were slightly higher than 5 years ago, but slightly lower than 2008 and 2009. Most caught and released bass (97.8%) survived until released. Of 150 that died, there were equal numbers of males and females and 30% had eaten crayfish and/or fish (shad/herring and topminnows). Studies of tournament-caught fish held in nets indicate that delayed mortality of some fish occurred because of the net and angling stress, and 24 hours following the release of the fish.

During the stocking season of 2010, 59,389 fingerlings were released. About 3% of these were released to a stormwater management pond to determine how suitable conditions were for growing fish; only 61 fingerlings were recovered. There were 1042 fingerlings tagged with coded wire tags and

  • Released to Middle River as part of a cooperative agreement between MDDNR, Wheelabrator INC., and Maryland Bass Federation Nation. There were 46,610 fingerlings tagged and released to western branch in July 2010. Three months later, 1,511 advanced fingerlings (76 – 241 mm) were tagged with PIT tags and released to western branch. The proportion of each stage will be evaluated for the next 3-5 years to determine recruitment of each size class.
  • The annual survey resulted in collected information for 1154 largemouth bass (1 in – 28 in). Most river populations of largemouth bass were in good shape. While the Wicomico River population had the poorest indices, there are only a few years of good data for that drainage. Populations of the upper Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River continue to have average to above average indices.
  • Juvenile (< 200 mm TL) assessments in 2010 demonstrated abundance was generally similar to previous years, but remains low for the Choptank River and appears to be low for the Wicomico River. The proportion of sites where juveniles were collected has not appreciably changed for any drainage, but declined in the Wicomico River where juveniles were only collected at only 27% of the sampled sites.

Eastern Region

In addition to tidal bass work, Eastern Region completed several impoundment surveys. Perhaps most notable was the survey that was completed on Galestown Lake (Dorchester County). In 2003, a massive flood event caused dam failure. The lake was fully drained, and remained that way for over a year. (pic) A new water-control structure was re-built in 2008 and intensive re-stocking has been ongoing since. The lake's access to the public has always been complicated, since the entire shoreline except for the dam is privately held. The new water-control structure and road crossing included significant improvements in angler access for the public. (pic) There is now a fishing pier and an unimproved area for small boat access. Trailered boats are not recommended, and parking is limited to the shoulder of Galestown-Delaware Line Road. Shoreline fishing is allowed along the entire length of the dam. Our survey results were very promising. Bass, bluegill and golden shiners stocked in 2008 and 2009 are thriving. The majority of all fish present are still small in size, but they are very abundant. A few larger specimens were collected; they were likely individuals that found refuge in the stream itself when the dam failed. Chain pickerel were extremely abundant. Galestown Lake now has the exotic aquatic weed hydrilla. Be prepared to fish in heavy weed growth! Also, please make sure to remove any weeds from boats or fishing equipment to prevent its spreading to other areas.

Other impoundment surveys were conducted on Unicorn Lake, Johnsons Pond and Chambers Lake. All three impoundments are in great shape, each producing quality bass, bluegill and chain pickerel. Our Unicorn Lake survey was attended by a Grant Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to view the effectiveness of the Federal Aid Program. Much of the money used by our agency is allocated to us by the USFWS through the Dingell-Johnson Act, Sport Fish Restoration Fund. She gave us high praise in her report.

A new, public 2-acre impoundment has been created in Bloomfield Park, just north of Centerville off Rt. 213. So far it has only been stocked with bluegills, but will receive bass this June. It should provide fantastic fishing very soon. In fact, a successful fishing rodeo was already held there this past fall.

We completed several short electrofishing surveys within Big Elk Creek in September. The main objective was to document any stocked trout that survived the summer months. A few brown trout were collected, so anglers shouldn't give up so soon when the heat cranks up in July! Those that were collected were found in deeper holes that were adjacent to cold water seeps that entered the creek.

Coldwater Hatcheries

Maryland Coldwater Hatcheries continue to supply our waters with excellent fishing opportunities, in spite of some challenging weather conditions. More than 340,000 adult rainbow, brown and golden trout were stocked from our facilities in 2010 for spring trout stocking season. Also stocked were 5,000 two year old holdover fish, and 500 three to five year old trophy fish at 6-10 pounds each.

Currently there are 45 trout fishing rodeos stocked by our hatcheries. This year, nearly 13,000 trout were stocked in an effort to introduce children to fishing and encourage others to enjoy this great outdoor recreational activity.

Between May and October, nearly 165,000 rainbow, brown and golden trout fingerlings were stocked in Maryland waters as part of our put and grow stocking effort. These trout are placed in locations where they have the greatest chance of survival. Many fingerlings are fin clipped for identification during annual stream surveys. This allows biologist to monitor age classes and survival rates.

October is a great time for anglers to enjoy the beautiful fall colors and some great fishing. Over 18,000 trout, weighing nearly one pound each, were stocked this year across our great state during fall trout stocking season. Many anglers agree that this is their favorite time of year to be on the stream as fishing pressure is at a minimum.

For the first time since the spring of 2006, whirling disease-free trout were successfully raised at Bear Creek Rearing Facility. Nearly 17,000 adult rainbow, brown and golden trout were stocked in the spring trout stocking season and 6,000 adults were stocked for children's fishing rodeo events.

Warm Water Hatcheries

Warm Water Hatcheries is a bit of a misnomer for the DNR fish culture facilities at Joseph Manning Hatchery (Charles County) and Unicorn Lake Hatchery (Queen Annes County). These facilities actually culture coldwater, cool water and anadromous species in addition to traditional warm water species such as largemouth bass and bluegill. Together, these two hatcheries culture American shad, hickory shad, Atlantic sturgeon, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, hybrid sunfish, redear sunfish, fathead minnow, golden shiner, walleye, black crappie, musky, tiger musky, rainbow trout, channel catfish and striped bass to meet statewide management needs. These needs include population restoration programs, corrective stocking, "put and take" trout fishing, children's fishing rodeos and population enhancement. These facilities also perform experimental work with species such as American eel and Northern snakehead and investigate new marking, spawning and culture techniques.

Our warm water culture facilities had to deal with some challenging weather in 2010 but they were still able to produce substantial numbers of fish to meet statewide management needs.

Yellow perch trials

Fisheries Service assisted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in an evaluation of the effects of snow treatment chemicals (road salt) on freshwater fish. Manning Hatchery staff spawned yellow perch brood and incubated egg chains for the investigators. Results of this work are still pending.

Striped bass

Manning Hatchery produced almost 2,000,000 striped bass larvae in 2010. Many of these larvae were cultured to juvenile size for use in research, outreach and education projects. Substantial numbers of juveniles are also stocked in state impoundments to provide recreational fishing opportunities.

Savage Reservoir restoration

Savage Reservoir was drained in order to conduct needed repairs to the floodgate system. In order to speed up recovery of fish populations after repair completion, Fisheries Service hatcheries produced fish for restoration stocking under a plan developed by Inland Fisheries Regional Operations group. This restoration stocking plan will be spread out over three years. In 2010, hatcheries stocked 800,000 walleye larvae and hundreds of thousands of black crappie, largemouth bass and bluegill juveniles. We are on schedule to meet the plan goals and this work will continue in 2011 and 2012.

Atlantic sturgeon culture

We improved our ability to eventually stock hatchery-cultured fish to aid restoration of imperiled Atlantic sturgeon in Maryland. Atlantic sturgeon eggs were purchased from the Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Company in New Brunswick, Canada. Unlike U.S. Atlantic sturgeon stocks, Canadian populations are high and stable and support an active commercial fishery. Purchase of these commercially-produced eggs allowed hatchery staff to refine culture techniques prior to the availability of wild-origin brood fish from the mid-Atlantic. Culture trials such as these ensure that resources and staff are in place so there is no need to experiment with the ecologically valuable wild brood fish from our captive breeding program (see Anadromous Restoration Year in Review section). Hatchery staff were able to successfully culture these fertilized eggs to hatch and juvenile size so we feel confident that we will be prepared to spawn wild-origin Atlantic sturgeon brood stock when the time comes. Staff also made some improvements to recirculating aquaculture systems to improve water quality and waste management. The results from these modifications will be used to transfer the technology to culture for other species.


High river flow conditions in 2010 prevented walleye brood stock collection from the Potomac River. Staff were able to obtain fertilized eggs from Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Linesville Hatchery for hatching and culture at Manning Hatchery. These eggs were disinfected prior to shipping to meet biosecurity protocols. Staff raised 920,000 larvae for stocking into state lakes and rivers.

Muskellunge and hybrids

For similar weather reasons, hatchery staff did not have access to ripe brood fish so no musky were produced in 2010. Even though musky spawning is at the experimental stage in Maryland hatcheries, we will continue to improve culture techniques for this species to better meet production goals in the future.

Largemouth bass

Largemouth bass are produced at Manning Hatchery and Unicorn Lake Hatchery. Hatchery biologists continued experimental trials in 2010 to spawn largemouth bass in hatchery tanks. Traditional largemouth bass spawning techniques require brood fish to be placed in ponds where they are allowed to spawn naturally. These fish are subject to the effects of weather and temperature, which can affect spawning behavior and development of the plankton blooms that pond-cultured larvae depend on for food. If hatchery staff can develop successful techniques to spawn largemouth bass in hatchery tanks, they will have more control over culture conditions and improve spawning, hatching and growth rates. Some experimental trials were also conducted to evaluate the potential to improve spawning habitat through the installation of nesting boxes. Controlled experiments were performed in hatchery ponds and field trials were conducted in tidal rivers. These techniques will be evaluated again in 2011. In addition to improvement of spawning success, staff also concentrated on research to investigate feeding and nutrition in intensive tank-culture situations and conversion from live, natural foods to commercially-prepared fish diets. Research trials were conducted at the University of Maryland's Aquaculture and Restoration Ecology Laboratory at Horn Point in Cambridge, Maryland. The data from this work are still under analysis and it is likely that more trials will be conducted in 2011. Largemouth bass juveniles were tank-raised to tagging size for summer stocking trials and a limited number of juveniles were raised to much larger sizes to evaluate survival of large fish stocked in late fall. These larger fish were implanted with transponders so they could be later identified by biologists during field sampling activities. Tidal bass Program →

Rainbow trout

Both Manning Hatchery and Unicorn Lake Hatchery culture rainbow trout over the fall and winter for "put and take" stocking in Southern Region and Eastern Region. Stock is provided by DNR's Albert Powell Hatchery and warm water staff culture them up to larger size until spring stocking. This creates more culture space at the traditional trout hatcheries and reduces travel and transport time for stocking. Albert Powell Hatchery also provided some larger, holdover trout for stocking in spring 2011 so anglers should look forward to the chance to catch some larger trout in these non-traditional trout waters. Hyperlink to stocking schedule

Cultured fish for fishing rodeos

DNR's fishing rodeo program is popular with kids all across the state. Traditionally, rodeo species include rainbow trout and hybrid sunfish. In 2011, we should have one or two year classes of channel catfish available for these fishing derbies. Staff also raise plenty of hybrid sunfish for the rodeo program. These fish are cultured at Manning Hatchery, the DJS cooperatives Hyperlink to Western Maryland Cooperative report and a temporary holding facility in Frederick County.

The biggest news for Warm Water Hatcheries is the commencement of much-needed renovations at Joseph Manning Hatchery. Work began in fall 2010 to completely replace ancient drain pipes and valves that have been a constant maintenance concern over the past several years. This infrastructure was almost a decade past the predicted "normal" lifespan. Repairs also include the installation of Hypalon liners to the hatchery reservoir and several leaking production ponds. This work is on schedule to be completed prior to 2011 spawning activities and we are hopeful that the construction activities will not negatively impact production. Completion of the repairs will substantially increase the efficiency of culture operations at the largest fish hatchery in the state.

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