Thursday, January 17, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | January 16, 2013


It seems hard to believe that we are half way through January already but that is a fact. I certainly hope that Santa looked at your fishing tackle wish list. If not this is of course the season for fishing shows and there are a few on the horizon. Due to budget restraints the fisheries service has had to make some hard choices about attending these shows to interact with our fishermen. Our staff will be present at the Pasadena Sportfishing Flea Market/Show on February 16th and 17th at the Earleigh Heights Fire House on Route 2, Severna Park. Licensing is planning to be there so you'll also be able to purchase your new 2013 fishing license there. The National Capital Angling Show at the Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda on March 10th will be our second venue. This is a trout and fly fishermen's dream show and out trout specialists will be there to highlight our brook trout program and other trout management programs.
While tucked in for the winter; a lot of fishermen find themselves tending to fishing tackle, reading books and catalogs, etc. While on the computer take the time to cruise around the fisheries home page links; there is a lot of information there and our staff is constantly working to bring you easily accessible information. One such link is the link to some of our fisheries programs; take a gander at the link below for some interesting facts.
More than a few fishermen decided to start the New Year by fishing and despite the time of year and cold water temperatures there is some fishing action going on. In the upper bay fishermen have been poking around the lower Susquehanna River and channels leading to the general area looking for yellow perch. Surface water temperatures are holding close to 40-degrees and fishermen are finding a few small to medium sized yellow perch widely scattered in the very upper reaches of the bay. Water clarity has been cloudy so checking out some of the clearer running tidal rivers such as the Sassafras where they enter the bay may be a good option. Minnows on a small jig head or a hook through the lips with a split shot a couple of feet down the line are a favorite when trying to locate scattered yellow perch. A simple two hook bottom rig can also be a good choice as are small soft plastic jigs when anchored over deep fish. Colder water and a little more time will do much to help pull yellow perch into the deep waters of the Susquehanna River. Worth mentioning is the fact that fishermen have been catching walleye in the Susquehanna since early last month.
In other areas of the bay there are a few hardy souls who have been out targeting the large concentrations of white perch hugging the bottom in the lower sections of the major tidal rivers in the bay. A good depth finder will help locate the schools that are hunkered down in 50' or more of water where the water temperature can be as warm as 65-degrees. Bloodworms on a two hook bottom rig with just enough weight to hold bottom is the most popular rig but grass shrimp are a close second for bait choices.
In the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay's tidal rivers there are those toothy torpedoes we all call chain pickerel. These guys love cold water and with grass beds diminished, one can finally cast and retrieve lures without reeling in a gob of aquatic vegetation. This is a catch and release fishery for most and that is a good thing. The larger fish can be cleaned out in short order since no matter how old and large they get they just can't help themselves from pouncing on any attractive looking bait or lure that comes their way. Make sure you have a good set of long-nosed pliers because these guys have a tendency to inhale small treble hooks. Chain pickerel can be found as far west as Deep Creek Lake and a frequent inhabitant of eastern shore impoundments.
The fishermen out in western Maryland that love to ice fish or as they like to call it "fishing hard water" had some borderline ice conditions the first full week of January with some ice in the coves of Deep Creek Lake such as Green Glad Cove. The main lake still had open areas and this past weekend's warm spell and recent rain did not do any favors in building up better ice conditions. At present fishermen should not attempt to go out on any ice at Deep Creek Lake. A cold front is supposed to arrive in the near future and hopefully firm up ice conditions. Matt Sell send us this picture of a fine catch of yellow perch he caught recently; sure looks like some fine eating there.

Photo by Matt Sell
Alan Klotz reports that western region trout streams are showing good flows and his staff has been busy taking care of wader wash stations in anticipation of trout fishermen taking advantage of the warm weather we've been experiencing. John Mullican showed us with an angler's log on January 2ndthat there is some good fishing for walleye in the upper Potomac River. John pointed out that deep, small and slow is the order of the day when fishing for walleye or smallmouth bass this time of the year and the same is true for fishermen looking for largemouth bass. The bass are holding deep where the water is warmer and they are not very active so bites or pickups can be very subtle; often one's line just stops for a moment. The depths of steep channel edges and deep structure are good places to fish with a variety of soft plastics such as grubs and blade lures. Braided line is also very helpful for detecting those subtle pickups of sluggish bass. There is still some crappie fishing going on in the lower Potomac in deep water around marina piers and the blue catfish guys are out fishing the channels and edges in the Ft. Washington area with some days being better than others.
Everyone had to deal with super storm Sandy last year and she manifested herself in a variety of ways. Many of us had to put up with a lot of rain and wind; which fortunately came from the west for the most part. Our friends in the far western portions of the state had to deal with large amounts of heavy snow which pulled down power lines and trees that brought the region to a dramatic halt. The Bear Creek Trout Hatchery was not to be left out of Sandy's onslaught unfortunately. Nestled in a valley of towering hemlock trees near Deep Creek Lake; the heavy snows pulled down power lines and trees at the hatchery. Also, in one of the most bizarre feats of nature to be imagined; one of the raceways containing about 1,200 large trophy sized trout and another raceway next to it with approximately 6,000 regular sized trout, were hit by a bolt of lightning. All in all the hatchery staff counted up about 6,200 regular sized trout and 1,200 of those beautiful 4lb to 8lb trophy trout, that dazzle and excite every trout fisherman's wildest dreams, as lost. The raceways and water systems are all back on line now. The ever adaptable trout production staff at all of the trout hatcheries have shifted stocking and culture strategies to address the shortfalls of the regular stocking trout but the trophy trout cannot be replaced as quickly. There are trophy trout being held at other hatcheries so fishermen will still have the opportunity to catch a trophy sized trout if fisherman's luck smiles on them.

Photos by Ed Livengood
Fishermen in the Ocean City area are seeing the excellent striped bass action within the 3-mile EEZ line run out. The menhaden seemed to have moved on south and with them the bulk of the striped bass that provide the good fishing. There have been reports of fish holding in 50' of water very close to the EEZ line but it sounds a little to close for comfort in regard to an expensive fine.
When the weather permits the head boats are taking patrons out to the wreck sites for tautog fishing. The fishing for tautog is being labeled as fair to good for the larger sized fish that are targeted this time of the year. A few boats have been steaming far offshore for sea bass and the captains report a few anglers on their trips have approached the 15 fish daily creel limit on their trips. The sea bass season runs till the end of February.


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