Thursday, March 21, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | March 20, 2013


Welcome to the first day of spring and the spring equinox; officially that is, for although there are signs of spring everywhere the chilly weather continues to make its presence known if only at night. Today marks the moment when night and day are exactly the same length - 12 hours; as the sun crosses the celestial equator (the imaginary line above the equator) and the earth is not tilted on its axis. The forecast for later on this week and next week is pretty nice so it will be a wonderful time to get out and enjoy some fishing in the waters of Maryland. The yellow perch have done there thing and alewife river herring are spawning, the white perch are making their spawning runs and the fishing will only get better with each passing day. The ospreys arrived last week and can be seen swooping low near waterways snatching up small sticks and grass to line their nests. A recent study showed that almost 10-percent of osprey nests inspected had discarded fishing line in them so if you ever come upon line lying about, gather it up and dispose of it properly; you'll be doing everyone a service. It is also a good lesson to also teach young anglers to pick up someone else's trash whenever they see it, to protect not only the environment but the future of fishing access to the places we love to fish.
White perch are now in the upper sections of the Chesapeake Bay's tidal rivers full of roe and getting ready to make their dash to the headwaters very soon. Fishermen have been enjoying good fishing for white perch in most areas by using bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp, bloodworms, earthworms or small minnows. A small shad dart or crappie jig head with any of the before mentioned baits on it is also a fun option when using ultra light tackle. In many rivers where yellow perch are present it is possible for fishermen to catch the two different species of perch "coming and going" this week as evidenced by this two hook bottom rig with two fine perch from the lower Tuckahoe River on the Eastern Shore caught this past Sunday.

Photo by Keith Lockwood

Fishing for white perch in the Tuckahoe, Choptank and other tidal rivers has been very good this week and the good fishing should hold through the week in most areas. Channel catfish and crappie are also entertaining fishermen at the same time. The channel catfish can be caught on a simple bottom rig baited with earthworms, fresh cut fish or chicken livers. In many areas they make for some fine eating and they put up a pretty good show for themselves on the end of a fishing line. Crappie are being caught in relatively deep water around marina piers and docks or any kind of deep water structure. A small tube jig with or without a small minnow is a good choice for locating them. A two hook rig under a bobber is one of the more favorable choices and remember crappie are in tight schools this time of the year.
All fishermen know you never know what you might hook when you cast your line into the water. Although they were documented several weeks ago by fisheries biologists in the Choptank River; Joey Cover sent us the first picture from one of our readers, of a small blue catfish he caught in the Tuckahoe River recently while fishing for perch. This invasive species of catfish unfortunately is spreading through Maryland's tidal rivers by migrating from the Potomac River or by uninformed fishermen. It is illegal to transport blue catfish from one body of water to another. They grow to enormous sizes and eat whatever they want; including any type of fish, freshwater mussels, clams or even blue crabs. In the James River located in Virginia where the invasion started, surveys have shown they now make up as much as 60-percent of the biomass in the river. To learn more about blue catfish and other invasive species in Maryland, be sure to check out the following link.

Photo by Joey Cover

Freshwater fishermen in the far western region are beginning to see ice conditions on popular ice fishing locations such as Deep Creek Lake deteriorating. Fishermen are reporting slushy surfaces and open water along shorelines. Yellow perch are still the most popular fish being caught and this week may be the last of it until open water dominates the lake. Trout fishermen are enjoying wonderful fishing opportunities in the regions trout management waters such as the catch and release areas. Fishing for smallmouth bass has taken an upswing in the upper Potomac River as water temperatures and flow conditions have improved recently.
Fishermen in the central, southern and eastern regions are enjoying fishing for a mix of species this week despite the chilly weather. Largemouth bass are showing signs of reacting to slightly warmer water temperatures and are moving from deeper waters to transitions zones near the top edge of drop offs and channel edges. Slow, small and close to the bottom is often the mantra for largemouth bass this time of the year. There is also good fishing for channel catfish, white perch, crappie and chain pickerel in most areas. Trout fishermen are still enjoying good fishing in many of the 0 closure waters and looking forward to the generous stockings in the closed areas for the kickoff of the 2013 trout season opener.
Mary Groves is the regional biologist for the southern region and she sent in a short report on one of her favorite places to fish; St. Mary's Lake between Calloway and California Maryland. St. Mary's Lake in Southern Maryland is a popular fishing destination for anglers searching for Largemouth Bass, Sunfish, Crappie and even Chain Pickerel. The lake, however, is fed by streams naturally low in alkalinity and hardness providing little to buffer acidity that enters the system. This situation causes low productivity meaning that typical food webs struggle to maintain balance.
Good habitat (partially submerged wood/trees, cobble or stones, rocks and deep pools) is even more important when water chemistry is less than desirable. St. Mary's Lake lacks enough permanent habitat to provide adequate shelter for various stages of fish growth or basic cover that many fish require. Inland Fisheries has tried to improve habitat in St. Mary's Lake for more than 2 decades. Some of the projects included hand-planting of aquatic vegetation and fencing off the area to discourage foraging animals, seeding exposed shoreline when the lake was drawn down for repairs, and installing artificial submerged bushes made of rot-resistant wood.
The most recent addition to St. Mary's Lake are submerged tunnel-like structures (approx. 2 ft X 8 ft) that are anchored just off the bottom of the lake and have artificial "grass", made of frayed polypropylene rope. Volunteer Kevin Wagner from the Southern Maryland Bass Club helps deploy one of the structures.

Photo by Mary Groves

Map of the St Mary's Lake Habitat Enhancement Projects

Inland Fisheries will monitor the success of these structures periodically to assess fish use and durability. Anglers are asked to not float directly over the structures and to avoid casting near the floats in order to keep from snagging the ropes used to mark the tunnel structures. Any questions can be directed to the Southern Region Inland Fisheries Manager at 301-888-2423 or email at
Fishermen looking to shake the cobwebs off of their fishing gear and do test runs with their boats have been jigging in the warm water discharge at the CCNPP recently and catching and releasing a few striped bass. Others have found striped bass suspended along deep channel edges and near the Bay Bridge Piers. A few boats have also begun to try trolling along the edges of the shipping channel with some success. Surface water temperature in the bay are running around42-degrees; still pretty chilly. John McMullen was fishing for crappie in the upper bay recently when he caught and released this striped bass. It just goes to show fishing can be full of surprises.

Photo Courtesy of John McMullen

Fishermen in the Ocean City area have been traveling out to the wreck sites to fish for tautog on the few head boats that are specializing in this type of fishing. Most of the time fishermen are catching their limit of large tautog. Water temperatures along the Maryland coast are about 40-degrees this week. The tautog fishing in and around the Ocean City Inlet will begin to develop soon for shore bound fishermen.


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