Saturday, March 30, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | March 27, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

This coming Saturday will mark the traditional opening day of Maryland's 2013 trout season and many fishermen will spend a restless night waiting for the anticipated fishing that the day will bring. Fisheries crews are working overtime this week stocking the trout management waters around the state with impressive numbers and sizes of trout. Some fishermen have been able to take advantage of the pre-stocking of trout in some areas but this Saturday really kicks off the season in high gear. Good luck to all and may you find your favorite spot all to yourself and sunny skies. These fishermen at Deer Creek year's ago found neither but did find excellent trout fishing and they were out there participating in a tradition.

Photo by Mark Staley

Maryland abounds with trout fishing opportunities within easy driving distance for just about anyone this coming weekend. The Fisheries Service has made a concerted effort to generously stock community ponds and streams and rivers close to population centers to make it easier for families to visit the many put and take stocked areas. The fishing can legally begin at 5:30am and there will be those die-hards with head lamps and lanterns staking out favorite fishing holes in the pre-dawn darkness; slippery mud banks and exposed roots will surely claim payment. Others will take a more casual approach and arrive later on in the day after some of the morning crowds have moved on to a hearty brunch at home or at a favorite diner. I would add that this is an important ingredient to a memorable fishing experience with children. Helping your little fishermen being comfortable is also paramount; wet and cold fingers can't be helped but keeping their feet dry with rubber boots is very important. A father's note of experience will add that the depth your child will get wet is directly proportional to the height of the boot. When wearing knee boots they will go in over their knees, hip boots are good for falling in up to your waist. Bringing a change of foot wear, socks and a new pair of dry jeans is also certainly not out of the question. These two anglers proudly hold up the family's stringer of trout caught at Forest Hill Pond in Hartford County several years ago.

Photo by Mark Staley

When it comes to bait for put and take trout it is hard to beat Berkley Power Bait; it is just that simple. Good old earthworms will always entice trout onto a hook, canned corn has always worked and even the small gourmet jelly beans will work once you suck the sugar coating off (this was scientifically tested when I was 11-years old). A number 8 bait holder hook is perhaps one of the most common choices for a hook and a few well placed split shot a foot or so above the hook makes for a simple rig. We've learned a lot in the last 50-years so most fishermen are smart enough now to not store that spare split shot in your mouth. Small spinners such as Mepps, Panther Martins, spinner fly combos or Blue Fox's are a good way to cover a lot of water to find hungry trout but be prepared to pay the stream gods with a sacrifice now and then to snags. Most spin fishermen prefer an ultra-light outfit with 4lb test line. Fly fishermen are not to be left out and will be employing selections from their fly boxes but most of them will be looking for a little more elbow room and often wait until the crowds thin out later on this week or head off to the catch and release and fly only trout management waters.
Fishermen in western Maryland are enjoying the extended ice fishing season they have been granted by the cold weather at Deep Creek Lake. This past week fishermen spoke of limit catches of pre-spawn yellow perch and large bluegills but also reported open water along shorelines and using planks to get out on the ice. Most agree that this coming weekend may mark the end of the season as warm temperatures are expected. As the open water begins to expand fishermen using slip bobbers and live minnows should be able to capitalize on yellow perch moving into the shallows to spawn. John Mullican sent in an exciting angler's log from the upper Potomac River about walleye fishing opportunities and some brood stock collections they have been accomplishing; be sure to check it out.
Fluctuating water temperatures have been making it tough to fish for some freshwater species such as largemouth bass. The colder water temperatures and cold run off from snow melt will put them on the deeper side of transition zones along channel edges and steep drop offs this week. Small deep diving crankbaits and grubs would be good choices when worked close to the bottom. Deep sunken wood is also a good target and if it warms up this weekend as promised look for largemouth bass to be moving into shallower water especially in the afternoon. Okey Deraimo holds up a nice 21.5 inch largemouth bass for the camera before slipping it back into Lake Linganore in Frederick County recently.

Photo by Lee Cheyne

The recent cold weather put the brakes on the white perch spawning migration to the headwaters of the tidal rivers and creeks. They are presently holding in channels a few miles downriver from their spawning areas and are eager to take bottom rigs or small shad dart type jigs baited with grass shrimp, earthworms or small minnows. Fishermen are reporting that grass shrimp can be tough to find at bait shops lately. A flat rimmed small mesh shrimp net on a fair sized handle is the ticket to catching your own grass shrimp. Some of the best places to sweep your net this time of the year are old bulkheads with plenty of growth on them near sewage treatment plant discharges or some other kind of warm water discharge. On sunny days the thick grass along the shallows of marsh edges can produce quantities of grass shrimp. It is a learning process and you will remember well where you did best during different times of the year.
Fishing for channel catfish has been very good in most of the states tidal rivers and many ponds and lakes. A big glob of worms, pieces of cut bait or even chicken livers are good choices for bait. Bluegills and crappie are becoming more active and chain pickerel are always aggressively chasing down most any kind of lure moving through the water.
The water temperatures in the bay are currently running around 42-degrees and although fairly cold, striped bass are moving up the bay and into the tidal spawning rivers. The bay is open to catch and release and light tackle fishermen have been jigging at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant warm water discharge recently. Success has been known to fluctuate from day to day but the action has been pretty steady recently. Large soft plastic jigs and butterfly jigs are two of the most common jigs used, as fishermen drift in the current. Heavy tackle and quick releases at the boat are the drill for fishermen who care for these large pre-spawn striped bass. The catch and release season is now open at the Susquehanna Flats area but with water temperatures hovering around 41-degrees there has not been much action reported. A few smaller male striped bass have been caught by fishermen working Rat-L-Traps and jigs along channel edges and channel catfish have even been chasing down lures close to the bottom but so far this fishery will need warmer water temperatures to develop.
Shoreline fishermen are not to be left out of the opportunity to catch and release striped bass as they move up the bay this week and Sandy Point State Park is one of the most accessible and productive places to fish. Fishermen there use heavy surf fishing tackle and bottom rigs with circle hooks and bait such as bloodworms of fresh cut bait. Fishermen need to be prepared with stout tackle and rubber boots to meet the fish in the water to avoid dragging them up on the sand and causing injury.
Fishermen who enjoy fishing from the shorelines of the Potomac River in St. Mary's County will find three popular fishing piers has been recently renovated to provide easier access for those with disabilities at Fox Harbor Landing in Ridge, River Springs Landing in Avenue and St. George's Island. Follow this link to find directions and locations of boat ramps and fishing piers. For the above fishing piers just click on St. Mary's County and then on each labeled fishing pier icon for directions and descriptions.
Ocean City fishermen have been venturing out to the wreck sites when the weather permits to fish for tautog. The catches have been good and some impressive sized tautog are being caught. Water temperatures in and around the inlet are barely 40-degrees so the tautog fishery has yet to develop there. A few more weeks of warmer weather will do much to improve the chances of catching tautog at the inlet this spring.
The word is finally out concerning this year's flounder regulations yesterday morning; the notice is below.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources pursuant to COMAR announces that the recreational summer flounder fishery will re-open statewide at 12:01am, Thursday, March 28th, 2013. The fishery will remain open through 11:59 pm December 31, 2013. Recreational anglers may keep up to 4 summer flounder per person per day. The minimum size for summer flounder is 16 inches in all Maryland state waters. The commercial hook and line minimum size is also 16 inches in all Maryland state waters.
The Department may close the recreational season early if projections indicate the recreational harvest target will be caught before December 31, 2013.


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