Thursday, April 25, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 24, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

This past Saturday was of course the opening day of the trophy Striped Bass season and many veteran Striped Bass fishermen see it just as that; the "start"; the fishing will improve in the next week or so. The morning started out nice enough with flat conditions but by mid-morning that soon changed to whitecaps and very rough conditions that had many fishermen hanging on for dear life and some folks were chumming overboard. Unfortunately as many veterans know the open waters can be unforgiving and tragically two fishermen lost their lives when their boat foundered near Point Lookout. Please be careful out there.
Most fishermen described the trolling action as a "slow pick" on Saturday and Sunday and there were also reports of better action in the evenings. Surface water temperatures in the bay are around 56-degrees and about 10-degrees cooler down deep so most of the fish are swimming close to the surface in the shipping channel. Traditional locations along the steepest edges of the shipping channel tended to produce the best catches such as Bloody Point and the western edge from Chesapeake Beach south to Cove Point as well as Buoys 83 and 72. The channel edges in the lower Potomac River produced fish and fishermen are reporting very good success in Tangier Sound in the past three days. Laurie and Mandie are all smiles with their two big Striped Bass they caught near Tilghman Island.

Photo courtesy of Mandie Shockley

Typically the best opportunities for catching a trophy Striped Bass occur around the last week of April and the first week of May. Anyone who has been following the spring spawning runs of yellow and White Perch know that many things have been later than expected due to chilly water temperatures. This may hold true for the Striped Bass also since cooler weather has prevailed for the past couple of weeks. Rich Watts reported that he and his friends went out trolling on Monday near Thomas Point light in about 35' of water and caught a couple of big Striped Bass, one of which had five large menhaden in it's stomach. Rich also mentioned that they caught and released several fish in the 26" size range.
Despite a few false starts and pulses of Hickory Shad in the Susquehanna, Octararo Creek and Deer Creek; the catch and release fishery there has been outstanding for the last week. Fishermen have been using shad darts, small flashy spoons and colorful flies and often catching two at a time on tandem rigs. A few fishermen have also reported catching an American Shad now and then in the Susquehanna. So far the American shad run has been sparse on the Susquehanna and Potomac Rivers. Fisheries biologist Chuck Stence reported yesterday they have been out trying to collect brood stock and are only seeing a few fish. He reported that water temperatures are still a cool 51-degrees, which is a bit cool for American Shad. Jason Haney got to go Hickory Shad fishing with his dad recently and had a ball catching and releasing Hickory Shad at the mouth of Deer Creek.

Photo courtesy of Jason Haney

Although the Susquehanna Flats catch and release fishery season is still open many fishermen have moved on to other fishing opportunities this week. There are still some Striped Bass in the area and locals are still finding some action on surface lures, spoons and shallow running crankbaits. An added bonus has been the chance to catch some bragging size Largemouth Bass and there are always the hungry Channel Catfish that are ready to hit most anything that comes by their way.
Fishermen are still following the White Perch either in the spawning reaches of the upper areas of the tidal rivers and creeks or farther down the rivers as post-spawn fish move back down the rivers. There were reports this past weekend that fishermen at the Red Bridges area of the upper Choptank even saw small Striped Bass in the 12" to 15" size range in the area. This time of the year you are likely to catch a wide variety of fish when fishing with small Beetle Spins, tubes or shad darts; White Perch, Yellow Perch, Crappie and other freshwater fish are always looking for a snack. Angelina Watts was fishing with her dad at the Wye Mills spillway recently and caught a variety of fish including this nice White Perch.

Photo by Rich Watts

Freshwater fishermen continue to enjoy a wide variety of fishing opportunities this week from the mountains of western Maryland to the Eastern Shore. Deep Creek Lake is providing some excellent Walleye fishing this week and fishermen are also catching Smallmouth Bass. Water temperatures in the lake are hovering around 51-degrees and fishermen are starting to see more and more floating docks being deployed along the shorelines. Western region trout fishermen continue to enjoy excellent fishing in many of the put and take, delayed harvest and catch and release trout management areas. Water flows have been fairly consistent and cool water temperatures have prevailed in the many of the region's streams and rivers. The upper Potomac is a great place this week to try fishing for smallmouth bass; conditions are just about ideal.
Trout fishing remains a favorite this week for many fishermen in the central region as fisheries crews continue to stock trout in many of the put and take trout management areas. The trout tend to also spread out and often find all kinds of tight places to elude fishermen. Often using small spinners is a great way to cover a lot of water when looking for fish that are spread out.
The recent cool weather and colder nights has caused water temperatures in many freshwater areas to drop to the low 50's. Species such as Largemouth Bass are still holding in transition areas just outside of spawning areas; often near some kind of emerging grass, spatterdock fields or sunken wood. Shallow running crankbaits, spinnerbaits, soft plastic creature baits are good choices this week for pre-spawn catch and release fishing. Crappie fishermen report that the action has slowed down, perhaps due to a drop in water temperature. Fishing for Channel Catfish continues to be very good in the tidal rivers and lakes throughout Maryland. It is a simple type of fishing that beckons one to relax while waiting for a bite. Fishermen that try their luck in the tidal rivers often see another species of Catfish called the White Catfish. They are not known as well for their table fare as the Channel Catfish but certainly put up a head shaking fight when hooked. The picture below shows a Channel Catfish (above) as compared to a White Catfish (below). Note the difference in color, tail fin anal fin and broadness of head.

Photo by Keith Lockwood

Ocean City area are starting to see the fishing action close to shore pick up this week as water temperatures approach 50-degrees along the beaches. Surf fishermen are catching a few Black Drum and large Striped Bass in the surf when using large cut fish baits such as menhaden. The bulk of the large Chesapeake Bay post-spawn Striped Bass have yet to reach Cape Charles and make that left hand turn to head up north to New England but fishermen are finding a few big fish this week. Skates of course are a major part of the action in the surf and are diligent in their endeavors to chew up baits in short order. Fishermen using smaller baits are also catching Bluefish and Kingfish.
In and around the inlet fishermen are finding the Tautog fishing greatly improved this week around the jetties, bulkheads and the Route 50 Bridge. Pieces of green crab or frozen sand fleas have been good baits to use on the first bit of an ebbing tide. Flounder are becoming more common in the back bay areas this week as water temperatures drift into the low 60's. The Thorofare has been a good place lately and often an ebbing tide which brings warmer water from the shallower areas of the bay will get the Flounder biting. The throwback ratio tends to be high so many fishermen are using larger baits such as Gulp baits. Fishermen are also finding sub-legal Striped Bass around the bridge piers of the Route 90 Bridge. Outside the inlet the boats heading out to the wreck sites are finding large tautog for their fishermen.


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