Friday, March 14, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | March 14, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

It would have been hard for anyone not to have caught a touch of spring fever yesterday as temperatures soared up to the 70-degree mark, a very welcomed harbinger of what is to come. Signs of spring are beginning to show everywhere if one looks for them; Woodcock or Timber Doodles are buzzing around, Canada Geese and Whistling Swans are headed north, Wood Ducks have arrived, flower bulbs are poking up and one of my nesting Ospreys was waiting for me when I arrived home from work yesterday. Traditional spawning runs of fish are finally beginning to occur, trout stockings are moving along and fishermen will start to make some positive moves towards going out to do some fishing.
My two fishing buddies and I figured we'd give the Yellow Perch a try on the Tuckahoe River near Hillsboro this past Sunday. Despite the chill, we had great fun and felt like we participated; our timing unfortunately did not match up with that of the Yellow Perch. Three hours in a canoe dunking minnows made for some stiff legs at the boat ramp which caused some reflection on younger days that seemed a long, long time ago. A sight for sore eyes developed when four young guys full of purpose and determination pulled up with all the right stuff. We watched as they began unloading their kayaks and hitting the water for a day on the upper Tuckahoe fishing for Chain Pickerel. For an old timer like me it was nice to see young guys enjoying what the outdoors has to offer.

Photos by Keith Lockwood
The fish that tends to be on fishermen's minds this time of the year are Yellow Perch and their arrival to traditional fishing holes has been delayed due to cold water temperatures in many of the bay's tidal rivers and creeks. It only takes one sunny and warm day to get fishermen out to try their luck and several to elevate water temperatures to the Yellow Perch's liking. A water temperature of 46-degrees tends to be the magic number for spawning Yellow Perch and last Sunday for example the water temperature at Hillsboro on the Tuckahoe River was 43-degrees and fishing there was very slow; fortunately recent warm weather has changed all of that. This 10-1/2" Yellow Perch was the only fish caught by three fishermen dunking minnows in the Tuckahoe at Hillsboro on Sunday; they did much better on late Tuesday afternoon.

Photo Courtesy of Tom O'Connell
The last couple of days have done much to change the nature of the Yellow Perch runs and fish that were holding far down river earlier this week have begun to move through traditional areas where fishermen can target them with jigs and bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp, earthworms or minnows. Yesterday's 70-degree temperatures was just what the doctor ordered and Yellow Perch began to make their appearance at traditional locations and fishermen reported good to excellent catches. At Hillsboro on the Tuckahoe there was an excellent run of nice perch during the afternoon and fishermen did very well as water temperatures rose to 47-degrees by late afternoon.
Fishermen have been reporting earlier this week that they were finding Yellow Perch holding in some of the deeper holes of tidal rivers and creeks downstream of the traditional target areas such as the Ganey's Wharf area on the Choptank, Jug Bay on the Patuxent River and the Shad Landing area of the Pocomoke River. These Yellow Perch are now on the move up river and should provide good fishing through the weekend. There has been some Yellow Perch action reported in the lower Susquehanna in the deepest channel areas for several weeks and last week the ice in the lower section of the Northeast River began to recede; so there should be some fishing opportunities there.
It will be a while before fishermen see any appreciable White Perch numbers moving up the tidal rivers and creeks; fyke netters in the middle river areas have been seeing very little in their nets for the past two weeks. As waters warm up in the next couple of weeks; Hickory Shad will be moving up the tidal rivers and creeks and fishermen will be looking forward to the fun catch and release fishing that these restored populations are providing. Now is the time for selecting shad darts, flies and flashy spoons before you find yourself looking at empty shelves at your favorite tackle shop. Fish passage program leader Jim Thompson has been making sure the fish passage or fish ladders are in good shape for the expected arrival of river herring and Hickory Shad and finds himself up to the top of his waders at the fish ladder at Winters Run which is a tributary of the Bush River.

Photo Courtesy of Jim Thompson
Trout are also on fishermen's minds this time of the year and often the pre-season stocking of trout in the non- closure areas allow put and take fishermen to put a little bend in their fishing rods and a few trout on the dinner table. Stocking crews had been plagued with ice on the trout holding ponds that prevented them from seining out the trout for pre-season stockings in non-closure areas. Some areas have been stocked and crews are working overtime trying to keep up with the closure stockings and fill in some of the pre-season stockings. The best way to obtain the latest stocking information is to subscribe to the Fisheries contact email list where stockings are posted as they occur. The following link will take you to the site where you can subscribe. One of the places crews were out recently was Hunting Creek Lake at Cunningham Falls State Park where crews had to cut through 13" of ice with a chain saw and pour the trout down through the hole that they had cut into the lake ice; all in a day's work for fisheries crews.

Photos Courtesy of Marshal Brown
The warmer days when they occur entice fishermen to check out favorite local ponds or waterways to try their hand at casting for Largemouth Bass, Crappie and Chain Pickerel; except for the Chain Pickerel the most productive presentations are usually deep and slow. Soft plastic jigs, slow rolled spinnerbaits and crankbaits are often the best choices for lures. Chain Pickerel love cold water and will attack most any kind of spinner, spoon or swimming minnow lure. John Mullican reports that Walleye fishing in the upper Potomac is good this week but warns that recent snow melt and predicted rain may cause the river to be running high and fast later on this week. Readers can check out his recent angler's logs for more detailed information on Walleyes and Smallmouth Bass.
Ice fishermen at Deep Creek Lake have been experiencing one of the best seasons for hard water fishing in a few years. The extreme cold that have seen homeowners heating bills soar and caused some challenging driving conditions has also manifested itself in plenty of thick ice. Fishermen have been catching Yellow Perch, Walleye, Bluegills, Chain Pickerel and Northern Pike. Fishermen have been experiencing some surface slush recently on the warmer days and the edges along shorelines are starting to show signs of receding; so this coming weekend may be one of the last good and safe chances to ice fish at Deep Creek Lake.

Photo Courtesy of Matt Sell
Chesapeake Bay fishermen will start to pull covers off their boats and begin to think about sprucing them up and painting bottoms. Those who keep their boats on trailers usually have less to do and will be checking out the warm water discharge at the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant for some catch and release fishing for Striped Bass that are moving past, on their way up the bay's spawning rivers. The drift begins where the discharge boils up and continues for a couple of hundred yards. Large plastic jigs such as 8" to 10" BKD's, Crippled Herring and butterfly jigs are jigged along the rocky bottom with hopes of a solid thump.
Fishermen in the Ocean City area have been sitting tight for the most part for the past few weeks. Water temperatures at the near shore reefs and wreck sites have become so cold that the Tautog have been fussy about biting. The wreck and reef sites outside of the 20-Fathom Line are the most popular areas to fish this time of the year. Warm days and light winds will bring out a few fishermen who will venture out to the wreck and reef sites to give the Tautog a try and most likely a few fish will cooperate. Surf fishing will mostly be Spiny Dogfish and skates and it will be another month before Tautog start to nose near the Ocean City Inlet.


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