Friday, March 21, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | March 19, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

Any fisherman worth his wet socks, day dreams of and anticipates opening day and for Maryland fishermen those days are coming soon. I have always been a big fan of Corey Ford and his tales in Field and Stream Magazine in the 1950's and 1960's of the Lower Forty Hunting, Shooting and Inside Straight Club always captivated me when I was a kid. I came across a piece in my library recently that he wrote in 1952 about the night before opening day of trout season to the tempo of Clement Moore's "The Night before Christmas". The poor guy in the story misplaces equipment he hasn't checked in months, spends all night getting ready and then winds up over sleeping only to be awakened (and the entire neighborhood) by his fishing buddies honking horn in his driveway. I found myself laughing because we have all been there when we leave preparations to the last minute. Preparations such as buying your fishing license well in advance, checking gear, replacing old fishing line and the list goes on. For your own sanity; make up a list and check items off and give yourself plenty of time for the last minute things that you forgot to put on your list. Put everything in a central location and be ready to enjoy yourself once that morning arrives. The traditional opening day of trout season is just around the bend, then there will be catch and release fishing for Hickory Shad and Striped Bass, the regular Spring Trophy Season will open and the list goes on. Make a pact to be prepared so your next fishing experience is a relaxing and enjoyable one.
The Yellow Perch fishery has been fickle at best as fishermen watch water temperatures rise and fall like a yo-yo and the perch make their spawning runs in spurts. Spring Yellow Perch fishing never fails to amuse and frustrate us since the answer to how's the run going, is usually "you should have been here yesterday". Fishermen did continue to catch Yellow Perch in many of the traditional spawning areas over the weekend and the warming trend expected later on this week may provide fishermen with their last chance at spawning Yellow Perch for 2014. Often our minds drift back to times when we were at the right spot at the right time whether just recently or back in our childhood. The two old photos below are from 1962 and show cars lined up along where Route 3 crosses the Severn River and the second shows fishermen enjoying a good old fashioned Yellow Perch Run.

There are positive signs that the White Perch are moving up the tidal rivers and creeks right behind the Yellow Perch. Fishermen are beginning to catch them in the areas that are roughly ¾ of the way up rivers from their spawning areas. Most fishermen are targeting deep holes with small jigs or bottom rigs baited with a small piece of bloodworm. Grass shrimp and small minnows are also good baits with earthworms being okay in a pinch. There have been reports of good White Perch catches in the lower Susquehanna and adjoining creeks and the major tidal rivers of the eastern and western shores of the Chesapeake. Reports from the tidal rivers of the southern eastern shore seem to indicate that their time table is a little ahead of the middle and upper bay areas. Fishermen in the lower Nanticoke, Wicomico are reporting good White Perch fishing that started last weekend. The warming trend expected later on this week should spur things along before the predicted cold hammer comes down again the following week.
When the weather cooperates fishermen have been checking out favorite freshwater fishing spots; be they tidal rivers and creeks or impoundments for a mix of Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Chain Pickerel and Bluegills. Casting small lures such as grubs, spinners, sassy shads or other favorites is a good way to shake out the bugs of a long cold winter. Bob Mister sent in this nice picture of a big old Largemouth from the Gunpowder River where he and a couple of fishing buddies were casting crappie jigs.

Courtesy of Bob Mister
Channel Catfish are responding to fresh baits in many of the states tidal rivers and creeks and a few selected impoundments. Nightcrawlers are always a good choice and if you can keep it on the hook when casting, chicken livers work well. If you are fishing in a tidal river this time of the year some small pieces of bloodworm or earthworm can get you some White Perch which make an excellent fresh cut bait. The tidal Potomac continues to offer a lot of action for Blue Catfish whether it is the large bruiser sized cats or the smaller table fare size. The best action for the larger Blue Cats tends to center around the channel areas near Fort Washington and fresh or live baits are needed to entice the big boys.
Trout fishermen are enjoying some of the current stockings that are taking place in some of the zero closure put and take areas. The waters are still very cold and it is not uncommon to watch trout lying close to the bottom and refusing to eat because the water is so cold. Stockings are occurring most every day and you can receive the latest trout stocking information by signing up for the Fisheries email list.
Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are watching their ice fishing season close with the deterioration of ice conditions as shoreline ice recedes and large cracks begin to appear and open up. John Mullican sent in a report and angler's log from the upper Potomac with a few pictures of some beautiful Smallmouth Bass.Although winter continues to maintain its grip, water temperatures in the upper Potomac are slowly warming into the 40s. Smallmouth fishing has been good, especially on warm afternoons. Snowmelt has kept flows high, so look for bass in calmer areas behind islands and in shoreline eddies. Tubes and hair jigs have been best, but don't overlook jerkbaits and crankbaits too. On a recent outing in Allegany County, Steve Peperak and I had a great day catching and releasing many quality-size Smallmouth including several over 17 inches.

Courtesy of John Mullican
Striped Bass are presently moving up the Chesapeake Bay and the males have been seen in the spawning reaches for several weeks already. Water temperatures in the bay are around 37-degrees which is very cold for Striped Bass; water temperatures in the tidal rivers are almost 10-degrees warmer than that but are prone to fluctuate by 5-degrees depending on weather. The Calvert Cliffs and Morgantown Power Plant warm water discharges often will entice passing Striped Bass to nose in for a little warm up and catch and release fishermen will give vertical jigging a try on the nicer weather days.
A few boats have been venturing out to the deeper offshore waters from Ocean City to fish for Blueline and Golden Tilefish when the ocean is calm. Captains have been reporting that the fishing sites are often covered with Spiny Dogfish and they find themselves constantly moving to get away from them. The inshore waters will need to warm up a few degrees to put Tautog in a biting mood and when they do, fishermen will be there fishing for them.


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