Thursday, April 10, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 09, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

Memories are a very rich and real possession that we often rekindle when something such as a picture, conversation or image rekindles those embers held deep in our subconscious. Talk to any adult fisherman who has been fishing since his youth and if they have been exposed to put and take trout fishing in their early years they will spill forth a flood of memories. Each generation has their own set of vivid memories; mine includes peddling a bicycle many miles or convincing my parents or grandfather to drive me and my friends to the nearest stocked trout waters. There were the realities of wet Keds Sneakers and cold fingers but the most vivid memories are of where you caught your first trout and the excitement of holding a fish that was always promoted in the hand-me-down outdoor magazines we read every chance we could. The Maryland Fisheries Service has a very special program where certain trout stocked waters are set aside for youth fishermen, where they basically have a stretch of water just for them and they do not have to compete with adult fishermen and can have a ball. Check the trout stocking page for such an area near you and gather of a car load of young fishermen and let them begin to stock away their own memories that they will hold for a lifetime. Matthew and Ryan Bishop along with their buddies Andrew and Sayge Dudley were fortunate enough to be able to fish the youth fishing area of Antietam Creek and their smiles say it all.

Courtesy of Matthew Bishop
The Conowingo Dam continues to spill a lot of cold and cloudy Pennsylvania water through several open gates this week making for less than perfect fishing conditions in the lower Susquehanna River and Flats area. Today the water temperature is hovering around 46ºF and the water clarity is very poor. Fishermen have been fishing with bait and circle hooks recently but coming up empty in the Striped Bass department and most consider the water clarity to be too poor for lures. Some nice White Perch are being caught in the approaches to the Susquehanna, Northeast and Elk Rivers on bottom rigs and bloodworms. Hickory Shad will begin to show up in the lower Susquehanna and the mouth of Deer Creek sometime in the very near future for catch and release fishermen.
White Perch have been moving up into spawning areas of tidal rivers and creeks for the past week now and continue in many areas today. Most fishermen are using some kind of bait such as grass shrimp, bloodworms or small pieces of minnows on shad darts under bobbers or by casting. The perch tend to come in pulses and if you're lucky it will be a pulse of larger fish. Last Friday morning for example at Red Bridges on the upper Choptank River, the average size of the White Perch was about 5" then all of a sudden there would be a few minutes of 10"+ fish. Overall after 3 hours of observation I would say the throwback ratio was about 30 to 1 unless you have a really small fillet knife.

Photos by Keith Lockwood
White Perch are making their spawning runs in most of the Chesapeake's tidal rivers and creeks and some of the more popular ones occur in the eastern shore such as the Pocomoke, Wicomico, Nanticoke, Choptank, Chester, Bohemia, Sassafras, Elk, Northeast and Susquehanna. On the western shore the Gunpowder, Bush, Patapsco, Magothy, Severn, South, Patuxent Rivers and the Potomac and its many feeder creeks all have White Perch spawning runs. Soon the perch will be falling back down the tidal rivers and by the end of May will have set up shop in their normal summer patterns in the lower areas of the tidal rivers and will provide several months of easy fishing in the morning and evening hours.
Alewife Herring are also making their spawning runs in many of our tidal rivers this week and they can provide some fun catch and release fishing with small shad darts. Fisheries biologist Chuck Stence reported yesterday that their survey team encountered a lot of Hickory Shad, Alewife Herring and small White Perch in the upper Patuxent and Choptank Rivers and that the water temperature was holding around 50ºF. Blueback Herring will be the next to arrive; often towards the end of April and also can provide some fun catch and release action on very small flashy gold spoons or simply gold hooks with ultra-light tackle.
Striped Bass are moving up the spawning rivers and the male fish have been in residence for a month at least. Water temperatures are finally beginning to rise and there may be a first spawn as early as this weekend on the eastern shore rivers. The opening day of the spring trophy Striped Bass season is April 19th so it will not be long before all manner of planer boards and trolling lines will be deployed in hopes of catching a trophy sized Striped Bass. Currently the water temperature in the Chesapeake is about 46 still a bit chilly to a Striped Bass's liking; the optimal temperature range for these larger fish is 55ºF to 68ºF and the preferred spawning temperature is 64.5ºF.
These are busy and fun times for put and take trout fishermen as the general trout season enters its second week. Fisheries stocking crews are busy performing supplemental stockings in selected waters and the best way for trout fishermen to be informed of the latest stockings is to be enrolled on the Fisheries Service mailing list where notification of stockings will be posted to subscribers each day as they occur. To subscribe simply go to our email subscription page and sign up.
Trout fishermen have been really excited about the trophy sized trout that the hatchery crews have been raising and stocking and for a very obvious reason; everyone likes to catch large fish. In many of the western region trout management waters you may take notice of out of state license plates of fishermen who leave their home state even on their opening day of trout season to come and fish for our trout; this says a lot about the quality of the trout program in Maryland. Another mark of the Maryland trout program is the stocking of the golden version of the Rainbow Trout. These golden colored trout are a true Rainbow Trout but have a gene make up that originated in a private hatchery years ago and has been promoted through the hatchery program as a novelty trout. Ken Booth at the Albert Powell Hatchery holds up two Rainbow Trout to show the color variation between the Golden Rainbow and a regular Rainbow Trout.

Photos by Keith Lockwood
Freshwater fishermen have been finding other fishing opportunities this week beside trout. The many small ponds, large impoundments and upper regions of the Maryland's tidal rivers and creeks hold many possibilities for species such as Largemouth Bass and Crappie. Most pond and larger impoundments have cleared up substantially and fishermen are finding Largemouth Bass holding near emerging grass and sunken structure such as wood and rocks, often on the sun exposed areas. Crankbaits, soft plastics and spinnerbaits can be very effective this time of the year. The tidal Potomac is still experiencing cloudy water conditions and fishermen are reporting better fishing conditions in feeder creeks such as Mattawoman Creek. Crappie are very active in many areas such as ponds, larger impoundments and tidal waters. Small jigs and live minnows worked near deep structure such as fallen tree tops, sunken wood or piers can be a very productive way to put some slab sized crappie on your stringer or in your ice chest. Channel Catfish are very active in many of the states tidal rivers and can be caught on simple one hook bottom rig baited with fresh cut bait such as White Perch and nightcrawlers or chicken liver. Blue Catfish are very abundant in the tidal Potomac and can provide a lot of nonstop action for fishermen. The larger Blue Catfish are usually caught on large fresh baits with heavy tackle in the deep channel areas around Fort Washington and the smaller catfish can be caught in shallower waters of the tidal Potomac and feeder creeks on lighter tackle and smaller baits.
Ocean City area fishermen continue to sit and wait for warmer water temperatures this week and with current water temperatures at 42ºF we're getting close for Tautog. Tautog generally prefer a water temperature of 44ºF or better and there have been a few spotty reports of a couple of Tautog caught inside the Ocean City Inlet. This coming weekend could signal the start of inshore Tautog fishing. Sand Fleas either fresh or frozen or pieces of green crab will be the most common baits to use and often the top of flood tide offers some of the best fishing opportunities.


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