Friday, April 18, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 16, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

Although we were hit with a cold front last night and woke up to colder temperatures and even a little ice and snow in some areas; warmer weather will once again return shortly and we're supposed to be back in the high 60's by the weekend in most areas. Last week's spell of warm and even a little toasty temperatures over the weekend brought out the fishing spirit in fishing folks everywhere. Trout, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, White Perch, catfish, Striped Bass and other species including our beloved Bluegill Sunfish were on the minds of fishermen. There is not much needed in fancy equipment to catch these feisty fish and they aim to please many of our younger and first time fishermen. A caring adult to take them fishing is the most important ingredient for some wonderful memories to be formed and their smiles are more than payment in full.

Courtesy of one of our Youth Angler's, Natalie
All it took was some warmer weather to bring up water temperatures in the lower Susquehanna to urge the Hickory Shad to make their spawning run up Deer Creek. The catch and release action there hit high gear over this past weekend and should continue for the next couple of weeks. The water temperature in the lower Susquehanna presently stands at 54ºF and the clarity is improving. The discharges from the dam have moderated recently and hopefully the clearing trend will continue. Catch and release Striped Bass fishermen have been fishing the Susquehanna Flats area for the past couple of weeks and there was a marked improvement over the weekend. Most fishermen are using bait and circle hooks but rattling crankbaits may also be a good choice.

April 19th will soon be upon us and for Chesapeake Bay fishermen this is the big opening day. This is when fishermen have the opportunity to catch a whopper of a Striped Bass and charter boat captains see their accounts move into the black. Surface water temperatures in the mid-bay region are holding around 53ºF today. The first obvious evidence of Striped Bass spawning on the Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers began this past Saturday and continues this week; so some of these large adult female Striped Bass may hit the bay waters by this coming Saturday. The steep channel edges of the shipping channel tend to cause the bay currents to increase in velocity so the large Striped Bass tend to move along the edges to make traveling a little easier. It is not much different that the Canada Geese waiting for a strong Northerly wind to head south and a strong southerly wind to head north; it makes traveling a lot easier. So the steep channel edges along the western edge of the shipping channel from Breezy Point south, Bloody Point, Thomas Point, the steep channel edges in the lower Potomac River near St. Georges Island and the channels leading out of the Choptank, Nanticoke and Patuxent Rivers will be good places to troll this Saturday. There will be plenty of boats out trolling as evidenced by this picture of the action around the Gas Docks a few years ago, so try to be careful and courteous on Saturday.

Photos by Keith Lockwood
Planer boards will be out in force over the next couple of weeks as fishing crews try to get their lures away from the engine noise of the boat and to cover more water. Large chartreuse and white parachutes or bucktails dressed with sassy shads will rigged either singly or in tandem and set out in arrays in the hope of intercepting a hungry Striped Bass. Spoons can be an effective alternative at times as can be large Storm type swim shads but there are few things that can make a more tangled mess than when a spoon gets wrapped up with another line.
Shore bound fishermen will have a chance for a Striped Bass at several popular places such as the Matapeake Fishing Pier and Sandy Point State Park. Fishermen have been visible with surf fishing gear and sand spikes for a week or more practicing catch and release at the tip of the beach which many refer to as the rip. Often a glob of bloodworms or some fresh cut bait, a simple bottom rig and a stout surf fishing outfit round out the ticket to this event.
The White Perch have finished spawning in the upper headwaters of most tidal rivers and creeks now and can be found moving down river towards their summer haunts near the mouths of the rivers. Hickory Shad are being caught and released in the upper Patuxent and Choptank Rivers this week and offer some fun catch and release fishing for anglers. Fishing for Channel Catfish in many of the Chesapeake Bays tidal rivers continues to be very good this week and offers some relaxing bank or small boat fishing opportunities.
Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are reporting plenty of open water this week and just in time for the reopening of the Walleye season yesterday April 15th. Drifting in a boat and fishing small minnows under a bobber is a great way to catch Walleye and Yellow Perch this time of the year. Small crankbaits and swimming minnow type lures cast along rocky edges is also a good way to entice Walleye. Fisheries biologist Alan Klotz recently sampled the Walleye population in Deep Creek Lake and reported that the fishery looked healthy and also that the Walleye tended to be shallow. Make sure to check out his recent April 15th angler's log. There are also plenty of Chain Pickerel and Northern Pike cruising near deep grass or the mouths of some of the coves. Justin Heslop holds up a big 40" Northern Pike he caught near McHenry Cove recently.

Courtesy of Justin Heslop
In season trout stockings by the trout program continue to place generous supplies of trout for put and take fishermen in many of the trout management waters. Fishermen can check the trout stocking schedulefor anticipated stockings and by signing up for the Fisheries Service email subscription you can be notified when the stockings occur. Water levels in most trout streams and rivers have been good and trout have been hungry for baits such as Powerbaits, earthworms, spinners and nymphs.
The upper Potomac is running strong but that is to be expected this time of the year and although fishermen need to be careful there is some wonderful fishing to be had from small boats or shores for fishermen. The Smallmouth Bass are very active and this is a great time of the year to connect with the larger sized Smallmouth Bass. Casting tubes and soft plastic type jigs near eddy edges is a great place to find them and also Walleye. John Mullican sent us this short report from the upper Potomac and a beautiful picture of a fine looking Smallmouth Bass. The upper Potomac is in good shape and the larger Smallmouth bass have been cooperating nicely. These pre-spawn bass can offer some of the best fishing of the year for large fish (catch and return only from March 1 through June 15). River temperatures were into the upper 50s last weekend and fishermen have reported catching bass on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and tubes. Hungry post-spawn Walleye are also found in shallow habitat right now and have been eagerly taking crankbaits as well.

Courtesy of John Mullican
Farther down the Potomac River in the tidal portion, fishermen are reporting excellent fishing opportunities for Crappie and Blue Catfish. Most fishermen are using small minnows under a bobber around structure such as old wharfs, piers, fallen tree tops and rocks. Small jigs under a bobber can also work well. The Larger Blue Catfish are being caught near the channel areas in the Fort Washington area on large fresh cut baits or live bait such as gizzard shad, Bluegills or small White Perch. The smaller eating size Blue Catfish can be caught on smaller cut baits and nightcrawlers. The Department recently began an Invasive Catfish Public Awareness Campaign, be sure to read up and how find out how you can contribute by catching and keeping these fish.
Largemouth Bass fishermen are reporting good fishing in the tidal Potomac and the creeks that feed into it such as Piscataway and Mattawoman Creeks. The water is still somewhat stained in the main river stem and crankbaits with rattles inside help up the odds of enticing a Largemouth Bass to strike. The creeks are running clearer and a variety of baits such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastics are working well near emerging grass beds, fallen tree tops, transition edges and sunken structure.
Ocean City area fishermen are watching their water temperatures slowly creep towards the 50ºF mark and with that warmer water some better fishing. There have been a few reports of a couple of Black Drum caught in the surf and even a few Striped Bass and as one would imagine a lot of skates. A few Tautog have been caught in and around the inlet and hopefully this fishery will improve soon. The Tautog fishing out on the 30-Fathom area wreck and reef sites has been very good and fishermen have been catching some large ones recently.


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