Thursday, April 24, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | April 23, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

Maryland fishermen enjoyed a great opening day for the Spring Trophy Striped Bass season with light winds, relatively warm temperatures and cooperative fish. Fishing success will quickly improve even more as warmer weather urges spawning Striped Bass to get the job done and exit the spawning rivers and head out into the bay, eventually exit the bay and head north along the Atlantic Coast. The welcoming conditions on the bay made for near perfect conditions for some of our younger fishermen and the Tucker brothers got to go fishing with dad and they reeled in this nice Striped Bass together on opening day near Breezy Point.

Photo Courtesy of John Tucker
Fishermen always look forward to catching bragging size fish and the Spring Trophy season often gives local and visiting fishermen the chance to catch a Striped Bass of a lifetime. There are award centers scattered throughout the state to accommodate fishermen wishing to obtain a lasting memento of their catch as either a catch and keep or catch and release award certificate for Striped Bass over 40" in length. Award centers are clustered near many of the popular charter boat docks and fishermen can find a complete list of award center locations as well as minimum sizes for other species of fish at the Fishing Challenge website. Qualifying fishermen can also see if their luck can continue when a series of large prizes are given in a drawing at the Fishing Challenge award ceremony in September at Sandy Point State Park.

Anyone who has fished for Hickory Shad in the lower Susquehanna River/Deer Creek area for a bit knows that the spawning runs ebb and flow with the rise and fall of water temperatures. An ebb in the spawning run of Hickory Shad at Deer Creek is exactly what happened last week when a cold front moved in and large amounts of cold water continued to be released from the Conowingo Dam. Warmer weather is predicted this week so the spawning runs of Hickory Shad at the mouth of Deer Creek should commence once again. These fish have become a favorite of catch and release fishermen and it is not uncommon for anglers to make a long drive for the fun action that can be found at times. There are other good places to fish for Hickory Shad this week and the area near the Chain Bridge on the Potomac near D.C. is one of the best. The upper Choptank and Patuxent Rivers are also very good places to fish for Hickory Shad. Most fishermen like to use ultra-light spinning gear with shad darts and small gold spoons often in tandem. Fly fishermen also often enjoy putting some flex in their gear and a 5wt outfit is often considered an ideal size for catching Hickory Shad. Fisheries biologist Jim Thompson sent us this picture of fishermen enjoying themselves recently at the mouth of Deer Creek catching and releasing Hickory Shad.

Photo by Jim Thompson
The Susquehanna Flats area catch and release fishery for Striped Bass has improved recently as water temperatures hold around 56ºF at the moment. Water clarity is still an issue in the area and most fishermen are using bait and circle hooks to catch and release Striped Bass. Most of the Striped Bass caught and released at this time are smaller male Striped Bass as well as a mix of White Perch and Channel Catfish. Fishermen that are using crankbaits and soft plastic jigs are catching a few Striped Bass but are also catching and releasing some rather nice sized Largemouth Bass.
Fishermen were blessed with relatively light winds on Saturday's opener for the Spring Trophy Striped Bass season and although the season often starts slow; anglers reported some very good fishing in many areas. As is often the case the boats and fishermen who had their lines in the water at the crack of dawn did the best and were able to connect with fish before the armada of later arriving boats drove fish to distraction. There is one thing for sure these large fish do not like engine noise. As the day wore on, fishermen continued to pick away at fish in many of the traditional areas of the bay. Upper bay fishermen found good fishing along the steep channel edges near the mouth of the Magothy River down to Podickory Point and the area called the Dumping Grounds on the east side of the shipping channel above of the Bay bridge as well as the Love Point area. Shoreline fishermen were out in force at traditional locations such as Sandy Point State Park, the Matapeake Fishing Pier and private piers and Striped Bass were caught by fishermen using surf fishing tackle with bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or cut baits.
In the middle bay region, boats fanned out along the western edge of the Shipping Channel from Thomas Point south to below Breezy Point. On the eastern side of the bay, Bloody Point and the False Channel produced fish. A mix of chartreuse or white bucktails and parachutes were the most popular trolled baits with both being dressed with sassy shads. Planer boards were deployed and flat lines were allowed to be far behind the boat. Most fishermen trolled their baits in tandem or single and a few fishermen used umbrella rigs; all seemed to work equally well. This happy fisherman named Julie is all smiles with this beautiful trophy Striped Bass she caught while fishing near Chesapeake Beach.

Photo Courtesy of Mark DeVaugh
The warming trend occurring this week will hopefully get the spawn going once again in the Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers so there could be another surge of post-spawn Striped Bass leaving those rivers as early as this coming weekend. Traditionally the 1st and 2nd weeks of May offer some of the best fishing opportunities for the post-spawn Striped Bass heading down the bay.
Lower bay region fishermen found Striped Bass along the shipping channel out in front of Cove Point, Point No Point and across the bay near Buoy 72 and the Hooper's Island Light. The steep channel edges in the lower Potomac River have been one of the better places to catch large Striped Bass this week especially off St. Georges Island. Warming temperatures will help kick the Striped Bass spawn in the Patuxent and Potomac rivers this week and create a surge of post spawn Striped Bass moving down those rivers in the near future. Fishermen in the D.C. area of the Potomac River near the Chain Bridge were reporting large numbers of Striped Bass last week so at some point there will be a large body of fish moving down the river.
White Perch are beginning to show up in the lower regions of the bays tidal rivers this week and fishermen are catching them on bottom rigs baited with bloodworms. Fishermen in the lower Potomac River in the area around the mouth of the Wicomico River are catching large numbers of Blue Catfish in the 16" – 20" size range on bottom rigs with a variety of baits. The Bushwood area of the Wicomico; as well as Point Lookout are traditionally areas where the vanguard of croakers first arrive. There have been rumors of some croakers being caught in lower Potomac River pound nets which is usually the first sign of things to come.
Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are enjoying good fishing for Walleyes this week by casting Rapalas in Yellow Perch patterns along the shorelines and switching to black/gold patterns at dusk. Other fishermen are drifting along shoreline edges in boats and using small minnows under bobbers with good results. There are also Northern Pike and Chain Pickerel holding in the transitions areas leading to shallow coves and Yellow Perch are being caught on small minnows near emerging deep grass.
Trout fishermen continue to enjoy the rewards of the generous stockings of trout in many of the state's trout management waters. Trophy sized trout continue to be stocked along with the usual stocking sizes and fishermen do enjoy these fish. To keep up with the latest stockings the Fisheries email list posts the stockings on the day they occur. Taha Karimi proudly holds up one of the trophy sized trout that were stocked at the Northwest Branch near Silver Spring recently.

Photo Courtesy of Taha Karimi
John Mullican sent us the following report from the upper Potomac. The Potomac continues to fall and is in great shape for fishing. Fishing was much tougher over the weekend following a strong cold front and river temperatures dropped from the upper 50s to the lower 50s. Bass have been reported on spinnerbaits and tubes along rocky shorelines and behind ledges.
Fishermen in the tidal portions of the Potomac River report Largemouth Bass are being found near emerging grass beds; crankbaits and spinnerbaits tend to be two of the favorite baits this week. Largemouth Bass are also being found at the mouths of small feeder creeks and transition areas leading to shallow coves. Largemouth Bass are in their pre-spawn mode of behavior and are beginning to enter the shallow spawning areas and are actively feeding. Lake and pond fishermen are witnessing the same kind of behavior as bass hold in slightly deeper waters outside shallower spawning areas.
Crappie offer some exciting fishing opportunities this week as they are in a pre-spawn mode near structure such as fallen tree tops, bridge piers and sunken wood. Small minnows or tubes and jigs under a bobber are a favorite presentation by fishermen. Bluegill sunfish are also in a pre-spawn mode and holding in areas leading to shallower waters where the sunfish will carve out their spawning beds. Channel Catfish are offering good fishing in many of Maryland's tidal rivers and creeks this week as they have become very active. This simple type of fishing can offer some fun fishing and good eating for fishermen. A variety of baits such as earthworms, cut baits or chicken liver are all good choices and shoreline fishing can often be as good as fishing from a small boat.
Ocean City area fishermen are watching water temperatures slowly creep upward that are presently holding near 46ºF. There have been reports of a few flounder being caught inside the Ocean City Inlet and up towards the Route 90 Bridge. Tautog are also beginning to show up in and around the inlet area along bulkheads, bridge piers and jetty rocks. Most fishermen are using frozen sand fleas and pieces of green crabs and report the best fishing occurs at the bottom of the ebb tide. There have also been reports of a few Black Drum and Striped Bass being caught along the beaches and Clear-nosed Skates are very abundant. A few boats have been venturing out to selected wreck and reef sites often near the 30-Fathon Line and catching some impressive Tautog.


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