The upper Potomac River supports Maryland’s most popular smallmouth bass fishery. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Freshwater Fisheries Program monitors the status of the fishery through annual juvenile and adult monitoring surveys. Recent recruitment surveys have shown juvenile smallmouth bass numbers to be below long-term average values. High river flows in late spring (May-June)have been shown to be a major factor
contributing to this reduction in juvenile numbers. High river flows
during and immediately after smallmouth bass spawn can scour nests, displace
fry, and limit juvenile growth and survival. Elevated spring flows experienced in 2016-2018 have resulted in consecutive years of poor recruitment and low year-class strength. While the number of larger adult smallmouth bass has remained steady, there are concerns about declining catch rates after multiple poor year-classes of young fish.
In a management action to try and improve juvenile recruitment, the Freshwater Fisheries Program is planning a pilot smallmouth bass supplemental stocking program on the upper Potomac River beginning in the spring of 2019. Supplemental stocking of hatchery reared juvenile fish can be effective in helping boost year-class strength and contribute to the overall fishery. A stocking plan has been developed to collect a small number of adult smallmouth bass this spring and move them to a state hatchery for spawning. The resulting fingerlings and adult brood fish will be stocked back into the river in sections that have experienced recent low levels of recruitment and juvenile survival. Monitoring will be conducted to determine growth, survival, and distribution of stocked juvenile smallmouth bass as well as their contribution to the fishery.
All parts of the pilot project will be documented and posted online for the public and anglers to follow. More details on the smallmouth bass supplemental stocking program are available in a project plan outline and slide presentation.
If you have additional questions or would like to provide feedback to the upper Potomac River smallmouth bass supplemental stocking plan, please complete the Potomac River Smallmouth Bass Survey.
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis MD 21401