Get ready, here they come!
March 17, 2010
Everyone is beginning to feel a sigh of relief that perhaps the worst of winter is behind us. It certainly was one for the record books and most fishermen are finding themselves shaking off acute bouts of cabin fever. Our “first fish” the yellow perch showed up in good numbers this past week just before the recent deluge that has rivers and creeks flooding far beyond their banks. The upper bay tributaries and particularly the lower Susquehanna and Northeast Rivers provided some excellent early season yellow perch fishing in the deep holes where they are known to congregate. This shot of a father and son stringer offers hope for a rebounding fishery and some fine eating.
White perch are staging in most of the Chesapeake Bay Tributaries and several of the coastal plain creeks. Fishermen have been finding them in deep holes and channel areas in the upper areas of the watersheds and just before the big floods most fishing was being done from small boats. After the flood waters recede the white perch will be making their spawning runs into the narrower headwater areas. Shad darts and small jigs often tipped with a grass shrimp, a piece of bloodworm or nightcrawler will do the trick whether tethered under a bobber or slowly walked along the bottom.
As warmer weather prevails more than a few fishermen have launched their boats into the Chesapeake to shake the cobwebs out and practice a little catch and release fishing for striped bass. Jigging near power plant warm water discharges is a favorite tactic when the bay waters are in the low 40-degree range. The Calvert Cliffs Power Plant, Morgantown on the Potomac and the Brandon Shores Power Plant on the south side of the Patapsco; as well as several of the lower creeks areas that flow into the Baltimore Harbor area are all good places to jig. Fishermen will also begin to troll out in the shipping channel soon for catch and release fishing. New regulations have been instituted to help protect our pre-spawn striped bass so make sure you are familiar with the new catch and release regulations.
Freshwater biologists have been busy stocking trout for the spring trout season but will certainly have make some adjustments in stocking some of our rivers and creeks that are overflowing their banks. Be sure to check out closure dates and the spring stocking schedule here.
Fisheries biologist John Mullican ventured out to see how wild and wooly the upper Potomac was on Monday and he sent in this short video of the raging waters; somewhere underneath all that water is Dam #5. John also mentioned that he couldn’t get to Dam #4 because the road was closed due to flooding.
High and mud stained water will prevail for a few more days but fishing conditions should improve in most areas by the weekend. Fishermen are finding largemouth bass holding deep along edges and very slow retrieves close to the bottom can be rewarded with a bump from a bass picking up a bait. Crappie are active this time of the year and can be found schooling up in deeper waters. Chain pickerel love cold water and are active now and with grass beds retreated; open water is easier to find.
Fishermen in the Ocean City area are beginning to think about venturing out to fish for tog now that the ocean has calmed down. The sea bass fishery is still closed and there has not been much surf fishing activity along the beaches due to high water and cold water temperatures that are still around the 40-degree mark.
The Fishing Reports are about to change from the format everyone is used to seeing. Most of us usually cringe at the word “change” and I know this new format might not be favored by all. All we ask is to give it some time. The overview will stay the same but the Chesapeake Bay, Freshwater and Ocean Reports will now become more of a fishermen’s log book. It is hoped that you will email us reports and pictures to share with your fellow fishermen. As you send in reports they will be posted as quickly as possible; usually within a day. If everything works out as planned, the information will be more timely and direct from your fellow fishermen.
Often when I’m out among fishing folks I am captivated or inspired by relationships; many bring me back to a time or place I’ve had tucked deep somewhere as a flickering ember. If I have a camera with me it only takes one casual picture to bring that ember to life. Recently I found myself captivated by these three young boys who were as full of life as a young boy could be. It tends to remind us of what is important and essential to any young boy or girl; a parent who will spend the time to take them fishing and teach them things and oh yes, a good stick in hand.