The Maryland Fishing Report
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LAST UPDATED AUGUST 21, 2002
Photo of angler fishing.

 

OVERVIEW

 

Pictured at left is the United States national distance casting champion, James Eric Williams, providing a thrilling casting demonstration at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday, August 13th, 2002. James and International casting champion Neil Mackellow from England were sponsored by Penn Reels, and with the help of the Baltimore Orioles and DNR, provided a thrilling casting exhibition just before the start of the August 12 & 13th games vs. the Minnesota Twins. The crowds of approx. 40,000 spectators each watched as James and Neil cast regulation baseballs from home plate over the centerfield wall and into the "sod farm" below the jumbotron. Although the distance of their casts at the ball park were in the neighborhood of 500 feet, both James and Neil have exceeded distances of 750 feet in competitive casting tournaments! The purpose of the casting exhibition was to draw attention to the sport of fishing, which is as much an American pastime as baseball. While James and Neil were thrilling the crowds on the field, DNR staff were busy speaking to the crowds under the right field grandstand. Staff from DNR's Park Service presented Scales N' Tales, Fisheries Service brought a "touch tank" with horseshoe crabs, oysters, diamondback terrapins and other Chesapeake animals. Additional DNR staff presented the "Bay Game" for passer byes to the DNR exhibit. DNR would like to thank both James and Neil for helping us bring the sport of fishing to the attention of the many people that attended the baseball games those days. Of particular pride, James is a Maryland resident from the town of Upper Marlboro.

The season for summer flounder reopened statewide a week ago, on Monday, August 12th. Flounder catches in the Atlantic and its coastal bays have been only fair, impacted by turbid water. On the Chesapeake, some nice flounder to 24 inches have been caught in many of the traditionally productive areas, including: Eastern Bay, the periphery of Poplar Island, False Channel, and Tangier Sound. The elevated salinity levels in the upper and middle Chesapeake are evident as we receive reports of bluefish, croaker and Spanish mackerel pushing further north. High pressure and associated windy conditions along the coast have hindered fishing for marlin and tuna and have clouded the waters of the back bays. Hopefully, the winds will lighten and waters will clear in the coming days. Drought conditions continue to affect central and eastern Maryland non-tidal waters, with falling water levels in water supply reservoirs and streams. Western Maryland streams and rivers have been less impacted by the drought. There will be a Sport Fish Advisory Commission meeting on Monday, August 26th at 6 PM in the C-1 Room of the Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis, Maryland. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information, call 877-657-0976 and ask for Martin Gary.

Photo of a blennie.Many people have contacted Fisheries Service staff with what they believed to be a snakehead caught in the Bay or a salty tributary. That fish has typically been either a blennie (see photo) or an inshore lizardfish. Blennies in our area are typically found inshore in shallow water. They inhabit places with cover such as rocks, pilings, and shell reefs. DNR Biologist, Harley Speir, provided the following description of the inshore lizardfish.

The body is long and round and the mouth is filled with numerous sharp teeth. These fish have been captured in bait seines and on hook and line in tidewater. From descriptions over the phone and photographs, which have been sent, we have identified this fish as the inshore lizardfish (Synodus foetens).

Photo of an inshore lizardfish.  Photo by Don Mumbert.The lizardfish is a common summer visitor to the Maryland portion of the Bay and we collect it in our summer Juvenile Finfish Recruitment Survey generally in the salty lower Potomac River samples. This year the Bay is very salty and the lizardfish has expanded into more northerly waters. There may actually be greater numbers of them and certainly more people are attuned to the presence of alien fish and therefore the fish is more likely to be reported. We have reports from the Patuxent, Tilghman Island and the Choptank.

The fish is brownish or greenish above with silvery sides and belly. The body is elongated and roundish, the snout is pointed and the mouth is filled with sharp teeth, the caudal (tail) fin is forked and the dorsal (top) fin is high and short . Most of the specimens we will see in the Bay will range from 7 to 13 inches although the species may grow to 24 inches. As you would expect from the teeth, the primary food is fish. The lizardfish, sheepshead, red drum, pompano and other occasional summer visitors, that have been taken by fishermen this year, are what makes Chesapeake Bay fishing so interesting and exciting.

Snakeheads cannot tolerate saltwater.

Graphic.  Click for a larger view.A few weeks ago an angler stopped by Fisheries Service in Annapolis with a photograph of a fish he had caught in a Crofton pond. After some research, fellow biologists identified the fish as a northern snakehead. Key distinguishing features of this snakelike fish include a long dorsal fin, small head, large mouth, and big teeth. It can grow up to 40 inches in length and weigh up to 15 pounds. This species is not native to Maryland waters and has the potential to cause serious problems if introduced into our ecosystem. If you come across this fish, please DO NOT release it. Fisheries Service is asking that anglers euthanize this fish by cutting/bleeding since it can survive for several days out of water. This fish was introduced by an individual with an aquarium. Never release aquarium fish into ponds and lakes! Please click on the graphic to the left for a larger view and additional photo's. Additional information on this topic is available online. Media should contact the Office of Public Communications at 410-260-8020. Other questions or comments should be sent to Steve Early at searly@dnr.state.md.us


A COUPLE OF CLOSING NOTES...

With the assistance of DNR computer whiz, Anthony Burrows, I have remodeled the report so that it is easier for you to navigate throughout the website. I hope you like as much as I do and continue to send in your suggestions and comments. Boating safety information is available off the DNR Natural Resources Police website at www.dnr.state.md.us/nrp/boatingsafetyedu.html Remember, please send me your fishing and crabbing photos accompanied with the story behind the photo. The only requirement is that they be no more than one week old, as I try to post only fresh material. Send your photos to my E-mail address, in a .JPG or .BMP format with the longest side sized at 320 pixels. Include the following information:

  • Date
  • Angler(s)
  • Angler's hometown
  • Photo credit
  • Location
  • Weight/length of catch
  • Bait/lure
Until next week,

Tight Lines,

Angel Bolinger
Fisheries Biologist
MD DNR Fisheries Service