Spring is in the air, the signs are all around us; daffodils are beginning to pop in the sunniest and most protected locations, skunk cabbage plants are up, turtles can be seen soaking up as much sunny warmth as they can on pond logs and the Canada geese are heading north, flock by flock. Under the surface of the water many fish species are beginning to stir in lakes, rivers and ponds as water temperatures begin to feel the effect of the sun’s warmth. This year’s spawning populations of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay are already entering the tidal rivers and spawning yellow perch are staging in the deeper channels of the upper rivers or spawning in the upper reaches of the rivers watershed. Many fishermen are starting to sort out their gear and all that new stuff they purchased at the fishing shows they’ve attended in the last couple of months and tarpaulins are being pulled off of boats that were put to sleep for the winter. It’s a time to put new line on reels, check waders and boots for leaks and most important of all find some local open water and just go fishing to revive the spirit and break in that new fishing license.
Every fisherman needs his or her fix when it comes to spending some time fishing and filling that spiritual need that fishing has a way of accomplishing and some just can’t wait for warmer weather. We are talking about that group of anglers that thinks nothing of knocking the ice off ones fishing rod guides or tolerating frozen fingers and toes and family and friends comments about being a bit crazy. They are a band of brothers of sort or perhaps a better label would be the “Frostbite Club”. We have received a number of pictures in the last month or so and these pictures of fearless fishermen can be seen by clicking on the link below. www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/art2008/0312/0312gallery.html
One “Frostbite Angler” named Justin Riley was fishing on the Potomac River above the Wilson Bridge back on January 26th with his father and had to even breakup the skim ice so they could fish for largemouth bass. While jigging a blade bait slow and close to the bottom Justin came up tight against a fish that just wouldn’t budge. It turned out to be an 11-pounnd and 2.88-ounce largemouth bass that broke the old Chesapeake tidal record of 9-pounds, 1-ounce and is now recognized as the new Chesapeake tidal largemouth bass record for Maryland. Justin transported the fish alive to the Bass Pro Shop in Arundel Mills Mall and it is now on display in the large fish tank for all to see.
Fishermen have been practicing some catch and release fishing as striped bass flood into the Chesapeake Bay before they head up to their spawning grounds in the major tidal rivers. Many of the striped bass are already in the rivers now but there still are numbers of them available in the bay regions. The catch and release season has opened on the Susquehanna Flats but the area is flooded with runoff from the upper Susquehanna at this time. Fishermen planning to head out onto the bay waters this weekend should take note that there is a lot of floating debris heading down the bay. The Calvert Cliffs Power Plant warm water discharge is a favorite place to check for some striped bass catch and release fishing as is the Morgantown Plant on the lower Potomac. This time of the year the fishing can be hit or miss at times but it’s always worth checking. Greg Hubbard and Darren Rickwood are all smiles as they hold two beautiful striped bass for the camera before releasing them back into the Chesapeake.
Freshwater fishermen often think of yellow perch this time of the year and the yellow perch are currently running in most of the traditional spawning reaches. The weekend cold weather put the fishing on hold for a bit but the warmer weather has spurred the yellow perch into running up to their spawning areas. Fishermen are encouraged to participate in this year’s yellow perch survey which can be easily done online at www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/survey/ypsurveyintro.html The information will be very useful to fisheries biologists who are studying the yellow perch populations in Maryland. Bass Pro Shops is also offering a rod and reel combo and $300 worth of fishing tackle for some lucky fishermen who fills completes the yellow perch online survey form or obtains the paper copy and mails it in.
There are of course other types of freshwater fishing opportunities for fishermen this week. Largemouth bass are being caught by fishermen working baits slow and close to the bottom of steep drop-offs and will soon be seen in shallower waters as water temperatures rise. The Fisheries Service has been stocking rainbow trout since mid December and a number of fishermen have been enjoying the rewards throughout Maryland. Bill English went trout fishing with his brother Steve English recently at Savage Mill on the Little Patuxent and despite the cold they had a ball catching rainbow trout. Bill holds up a real beauty of a rainbow trout that he caught while casting a spinner.
Western region fishermen did not have much of an ice fishing season this year at Deep Creek Lake due to warm weather and rain but they did have a week or so of somewhat acceptable ice conditions and those that went out caught yellow perch and walleyes. Most Deep Creek lake fishermen are now waiting for open water so they can continue to fish from the shorelines and boats. Trout fishermen are enjoying the rewards of the generous stockings of rainbow trout in the regions streams and rivers. The Potomac River flooded last week and conditions are beginning to show some signs of calming down but the river is still running to hard and fast. Kris Flaherty holds up a beautiful smallmouth bass caught and released at the Dickerson Power Plant warm water outfall on the upper Potomac before the river went to flood stage.
Oceanside fishermen are finding a few tautog inside the Ocean City Inlet along and surf fishermen are catching a short striped bass now and then along with spiny dogfish from the beaches. Several boats reported finding scattered success with striped bass within the 3-mile limit often by trolling or jigging under birds and baitfish. The fleet heading out to the wreck sites is catching tautog and of course spiny dogfish and those venturing farther out to 300” of water or more are finding sea bass.
Quote of the Week:
"With the exception of painting, nothing in this life has held my interest as much as fishing. Fishing with a fly, bait, a handline; I don’t care. Fishing, in my estimation, is not a hobby, a diversion, a pastime, a sport, an interest, a challenge or an escape. It is a necessary passion."
Click here for information concerning harmful algae blooms
Click here to view recent bay satellite images at mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/NASAimagery/EyesInTheSky.cfm.
A Couple of Closing Notes...
Don't hesitate to e-mail your recent
fishing/crabbing photos and trip information. Send your photos via E-mail by the
following Monday in order to be included in the next update. The file should be
in .jpg format with the longest side sized at 600 pixels. Please try to keep the file
size small, under one megabyte. The photo should clearly depict the angler(s), fish, and ethical
handling practices. For information on ethical angling practices please
reference the Catch and Release information located at URL:
Include the following information:
Weight/length of catch
If anyone in your picture is under 18
years of age, we must have a
signed by that person and a parent/guardian before we can post your picture.
Send your photos and information to
Until next week,
MD DNR Fisheries Service
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