Posted on February 21, 2013 | Permalink
5th Annual St. Judes Benefit Tournament
Location: Upper Potomac River at the Brunswick Campground
The 5th Annual open tournament to raise money for St Judes Children’s Research Hospital was held on the upper Potomac River at the Brunswick Campground on February 16. Dave and Mary Baker have hosted the popular winter tournament since 2009 with the help of many generous sponsors (http://www.2riversfishnhounds.com/stjudetournamentsite.htm). Although State regulations permit five bass per angler with a 12” minimum size, tournament rules limited anglers to five bass per boat with a 15” minimum size.
You never know what kind of weather Mother Nature will dish out for a February tournament, but it's usually a safe bet that it will be cold. This year fishermen were treated to a cloudy day in the upper 30s and favorable river conditions. A number of the upper Potomac’s savviest river anglers were on hand and they brought some very impressive smallmouth to the scales. Twenty two boats brought in a total of 69 bass with 14 that were = 18”. There was a tie for Lunker with two anglers weighing bass of 4.4 pounds and a close runner up had a bass of 4.3 pounds. First place went to the Gene Milburn and S. Saville who brought in five bass with a weight of 16.6 lbs. Congratulations to all the anglers that participated to raise money for a good cause. Several of the winners also donated their winnings.
Open tournaments like this one are a good opportunity for Inland Fisheries to determine angler catch rates, which are useful in monitoring smallmouth population trends. This years tournament had the highest catch rate since the tournament began in 2009. Bass from the above average year classes produced from 2005 – 2007 are now over 15” and, combined with the favorable conditions, contributed to the high catch rate. Following the weigh-in procedure and data collection, the bass were held in an aerated tank and subsequently released back into the Potomac.
Posted on February 20, 2013 | Permalink
Location: Potomac River
River smallmouth bass fishing can be very challenging during the winter months, but under the right conditions it can very productive as well. The best fishing is usually during warming trends and just prior to an approaching weather system. Steve Peperak and I were fortunate enough to be able to fish the Potomac River under these conditions recently and landed many 14 - 17" smallmouth on a variety of lures. I can't think of a better way to spend a winter day!
Posted on January 2, 2013 | Permalink
Location: Upper Potomac River
While other species can become dormant during the winter, walleye are still stirring and provide winter fishing action for those willing to endure the cold. Dodging snow storms and high winds, we found very good walleye fishing on the upper Potomac River. Jigs fished deep and near the bottom were most effective, but the bites were subtle and easy to miss. On the Potomac mainstem only walleye 15" to a maximum of 20" may be kept from January 1 through April 15 to protect the stock of large females (check regulations for details). Also, boaters on the upper Potomac are required to wear a PFD while on the water from Nov. 15 through May 15, a good idea as water temperatures are now in the mid-30s. Winter fishing can be dangerous so take precautions, dress warm, and be safe.
Posted on December 26, 2012 | Permalink
Final Smallmouth Trip of 2012
Location: Potomac River
With time off before the holidays, my friend Steve and I decided to try to catch a few Potomac River smallmouth. The river was high and very cloudy, and with water temperatures in the 30s, a bit colder than we wanted. We were pleasantly surprised, however, to find the bass pretty active prior to the impending snow storm. Using tubes and hair jigs very slowly crawled over the bottom, we landed nearly 30 smallmouth between 13 and 17 inches…a great trip to end the season!
Posted on October 4, 2012 | Permalink
Cunningham Falls Reservoir Survey
Location: Potomac River
We recently completed an electrofishing survey of the largemouth bass population in Cunningham Falls Reservoir. The 42 acre reservoir is located in Cunningham Falls State Park in northern Frederick County and supports a variety of popular gamefish including largemouth bass, redear sunfish, bluegill, black crappie, and channel catfish. Adult rainbow trout are also stocked during the spring and fall as part of the put-and-take program. Past surveys typically found bass to be abundant with many quality fish, including some real trophies; this years survey was no exception. Fifty nine percent of the bass collected measured 12 inches or more in length; 10% measured 15 inches or more in length. The largest bass collected during this years survey was more than 22 inches and weighed 6.5 pounds! Also observed during the survey were many nice redear sunfish, bluegill, and black crappie, a lot of fun on light tackle. Although often overlooked, Cunningham Falls Reservoir supports a great fishery in the scenic Catoctin Mountains. A concrete boat ramp is available, but only electric motors can be used. Give it a try!
Posted on August 17, 2012 | Permalink
Potomac River Smallmouth Bass Angler Catch Rate Survey
Location: Upper Potomac River
The Potomac River Smallmouth Club and the Maryland Bass Federation have partnered with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Inland Fisheries Division to conduct a catch rate survey of Potomac River bass fishermen. Inland Fisheries collects smallmouth bass population data annually, but we would like to improve our knowledge of fishermen catch and harvest rates. The data will help us monitor the smallmouth population, harvest attitudes, and evaluate regulations.
For the pilot project this year, the survey began in June and will continue through October and extends from the Route 340 bridge near Harpers Ferry downstream to the lower end of the Seneca pool at Seneca Breaks, a distance of 39 miles. The survey area is divided into two sections, Rt 340 downstream to the Monocacy and from the Monocacy downstream to Seneca Breaks. Future surveys will run through the entire fishing season March through October and sample other sections of the river.
Creel clerks are providing fishermen with a postage-paid survey card. At the conclusion of their fishing day, fishermen simply answer a few brief questions about their days catch and drop the card in the mail. Each returned card (make sure to provide your return address) is another chance to win $50 (10 prizes awarded) from a drawing held at the conclusion of the survey in October. If contacted by a creel clerk, please consider participating in this survey. Using information provided by fishermen is cost effective and an important part of managing fisheries. For more information please contact John Mullican at 301-898-5443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fishing for smallmouth bass on the upper Potomac River has been very good. With the recent cooler nights, water temperatures have dropped into the upper 70s to low 80s and fish activity has picked up. Try topwaters early and late in the day and tubes, grubs, stick worms, and unweighted soft jerkbaits when the sun is up. Fisheries Technician Josh Henesy recently floated a section of the lower river while distributing survey cards to fishermen and caught many nice smallmouth and a bonus largemouth bass.
Posted on July 30, 2012 | Permalink
Potomac and Monocacy River Juvenile Fish Surveys
Location: Potomac and Monocacy River
Fisheries staff recently completed the annual Potomac River and Monocacy River juvenile surveys. A 30 foot seine is used to collect juvenile fish at 10 sites on the mainstem from PawPaw, WV downstream to Seneca. Although the survey focuses on documenting the annual abundance of young of year smallmouth bass, the abundance of other game and non-game species is recorded as well. This data can be important when looking at long-term population trends. Typically, 9 hauls are taken at each site to account for differences in habitat and the mean number of young smallmouth per haul is determined. The 2012 Potomac survey documented an “average” yearclass of smallmouth (1.8 smallmouth per haul), nearly identical the 2011 survey. Smallmouth reproduction on the Monocacy River was higher at 3.0 smallmouth per haul, the third highest index since 1997. The biggest influences on spawning success and fry survival are river flow and turbidity. The abundance of young bass has been highest during springs with moderate, relatively stable flows and lowest in springs with above average flows and flooding.
Young fish must constantly be on the lookout for predators. While conducting the juvenile survey on the Potomac we observed a large northern watersnake struggling with a yearling channel catfish. The catfish was approximately 6 inches in length.
Posted on June 8, 2012 | Permalink
Greenbriar Lake Habitat Improvement
Location: Greenbriar Lake
Fisheries recently completed a habitat improvement project at Greenbriar Lake in Greenbriar State Park. Discarded Christmas trees were placed in approximately 10 feet of water to attract bass and sunfish for fishermen. Cement was formed around the base of each tree so that when submerged most of the trees remained upright. Trees were placed in deep water habitat in 17 to 20 feet of water earlier this year. In total, nearly 50 trees were placed in the lake. Down imaging sonar clearly showed the trees and nearby fish. For those that want to try their luck around these structures, here are the coordinates: deep water structure N39 32.3472 - W77 37.1484, shallow water structure N39 32.19 - W77 37.23 Good Luck!
Posted on May 11, 2012 | Permalink
Rock Snot (Didymo) in Hunting Creek
Location: Hunting Creek
The invasive algae Didymosphenia geminate, didymo for short and more appropriately called “rock snot”, was recently confirmed in the popular Hunting Creek fly-fishing-only, catch-and-return area.
Didymo forms thick unattractive mats on the stream bottom that can negatively impact the insects that trout eat and make fishing difficult. It is most commonly spread by hitching a ride on fishermen’s waders/boots. Since “rock snot” is a recent invader, it is not known how damaging it will become in its new environment.
Fishermen can help prevent the spread of invasive species like didymo by disinfecting waders and boots before fishing other waters. The best way to do this is to thoroughly clean, rinse, and allow boots to dry in the sun for several days. A salt solution using 1 cup of salt per gallon of water can be used to disinfect gear if thorough drying is not possible between trips. Wader wash stations are available on Hunting Creek as well as many other streams where a salt solution is available. More information on didymo can be found by clicking here.
Posted on March 15, 2012 | Permalink
Walleye Fishing on Potomac
Location: Upper Potomac River
I recently had the pleasure of spending a nice day on the upper Potomac River walleye fishing with Mike Peters and his buddy John. The action has slowed down a bit since the fish have begun to spawn and most of the walleye landed were males. Persistence won the day, however, and we ended up with about a dozen walleye, finally connecting on a heavy 24 inch female near the end of the day.