Posted on March 30, 2011 | Permalink
Location: Potomac River
Fisheries conducted an annual assessment of the Potomac walleye population on March 21 in the vicinity of Dam 4 in Washington County. The collection had two objectives: determine the size distribution of the population and collect brood for spawning at the Cedarville Warmwater Hatchery. A third of the walleye collected during the survey had already spawned, a bit earlier than normal. The current Potomac walleye population is largely made up of older age fish from the record 2001 yearclass, now measuring between 18 and 25 inches in length. Although natural reproduction has occurred most years since, none of the yearclasses have been close to the magnitude of the 2001 yearclass, and the 2008 and 2009 yearclasses were very low. Fishing for large walleye is great right now, but anglers can expect lower catch rates in the coming years. To supplement natural reproduction, Fisheries will resume stocking using fry/fingerlings produced from the Potomac River brood collected during the spring surveys. Once spawned at the hatchery, the brood fish are returned to the river.
Spring is always a time of change, and the weather has been no exception. Hot one day, snow flurries the next, windy nearly every day. As a result, fishing can also be hot and cold as well. This past weekend I had to fish and decided to tough out the high flows and cold weather and, hopefully, catch a few smallies. River temperatures have dropped from 51°F down to 46°F. The action was pretty slow, but I did manage to catch a few good ones, including a beautiful 21 incher. All of the bass were caught on tubes and jigs worked slowly on the bottom. As water levels drop and river temperatures begin to rise again, bass fishing should improve significantly.
Posted on February 22, 2011 | Permalink
3rd Annual St. Jude's Benefit Bass Tournament
Location: Potomac River, Brunswick
The 3rd Annual St. Jude’s Benefit Bass Tournament was held over the weekend on the upper Potomac River at Brunswick. Dave and Mary Baker organize the event to raise money for the St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Holding a tournament during February poses many challenges and this year was no different. The event had to be postponed twice due to river conditions and high winds. Nevertheless, some of the areas best river bass angers participated and, as usual, they were able to catch some very impressive smallmouth. The tournament organizers impose a 15” minimum size (Maryland regulation is 12” minimum size) and a five fish per boat creel to reduce the number of fish handled. Two boats brought in a limit of bass, but one limit was anchored by a beautiful 3.9 pound smallmouth putting Chris Cannon and Jerry Dayhoff on top. Congratulations to Chris (First Photo) and Jerry for their first place finish and to Rocky (Second Photo) and Bob Droneburg for their second place finish.
Inland Fisheries attends selected open tournaments on the upper Potomac River throughout the year and uses these events to collect information on angler catch rates and obtain growth data. A small sample of scales is removed from each bass allowing biologists to estimate their age using a method similar to aging trees by counting the rings. After they are weighed in for the event, the bass are quickly transferred to an aerated tank while the data is collected and then they are returned to the river. Information from the tournament-caught fish is used in conjunction with the annual electrofishing surveys to monitor the population and make management decisions.
Posted on November 16, 2010 | Permalink
an electrofishing survey on the lower Monocacy River
Location: Monocacy River
Inland Fishery staff recently spent a beautiful fall day conducting an electrofishing survey on the lower Monocacy River to evaluate the smallmouth bass population. Because of the Monocacy’s small size and the low flows, sampling was conducted using a 14’ light weight boat floating between access points. The results of the survey were encouraging. The overall smallmouth bass catch rate has increased 36% since last year. Thirty three percent of the smallmouths collected were between 11” and 14” in length and in excellent physical condition. Anglers should find good bass fishing this fall and better fishing next year as some of these fish move into the larger size classes. The Monocacy River also provides excellent fishing for channel catfish, carp, and redbreast sunfish.
Posted on September 27, 2010 | Permalink
Location: Conococheague Creek
With staff and equipment from the Western, Central and Southern Regions, Inland Fisheries descended on Conococheague Creek last week to conduct an electrofishing survey to estimate the population of smallmouth bass. Conococheague Creek is a warm-water tributary to the Potomac River and supports game fish species common to such rivers: smallmouth bass, channel catfish, redbreast sunfish, and rockbass. Although the population numbers haven’t been finalized, it is safe to say the Conococheague continues to provide an outstanding fishery. The abundance of smallmouth bass is very high with many yearclasses, including trophy size fish, well represented. Conococheague Creek originates in Pennsylvania, flows south through Washington County, Maryland and merges with the Potomac River at Williamsport. Although it flows almost entirely through private land (respect landowners, do not trespass), several road crossings provide carry-in access for float trips.
Fall weather is beginning to make an appearance and with it will come falling water temperatures, higher flows and excellent fishing. Don’t put the rods away just yet. Those brave enough to navigate the low river levels and abundant vegetation on the Potomac are finding active smallmouth bass. Topwater baits can be a great option during the fall as well as the usual assortment of small jigs and worms. To combat the vegetation, weedless rigging is a necessity.
Posted on August 9, 2010 | Permalink
Location: Upper Potomac from Spring Gap near Cumberland downstream to Seneca
Inland Fisheries recently completed the annual seining survey of the upper Potomac River and the major tributaries to estimate natural reproduction of smallmouth bass. A total of 93 hauls were conducted from Spring Gap near Cumberland downstream to Seneca. The average number of young smallmouth captured per seine haul was 1.5, just below the long-term average of 1.8 and the abundance of young bass was consistent throughout the river. Smallmouth reproduction was slightly higher in the Monocacy River at 2.0 bass per haul and very high in Conococheague Creek at 7.0 bass per haul. Due to the warm spring, many smallmouth bass spawned early and the young bass were larger than usual, which is expected to increase their chance of survival during the coming winter. The adult segment of the fish populations are surveyed each year during the fall.
In spite of the heat and low river levels, bass fishing has remained pretty good. While topwater baits have been effective early and late, tubes and four inch worms have generally been the most consistent producers. Most of the Potomac tributaries hold fishable numbers of smallmouth bass and sunfish and these smaller waters can offer more solitude and shade to beat the summer heat. Small baits will generally get the most action, but some large bass can be found even in these smaller waters.
Posted on June 09, 2010 | Permalink
We recently stocked an additional 800 adult brown trout
Location: Antietam Creek at Devils Backbone Park in Washington County
We recently stocked an additional 800 adult brown trout in Antietam Creek at Devils Backbone Park in Washington County. The hatchery-reared brown trout will adapt quickly to a diet of aquatic insects and give fly anglers good action during the early summer evenings. A few of the browns will holdover and surprise a lucky angler in the future with an above-average size fish. Browns to several pounds are occasionally caught from the Antietam.
The upper Potomac is in good shape, though thunderstorms have occasionally clouded the water. I have had the best action with smallmouth throwing pumpkinseed tubes/grubs and suspending jerkbaits while fishing the pockets and current breaks in the fast flowing riffle areas. Most bass are running between 9 and 14 inches. Anglers should keep in mind that there will be many small bass this year from the record 2007 yearclass. Catfishing has been outstanding. During daylight hours fish the usual catfish fair (cut bait, chicken livers, commercial stink baits, nightcrawlers) in the deeper pools or near log jambs. At night, catfish move into shallow riffles areas and those areas at the head of a deep pool are particularly good. Although we haven’t stocked tiger muskie (a sterile hybrid produced in the hatchery) in the upper Potomac since 2006, there are still a few out there. I was a little surprised to catch this 36 inch tiger in western Maryland last week, most likely a product of the last stocking. The Potomac currently supports a popular fishery for muskellunge supported entirely by natural reproduction.
Posted on May 19, 2010 | Permalink
Trout Stocking Update
Location: Friends and Owens Creeks in northern Frederick County
Although the spring trout stocking season is winding down, there are still great opportunities to catch trout. Friends and Owens Creeks in northern Frederick County were stocked last week with a combination of rainbow and brown trout. Brown trout can be more difficult to catch, which means better fishing longer into the summer for persistent anglers. Fly fishermen frequently have the upper hand as flows diminish and a variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects become available. Spin fishermen can still get in on the action using small spinners and jigs using a stealthy approach. Early and late in the day are probably best, but don’t overlook higher flows after a rain as fishing can be exceptional then. May is a great month to try your luck at one of Maryland’s many trout streams.
Posted on May 03, 2010 | Permalink
Relocating Largemouth Bass
Location: Greenbriar Lake
Inland Fisheries recently conducted an electrofishing effort at Greenbriar Lake to remove excess largemouth bass. High reproduction in recent years has resulted in too many small bass that compete with one another for the available prey. This results in slow growing, underweight bass and few surviving sunfish. Over 100 largemouth bass less than 12 inches in length (all bass over 12 inches were returned) were removed and stocked into nearby public community ponds in need of bass. This management action combined with similar efforts last fall should improve bass fishing at Greenbriar Lake. Although bass are currently very abundant at Greenbriar, there are some lunkers out there! Here are a couple of trophy bass held by Fisheries Technician Josh Henesy that were collected and returned to the lake.
Posted on March 31, 2010 | Permalink
Walleye Are Actively Spawning
Location: Upper Potomac
The walleye are actively spawning now, or trying to anyway. The river was in great shape over the weekend, but is very high and muddy now. This is the first year that we have not been able to conduct our spring survey.
Posted on March 29, 2010 | Permalink
Rescuing Trapped Fish Due To Flooding in the C&O Canal
Location: C&O Canal
When rivers flood fish move to shoreline areas and the floodplain to escape the strong currents. As the river recedes back into the channel, the fish normally recede with it. Unfortunately, if flood levels are high enough the C&O Canal, which parallels the Potomac from Cumberland to Georgetown, prevents many fish from naturally returning to the river. The March 2010 flood was not as severe as the 1996 floods and the river did not crest above the towpath in most areas. As a result, much fewer fish were trapped in the canal. However, the river did crest above the towpath in several areas in Washington and Frederick Counties. Inland Fisheries with the assistance of the National Park Service and concerned anglers kept watch over flooded portions of the canal as the water receded to identify areas that held trapped fish.
Several areas of the canal in Washington County were identified as likely to hold trapped fish. With the assistance of angler volunteers, these areas were checked using electrofishing gear. Fish were captured in dipnets, transferred to buckets and tubs, carryed out of the canal to a fish-hauling truck on the towpath, and returned to the Potomac at the nearest boat ramp. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, redbreast sunfish, bluegill, rockbass, crappie, fallfish, channel catfish, suckers, and carp have all been recovered. There are a few areas that have yet to be worked and, unfortunately, some pools could not be reached in time.
I would like thank Ben Hynes for organizing the volunteer work force and the volunteers that came out and worked so hard. The canal is muddy, slippery, and full of trees and flood debris. Recovering fish from this environment is hard, dirty work. The National Park Service was instrumental in providing information on towpath travel conditions and identifying unsafe areas. Thanks guys!