Posted on May 23, 2013 | Permalink
Swarming of May Worms
Location: Chesapeake Bay
We are approaching the end of May and a full moon is due this Memorial Day weekend; these two events mark the annual swarming of May Worms on the Chesapeake Bay. The marine worms that we often see when shucking a bushel of oysters are a common inhabitant of oyster reefs and shell litter on the bottom of the bay. This time of the year they under go a metamorphic change to a breeding form that can be seen in great masses at times under dock lights at night or just swimming around close to the surface in small groups. During this annual swarming event fish such as Striped Bass and White Perch gorge on the great feast that is before them much to the consternation of fishermen. Often Striped Bass can be seen so full of the little morsels that they seem ready to burst if they eat just one more, so therefore they tend to not be too interested in a fishermen’s offerings. The good part of all this is that fish fatten up on this banquet and build up fat reserves lost during a long winter. (Photos by Rich Watts)
Posted on January 10, 2013 | Permalink
See Us at These Fishing Shows in 2013
The fisheries service will be attending the following outdoor shows in 2013 and we look forward to meeting you. We will have a presence at the East Coast Commercial Fisherman's & Aquaculture Trade Exposition at the Ocean City Convention Hall on January 18, 19 and 20th. Although this is billed as a commercial fisherman's show it is a great place to stock up on hard to find items such as fish totes, rope, heavy duty gloves and even things like collapsible crab traps, fillet knives and oyster knives.
Our next show that we will attend is the Pasadena Sportfishing Flea Market/Show at the Earleigh Heights Fire Hall in Severna Park on February 16th and 17th. We will be there to talk about fishing, any questions you might have and you'll be able to purchase your 2013 fishing license there as well. Anyone who has ever attended this show knows there are bargains galore and the firemen cook up some delicious pit beef, turkey, ham and oysters.
Finally on March 10th our trout biologists will be present at the National Capital Angling Show at the Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda for a one day show. This show is all about fly fishing, trout and other species of fish. There are vendors representing fly tying, tackle both new and collectable vintage items, guide services and conservation groups. There are always fly casting clinics and this year Lefty Kreh will highlight the team of presenters and instructors. Matt Sell of the Maryland Fisheries Service's Brook Trout Program will be there to provide a presentation on brook trout studies in western Maryland.
Posted on December 7, 2012 | Permalink
Location: Lower Patuxent River
Recently I received an inquiry about lumps or cysts in the intestines of a large white perch caught in the lower Patuxent River from a fisherman. I showed the picture to our fish health expert here at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory Mark Matsche. Mark offered an explanation and our conversation drifted to other parasites seen in the gut cavities of striped bass and white perch from time to time in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The parasites that live in the intestines of fish and often form bumps or masses on the surface of the intestine are spiny headed worms. We see the species Pomphorhynchus bulbocolli in striped bass and other fish regularly. The worms that live freely in the abdominal cavities of fish are nematodes or roundworms. One species we have identified is Philometra rubra (in picture). There are likely other species, especially in other fish species.
The picture labeled spiny heads 1 shows numerous, large masses that form along the intestine in heavy infections. The photo labeled spiny heads 2 shows a section of that intestine opened up so that the body of the worm (yellow) can be seen inside intestine. The picture labeled nematodes shows a large group of roundworms in a striped bass. Although these fish parasites can be disturbing to the uniformed angler they do not present any danger to fishermen. All fish are hosts to a number of parasites from time to time; some are internal and others can be seen on the external surfaces of fish.
Posted on June 5, 2012 | Permalink
Salisbury Youth Fishing Derby
Location: Salisbury City Park Lake
Parents, grandparents and anyone else who would take a child fishing showed up at the Salisbury City Park Lake this past Saturday for a good old fishing derby. The lake had been stocked recently with plenty of bluegills by the fisheries service and our young anglers came prepared with their theme related fishing outfits with logos on them such as Barbie and Spiderman along with plenty of worms and bobbers. They lined the sides of the lake and when the starting horn sounded 192 young anglers began casting bobbers and worms for all they were worth. The local resident Canada geese beat a hasty retreat and the lake belonged to the kids for the next two hours. The park officials staffed the registration tables and kids were constantly running to the tables to enter their fish. Bluegills were by far the most common catch but a big carp was landed and even a couple of hapless painted turtles but by far the most unusual catch was a 14 inch snakehead caught Mason Shahan. USGS officials will be doing DNA analysis on the snakehead to try and determine where it could have possible come from.
As the one minute warning was announced and officials began the final countdown to the last 10-seconds of the tournament; Jonah Corry came running with his “last minute” bluegill entry and made it to the table with only a few seconds to spare. I saw a lot of happy adults and children and an event like this does warm the heart of anyone who loves kids or fishing. One grandfather approached me and relayed the story that he brought his daughter to this fishing derby 38-years ago and he was here this year with his great granddaughter. He also mentioned that last year his granddaughter won the fishing challenge drawing and by her request he came all the way from Arkansas to go on a sea bass fishing trip with her off of Ocean City; when she was drawn for a free fishing trip at the awards ceremony at Sandy Point State Park. There was a lot of anticipation as the drawing was held for the 2012 Fishing Challenge Youth Winner and Emily Ross was all smiles and her dad was very excited about the prospect of winning a free fishing trip provided by one of the Fishing Challenge sponsors.
Posted on March 26, 2012 | Permalink
Channel Cats on the Choptank River
Location: Choptank River
Sunday evening after a long day of yard work, the waters of the Choptank enticed me to take some time for myself and have a seat on the river bank, watch the sunset and try fishing for some catfish. I had placed a few garden worms in a can from earlier digging in the yard and they were soon attracting the attention of some small white perch which I planned to use for bait. There was a good strong incoming tide and it did not take long before I started catching some nice 4lb to 8lb channel catfish, a few white catfish and even an American eel on pieces of white perch. I kept four channel cats; which were more than enough to provide a week’s worth of fried catfish meals. Fisheries biologists working on the Choptank River have noted that channel catfish populations are up so these plentiful and good eating fish provide a fun opportunity for fishermen between perch spawning runs and the opening of striped bass season. Channel catfish can be identified by their brown color on top, forked tail and a smaller mouth than the white catfish which is light gray in color, has a large broad head and mouth and a less forked tail than the channel catfish.
Posted on March 9, 2012 | Permalink
Location: Eastern Shore Creeks
I had the opportunity to be driving near the upper Tuckahoe River late Thursday afternoon and stopped to see fishermen catching a nice mix of post-spawn yellow perch and pre-spawn white perch. This same scenario is being played out on just about every tidal river and creek around the Chesapeake Bay today and into the weekend. Yellow perch have finished spawning in the upper reaches of the tidal rivers and creeks and can be caught as they descend back down. Thursday, minnows on a bottom rig seemed to be the ticket for yellow perch and I saw several 12” to 14” caught in a short time. Fishermen are also catching white perch and some of the larger females are showing up. The white perch are up the Choptank as far as Red Bridges and Millington on the Chester River so the fishing may bust loose this weekend. Earthworms and bloodworms have been two of the most effective baits for white perch in the last couple of days. Rig up, grab some bait and kids and get out and enjoy this rite of spring before it is over.
Posted on March 6, 2012 | Permalink
Inquiry on Parasitic Worm in Yellow Perch
Location: Tidal and Nontidal Waters
Mike Hohm recently sent in the picture below of some strange red worms he found in a yellow perch he was cleaning. The red worms in the picture are called Philometra worms that are a common parasitic nematode worm in fish. A small larval stage of the worm is released into the water by infected fish and this small larval stage is eaten by tiny copepods (a small invertebrate) which act as an intermediate host. The copepods are then eaten by fish and the larval stage of the worm is released into the digestive system of the fish. Once in the fish the larvae migrate to target organs and molt into adults where they can become encysted in the viscera (guts) or muscle of the fish. They may grow as long as 2” in length and often move out of the cysts when the fish is dead and can be found free in the body cavity or flesh when the fish is being cleaned by a fisherman. The life cycle of these worms is not well documented but they are a common parasite in freshwater and estuarine fish such as striped bass, perch and other species such as minnows. They can not infect humans and as with all parasites cooking kills them.
Posted on February 16, 2012 | Permalink
Region: Chesapeake Bay
The bay anchovy is a tiny baitfish in the Chesapeake that has a big responsibility when it comes to providing forage for several species of game fish that we hold dear in Maryland. When it comes to food for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay most people focus on menhaden but the bay anchovy is the most abundant fish in the Chesapeake Bay and it also is spread through the coastal bays up and down the east coast. Often they are referred to as glass minnows and can often be seen in the bay and tidal rivers in large schools near the surface. They have a prominent stripe on their side, a large mouth, no scales on their belly and are somewhat translucent. They use their gill rakers to strain the water for zooplankton, small invertebrates such as copepods. They tend to spawn at night around mid-summer, grow rapidly reaching maturity in a few months and only live about 2-years if not eaten first by a hungry striped bass, Spanish mackerel or bluefish. They do not migrate south in the winter but choose to hold deep in the Chesapeake Bay and can tolerate salinities from 35p.p.t. (sea water) to 1p.p.t. (brackish). Good populations of bay anchovies are important in the bay because they are such a valuable bait fish for juvenile striped bass and with a bumper crop of 6” to 12” striped bass this year they will be critical to the health of 2011 year class. The graph below shows a steady decline in the number of bay anchovies encountered in the striped bass juvenile index seining studies over the years; let’s all keep our fingers crossed there will be enough food on the table for our striped bass this summer.
Posted on January 25, 2012 | Permalink
Visit to IGFA Headquarters and Museum
Location: IGFA Headquarters
Recently the opportunity presented itself to pay a visit to the IGFA headquarters in Dania Beach, Florida which is just south of Ft. Lauderdale. Anyone who has ever aspired to catch a world record fish surely knows about this organization that was founded in 1939 and whose mission is the conservation of fish resources and to promote responsible and ethical angling practices. The building is pretty impressive and contains a museum of fishing tackle, hall of fame as well interactive educational exhibits focused on young anglers. The exhibits covering some of my angling heroes such as Zane Grey and Lee Wulff were a step back in time as I hung onto every word written about their adventures when I was a young angler. The library within the building is the largest fishing library in the world and I felt like I could have spent the entire day there. The exhibits of fishing tackle and their evolution brought back a lot of memories of hand me down fishing reels in my younger years and the exhibits of tarpon flies struck some special memories of “jumping tarpon” in the Florida Keys in the 1970’s. If you find yourself anywhere near Ft. Lauderdale you will not be disappointed with a visit to this marvelous tribute to sport fishing.
Posted on December 1, 2011 | Permalink
Youth Fishing Club
As water temperatures cool in the fall and winter many types of fish slow down their activity levels and tend to hover close to the bottom of ponds, lakes and rivers and don’t eat very much. Fish are cold blooded and therefore find it hard to stay warm so they find the warmest water they can; which is usually deep and they wait out the winter there. They can often be enticed to bite small lures and bait if it is presented to them slowly and close to the bottom. When the water is cold many fish have a hard time digesting their food so they are hesitant to eat a large meal.