Posted on September 15, 2011 | Permalink
Hints On Catching White Perch in Tidal Waters
Region: Bay Wide
Now that water temperatures have dropped into the low 70’s the shallow water bite for white perch is on in the lower sections of the tidal rivers; in particular the middle and lower bay regions. Look for old piers, submerged sea walls and prominent points with hard bottom where the current sweeps by. I was out on the lower Choptank recently working a submerged sea wall that is about 100yds offshore and did very well on catching white perch. I was using light spinning tackle with 1/8 oz crappie spinnerbaits with chartreuse sparkle Mister Twister tails on them. Beetle spins work well also but take the grub tail off and replace with curly tail style plastic. Small swim shads, stump jumpers and spinners will also work well. You will also catch striped bass and small speckled sea trout in many of the same areas. Fish tight to the rocks or structure and be prepared to lose some tackle; thus the reason for the cheaper lures.
If you want to bait fish, try grass shrimp on a simple one hook bottom rig near piers and docks that jut out into prominent areas where the current sweeps by that have 8’ or better depths. I like to put the grass shrimp on a small jig head and work the pilings tight to the structure. Bloodworms will work also but are costly. Throwback ratio in most areas is about four to one for 10” or better white perch.
In late October the rock piles at the center of the Bay Bridge is the place to be for jumbo white perch. Jig close to the rocks in approximately 20’ of water with a 1 oz metal jig with a dropper fly above and load up your freezer.
Posted on July 12, 2011 | Permalink
Annual Striped Bass Young of the Year Survey Begins
Location: Choptank River
This morning I had the chance to meet up with the striped bass projects field survey team as they began the 2011 young of the year seining survey. This would be their very first site to be sampled in the 2011 survey which will take them to designated seine sites from the head of the bay to the Potomac River. They got an early start this morning as the seine and equipment was readied at the shore of the Choptank River at 7am. Fisheries biologist Eric Durel headed into the Choptank with the 110’ seine in what might be construed as a rite of baptism. Eric has been in charge of this survey work for a long time so it was fitting that he was the first to be in the water for the beginning of this year’s survey work. As prescribed by procedural methods the seine was swept in an arch and as Eric reached the beach and the net was gathered up, small menhaden darted in every direction until they a quivering mass of silver fish were placed in the sorting tub.
All hands on board worked quickly to separate the various species of fish; every effort was made to keep most species alive in their own specified buckets of water for later inspection. It was no surprise that the menhaden were goners once they were placed in the tub. Some of the juvenile species caught and cataloged included white perch, river herring, gizzard shad, channel catfish, and several species of baitfish such as killifish, silversides and at least two species of shiners. Oh yes and there were small young of the year striped bass in the catch as well. Everything was measured and cataloged and most fish were released back into the river relatively unharmed. The final results of the young of the year survey will be released in early October and always carries the anticipation and intrigue of Wall Street commodity futures or something like that. This year’s young of the year striped bass index is certainly a lot more important on a broader scale and fisheries managers up and down the east coast and recreational fishermen will all be hoping for a good year of striped bass reproduction this year. For more information on the young of the young of the year striped bass project be sure to clink on the following link. http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/juvindex/index.asp
Posted on June 24, 2011 | Permalink
Recently I was able to acquire a flathead catfish from one of the Fisheries Service electro-shocking crews that was working on the Lower Susquehanna River. I wanted to get a first hand look at one of these invasive critters that are becoming more common in the upper bay area. I had heard that they were good to eat so that also was going to be part of this scientific necropsy and evaluation. On the way to my place from the Oxford Lab with my buddy residing in an ice chest I happened to pick up a 20lb. snapping turtle on the road for my good old friend retired DNR biologist Nick Carter who had put the word out that he needed one for an educational event he was scheduled to do. Well, when I called Nick; the combination of obtaining the snapping turtle and the opportunity to see a flathead catfish up close and personal was too much for Nick. He was jumping in his truck and was on his way to my place.
Our first observation of our friend the flathead was that it was obvious to us how he got his name; the top of his head was a thick as a cast iron skillet and what a mouth this guy had. A simple whack on the head was not going to put this guy out so being the creative biologist that Nick is, he opted for the delicate Buck Knife/hammer approach to sever the spine. Some of you may already know this; but this is the famed catfish in the Mississippi River drainage that folks over there go noodling for; perhaps you’ve seen it on TV or an internet video. I can’t imagine going underwater and putting my hand inside that things mouth. I couldn’t hold Nick back once he had a knife in his hand so he performed the delicate task, (perhaps not) of filleting our buddy. Some vital stats included that he weighed 24-1/2 lbs, 42” long, a male, no barbs on the pectoral spines like a channel catfish, large air bladder, light yellow colored meat and a tough bugger to skin. The evaluation session of the epicurean attributes of the fillets swathed in batter and fried in peanut oil with hush puppies will have to wait till another session.
Posted on June 16, 2011 | Permalink
MWA Rockfish Tournament
Location: Rock hall
The 16th Annual Rockfish Tournament sponsored by the Maryland Watermen’s Association was held last June 10, 11, 12 at Rock Hall. The private and charter boats in the tournament fished the upper bay to see who could catch the largest rockfish (striped bass) in this three day tournament. Fisheries biologists Richard Schaefer, Brett Coakley and yours truly were present to measure fish that were being entered each day. On my watch, which was Saturday Ray Brilz brought in the largest striped bass during the tournament at 32-3/4” and Nathan Wall brought in the wining fish in the youth division with a 28-1/8” striped bass. One fish that created quite a lot of excitement was the 75lb black drum that Ray Sandy of Winchester, Kentucky caught while trolling a spoon close to the bottom. Many of the boats were trolling along channel edges with Storm Shads and spoons and everyone else was chumming. All in all it was a great event and it was hearting to see everyone having such fun fishing with family and friends.
Posted on May 7, 2011 | Permalink
Wicomico Youth Fishing Rodeo
Location: Wicomico County
This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a youth fishing derby sponsored by the Wicomico County Parks and Recreation in Salisbury. When I arrived the lake was ringed by 220 contestants along with their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. It was easy to see everyone was having a lot of fun and the bluegill sunfish were eager to accommodate the young angler's offerings of worms dangling underneath bouncing bobbers. Standard equipment for this event is theme related push button fishing tackle ranging from Dora the Explorer and Spiderman to Barbie and SpongeBob. Spectators will observe mighty casts and plenty of body English and the challenge of just when to let go of that button when making a mighty cast. At least one young angler was seen to let go of the button in the 11-oclock position and a bobber almost as large as a tennis ball went straight up towards the heavens and returned to earth hitting his mother on top of the head while she relaxed nearby in a folding camp chair. No one was seriously hurt but the father/husband was definitely in more trouble for laughing than our young angler. I skulked out of the picture with tears in my eyes from laughing.
Eventually the time was at hand for the end of the fishing part of this event and everyone gathered to feast on hot dogs, sodas and snacks that were provided and to find out who was walking home with one of the trophies that adorned the master of ceremony's table. Of course not everyone went home with a trophy but there were plenty of give away raffle prizes and Casandra Mullins was drawn as the Youth Fishing Challenge winner of a donated fishing trip. After the ceremony I had a young boy come up to me and pronounced proudly that he had been the Youth Fishing Challenge winner two years ago and had caught a white marlin off of Ocean City. A grandfather and grandson also came up to me and mentioned they had won last year and got to go on a charter boat for striped bass on the bay for the first time in their lives. All went home with some wonderful family memories, plenty of give away prizes and lots of love. I happened to notice our mom that got beaned with the bobber was smiling at her husband; so perhaps love triumphs after all. There are still some Maryland Fishing Challenge Youth Component Fishing Derbies scheduled; the following link can direct you to the current list. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp#youth
Posted on April 15, 2011 | Permalink
We Just Missed It!
Location: Choptank River
Late in the afternoon on Thursday Steve Early and I managed to get out on the waters of the Upper Choptank River to observe the striped bass spawn. It had been warm all day and we were sure there would be some action around Kingston Landing; well there was but by the time we got there the party was mostly over. There was sign of sea gulls sitting on the water stuffed with errant fat that is released with the eggs during spawning process and the tide lines in the river showed a collection of fat, fish oil and white stuff; which one would imagine was sperm. There was still some splashing going on here and there and we even noticed a few big fish exit the shallows like some kind of torpedo headed for deeper water. Upon closer inspection one could see eggs floating under the surface everywhere (trillions?).
Perhaps the biggest highlight of our trip from Ganey’s Wharf to Kingston Creek for me was to listen to Steve talk about working on this section of the Choptank in the early to mid- 1980’s sampling the spawning population of striped bass or at least what was left of it. Steve talked of sections of the river where they drifted their sampling gill nets and which areas held snags or tricky currents. Perhaps the most startling point he made was that in a season of 5-days a week sampling they might catch no more than 500 striped bass total and many were small. Unbelievable, was all I could think of; since now one could catch that many in one drift gill net set. We have come a long way since the days before the 5-year moratorium and we all should remember that or if we’re too young to remember those days; at least respect and cherish this wonderful resource we’ve been entrusted with.
Unfortunately our hope was slightly dashed when we came around a corner of the river to see two guys in a boat trolling for striped bass in a spawning reach and a trio casting large plugs off the pier at Ganey’s Wharf; which is all very illegal. We still have a ways to go for sure and perhaps our job of educating fishermen to be responsible and understand how important it is to make sure we never take this resource for granted and fall back to those day’s prior to the moratorium.
Posted on March 30, 2011 | Permalink
Trout stocking at Carroll Creek in Frederick
Location: Carrol Creek
I had the chance to meet up with stocking crew John Mullica and Mark Toms; from the Lewistown Office and two volunteers early Tuesday morning. The section of Carroll Creek that was being stocked runs through Baker Park; which is a beautiful setting for a parent/child experience. This area is designated as a youth and blind fishing area and it offers easy access for children to enjoy some trout fishing. Trout transport volunteers John Clopper and Ken Cline were on hand to help distribute the trout over a wide area of the creek. There are a number of these youth/blind fishing areas and to find the one closest to your young angler just check out the online trout stocking schedule. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/stocking/spring_stock.asp.
Posted on March 23, 2011 | Permalink
Maryland's First Fishing License
While visiting Fishing Challenge Award Centers in Anne Arundel County, I made a stop at Marty’s Sporting Goods in Mayo. After going over with the details of the new entry system with owner Jim Bieler I couldn’t help but notice some old badges in a glass case. It turns out that Jim is a collector of old fishing memorabilia and there in front of me was Maryland’s first issued fishing license from 1927. As you can see from the picture I took; it was a button that the angler wore on his hat or shirt. Jim was able to reference for me that in 1927 the state sold 9,581 of these freshwater licenses at $1.25 each; by 1939 the number of freshwater licenses sold had risen to 23,121. Current statistics show that Maryland sold 111,241 resident freshwater fishing licenses last year.
Jim also proudly showed me a picture of customer Fred Menage in front of the store, with his 42.5” striped bass that he caught in 2008 near Thomas Point Light. Then he showed me a picture of Fred again in front of the store but this time with his brand new Toyota Tundra pickup truck that he won by entering his striped bass in the 2008 Fishing Challenge and being a lucky winner at the sandy Point State Park Event. This year’s Fishing Challenge promises to be just as exciting with over $10,000 in prizes plus a boat, motor and trailer donated by Bass Pro Shops. Fishermen can find out information about how to enter this year’s Fishing Challenge at the following link. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp
Posted on March 18, 2011 | Permalink
“On the Road Again
Location: Eastern Shore
Today I couldn’t help but think of that Willie Nelson tune “On the Road Again”; as I turned the steering wheel south on Route 13 and headed to Crisfield and Pocomoke on the lower eastern shore. My first stop was a tackle shop just off Route 13 in a little town called Eden just south of Salisbury and there I met up with Lou Ann Hitch and after explaining the new Fishing Challenge Awards entry system I was able to catch up on all the latest local fishing news. Several anglers came in while I was there to purchase bloodworms and much of the talk centered around the excellent white perch fishing in the Nanticoke River near Sharptown and on the Wicomico River.
Next stop was Crisfield and the first thing I noticed was all the activity in the boat yards where work boats were getting the new season work over. Watermen take pride in their boats and of course rely on them to allow captain and crew to work on the water and keep to keep them all safe. Work boats here, have female names like Barbara Ann or Rebecca Lynn and are always painted white. The local marine hardware stores were doing a brisk business in marine supplies and locals where outside the luncheonettes discussing the coming season. The town was waking up after a winters sleep and it was a locals only type of crowd since it is still too early for the summer tourists. I spoke to several captains and most are worried about the current economics and whether they’ll have a good crab season. Charter boat captains had the same worries about customers coming to fish and whether the croakers and spot will show up in good numbers this year. I met up with brothers Joe and John Asanovich in a local boatyard as they were busy hooking up a new behemoth looking engine for their headboat the Barbara Ann-III. Even recreational boaters could be seen pulling the canvas back for the first time to get started with getting “her” ready for the water. Boat yards can be a magical place in the spring; just bubbling with anticipation and promise.
Perhaps my most interesting stop in Crisfield was at Dave’s RV and Tackle Shop where Dave was sitting at a table making large Parachutes and bucktails for the local captains. Dave’s shop was a real step back in time where one could find everything from a rototiller to a hot dog and a fishing rod all in the same place. We sat around an old Formica table strewn with errant nylon, deer hair and cigarette butts talking about a number of subjects ranging from muskrat trapping, trolling for big striped bass, and snapping turtles to Dave’s ambition to clean and organize his shop. Personally, I liked it just the way it was.
Posted on March 16, 2011 | Permalink
Tour de Garrett
Location: Garrett County
Today was another day on the road visiting Award Centers in Allegany and Garrett Counties. It never fails to impress me how much the climate changes when you cross Savage Mountain; as soon as I began to come over the crest there before me was the last vestiges of a winter’s snow, covering the shaded north slopes. This was the first snow this flatlander from the eastern shore has seen since early February. Traveling down Route 219 I came upon this roadside historic sign that noted the Bear Creek Trout Hatchery; one of our oldest and still functioning hatcheries. At Deep Creek Lake the lake seemed to be hanging in a sort of limbo; stuck between hard ice and open water. Although most of the lake still was covered with rotten ice, the edges were open. At the Wisp ski slopes a few die-hard skiers were trying to make the last runs of the season; but it seemed to look more like ice skating to me.
I have always been intrigued with early American history and especially the Revolutionary War and the war of 1812 due to the fact that I grew up near several battle sites. Today I discovered this roadside sign above Deep Creek Lake in the town of McHenry and found it most interesting to find out how Fort McHenry in Baltimore got its name. Next year our nation will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the epic bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British during the War of 1812 that inspired composing of our national anthem.