Posted on March 11, 2011 | Permalink
On the Road During the Deluge
Location: Baltimore County
I was on the road yesterday traveling through Baltimore County and north through Harford and Cecil Counties in the rains, stopping at tackle shops that are award centers for the Maryland Fishing Challenge. I found myself driving up Route 40 past such famous yellow perch fishing locations such as Gray’s Run. The creeks and rivers were running a torrent of muddy water flooding low lying areas and pouring into the bay. When I stopped at the town of Northeast a sign caught my attention directing one to the sand bag station. I followed the signs out of curiosity, to a parking lot with a dump truck load of sand and a supply of sand bags. I’m assuming town’s folk take the flooding of the Northeast Creek as part of life when living nearby. On my travels down Route 213, I crossed the tidal rivers of the eastern shore along with many creeks. They were certainly flowing briskly but were holding their color and looked nothing like what I saw on the western shore. Let there be no doubt that non-tidal wetlands and forests do a better job metering out the effects of Thursday’s deluge than asphalt and concrete. At the Tuckahoe I even spotted this enterprising yellow perch fisherman backed up to the waterside and watching his fishing rods as they sat upon forked sticks from the back of his dry vehicle.
Many of you are familiar with the Maryland Sport Fishing Tournament and the carbon paper entry forms that are filled out to obtain a certificate (suitable for framing) for your trophy sized fish. This spring when you find we have a new system that should be a whole lot easier and you’ll get your award certificate faster. The awards centers now have a book of two part tickets and once you obtain your ticket; you can enter your fish quickly by going online or calling the provided phone number. The ticket is also your entrance ticket to the Fishing Challenge awards event on September 10, 2011 at Sandy Point. We already have a boat, motor and trailer combo donated by Bass Pro Shops and over $10,000 in prizes and there is hope a pickup truck and another boat, motor, trailer combo will be also offered as prizes. A list of award centers and information can be found at http://dnr.maryland.gov/fishingchallenge
Posted on February 28, 2011 | Permalink
Improved Fishing Access at Sandy Point State Park
Location: Sandy Point State Park
Anyone who has traveled across the westbound span of the Bay Bridge these past few months has probably noticed the renovation of the jetty protecting the entrance to the boat ramp and harbor area at Sandy Point State Park. DNR officials decided to improve the fishing access at the jetty to better accommodate shore bound fishermen in conjunction with making the necessary repairs to the jetty this winter. Anglers have had to risk walking over uneven rocks in the past to enjoy the good fishing for croakers, spot, white perch and striped bass off the jetty. The flat surface seen in the pictures below will offer fishermen and families safe access to one of the best shore side fishing locations in the bay and the high jetty rocks alongside will offer better protection to the harbor entrance. The project is expected to be completed by mid-April.
Posted on February 22, 2011 | Permalink
Yellow Perch run begins on Tuckahoe River
Location: Tuckahoe River
The warm weather on Friday and through the weekend brought out fishermen to try their luck at the first signs of the spring spawning run of yellow perch in the upper Tuckahoe River. The vanguards of the spawning run are the male yellow perch and although cold water temperatures are causing them to be sluggish some keeper sized perch are being caught. Anyone driving by the Hillsboro section of the Tuckahoe will see vehicles parked and fishermen lining the banks trying their luck. A high flood tide usually offers the best fishing and small minnows are perhaps the best choice for bait. The perch are hugging the bottom of the channel and fishing will definitely improve shortly as water temperatures rise. Gregory Prioleau brought his 83-year old father and friend all the way from Baltimore to enjoy some yellow perch fishing at Hillsboro. It was not long before Gregory caught a nice perch and his buddy made sure it was legal with a ruler before it was placed in a bucket destined for dinner.
Posted on February 7, 2011 | Permalink
Fishing Flea Market to be Held in Anne Arundel County Feb 19 -20
Stop by and say hello at the annual flea market being held at the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company on Rt. 2 in Severna Park on February 19th and 20th. The Fisheries Service, NRP, DNR Licensing and MARI will be present to answer your questions about fishing and licensing will be there to sell fishing licenses. The flea market runs from 8:00 to 2:00 and there will be plenty of bargains to be found along with plenty of fishing talk.
Posted on October 4, 2010 | Permalink
Bill Burton Annual Fishing Derby
Location: Bill Burton Fishing Pier on the north side of the Choptank River
Parents and children arrived at the newly dedicated Bill Burton Fishing Pier on the north side of the Choptank River on Saturday morning, October 2nd for a fun fishing derby. The weather was beautiful and the young fishermen were eager to dunk bloodworm baits off the pier. It did not take long for a mix of spot, white perch and rockfish to start coming over the railing and volunteers were busy ferrying out more bait to the busy anglers. Volunteers from local chapters of the MSSA and CCA helped to issue prize drawing tickets for catch and release fish, untangling rigs and taking care of bait needs.
It was soon time for the prize drawings and our young fishermen moved in close to check out all the wonderful prizes that were donated by tackle shops and organizations. Fisheries Director Tom O’Connell bestowed Maryland Fishing Challenge medallions upon each contestant and Louis Burton gave a rousing talk about her late husband Bill’s love of youth anglers and how special this event was to her family. Kathryn Craine of Woodbine won a basket filled with fishing tackle and books from Bill’s collection; her sister Kaylin not to be outdone was drawn as this year’s first youth winner for the Maryland Fishing Challenge. Youth Fishing Challenge winners will be selected at children’s fishing events from now until next September and all those selected will learn what type of fishing trip they have won at next year’s Fishing Challenge Award Ceremonies. Nine year old Kane Hines of Columbia won a charter boat fishing trip for 6 people that was graciously donated by Captain George Prenant. Kane’s father and family were very excited of the prospect of going on their first fishing trip on the Chesapeake Bay.
Posted on October 4, 2010 | Permalink
Peacock Bass Caught in Monocacy
Location: Monocacy River
Gregory Worsey sent in a customer service inquiry in regard to a peacock bass that his son caught recently in the Monocacy River. The catching of this fish highlights the problem of people releasing aquarium fish into Maryland waters. Peacock bass are native to South America and grow to large sizes and are a very aggressive predator. Fisheries biologist John Mullican offered this statement. Peacock bass are available through the aquarium trade and are known to eat everything else and quickly outgrow their tank. As a tropical species, they should die when water temperatures hit about 60°F this fall. Hopefully this type of fish will not threaten Maryland aquatic ecosystems but we might not be so fortunate with the next irresponsible and illegal release of an invasive species. Citizens are urged to not release aquarium pets into Maryland waters no matter how harmless it might seem.
My 7 year old son, Geoffrey and myself were fishing with a co-worker; Jeff Price along the Monocacy that afternoon; Jeff and I were using top water with fly rods and my son Geoffrey was using a round jig head with a 2 inch brown and yellow rubber curly tail jig body on his spinning rod-reel setup. I usually fish off my boat (usually on the Potomac or at Little Seneca Lake) with spinning or bait casting gear but my friend/co-worker Jeff has been teaching me to fly fish which is why we went to the Monocacy. All three of us were spread out across the far shore wading when Geoffrey caught the peacock. He pulled it out and called out that he caught a perch and since I was a bit of ways up stream looking over, that’s what I thought it was at first given the similar coloring and the vertical black stripes. Jeff; who got to him first then realized it was a peacock bass when he saw the spot on the tail and the larger mouth. I concurred when I got over to them. Obviously we figured out it wasn’t supposed to be there which made Geoffrey all the more excited in his catch.
Posted on August 23, 2010 | Permalink
Barrelfish Identification & Cold War Memories
This morning a request came in for fish identification from Larry Jock of the Coastal Fisherman in Ocean City. Looking at the photograph of the little fish in question rekindled an ember of memories that took be back to my younger days of fishing the offshore waters of New Jersey. As a young fisherman, budding fisheries biologist and mate on charter boats fishing the canyons such as the Hudson and Tom’s; I was always poking around in drift lines of Sargasso grass and flotsam with a dip net or with small baits often to the dismay of the captain. I would take my prizes back home and attempt to identify each new species that I encountered and would report back to the captain on my findings while heading out for our next charter. He would often joke to our fishermen calling me Jacque Cousteau, as I excitedly explained the things I’d learned about the creatures we encountered while fishing.
The little guy in the picture below is commonly called a Barrelfish or Black Rudderfish and can be found mixed in with dolphin, rudderfish, pilotfish and triggerfish hanging out underneath flotsam and large patches of grass offshore. Their scientific name is Hyperoglyphe perciformis and they range from Nova Scotia to Florida and are relatively common in New England waters. The size seen on the surface is usually around 12” to 14” in size but adults can be caught in waters 200’ to 500’ deep that grow to 36” in size and over 20lbs. The juveniles found under flotsam generally eat small fish, crustaceans and even barnacles. They can become prey for dolphin and wahoo if they are not careful and do a good job of staying close to their hiding place. The first one I ever saw was inside a waxed cardboard box that had Russian printing on it. Before the advent of our 200-mile limit, Soviet bloc countries extensively fished the continental shelf waters off the mid-Atlantic coast and routinely threw their garbage over the side. Since it was the cold war era, it seemed a bit unnerving as I recall, being amongst Soviet fishing ships bristling with every form of antenna imaginable; which were doing a little more than just fishing.
Photo courtesy Larry Jock
Posted on August 10, 2010 | Permalink
Tournament comments to Keith Lockwood
Location: Ocean City
From Andrew Fox, Recreational Angler:
I was fishing in the White Marlin Open last week and believe I caught a Hatchet Marlin if there is such a thing. I never have seen a fish so beautiful. It measured 66 inches and was 1 inch short of qualifying in the tournament. Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Andrew
Response from Keith Lockwood, Fisheries Biologist:
Most scientists identify hatchet marlin as round scale marlin or a round scale spearfish. They are sometimes caught out of Ocean City. Here is a little information and a few pictures.
There are three really good characters to identify a hatchet marlin/round scale spearfish: (1) the location of the vent – in a white the vent is about two inches forward of the anal fin; in a hatchet marlin/round scale spearfish it is about six inches in front; (2) the length of the branchiostegals (the rays below the gill cavity on the ventral side of the head) – in a white marlin they are relatively short, extending to the pre-opercula (about two- thirds of the way out on the gill cover), while on hatchet marlin/round scale spearfish, they extend almost all the way to the end of the gill cover; and finally (3) the scales – if you look at the side of a white it is fairly smooth in coloration while in a round scale spearfish it appears almost polka-dotted and if you run your hand forward on a white you'll get stuck by the scales – that doesn't happen on a hatchet marlin/round scale spearfish.
Photos by Keith Lockwood comparing a White Marlin to a Hatchet Marlin
Posted on July 30, 2010 | Permalink
Middle bay region Diamond Jim release for August
Location: Poplar Island Area
Our Diamond Jim tagging crew left the dock at Tighman Island at 6:00 am to try and get an early start before the sun shone bright in the morning sky and predicted thunderstorms arrived. It turned out to be an excellent call. We trolled #2 Drone spoons behind #1, #2 and #3 planers at distances from 50” to 180” behind the boat just south of the Hill and off Poplar Island in about 20” of water. We were fishing the top of the tide and for about 1-1/2-hours the action was fast and furious. Fisheries biologist Butch Webb was in charge of tagging the striped bass with the chartreuse tags and out youth anglers kept him very busy till about 8:00 when we used up our 23 tag allotment and the tide started to go slack.
It was soon time to head for the barn; as captains say as the western sky began to turn ominously dark with building thunderstorms. As a fisherman I was very impressed with the size of the fish we caught for this time of the year. We had 5 fish over 30” in length and most were in the 24” to 28” size range, very fat and clean looking. Most fishermen that pursue striped bass in the middle bay region have been talking about the evening bite where striped bass have been pushing bait in the form of small menhaden against the rocks of Poplar Island. Fishermen have been casting a variety of lures to them and trolling or live lining spot seems to be a good option early in the morning. Keep the tide movement in mind when planning your trip since we discovered that when the tide went slack the action came to a halt. I would urge anyone who wants to get into the action to either try the evening fishing or get out at dawn this weekend.
Posted on July 28, 2010 | Permalink
Fishing for the Skillet
Location: Choptank River
My fishing buddy Matt and I pulled away from the Island Creek dock at 6:30 pm to try our hand at some shallow water fishing for striped bass in the lower Choptank River last night. A light wind was blowing from the south and we anticipated a high ebb tide so conditions were looking favorable. The Dorchester shoreline was our destination and the combination of an uncluttered shoreline, balmy breezes, good company and not a care in the world set the stage. Peaceful and very quiet would be the words to describe the next hour or so as we worked surface poppers over submerged rip rap that certainly never accomplished its intended purpose since it was now located 200yds out from the existing shoreline. Cast after cast, surface poppers, floating Crystal minnows and jointed plugs tempted every possible spot that could hold striped bass; simply put there were no takers. Water temperatures are now in the upper 80’s in the shallows; perhaps that was the reason that it was just not to the liking of the striped bass or perhaps we just stunk as fishermen.
Action needed to be taken to get the skunk off the boat so we switched to small 1/16 and 1/8oz Road runner spin jigs and flayed away with spinning gear that was meant for 1 to 2oz lures rather than this fly weight stuff in hopes of catching some white perch. Did I mention that the wind was now blowing a good 12 knots? Anyhow the white perch were holding right tight to the rocks and it was on. Fish started to come into the boat. Most were in the 8” to 10” size class but 12” perch started to get tossed into the ice chest. White perch fillets fried in panko crumbs started to look real good at this point. My friend Matt pulled out a relic from his childhood; a Garcia Mitchell 308 spinning reel. For anyone under the age of 50; this was the Model T of ultra-light spinning reels in its day. I gave it a try on a few perch and felt a rekindled force in my hands from my young days of trying to catch the largest fish I could on these might-mite reels. I did find though that the ball bearings in this little reel felt more like small rocks in a blender than the Shimanos and Daiwas I am now used to fishing with.
It was quite evident that this type of fishing has been too long ignored by us and we began to plan a return trip better prepared for targeting white perch. I plan to dig out some unused and forgotten freshwater ultra-light spinning gear and a 4-weight fly rod with a good supply of Road Runner lures and chartreuse Clousers (the rocks are hungry also) for our next evening trip to the shorelines of the lower Choptank River.