"I still don't know why I fish or why other men fish, except that we like it and it makes us think and feel."
-Roderick L. Haig-Brown
No one needs to be reminded that it has been a very cold winter for the last two months but after last weekends taste of springtime weather we're all ready for spring. Ice fishermen in western Maryland have enjoyed a great ice fishing season at Deep Creek Lake and other nearby reservoirs. Ice fishermen or "hard water fishermen" as some like to be called are a tight knit bunch and love their sport. Ski mobile suits, Pac boots and all the other gear that a good fishermen needs are usually towed out onto the ice on a sled. When you think about it, what other sport could you ask someone if they have any maggots and no one would be offended? Yellow perch are often the primary target, but often a mix of other species such as walleyes, pike, bluegills and even trout round out the mix.
Those fishermen looking for the chance to actually cast their lines into open water, the recent warm weather got a lot of fishermen out to some of their favorite fishing spots looking for the first of the yellow perch runs or perhaps a little fun with chain pickerel. The first runs of yellow perch started last weekend composed mostly of male fish that were found sluggishly moving up the waterways of the Patuxent, Chester, Choptank, Tuckahoe and Northeast Rivers to name a few. Pending some warmer weather just about all of the traditional spawning runs of yellow perch should hit high gear by the first weekend in March. The "go to" place for yellow for the last two months has been the lower Susquehanna River where fishermen have been catching limits of large yellow perch. The fishing has been in deep water and lead has to often be employed to get jigs down to where the perch are holding. Tim Campbell of Phoenix Maryland holds up a beautiful 14"+ yellow perch he caught and released in the lower Susquehanna River recently.
A few hardy souls have been traveling to the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant to fish the warm water discharge there called the rips. Drifting and jigging with large soft plastic jigs or metal is the ticket for an exciting catch and release experience with striped bass. This type of fishing does not come without inherent dangers and when you wind up on the windward side of the bay you can find yourself in peril. Water temperatures are hovering around 38-degrees and one does not last long in that kind of water and rescue boats are few and far between this time of the year.
The 2010 annual reports or year in review that follow were mostly written by the biologists that do the work and they will share that work with you in the following pages. The reports are basically broken down into the freshwater areas and then the Chesapeake Bay and coastal areas.
Winter will surely continue to come back at us but we will steadily see air and water temperatures slowly rise and become more moderate as we step into March. Shake the cobwebs off that fishing tackle, put some new line on those reels, pick up your fishing license and get out and enjoy some the season's early fishing opportunities.____
Keith Lockwood, Fisheries Service Biologist