Deer Creek

Located in Harford County​

Deer Creek

Physical/ Habitat Description: - Deer Creek averages about 50 feet in width. The upper river is low in gradient and shallow with rocky riffles and runs and scattered deep pools. The habitat is excellent for the stocked trout. One area of interest that is unlike any other in Rocks State Park is along Route 24 upstream of Rocks-Chrome Hill Road. The River flows through large boulders and falls at least 10 to 12 feet with white water not unlike that seen at Great Falls on the Potomac River. It is a scenic view of Deer Creek you don't want to miss. The lower river is low in gradient with rocky riffles, sandy runs and scattered sandy pools. The large, slow pools and runs are attractive resting areas for the spring migratory hickory shad and river herring.

Fish Species - Rainbow trout ranging from nine to twenty inches are raised at the Albert Powell State Fish Hatchery in Hagerstown and stocked into Deer Creek within the put-and-take trout management areas. Brown trout from private hatcheries are stocked occasionally to provide another species of trout for the angler to catch.

Smallmouth bass are found throughout Deer Creek in low numbers. The lack of good adult habitat and the "flashy" nature of flows and high sediment input in Deer Creek during storm events, especially during the spring spawning period, appear to be the main limiting factor for the smallmouth bass population. The smallmouth bass are small in size as is typical in most small river systems. An occasional large smallmouth bass can be found in the deeper pools.

From late March through early May, lower Deer Creek within the Susquehanna State Park is a popular fishing destination for anglers to catch hickory shad. Thousands of river herring and hickory shad run up Deer Creek to spawn. Anglers who come with an ultralight or light action rod and a variety of shad darts and small jigs can hook into numerous hard fighting shad. The Stafford Road Bridge area is a very popular destination for fly anglers who come prepared with numerous brightly colored streamers to entice the shad into taking their bait. Due to the popularity of the spring shad run, lower Deer Creek can be quite crowded and with limited parking, an early start may be needed to get in on the action.

Restrictions - The put-and-take trout areas of Deer Creek allow for a five-trout/day creel limit with no size or bait restrictions. There are two closure periods in the spring to allow for stocking. During the two closure periods, no fishing is permitted within the designated put-and-take section from one mile south of Rocks State Park upstream to the bridge at Route 23.

There is a closed season for all black bass (largemouth and smallmouth) in fresh water in Maryland from March 1 through June 15. The regulation permits catch-and-return fishing. There are no bait restrictions, however; Fisheries recommends not using bait as higher bass mortality occurs with deep hooked fish than with artificial lures and flies.

There is a statewide moratorium on the harvest of American and hickory shad in Maryland. Catch-and-return fishing is permitted for shad. The season for alewife and blueback herring is January 1 through June 5 and there is no size or creel limit for the two river herring species. Please consult the Maryland Freshwater Sport Fishing Guide for details on all license requirements as well as trout, black bass, herring and shad regulations associated with Deer Creek.

History - Upper Deer Creek within Rocks State Park, Hidden Valley Natural Area and Eden Mill has been stocked with hatchery trout for over thirty years and is a very popular put-and-take trout fishery in the spring. Fall stockings of hatchery trout increase the angling season for trout from October into early June. Deer Creek becomes too warm during the summer months for year-round trout survival.

Historically, Deer Creek supported spawning runs of anadromous fish such as hickory shad, white perch, yellow perch, alewife and blueback herring. A private dam built on Deer Creek at Wilson's Mill blocked approximately 25 miles of spawning habitat from these anadromous fishes. A Denil fish ladder was built and re-opened historic anadromous fish spawning habitat in Deer Creek in 2000. Since the opening of the fish ladder, all of the historical species of anadromous fishes that ascended Deer Creek to spawn have been documented passing through the fish ladder.​​

Contact Us - Comments and questions regarding Deer Creek can be directed to:

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Fishing and Boating Services 
Patuxent Work Center
17400 Annapolis Rock Road, Woodbine, Maryland 21797

Rocks State Park and Susquehanna State Park information can be found by contacting: Rocks State Park: 410-557-7994 ​​