Fishermen in the western region have been taking advantage of the generous trout stockings that have been taking place. Fisheries biologist Alan Klotz sent us this report. Deep Creek Lake State Park has opened up the boat ramp to anglers; however as of March 17th the docks were not placed in the water. The yellow perch are seeking the shallow, warmer coves seeking out spawning sites, and fishermen are having good success using medium fathead minnows fished under slip-bobbers. Chain pickerel are also hitting the minnows well. The Maryland Boat Launch at Jennings Randolph Lake also is now opened for use.
Trout streams are still flowing well below normal for this time of the year. With this spring weather, we have been seeing some early hatches of stoneflies which should make for good early dry fly fishing. The Casselman Delayed Harvest Area was stocked last week with some truly outstanding brown and rainbow trout lunkers, and thanks to members of the Nemacolin Chapter of Trout Unlimited for float-stocking some of these trout into the more “off the beaten path” areas.
The upper Potomac River flows have been rather low for this time of the year due to lack of snow and rain. Fisheries biologist Josh Henesy sent us this great report and picture from some survey work he and fellow biologists were conducting on the upper Potomac.
Finally, after a long winter, spring is upon us! Early spring on the upper Potomac River means it’s time for walleye. Electro-fishing surveys are conducted annually during March to monitor this popular resource and collect brood walleye for spawning at the Cedarville Warm water Hatchery. The hatchery staff have successfully spawned walleye collected on March 5 and have already returned them to the river. The fry and fingerlings produced will be stocked into selected waters this spring, including the western reaches of the Potomac where natural reproduction has not yet matched that of the Dam 3 to Dam 5 areas. During the survey many large walleye up to 28 inches in length were collected. Water levels are currently below average making navigation and fishing a little more difficult. Slowly bouncing light jigs used in conjunction with light line is often your best bet. Crankbaits are another effective option.
Smallmouth bass are stirring more now that the river temperature is in the upper 40s. Look for smallmouth in the slower moving pockets behind ledges and other current breaks. During our recent survey we collected this beautiful 21” smallmouth bass.
Most of the yellow perch runs in these regions will be over this week but white perch are now staging in the lower to middle sections of the regions major tidal creeks and rivers. Fishermen will be finding plenty of action with other fish in the tidal rivers and creeks this week. Crappie are schooled up in many of the deeper areas of the tidal Potomac and other tidal waters such as the lower Gunpowder. Some of the best places to look for crappie are in the deeper waters near marinas and bridges. Jigs tipped with small minnows are a proven winner for catching early spring crappie. This fine looking crappie came from Mattawoman Creek near a fallen tree.
Water temperatures are now in the upper 40’s in many of the regions tidal rivers and largemouth bass are beginning to stir. Main river edges and creek ledges have been a good place to target them this week with slow retrieved deep crankbaits and soft plastics. Water temperatures will rise later on in the day when the sun is shinning so afternoons tend to provide a better bite and the top of flood and ebb also ups the odds of finding largemouth bass in a feeding mood.
Fishermen looking for blue catfish action in the tidal Potomac are beginning to experience some good fishing this week; fresh gizzard shad in the channel areas around the Fort Washington area should put you on top of some blue cats. Channel catfish are spread out through most of the regions tidal waters and can offer some excellent fishing opportunities this time of the year.
Regional fisheries biologist Mark Staley sent in this report on trout stocking operations in the central region. We are busily stocking trout from the DC suburbs to Northern Baltimore and Harford County. The rainbows produced at APH are looking healthy and we are getting a mix of sizes ranging from 10 to 24 inches. The only cloud on the horizon regarding our put and take program is lack of rainfall. When Loch Raven reservoir is not spilling over we cannot stock the lower gunpowder with put and take trout. Currently, Loch Raven is 0.6 ft below the spillway at the dam. One good rainfall could cause it to spill but it is not looking good for the 3/28 opening day.
The regions large reservoirs and smaller lakes are warming up enough now and fishermen are finding good fishing for a variety of fish. Although water temperatures are steadily climbing many fish are holding deep and are sluggish. A slow retrieve with a deep running crankbait or soft plastic jigs such as grubs and soft plastic crawfish worked slowly and close to the bottom will often result in a pickup this time of the year. Fishermen often report that the pickup is just that this time of the year and not an aggressive strike. Craig Walrath holds up a beautiful 5-1/2 lb largemouth bass he caught and released at Rocky Gorge Reservoir this past weekend on a jerkbait.
Fishermen reported some wonderful fishing for yellow perch last weekend and fishermen will see mostly the tail end of such runs this week. Fishermen are already gearing up for the white perch run that is soon to follow. A number of fishermen are already finding good white perch fishing in the middle sections of the regions tidal rivers and creeks. They can be found holding in some of the deeper channel holes such as the lower region of Marshyhope Creek. A bottom rig baited with pieces of bloodworm is the ticket to catching them; grass shrimp and small minnows will also work but bloodworms usually seem to work the best.
Fishing for channel catfish will be good this week and they can be found in a number of the regions tidal rivers and creeks. The Chester is always a good bet as is the Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers. Chicken liver, cut baits of gizzard shad or menhaden are good and nightcrawlers are also a good choice although pesky perch can chew up a tasty nightcrawler fairly fast.
The regions many lakes and ponds are coming to life as water temperatures steadily warm and fishermen can enjoy some good fishing opportunities this week for chain pickerel, crappie and largemouth bass.
Click here to view recent bay satellite images at mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/NASAimagery/EyesInTheSky.cfm
Reservoir Bathymetry information:
The Maryland Geological
Survey has bathymetry maps on their website:
Links to freshwater flows:
Latest real time stream flow for
Gunpowder Falls near Parkton.
Latest real time stream flow for
Gunpowder Falls At Glencoe.