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Weekly Fishing Report: April 12

The Maryland landscape continues to be bathed in warm sunshine with warm temperatures; spring is definitely here and presents some wonderful opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. There are few experiences that can match spending time in the outdoors with children.

This father-daughter duo teamed up for some trout fishing. Courtesy of David Costopoulos

We all have or will spend time sitting along the sidelines watching kids play baseball or soccer, but when it comes to one-on-one personal time in a quiet setting, few things rival fishing with your kids. If you’re an empty nester there is always the “rent a kid” option where you can take the children of someone you know or neighborhood kids for a fishing adventure.

This coming Saturday is a big day for Chesapeake Bay fishermen. April 15 marks the opening day of the trophy striped bass season where anglers have a chance to catch a striped bass over 35 inches.

Many will go 40 inches or better, and the fishing will only get better in the following two weeks as post-spawn rockfish exit the spawning rivers and look for something to eat before heading out into the ocean.

The weather looks good for the weekend; there has been major spawning in the middle and lower bay spawning rivers for the past week and a half. Spring tides have caused some floating wood debris in the bay, so keep a sharp lookout when trolling current breaks.

A shot from last year’s spring season to remind everyone what they’re after. Courtesy of Andrew Ashby

Good luck to all! Be safe and remember to have a good time. It’ll be crowded out there for sure, so turn up your patience knob a bit and try to let boating etiquette offenses go without conflict. Just keep in mind that it is all about smiles and fun together.

Fishing conditions in the lower Susquehanna River and flats areas have not been good this week, and conditions are not expected to improve before the weekend. There is a great amount of cold and stained water pouring through the gates at the Conowingo Dam.

Water temperatures at the mouth of the river are about 49°F today and slightly higher in the shallower areas of the flats. Water clarity is poor with visibility less than 18 inches in the river, but clearer water can be found on the east side of the flats. In addition to these conditions, there is a lot of floating debris covering much of the area made up of large logs and various types of wood.

Those wishing to fish the upper bay for their chance at a trophy size striped bass should, for the most part, focus their efforts along the steep channel edges of the shipping channel south of the Brewerton Channel. One of the steepest edges is off Podickory Point and will no doubt get a lot of attention from those trolling. The channel edges near Love Point to the triple Buoys will also be popular.

If water clarity is an issue, chartreuse might outshine white parachutes and bucktails. Hopefully wood debris from farther up the bay will not be a problem, but lion’s mane jellyfish drifting in the current breaks most likely will be. Boats will be seen trolling in and around the Bay Bridge while others try jigging near bridge piers. No doubt a few will trying chunking or chumming along popular channel edges. Hopefully those trolling and those chumming can live in harmony.

A fine example of a big tidal river channel catfish that brought plenty of smiles to this angler. Courtesy of C.J. Wood

There will be surf casters present at Sandy Point and other prominent points in the upper bay, trying their luck casting bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or cut bait.

Fishing for white perch has been good in many of the region’s tidal rivers. These fish are moving down the spawning rivers and spreading out towards their usual summer season haunts. Channel catfish are active and also provide good fishing in the tidal rivers.

In the middle bay region, those looking for a trophy post-spawn striped bass may have good opportunities as spawned out females begin to exit. There has been active spawning in the Choptank and Nanticoke rivers for more than a week. Those fish will be hungry and looking for large items to gain back their strength. Accelerated current breaks along steep channel edges will be the place to look for them, and large baits will entice them to strike. Most trolling spreads will have a mix of white and chartreuse parachutes and bucktails dressed with 8-to-12-inch sassy shads usually trolled in tandem. Jellyfish are expected to be a problem in regard to fouling lines, so cockpits will be busy no doubt, clearing lines. Current surface water temperatures are about 54°F, so most striped bass will be found in the upper region of the water column until boat traffic drives them deeper.

For those who wish to fish the tidal rivers this week, there is plenty of action to be found in the middle bay region’s rivers. There is good catch-and release-action for hickory shad in the upper Choptank River above Greensboro at Red Bridges. Water temperatures at Red Bridges were about 55°F yesterday. Blueback herring are also present, and of course plenty of hidden submerged snags hungry for shad darts. There are still a few white perch in these areas, but most have moved farther downriver and will continue heading towards their summer haunts. Hickory shad can also be found in the upper Marshyhope near Federalsburg.

Crappie fishing continues to be extremely good in the tidal rivers and are often found holding deep near fallen tree tops. Channel catfish continue to be active; this is one of the best times of the year to fish for them with cut bait, chicken livers or worms. In the Dorchester County tidal creeks and rivers northern snakeheads are providing plenty of action for the anglers that fish for them this week.

Brooke went fishing with her dad in Carroll Creek when she caught this trophy sized rainbow trout. Courtesy of Jennifer Young

Lower bay region anglers in pursuit of trophy striped bass should have plenty of opportunities as post-spawn striped bass migrate south to the Patuxent and Potomac rivers. The shipping channel edges near Cove Point, Cedar Point and down to Point No Point and Smith Point will be popular places to troll.

In the Potomac, the channel edges near St. Georges Island and Piney Point are go-to spots. Water clarity in the lower Potomac will be stained, so chartreuse may be a better bet than white, but most everyone will have a large enough trolling spread to employ both colors.

On the eastern side of the lower bay, the steep shipping channel edges from the CP Buoy off Taylors Island south to below the HS Buoy and Buoy 72 will be good places to troll. The Hooper Island Straits and Tangier Sound channel edges are often a good place to intercept striped bass exiting the Nanticoke River.

Those fishing skinnier waters than the bay continue to find good trout fishing in many trout management waters. The put-and-take areas are always very popular, and stocking crews are working hard to get the trout out and posted on the trout stocking website with email updates sent out by mid-afternoon of the same day.

Water flows have improved in many areas since late March. Water temperatures are nearly perfect for trout, and air temperatures are about perfect for fishermen. This is a wonderful time of year to take kids fishing, and the put-and-take trout management areas offer great opportunities for them.

The upper Potomac is running strong at this time. The water clarity is stained, but the river is fishable. Tubes are the lure of choice for smallmouth bass and walleye worked along current breaks. Fisheries biologist Alan Klotz sent in an Angler’s Log commenting that recent surveys show there should be plenty of good walleye fishing in Deep Creek Lake when the season starts on April 16.

Farther down the Potomac in the tidal regions, there are reports of stained water and floating wood debris in the main river. The wood is mostly likely due to recent spring high tides. Water temperatures in the river are about 56°F.

Largemouth bass are staging at the mouths of small creeks and transition areas near the spawning shallows where water temperatures are 60°F or better. Swimbaits, stick worms and chatterbaits and spinnerbaits are good choices for baits. If this warm weather continues, spawning may begin to occur next week.

Matthew spent the first day of spring break fishing with his dad when he caught this blue catfish. Courtesy of Michelle D’Amour Flynn

Fishing for blue catfish has been very good out in the main stem of the tidal Potomac and fishermen are urged to take advantage of this resource. There are plenty of them with no minimum sizes or creel limits. The large catfish give one heck of a fight. The smaller ones make excellent eating and freeze well.

Fishing for crappie in the tidal Potomac is about as good as it gets this week, as they can be found holding close to structure such as sunken wood, fallen tree tops and marina docks and piers.

I happened to be going over the Wilson Bridge this past weekend and could see boats working the spoils area next to the Maryland side of the bridge with spider rigs and spinning tackle. Small minnows or crappie jigs under a slip bobber is a surefire way to catch them. It pays to put some anise on those jigs for further enticement.

Many of the impoundments found throughout the state hold good populations of crappie. They can be found holding near deep structure. Fallen tree tops, brush or sunken wood are great places to look. Many of the central region reservoirs have excellent populations, as do western region impoundments and those on the Eastern Shore.

Largemouth bass are progressing through their pre-spawn phase and in some areas are moving into the spawning areas. Anglers are reminded that fishing for largemouth bass in nontidal waters is strictly catch-and-release until June 15. A variety of baits will work for largemouth bass this time of the year; everything from soft plastics to chatterbaits. Due to ideal water temperatures, they can be found moving in and out of shallow waters and near emerging grass and spatterdock fields.

Jason holds up a whopper he caught near Waldorf while fishing with his dad before slipping in back into the water. Courtesy of George Maddox.

Over in the Ocean City area, there is some fun catch-and-release striped bass action in the back bay areas, particularly near the Route 90 Bridge. Most of the fish are around 20 inches, but every now and one exceeds the 28-inch minimum. All in all, the fishing is very good and makes for some fun light tackle action. The first flounder caught at Ocean City was reported this week, near the Route 90 Bridge.

Offshore there is excellent tautog fishing at the offshore reef and wreck sites; many charter boats are reporting limit catches. Offshore water temperatures at the wreck fishing sites are running around 48°F.

“Once in a while”, the old man said, “a fellow wants to get away from everything that’s complicated and fishing is really the only way I know of to do it”. “ -Robert Ruark, Fish Keep a Fellow Out of Trouble



Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.