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Trout and Perch Rise to the Top for Spring Fishing

Photo of people fishing

Fishing at the Gap; by Lance Naylor

All of Maryland’s natural beauty springs open for the enjoyment of sportsmen and women this season.

As the days grow longer and the temperatures warmer, it’s time to grab your fishing gear and head out to take advantage of the abundance of perch and trout stocks throughout the state. Chase these three fish this spring:

Yellow perch
Yellow perch are a favorite sportfish in Maryland – especially in the Chesapeake Bay area and Deep Creek Lake – because they inhabit a vast territory and a wide variety of habitats, are a schooling fish and congregate near shore in the spring. Adult yellow perch inhabit slow-moving, near-shore areas where moderate amounts of vegetation provide cover, food and protection. Adult yellow perch also migrate from the lower parts of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to the upper regions in search of suitable spawning habitat starting in late February. Their migration to preferred spawning areas starts during April in Deep Creek Lake.

Photo of man with white perch

White perch; by Jimmy Whipple

White perch
White perch are considered a delectable game fish – they’re closely related to rockfish – and can be taken with nearly all types of fishing gear typically used on the Chesapeake Bay. They are available to anglers from shore and from boats because they are widely distributed among a variety of habitats, including inshore waters. White perch are one of the most abundant fish in the bay and will spend their entire lives here.

The Maryland Department of Natural Re-sources stocks more than a quarter-million brown, golden and rainbow trout for the spring trout season. Stocking this year began in late December and will continue until the beginning of June, ensuring a thriving population throughout the spring and summer months.

The fish are always biting and the chance for adventure and fun are never-ending throughout Maryland. Be sure to check out the full list of Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Areas before heading out.

Where to Go

Photo of boy with rainbow trout

Rainbow trout; by Harry Wachter

Western Maryland
Deep Creek Lake Natural Resources Management Area – one of Maryland’s favorite fishing and hunting havens – is located in Garrett County. Features include its 3,900-acre man-made Deep Creek Lake. There’s also the 1,800-acre Deep Creek Lake State Park which lies just west of the Allegheny Front on a large plateau known as the Tablelands or Allegany Highlands. Its location at the southernmost end of Meadow Mountain places it west of the Eastern Continental Divide and within the Mississippi River watershed.

The Youghiogheny River mainstream in Garrett County is a tried and true trout haven. It’s located just below Friendsville and when the fish stop biting, this special town offers plenty more opportunity for adventure.

Cassleman River Bridge State Park, also in Garrett County, is a 4-acre parcel located east of Grantsville on U.S. Route 40. It is a popular area for fly fishermen, photographers and history enthusiasts.

Owens Creek in Frederick County is an-other great trout spot in western Maryland. The headwaters are contained by Catoctin Mountain National Park, a portion of the lower special regulation area flows through state and county-owned property and the remainder lies on private property. Fishing is permitted within the special regulation area by the generosity of the landowners.

Central Maryland
Howard County is home to the Middle Patuxent River where you can reel in your share of brown, golden and rainbow trout this spring – perfect for the serious angler. Once you’ve secured your Angler Award Certificate, check out Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, a preserved parkland with miles of nature trails.

Gunpowder Falls comprises more than 18,000 acres in Harford and Baltimore counties. Gunpowder’s narrow corridors host a varied topography ranging from tidal wetlands to steep and rugged slopes. The park features more than 120 miles of multi-use trails, protected state wildlands, historic sites, kayaking, canoeing, a swimming beach, a marina and some of the best stock trout fishing in Maryland.

Great Seneca Creek in Montgomery County comprises 6,300 acres, extending along 14 scenic miles of Seneca Creek – perfect for trout – as it winds its way to the Potomac River.

Photo of girl with yellow perch

Yellow perch; by Rich Watts

Southern Maryland
All along the Chesapeake Bay you’ll find charters and guides to take you out on the bay and its tributaries in search of perch. Centrally located in Anne Arundel County, Annapolis offers plenty of charter options.

Mattawoman Creek in Charles County includes extensive wetlands and large beds of submerged aquatic vegetation, are a critical nursery and feeding ground for yellow perch. These areas are attractive to anglers for national fishing tournaments, as well as to large fish-eating birds like herons, egrets and bald eagles.

Eastern Maryland
Rising Sun Pond in Cecil County stocks trout during the spring and is a great place for beginners to learn before taking on bigger water.

Kent Narrows in Queen Anne’s County offers a ton of charter options for groups. Aside from great fishing, this area of Maryland also affords visitors a wide range of things to do, including shopping, dining and a number of golf courses.

Put-and-take areas have a five-trout limit and specific spring closures depending on location. White perch season is open year-round with no creel limit (be sure to check for size and lure restrictions). Yellow perch season is also open year-round, with a minimum size of 9 inches, and a daily creel limit of 10. Consult the 2019 Maryland Guide to Fishing and Crabbing for closure dates and special management area restrictions.

Article by Eric G. Wilson—publications officer for the department’s Fishing and Boating Service. Appears in Vol. 22, No. 2 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, spring 2019.

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