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None of us has ever experienced anything like the COVID 19 pandemic, and we must focus on the safety of ourselves, our families and the safety of others. We are all in this together.
Governor Hogan has issued a Stay at Home Order in response to the global COVID-19 public health crisis. While there are certain exceptions for essential functions, the primary intent of the order is for people to stay at home in order to limit the spread of the virus.
As we have temporarily halted our routine water monitoring due to the current health emergency, our weekly fishing report will be on hiatus.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has provided some additional guidance online as to what activities qualify as essential. Limited subsistence fishing is allowed if you are seeking food for you or your family — basically you intend to keep what you catch as long as it’s legal.
Social distancing guidelines and the prohibition on social gatherings must be strictly followed. Recreational boating is prohibited until the governor lifts the executive order or until the State of Emergency has ended. However, you can use a boat if you’re seeking food for you or your family.
Also remember that all season, size, and creel regulations are in place and will be enforced.
Venturing out to go fishing in these times is a serious endeavor that should be planned carefully and thoughtfully, and done only if you need and intend to bring some fresh fish home. Otherwise, please observe the state’s directives on keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe.
Please stay at home and limit the spread of the virus. Take care and be safe through this crisis.
A lot of people find themselves with extra time on their hands. We encourage anglers to take advantage of the incredible fishing opportunities Maryland has to offer, provided everyone practices social distancing, avoids crowded areas, and minimizes social interaction. This is an especially good time to safely take youngsters out of the house to enjoy some fishing together, again being careful and thinking everything through when planning your trip.
Department biologists have instituted several volunteer angler surveys to help them understand and better manage some of the important fish species to anglers as well as blue crabs and horseshoe crabs. This information is very important to the biologists who manage the species listed in the surveys, which are available on our website.
Anglers are reminded that all catch and release of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay ends March 31 and will not open to striped bass fishing of any kind until May 1. A review of catch-and release-tips can be viewed on our website.
In order to protect public health and safety and to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, all Licensing and Registration Centers are now closed. Governor Hogan has issued an executive order related to licenses, permits, registrations, and other authorizations that may be expiring or up for renewal during the state of emergency. The executive order immediately grants a grace period of 30 days after the date of termination of the state of emergency — this includes fishing and boating licenses.
Our online COMPASS portal provides 24/7 self service access to our entire product catalog of recreational licenses, permits, and stamps plus many other Maryland Department of Natural Resources programs.
We face extraordinary times and everyone must make decisions regarding the safety of ourselves and those we love. Given Maryland’s current State of Emergency, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has made adjustments as well.
After careful consideration, the department decided to suspend spring trout stocking to protect the health and safety of our state employees and also the public and angling community. We need to avoid a situation that encourages anglers to gather near stocked locations. The department may also cancel or postpone fishing-related events this spring, including youth fishing rodeos and fishing tournaments due to the Executive Order prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t go fishing. In fact, the department has already stocked 82,700 brown, golden, and rainbow trout across the state. While it is unknown at this time when trout stocking will resume, we do encourage anglers to safely take advantage of incredible fishing opportunities Maryland has to offer.
For those looking for ways to occupy children stuck at home, consider a peaceful fishing adventure — obviously taking care to keep your proper social distance from others and avoid unnecessary exposure.
Please keep an eye on the department’s website and social media for updates, and we will resume regular operations once we are safely able.
Be safe, be responsible, be kind to each other, and we will get through these trying times together.
The signs of spring are everywhere and the warm sunny weather has families outside, enjoying the outdoors together. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is busy stocking local waters with trout and all are preparing for the grand event — the traditional opening day of trout season at 5:30 a.m. on March 28. Local community ponds are an ideal place to enjoy family fun and get our younger anglers started. Bluegill sunfish have been the most common fish youngsters start out with, they are feisty and usually a sucker for a garden worm and bobber.
The Chesapeake Bay striped bass catch-and-release season is underway and will be open through March 31. Regulations can be found on the department’s website.
When using fish, crabs, worms, or processed bait, recreational anglers in the Susquehanna Flats and Northeast River may only use a circle hook, or “J” hook with a gap of less than or equal to 1/2 inch between the point and the shank. Eels may not be used as bait.
For trollers, stinger hooks are prohibited, barbless hooks are required, and no more than six lines are allowed while trolling.
The proposed summer-fall Chesapeake Bay striped bass regulations are in the scoping stage and comments are being solicited at this time. The comment period is open now and will close at 11:59 pm on March 18, 2020. Send your comments to the department by email to email@example.com or submit online.
And finally, our biologists have instituted several volunteer angler surveys to help them understand and better manage some of the important fish species to anglers as well as blue crabs and horseshoe crabs. This information is very important to the biologists who manage the species listed in the volunteer angler surveys.
There are many different signs of spring that we notice — for some, it might be the first blooming daffodil or spotting the first osprey. One of the most popular harbingers of spring in Maryland for anglers is the much anticipated yellow perch spawning runs that occur in many of the Chesapeake Bay’s tributaries this month. Those spawning runs are underway and should peak within the next week.
This should be a very good year for Maryland anglers based on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources survey results. Fisheries biologist Paul Piavis reports that the 2011 year class of yellow perch was a strong one, and those perch will measure 13 inches or more this year. He also reports a strong 2015 year class, and those perch will measure 10 inches or better, followed by a strong 2014 year class.
Yellow perch fillets are a real treat and are often fried. If you have a pre-spawn yellow perch, try and find a home for the roe, which many people enjoy eating.
There are a few different ways to fish for yellow perch based on where they are holding. In the more open waters, they tend to hold in deep channels before they get the urge to spawn and ascend the tidal rivers. Fishing with enough weight to hold bottom and a two-hook bottom rig baited with small minnows, grass shrimp, or perhaps small jigs is a good way to catch them.
As the yellow perch move far up the rivers and into small and more confined waters, fishing with ultra-light tackle is the name of the game. Casting small shad darts, beetle spins, and small grub-type jigs is a fun way to catch them. Fishing small minnows and grass shrimp on a small shad dart or a bait hook is also very effective. Thin, low-poundage braid line with a 4- to 6-pound fluorocarbon leader is a real asset for casting light jigs — some can be as light as a 1/32 ounce. It also pays to have a lightweight fluorocarbon leader to break off from snags. There usually are a lot of hidden submerged branches and tree limbs in the more confined waters that tend to gobble up anglers’ lures.
When fishing with lightweight jigs, it pays to cast slightly upstream and walk the jig along the bottom in a sweeping motion, keeping a slight belly in your line to detect twitches that indicate a strike. Placing a little piece of red felt that has few dabs of anise or your favorite fish attractant can also provide an advantage. A small section of fresh minnow placed on the shad dart hook is one of my favorites, especially when the action is hot and heavy and you’re watching your bait supply evaporate.
Keep an eye on fishing conditions. Check the tide tables listed on the department website for where you want to fish – a low flood tide is best. Generally, 46 degrees is when yellow perch feel the urge to move into the spawning areas, and once the water hits 48 degrees it is on. The run can happen fairly quickly, often at night, and once it is over the post-spawn yellow perch depart quickly. Anglers who arrive late are often greeted with, “you should have been here yesterday, you really missed it.”
Even though it’s winter, periodic warm spells and days when there is little wind and plenty of sunshine afford fishermen a chance to wet a line. The pre-season trout stocking program is well underway and trout management waters are being stocked every week.
January through March is the time of the year when many attend outdoor shows to view or purchase new fishing tackle, or even book that fishing trip to a dream destination. The department’s Fishing and Boating Services will have staff present at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg from Feb. 1-9 at Maryland FishHunt booth 2521 in Fishing Hall. We hope you’ll come see us!
Many anglers have questions about what is going to happen in regards to management decisions and new regulations concerning striped bass. The entire striped bass fishery of the East Coast is impacted by the need to meet conservation targets established by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. In Maryland, commercial quotas are being cut 1.8 percent and there are several proposals concerning the recreational fishery. You can follow the most recent regulation changes and proposals and find up-to-date questions and answers on the Department of Natural Resources website.
Maryland Fishing Report is on break for the winter, and will resume in early 2020. For the latest information on fishing and water conditions in Maryland please sign up for our email newsletters at dnr.maryland.gov. Read more…
This is the final weekly Maryland Fishing Report of 2019 — we will return in 2020.
While everyone is caught up in the pre-holiday rush, those looking for a little respite will find plenty of fun fishing opportunities this month. The pre-season stocking of trout has begun and walleye, chain pickerel, yellow perch and catfish are all eager to entertain those who fish for them. The Chesapeake Bay striped bass season will come to a close on December 15, and the past couple weeks have been like the grand finale at a fireworks display. As the sun sets on the 2019 season, we look ahead to 2020.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has produced a fact sheet, available online, to address the many questions recreational anglers may have concerning future striped bass regulations and management.
The Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission recently created an annual recreational fisheries achievement award, to be given once a year. This is a great opportunity to recognize someone you know who goes that extra distance in volunteering their services to aid in promoting and conserving our recreational fisheries resources in Maryland. For more information and to nominate someone, find everything you need on the department’s website.
There is no doubt the hand of winter is passing over Maryland. Despite colder weather, there is plenty of fun fishing to be had from the sheltered shores of the many ponds, lakes, reservoirs, creeks, and rivers throughout Maryland. The preseason stocking of trout has begun, and other fish such as chain pickerel are active and waiting for you.
The Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission recently created an annual recreational fisheries achievement award, to be given once a year. This is a great opportunity to recognize someone you know who goes that extra distance to volunteer their services to help with the promotion and conservation of our recreational fisheries resources in Maryland. For more information and to nominate someone, find everything you need on the Department of Natural Resources website.
Although the mornings can be a bit nippy, good fishing opportunities exist from the mountains of western Maryland to the waters of the Atlantic. The Chesapeake Bay striped bass season has a little more than two weeks to go before it closes, and anglers are bundling up and enjoying the fun.