Natural Resources News
Information for our Patrons, Customers, and Friends
Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are taking proactive steps to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Maryland.
Following Governor Hogan’s emergency actions to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will remain operational, but we are implementing changes to certain department activities, customer service functions, and scheduled events to minimize the spread of the virus. Read more…
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.
Rare Amphibians Rally in Newly Restored Habitat
Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists are reporting a dramatic increase in the reproducing population of the tiger salamander — the largest American terrestrial salamander — in the department’s spring 2020 surveys.
“They are having a great year and it’s great to see them concentrated in the areas where we have restored the natural wetlands they need to survive,” department biologist Scott Smith said.
Maryland’s Eastern Shore provides a unique type of depression wetlands called Delmarva bays. In their natural state, Delmarva bays have few trees, are seasonally flooded, and usually dry out in late summer. However, most of these singular wetlands have been altered and no longer provide habitat for the many rare plant and animal species they once supported. Read more…
Maryland on Alert for Dangerous Conditions
Wildfire occurrence is highest in the spring when forest fuels are the driest and weather conditions — warm, dry, and windy — are most conducive for the spread of fire. On days when this threat is most likely, the department will issue a “red flag” status. Read more…
Hatcheries Providing 300,000 Fish Across State
With spring right around the corner, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is set to release hundreds of thousands of brown, golden, and rainbow trout across the state for its annual spring trout stocking. Crews will stock more than 300,000 trout in lakes, rivers, and streams in 18 Maryland counties and more than 130 locations from March through early June.
The department raises the majority of these trout in the state’s hatcheries, including the Albert M. Powell Hatchery and Bear Creek Hatchery, and through a partnership with the privately owned Mettiki Hatchery.
2020 Contest Runs Through Aug. 31
Three-Session Class Begins March 31
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is offering a Hunter Safety Education class on March 31, April 2, and April 4, 2020 at Herrington Manor State Park in Oakland, Garrett County.
Classes on March 31 and April 2 will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and class on April 4 will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants must attend all three sessions and the class is limited to 30 students. Any student under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Read more…
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.”
Prehistoric Fish Tips Scales at 18.3 Pounds
A Hurlock fisherman is the new Maryland state Chesapeake Division record holder for longnose gar, with a catch that weighed 18.3 pounds.
Samson Matthews, 22, was fishing for blue catfish with a friend March 2 near El Dorado Bridge along Marshyhope Creek. After about 10 minutes of fishing in 20 feet of water with small chunks of gizzard shad as bait, Matthews felt a strong pull, a tight line, and lots of thrashing. Read more…
Each March I look forward to the return of the osprey. While this generally happens before spring’s official arrival on the equinox, it makes me feel that spring – and fishing season – have arrived.
March is also when the Department of Natural Resources resumes our weekly Maryland Fishing Report, available on our website, through our email newsletter, and also via your Amazon Echo device by saying “Alexa: open the Maryland Fishing Report.”
Regularly scheduled stocking of trout in Maryland’s streams, rivers, and ponds occurs across the state. And anglers are awaiting the beginning of the yellow perch run which will start as soon as water temperatures start rising in Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland creeks and rivers. Read more…