Western Region: Deep Creek Lake has officially been declared “Ice Free” and a new fishing season has begun. It was indeed a very short ice fishing season at Deep Creek and the ice was never really very suitable for fishing in many areas. Those hardy fishermen that did get in a little ice fishing time did so on marginal ice in a limited number of locations. It is becoming more common now to see boats with fishermen in them out on the lake now and this is a happy time for fishermen since they have the lake to themselves; something they may reflect on this summer while dodging speed boats and jet skis.
Fishermen will be finding good fishing for walleyes and yellow perch along steep drop-offs and shoreline fishermen can enjoy this fishing by casting small crankbaits or jerkbaits. Boat fishermen will be casting the same lures; but will also be drifting and working jig/minnow combinations with good success.
Fishermen are enjoying good catch and release fishing for largemouth bass in a number of the regions lakes and smaller impoundments as water temperatures rise. Fishermen are also finding crappie and bluegills responding to the warmer temperatures. Trout fishermen are getting ready for the opening of the traditional “Put and Take” trout season; which opens in many bodies of water this Saturday the 29th. Fishermen on the upper Potomac River continue to enjoy good fishing for smallmouth bass. Tim Bennett holds up a real nice one caught in the Seneca area for the camera before slipping it back into the river.
Central/Southern Regions: As spring time water temperatures begin to climb fishermen are seeing largemouth bass becoming more active. Most fishermen that are fishing the larger reservoirs in the central region are reporting that the largemouth bass are still holding rather deep and close to the bottom. Small crankbaits, jerkbaits and especially spinnerbaits and jigs worked right on the bottom seem to work best. Gino Ciotola sent us this report from this past Sunday morning at Loch Raven. I was out fishing at Loch Raven Sunday morning for a few hours and it was a beautiful day despite the cold temperatures. I fished from about 7:30-10 without a bite. I was using a jig and pig, working it real slow along the bottom. At about 10:15 I was fishing off a point and I tossed the jig out and worked it back slow as I had all morning. I wasn't paying much attention because I was watching a group of deer feed across the ridge on the other side of the lake. All of a sudden, the rod almost got ripped out of my hand and it was a nice 3+ pound bass; very rewarding after working so hard all morning. As you know, the jig and pig method is a tedious method but it sure paid off with a beautiful Loch Raven largemouth on Easter morning!! Craig Walrath of Catonsville was fishing at Triadelphia Reservoir last week; working a shallow running jerkbait when he caught and released this beautiful 6-1/2 lb largemouth.
Fishermen are reporting excellent fishing for white perch in most of the tidal rivers where the perch spawn. The yellow perch are just about gone for the most part and white perch quickly filled in. A large number of the white perch are small but those fishermen crafty enough to hover over some of the deeper holes in the upper reaches of the tidal rivers are finding large white perch and catching them on small jigs and bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp. Chain pickerel continue to entertain fishermen in the upper and middle reaches of most of the tidal rivers and creeks in both regions as well as largemouth bass and crappie. Channel catfish and carp are abundant in most of the tidal rivers and spring is an excellent time to sit on a river bank while watching a fishing rod set up in a forked stick and anticipating a twitch.
Speaking of twitches Ron Lewis of Point of Rock was fishing this past Saturday in the lower Potomac for blue catfish when he got a twitch in his rod tip. One can only imagine the kind of twitch a fish like the one he caught puts in your fishing rod. Ron is no stranger to fishing for blue catfish in the Potomac River but he was fishing in the unfamiliar turf of the Fort Washington region of the river on Sunday. Like most hard core fishermen he knew fresh bait is a key factor and he obtained his on site with a cast net. A standard bottom rig with a 4-ounce sinker and a 6/0 hook with a big chunk of fresh gizzard shad set in the river channel was all this big catfish was looking for this past Sunday morning. After a lengthy tussle the big cat was brought alongside the boat and that was when Ron and his partner realized their net was much too small so the fish was hauled in by hand. The group of fishermen that pursue these river giants are a close knit group and they even have a website called the catfish nation. A call went out to fellow member Tim Hagan who has a large live well for transporting these behemoths and the fish was transported 80-miles to the Bass Pro Shop in Arundel Mills Mall for the display tank there. The official certified weight was 67.10lbs which was verified by southern region fisheries biologist Mary Groves; this surpasses the old state record; which was set by Josh Fitchett in September of 2006 in the same general area of the Potomac.
Fishing for largemouth bass in the tidal Potomac continues to pick up as water temperatures rise but fishermen still report that the bass are holding deep along drop-offs. Lures such as small crankbaits, blade lures, jigs and spinnerbaits need to be worked slow and close to the bottom. Steve Colvett of College Park was fishing Sunday for largemouth bass in the tidal Potomac and caught and released a 10-1/2 lb, 26” bruiser on a spinnerbait worked right on the bottom of a 12’ drop-off. Steve mentioned that he witnessed Ron Lewis out in the river as he motored by fighting something really large and of course he was not far off on that observation.
Eastern Region: Spring is in the air as water temperatures begin to shake from the cold grip of winter. The fish that inhabit the numerous freshwater ponds, lakes and the upper reaches of the regions tidal rivers are beginning to stir and they have one thing on their mind, food. Largemouth bass are moving into the shallower and warmer waters of ponds and lakes and bass are holding along the channel drop-offs in the tidal rivers. Fishermen have been having the most luck with grubs, small crankbaits, and spinnerbaits for bass that are holding deeper along these drop-offs. Slow retrieves close to the bottom has been working the best for these deep holding bass. A combination of jerkbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits are working well are the bass holding shallower in the ponds and lakes that tend to warm up faster than the tidal rivers.
The yellow perch runs in most of the tidal rivers in the region are fleeting and white perch have now taken over the show for the most part. Jig/minnow combinations had been the hot ticket for yellow perch; but it is hard to beat grass shrimp for white perch and fishermen are quickly making the swap. Nicki Neuwiller sent in this report after spending a day fishing with her family and a picture of a yellow perch she caught. Saturday, March 15, my husband, daughter and I had some luck fishing from the marina in Federalsburg on the Marshyhope River. We caught small crappie, yellow perch, and a few small largemouth bass on tube jigs, night crawlers, and shad darts. A good friend of ours, Jason White, went fishing March 18th in the Marshyhope on a boat. Within one mile of the marina he caught 20-30 decent size yellow perch, 15-20 crappie from 10-16 inches, and several largemouth bass ranging from 12-16 inches, all caught on live minnows.