Fish Lines

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service has announced that Maryland's spring striped bass season will officially get underway April 19 instead of April 20 (Easter). This specific change applies to Maryland's portion of Chesapeake Bay from Brewerton Channel to the Maryland-Virginia line (excluding all bays, sounds, tributaries, creeks and rivers, except Tangier and Pocomoke sounds) and in Maryland's tributaries of the Potomac River downstream of the Harry W. Nice Bridge (U.S. 301). Requirements for licenses, hours, size and creel limits remain the same.

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity POTOMAC RIVER -- Water temperatures have climbed into the mid- to high 50s and bass fishing has been outstanding in the vicinity of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Ken Penrod, Eric Tovar and Steve Doe caught and released more than 100 largemouth bass from one small area near the bridge while casting green pumpkin tube lures. This entire sector has been superb, especially where the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant provides relatively warm, clear waters that flow to Fox Ferry, the Spoils and Smoot Bay. While the river is still extremely muddy from upriver runoff, there have been schools of herring sighted near Fletcher's Landing, which is a good indication that there should be an influx of hickory shad at the same location within the next few weeks.

Maryland LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Relatively warm weather brought out droves of anglers to the shores of Loch Raven, and some reported good catches of crappie from the Dulaney Valley Bridge and the adjacent shores. Live minnows were the ticket to success when suspended about six to eight feet beneath small floats. One angler fishing Pierce's Cove hooked a large northern pike, which was subsequently released.

LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- A 10-pound striper, the first of the season, was caught from the Route 32 Bridge by an angler fishing with large shiners. A few crappie were taken from Nicodemus Bridge on small, live minnows suspended beneath floats, while downlake at the launch ramp, large numbers of rainbow trout were caught by anglers casting spinners and Power-Baits from shore.

DEEP CREEK LAKE -- Johnny's Bait House has been renamed Bill's Outdoor Center. The lake should be completely open within another two weeks.

SAINT MARY'S LAKE -- Crappie arrived in the lake's shallows during the past few days, where live minnows suspended beneath small floats lured slabsides to 13 inches. Some big bluegills were taken from the same locations, mostly on bottom-fished night crawlers. Largemouth bass should begin migrating into the impoundment's shallows within the next few weeks in preparation to spawn.

Pennsylvania SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Warm weather has caused a big snow melt in the river's upper reaches, resulting in near-flood conditions all week. The river is high, muddy and unsafe for any type of boating activity. Check conditions by calling 888-881-7555.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Heavy rains and high water continue to hinder fishing, but the action should pick up as water temperatures rise. Largemouth bass can be found lurking near the mouths of creeks, mainly at points and sharp drop-offs. They are sluggish from colder than normal water, but those inhabiting the shallows have been aggressive on warm days. Jerkbaits, XPS or Smithwick in chartreuse, gold and silver/blue proved effective when fished in depths averaging eight feet. On overcast days, five-inch Yamamoto grubs, Sassy Shad and black jigs fished in depths of 10 to 15 feet produced some exceptionally large bass. Schools of striped bass began popping up over much of the lake. Most were found between Sturgeon Creek and Dike III, with the best catches coming from the dike's warmwater discharge area. Sassy Shad, bucktails and live shad were the most productive baits.

JAMES RIVER (Richmond area) -- High, muddy water, with a few catfish and generally slow fishing.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Muddy water flowing down the Susquehanna River has transformed the entire upper bay into a sea of muddy water. The few stripers that were caught during the first week of catch and release season were mostly taken on cut menhaden baits and bottom-fished bloodworms. The week's largest fish was a 32-pounder that was weighed and released. Scattered catches of exceptionally large white perch were made at Turkey Point by anglers bottom-fishing with bloodworms and night crawlers. A few channel catfish up to five pounds were taken at the same location while fishing for perch. The Chester River's upper reaches near Crumpton and Millington continue to provide anglers with random catches of yellow perch, but most of the spawning run is over.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- The Magothy and Severn rivers' upper reaches have experienced the first wave of white perch spawning runs, and most of the fish caught were fairly large. Bottom-fished bloodworms lured perch up to 12 inches from beneath piers and near the mouths of small creeks.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- White perch arrived at Red Bridges, Tuckahoe Creek and several other tributaries to the Choptank River's upper reaches. Bottom-fished grass shrimp, bloodworms and live minnows were all effective at luring perch ranging from eight to 12 inches. Rainbow trout catches at Tuckahoe Creek ranged from good to excellent for weekend anglers using night crawlers, salmon eggs and pieces of Velveeta cheese for bait.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Most of the area charter captains are busy getting their boats ready for the upcoming spring striped bass season. No one has been fishing in this particular area as yet, but rumors of big rockfish prowling the channel edges have been coming in for nearly two weeks.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Shorebound anglers fishing near Blackwater River Bridge caught a mix of white perch, crappie and yellow perch while suspending bloodworms and live minnows beneath small floats during high and ebb tides. This particular location is world renowned for its mosquitoes, some of which resemble small aircraft. If you're planning a trip here, take a can of insect repellent.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- A few anglers fishing from the shores of Roaring Point, located at the Nanticoke River's mouth, reported catching white perch up to 12 inches and striped bass up to 24 inches while dunking bloodworms. The stripers were all released. Scattered catches of perch were also made in the Manokin River's mouth while bottom-fishing with grass shrimp.

SOLOMONS AREA -- A few anglers have been trying their luck at catch and release fishing for striped bass near Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant However, because of heightened security restrictions, access to the warmwater areas that were open last season could be prohibited. The warmwater discharge from the Morgantown Power Plant adjacent to the Potomac River's Route 301 Bridge has been the hot spot for catch and release striper fishing. Small bucktails, jigging spoons and cut bait lured some monster stripers from this location last weekend.

LOWER RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- The season's first croaker were caught by a few youngsters fishing from piers last Friday night just downriver of White Stone Bridge. While only a few fish were caught, water temperatures here rose to the low 50s, which was sufficient to trigger a slight feeding binge. These fish hit bottom-fished bloodworms during the late afternoon.

CAPE CHARLES -- Flounder season opens in Virginia waters this weekend, which should make lots of folks happy in this part of the world. While the vast majority of the flatfish will be taken from behind the Delmarva Peninsula's barrier islands, there should some exceptionally large fish lurking in the shallows near Kiptopeke, Plantation Creek and east of the Cell. Scattered catches of croaker were reported in the commercial pound nets during the past week, and a few weakfish were mixed in with them.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- All is still quiet, but there have been rumors that mackerel could show up by the end of next week if the weather remains fairly mild. Inshore, no one has fished the wrecks for sea bass and tog, but at least one headboat captain says he'll likely try his luck by this weekend.

OUTER BANKS -- Not much has changed since last week. Cold surf temperatures have kept the fish offshore, but it only takes a few days of easterly winds to warm the surf and provide good fishing. The best action out of Oregon Inlet has been offshore, where scattered catches of yellowfin tuna were made during the few days when the winds didn't howl from the northwest. Headboats running from Morehead City are catching a mix of snapper, grouper, triggerfish and jumbo sea bass. Headboats running from Hatteras Inlet reported good catches of sea bass and red snapper. Offshore charter boats running from Hatteras Inlet reported limit catches of yellowfin tuna, several big dolphin and even a few wahoo.