Reel Report: Changes are coming out on the water –

I read somewhere recently that in light of Virginia canceling spring trophy rockfish season and North Carolina declaring a moratorium on stripers in its state-managed waters that Maryland might be pressured into canceling its spring trophy season, too.

We’re already two weeks in and only have two weeks to go, so that’s probably not going to happen at this point in time. However, expect some changes to the striped bass fishery coming down the pipeline.

Tuesday, the Striped Bass Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission met for several hours in Arlington, Virginia to hash out a way forward now that we know (officially, this time) that the stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing.

An addendum to reduce the fishery 17 percent has been initiated as required by Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. How exactly is still up for negotiation, including whether commercial and recreational fishermen will take equal or proportional hits. If everything goes according to plan, the addendum could be approved as early as October.

In other news, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources is still hoping to curtail the spread of snakehead to areas where the species hasn’t taken root yet. You can find videos, supplemental fact sheets and an updated webpage at

The fact sheets are worth a gander even if you’re familiar with the fish. You might not be aware, for example, that snakehead can spawn two or more times a year, which is one of the reasons they might pose a risk to largemouth bass populations (the jury is still out on that one).

Also, the fishing FAQ sheet spells out clearly that anglers can catch-and-release snakehead. The only time a snakehead must be killed is when an angler is going to transport one. It doesn’t matter where you’re taking it, but before you take your first step, the fish must have taken its last breath. And don’t forget, they can breathe out of water for a long time, days even, so you’ve got to make sure it’s dead before you move it.

If you want the latest scoop on catching snakehead, come out to Stoney’s Kingfishers in Solomons from 6 to 9 p.m. May 6.

Local angler Eric Packard and Coastal Conservation Association Patuxent River Chapter president Jonathan Bland will be presenting a talk about light tackle fishing and targeting snakeheads in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

Non-members are always welcome and the presentation is free.

Southern Maryland lakes and ponds — Local pond action is really heating up. Let’s hope the forecast for rainy weather this weekend doesn’t prove true.

Crappie should be making a showing at Gilbert Run Park in Dentsville soon, to be found hanging around brush and lay-downs. Packard reports that crappie were eagerly biting on a small beetle spin with a white twister tail when he fished a farm pond in Calvert County earlier this week.

All largemouth bass caught in non-tidal water throughout Maryland must be released between March 1 and June 15. At Gilbert Run Park, bass are protected year-round and must immediately go back into the water.

Potomac River — Reel Bass Adventures guide Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509) said there’s good bass fishing up and down the river. Some of the larger bass have been caught on main river gravel and rocky banks located near spawning grounds.

Grubs, tubes, finesse worms, and small deep-diving crankbaits work well. Grass is slowly developing in bays at the mouths of creeks where plastic craws, worms and stickbaits will catch bass. Spadderdock pads continue to produce bass that like buzzbaits and chatterbaits.

Crappie are shallow in creek coves and like the standard crappie tubes as well as 1/8-ounce crankbaits.

Aqualand Marina (301-259-2222) reports steady action for 2- to 5-pound catfish for shore anglers. Rental boats will be available soon for those wishing to capitalize on these tasty fish.

Juniata and Susquehanna rivers (Pa.) — Fishermen, rejoice. There is no closure this year.

Life Outdoors Unlimited guide Capt. Ken Penrod (240-447-2206) shared a few thoughts about the smallmouth bass fishery thus far this spring.

Penrod said there are not as many very large smallmouth bass (greater than 20 inches) as in previous years, total numbers of bass caught are down, many of his decades-long best holes were disappointing this year and rumors of many diseased bass cannot be substantiated by his guides as they approach 3,500 bass caught with just four sickly-looking fish in the bunch.

Campground tubes were easily the most productive lures for the LOU guides this past week when attached to a Johnny Cunningham RAB jig head.

LOU guide Capt. Dave Kerrigan (301-252-5322) said the water temperatures in the Susky River are still in the 50s, which is unusual for this time of year. But you can throw a wide variety of baits in the colder water including jerkbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Magic Stix and the Penrod Series tubes.

Walleye, musky and even a rogue largemouth bass were part of the catch this week.

Lake Anna (Va.) — Jim Hemby of Lake Anna Striper Guide Service (540-967-3313) said bass are being caught on and around stumps and grass in 2 to 10 feet of water. The best lures to throw are River Darters, Missile Shockwaves, Yamamoto Hula Grubs and Senkos. Hemby recommends focusing mid-lake and up.

Now is a good time to catch stripers on topwater in low light conditions on lures likes Pencil Poppers, Redfins, Spooks and Chuggers.

Crappie may not be as easy to catch as when they were shallow but once you locate them, they will be schooled in large numbers. Look for them holding on deeper rock ledges, brush piles, and bridge pilings. Traditional small jigs tipped with small tubes or grubs work well.

Chesapeake Bay — Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park (301-863-8151) said the second week of trophy season has seen slow action with a lot of trolling producing only a few fish.

Trollers have been using the usual array of tandems, parachutes, mo-jos and umbrella rigs, but Lamb said success is coming to those to put in the time, regardless of lure of color.

Anglers who travel to the salt islands are finding stripers in the 14- to 28-inch range in the cuts, holes, and structures. Capt. Walleye Pete of Four Seasons Guide Service and Light Tackle Charter in St. Leonard (703-395-9955) concurs that shallow waters with current warmed quickly by the sun at many locations on the Eastern Shore are holding nice stripers but not the 35-inch trophy size minimum. Anything below that size must be carefully released.

Pete recommends Bass Kandy Delights, Storm Shads and Rapala X Rap 12’s. One of his clients had a nice speckled sea trout this week. Let’s hope many more will follow.

Atlantic Ocean — Anglers on the Cape Henlopen fishing pier are catching plenty of blues in the 18- to 22-inch range, according to Lighthouse View Bait and Tackle in Lewes, Delaware (302-645-2722). Lots of lures are working, and while fresh bunker is scarce, they’re not finicky fish.

Bigger blues can be found off in deeper water and some spots in the inland bays are loaded with them.

The Thorofare Flats continues to be the go-to spot to troll for flounder. Gulp! artificial baits can’t be beat.

Tip of the week

If you want to learn how to rig the Campground Teaser Tube with a weedless RAB jighead, search for “Ken Penrod’s Life Outdoors Unlimited” page on Facebook and find the video tutorial posted on April 30.

If you want to purchase your own Campground Tubes and RAB jigheads, give Johnny Cunningham a call at 717-834-5252.


« »