Angling, Outdoors, and Conservation News Recap
Welcome to the Weekly Creel, a compilation of regional news, intel, and announcements for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts concerned with the waters, fisheries, and habitats we cherish. Please email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your organization’s news item or event announcement considered for next week’s column. Per usual, here are direct links to the latest Anglers Sports Center and FishTalk Magazine Chesapeake Bay region fishing reports. This week’s catch also includes…
Bassmaster Elite Series Kicks Off
If you’re a bassin’ angler, chances are you’re also a card-carrying member of B.A.S.S. And you may be aware that 2023’s first coveted blue trophy of the Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments will be handed out this weekend at Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Tomorrow’s weigh-in at 3:30 p.m. EST will determine this season’s first Elite winner and set the standings precedent for the weeks and events ahead. As of press time, Brandon Cobb held the lead heading into today’s competition—Day 3 of 4. Deale, Maryland’s Brian Schmitt finished Day 2 in 64th place out of 103 anglers. Only the Top 10 anglers advance to fish Sunday for the trophy. Next week, the series heads to Lake Seminole in Georgia, then takes a one-month break before bass angling’s “Super Bowl” Elite event, the Bassmaster Classic, held March 24–26 on the Tennessee River at Knoxville.
Sportfishing Expo This Weekend
Here’s your reminder that Pasadena Sportfishing’s 30th Annual Fishing Expo & Nautical Craft Show is happening…now, this weekend, February 18th and 19th! Entry to the event opens at 8 a.m. Saturday and officially ends at 2 p.m. On Sunday, same time and place, which is the Kurtz’s Beach event hall and surrounding grounds (tented) overlooking the Chesapeake Bay and Patapsco River. Almost 200 vendors will be on site, featuring lures, rods, reels, tackle, antiques, crabbing gear, crafts—just about everything Bay fishing-related and for all styles (trolling, light tackle, fly). There will be boats on display, plus fun for the kiddos! Take it from Reel Chesapeake, this is a complete and fun expo with plenty of food, beverages, and camaraderie with fellow anglers!
Pickerel Awards Party Announced
It’s a date that winter anglers eagerly are awaiting. The awards ceremony for Coastal Conservation Association Maryland’s 2022 Pickerel Championship tournament has been announced for March 28th at Boatyard Bar & Grill in Eastport, Annapolis, piggybacking an “Angler Night” event with a “Pickerel & Panfish” theme. The four month-long fishing tournament concludes at midnight on February 28th, so you still have a shot at taking home an award, of which several will be handed out by CCA MD Executive Director David Sikorski at the party. See you there!
Yellow Perch Update
During the last few weeks, yellow perch have been on our minds. The winter runs are about to blast off any day now. That seems to be the collective sense that Chesapeake anglers are sharing region-wide. We’ve seen and heard of a few decent catches at several reputable holes. We visited Beachwood Park in the Magothy watershed (see photo), again, early this week on a bluebird morning and saw more anglers, but not more fish. Overall, the neds have been holding in staging mode and not quite moving up to spawning grounds. They’re close though and we remain hopeful that the, mostly, stable and sunny weather this coming week will activate the fish and get them moving toward our lines and lures! Share your reports with us in the comments of this week’s accompanying Insta post or email us at email@example.com.
Two Surprise Catches!
It might be a good week to buy a lottery ticket because, not one, but two, incredibly rare catches came from the depths of the Bay and it’s tribs in the last few days. On February 9th, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources shared the news of angler Jacob Moore’s one-in-a-million catch on the James River—a golden largemouth bass. The 16.5″ bass surprised Moore. “I was out there practicing for a tournament, catching a bunch of fish,” said Moore. “I was on the lower James near Chippokes [State Park]. When I hooked into that one, I thought I had a saltwater fish on at first, but lo and behold, it was a largemouth! A very different largemouth, though. I haven’t seen anything like that before. I’ve seen bass with black spots, but I’d never seen an albino one.” This coloration is considered extremely rare according to Alex McCrickard, Virginia DWR’s Aquatic Education Coordinator. “Most anglers have never seen them, let alone heard of them before. The fish is a product of a genetic mutation that alters the skin pigments, called xanthism. Yellow pigmentation dominates in xanthism, as you can see in Moore’s golden largemouth.” Photo courtesy Virginia DWR and Jacob Moore.
One day after that announcement, a sizable megalodon shark tooth was hauled up with a load of oysters. Captain Stephen Rollins and First Mate Jeremiah Jerry Jordan were on the Chesapeake Bay in their vessel, the Undertaker, going about their business of oystering when something unusual caught their eyes within one particular dredge from the depths—a nearly immaculate meg tooth. The earliest specimens date back to about 23 million years ago and up to 3.6 million years ago, when the world’s largest shark (and fish, for that matter) to have ever existed, went extinct. Think about it—the tooth that Rollins and Jordan pulled up saw sunlight for the first time in millions of years! Image screenshot from the Facebook group, Ocean City Md Local News, Events & History.
Peregrine Falcons Nesting at Harpers Ferry
The National Park Service announced last week that a pair of peregrine falcons have returned to nest on Maryland Heights in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. This is welcome news coming on the heels (er, talons) of two consecutive years of successfully fledgling chicks on site. As such, NPS announced park closures adjacent to the nesting area. “To provide the peregrine falcons adequate space for nesting, the National Park Service (NPS) will again close portions of Maryland Heights from Feb. 15 to July 31, 2023. The closures include several rock outcroppings near the overlook and the following climbing areas: The Gully, Sign Wall, ABC Ramps, Train Tunnel Wall, and Confederate Walls. All trails on Maryland Heights and the Union Walls climbing area will remain open. Closed areas will be clearly marked with signs and fencing.”
According to NPS, peregrine falcons are a sensitive species and had not successfully hatched chicks at Maryland Heights in nearly 70 years prior to success 2021. In 2022, three of the four fledglings survived the vulnerable newborn phase and successfully fledged (developed feathers that enabled it to fly). Human interference, especially during the nesting phase, can drive off mature falcons, cause abandonment of the nest and result in the loss of eggs or death to fledglings. NPS staff asks that people respect closures to give the peregrine falcons a safe habitat to breed and nest. For more information about peregrine falcons at the park, visit go.nps.gov/HFfalcons.
Eagle Fest Returns to Blackwater
Birds of prey have your attention? Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, just south of Cambridge, has announced plans for its popular Eagle Festival! On Saturday, March 11th, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the refuge will celebrate the wonders of nature and the refuge’s 90th birthday. This free, family-friendly event is focused on birds of prey, with educational programs and exhibits featuring live birds, hands-on activities, and refuge tours. Exhibitors will provide visitors with up-close views of live eagles, owls, and falcons. Maryland DNR ‘Scales and Tales’ naturalists will also have live reptiles on display. Guided tours will be available throughout the day, including eagle prowls and tours of Wildlife Drive. Registration for tours will begin at 9:30 a.m. the day of the festival (no pre-registration). “Early birds” to the Eagle Festival can meet at the refuge’s Environmental Education Building on Wildlife Drive at 8 a.m. for a guided birding tour with Terry Allen. For complete details, visit Blackwater’s website: fws.gov/refuge/blackwater. Image courtesy Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Maryland Migratory Bird Hunting Seasons Proposed
We’re for the birds this Creel. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has posted the proposed 2023-2024 Migratory Game Bird Seasons for public review. As in years past, DNR is providing an online forum to collect public comment on these proposals now through March 1st. The DNR website also includes a presentation reviewing the current status of relevant waterfowl stocks, including Atlantic Population (migratory) Canada geese.
And that’s a wrap for this week’s Creel. If you have news to share, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.