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Weekly Creel : Angling & Conservation News

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Welcome to the Weekly Creel, a compilation of regional angling & conservation news and announcements for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts of the Chesapeake Bay region. Please email us at to have your news or event listing considered for next week’s column. Here are direct links to the lastest, local fishing reports from Reel Chesapeake, On The Water, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Anglers Sports Center, Fish in OC, and FishTalk Magazine. The leading photograph (above): Mallard incoming! This duck touches down in Valentine Creek on January 6th.

This Weekend’s Events!

There’s plenty going on this weekend up and down the Bay to warm an angler’s heart. Here’s a roundup of the majors that we’re keeping an eye on:

Building on the success of last year’s first-ever expo, the North Beach Volunteer Fire Department will host it’s 2nd Annual Fishing & Outdoor Expo and Flea Market today, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The expo will feature fishing, crabbing, and boating vendors, charter captains, marine and wildlife artists, custom services, and much more. $5 entry for adults; children under 12 are free.

In Ocean City, the 49th East Coast Commercial Fisherman’s & Aquaculture Trade Expo kicked off on Friday and continues all weekend. The annual expo for Maryland’s watermen and the commerical seafood industry is held at the Roland E. Powell Convention and will feature membership meetings, seminars, waterman of the year competition, and more.

Just outside of Richmond, Virginia, in Doswell, the 2024 Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Expo takes over Meadow Event Park, today and tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival is billed as “the largest event of its kind in the country.” Festival attendees listen to lectures from various experts and practice hands-on skills at the two-day, family-friendly event. Several wineries from throughout the Old Dominion provide free wine tastings for those 21 and older. The festival will be held regardless of the weather. All vendors are under roof and contained within the Farm Bureau Building at Meadow Event Park located approximately two miles east of Kings Dominion.

Chesapeake Scenes Art Show continues through the end of the month at the Annapolis Maritime Museum. See select photographs and pen and ink drawings focused on the Chesapeake Bay by local student artists, Kimmy Stevenson and James Ronayne.

And, CCA Maryland’s Pickerel Championship continues through February 29th. The acclaimed catch-photo-release tournament stars the toothy pickerel, and several other species. Throughout all MD, DC, and DE tidal and non-tidal waters. To date, there are about 60 anglers registered with the first-place 3-fish stringer currently standing at 78.25 inches.

Have an event to add to the calendar, email us at to be added!

Maryland’s Request for Fisheries Disaster Aid Rejected by Feds

A couple months ago, we reported on Governor Wes Moore’s request to the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare a commercial fisheries disaster in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay due to invasive species. Recently, the Dept. notified Gov. Moore that it has declined the request for a federal aid that was sought to help address the economic and ecological damage caused by the spread of invasive catfish and snakeheads in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

In the letter notifying Maryland of its decision, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo wrote that NOAA Fisheries recognizes the challenges invasive species have created in the Bay ecosystem and offered to discuss potential opportunities in the future with Maryland. “We’re disappointed in the decision, but also understand the ruling due to the limits of federal law surrounding fisheries disasters,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz said. “We will continue to work with our federal partners to determine what form of federal assistance can help us mitigate the continued and pervasive spread of blue catfish and other invasive species impacting commercial fisheries in the Bay.”

In November, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hired a dedicated program manager to coordinate strategies across agencies and industries to reduce populations of invasive fish in Maryland. 

DNR is also:

  • Increasing blue catfish research and monitoring programs;
  • Urging recreational and commercial anglers to increase their harvest of blue catfish and other invasives; and 
  • Working to educate the public about how invasive fish species affect the Bay ecosystem. 

Remember, Maryland has no fishing limits on invasive fish, which means anglers can catch and keep any number of them, at any size, during any time of year.

But, Good News for Bay Oysters

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fall Oyster Survey recorded a remarkable year for juvenile oysters in Maryland waters, finding both prolific numbers and a widespread distribution throughout many regions of the Chesapeake Bay.

The survey’s spatfall intensity index, a measure of reproductive success and potential population growth for oysters, was 86.8 spat, or juvenile oysters, per bushel, nearly four times the 39-year median of 23.6 spat per bushel and the fifth highest in that timeframe.

“We have not recorded this extent of oyster spat recruitment in the fall survey in a generation,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz. Learn more about the survey, thriving locations throughout the Bay, and more information here.

Also, DNR reports that it will plant about 147 million oyster spat, or juvenile oysters, on 41 acres in Anne Arundel County waters with mitigation funds from the 2022 grounding of M/V Ever Forward on an upper Chesapeake Bay oyster bar. Last year, the state required the ship’s owner, Evergreen Marine Corporation, to pay DNR $676,200 to fund oyster bar seeding mitigate the event’s impacts. DNR has now selected the first area that it will target with this funding.

Per requirements placed on the shipping company, DNR will plant 60 million spat in designated sanctuary waters, where no oyster harvesting is allowed, and 87 million spat in oyster industry areas. After a series of meetings with oyster stakeholders in Anne Arundel County, DNR selected Herring Bay Sanctuary as the location for the sanctuary spat. Locations for the 29 acres of public fishery oyster plantings will be determined in coordination with the Anne Arundel County Oyster Committee during DNR’s annual planning meeting with commercial oyster operators in February. 

Chesapeake WILD Grant Webinar on 1/24

The federally-funded Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) Grants Program is delivered by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Grants of $75,000 to $750,000 are made annually to projects that result in direct on-the-ground conservation, stewardship, and enhancements of fish and wildlife habitats and related conservation values in the Bay watershed. The grant application process for 2024 opens in February and closes in April, which is why…

On January 24th, the Rappahannock River Roundtable is hosting directors from the NFWF and USFWS for a live webinar to discuss the basics of the program, including what it is, who it serves, and the grant application process, followed by a Q&A session. Though the webinar is hosted by the Virginia-based group, all are welcome to RSVP and join this great opportunity to learn about the program and how your local organizations may participate. Learn more about this webinar at Rappahannock River Roundtable’s event page here.

Ag Grants Available in Anne Arundel County

Shelley Garrett, Director of Agriculture Business Development.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC) recently announced the launch of the Agricultural Business Improvement Grant (ABIG) program and the appointment of Shelley Garrett as the organization’s new Agriculture Business Development Director. 

“The Agricultural Business Improvement Grant program will help ensure that farm-based businesses in the county can continue to succeed and grow,” said County Executive Steuart Pittman. “AAEDC has supported farmers in Anne Arundel County for thirty years, and Shelley Garrett has the expertise and local knowledge to lead these efforts into the future.”

The ABIG program will provide matching grants of up to $10,000 to farm-based business owners to grow their operations in Anne Arundel County. The deadline to submit applications is Jan. 31, 2024. More information and the application for the Agricultural Business Improvement Grant can be found here

IGFA’s World Record Updates Include a Striper

The January update to IGFA World Records includes a 107-centimeter landlocked striped bass caught on the fly. “Jackson Barnes was fishing the Caney Fork River in Silver Point, Tennessee, US, on September 9, 2023, when he…set the new IGFA All-Tackle Length Fly World Record for the species,” the IGFA states. “The record striper struck a streamer fly and tops the previous record by 16 centimeters! After recording the length on his official IGFA Measuring Device, Jackson was able to release the fish safely.”

It may be a “volunteer” fish, but because we love our stripers here in Chesapeake country, I had to share! Other reported records include a flathead catfish from West Virginia, Atlantic bigeye tuna from Portugal waters, speckled peacock from Brazil, and an Australian snubnose pompano. Check ’em out at IGFA’s website.

Have a great week everyone!

And that’s a wrap for this edition of The Weekly Creel. If you have news to share, please send an email to