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Weekly Creel : Angling & Conservation News

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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 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…

DNR Sets Early Season Blue Crab Rec Regs

Whew, that’s a mouthfull and not even the half of it. This week, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources released the early season (April 1 through June 30) recreational hard crab catch and possession limits for individuals (and their friends) on their vessels. These regulations are based on the 2022 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey, which assessed that the abundance of spawning age females decreased to 97 million crabs but remained above the recommended threshold of 72.5 million crabs. Therefore…drum roll please…the early season regs remain mostly unchanged—with one exception—from last year’s late-season limits. The creel limits are:

  • For one unlicensed boat w/ one unlicensed individual = 2 dozen male crabs
  • One unlicensed boat w/ two or more unlicensed individuals = 4 dozen male crabs
  • One unlicensed boat w/ one or more licensees (and any number of unlicensed individuals) = 1 bushel of male crabs
  • One licensed boat w/ any number of licensed or unlicensed individuals = 1 bushel of male crabs

What we don’t see on this list, or rather it’s acknowledgement is quite subtle, is the 2 bushel limit that was allowed for vessels with two or more licensees. Regardless, please remember that male crabs must measure 5″ from tip to tip, during this early season, to harvest them. Late season regs (July through December) will be set upon completion and evaluation of the upcoming 2023 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey. Click here for complete Maryland Blue Crab regulations, including limits, days/times allowed, measurements, and more.

Several Fishing Expos Today!

That’s right, it’s a busy day for local anglers, as the winter expo season continues. The Annapolis Anglers Club is hosting its Annual Saltwater Fishing Expo at the Elks Lodge off Solomons Island Road in Edgewater, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Traditionally a well-attended event, this year’s expo will feature local fishing and tackle vendors, seminars with captians and expert anglers, food and beverages, raffle prizes and more. Entry is just $5 per person and bring the kiddos—those age 14 and under are free! (And raise your hand if you remember attending this event at the old lodge next to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, before the property was razed to build the current District Courthouse.)

Same time, different place. On the Eastern side of the Bay Bridge, in the town of Cambridge, the Mid-Shore Fishing Club is hosting its annual fishing expo at the American Legion Dorchester Post #91. Again, plenty of local vendors, captains, and anglers on site to sell, swap, discuss, teach, and charter everything Bay fishing.

Just down the road, at South Dorchester Elementary School, the National Outdoor Show, will commence at 9:30 a.m., focusing on the Eastern Shore traditions of hunting, crabbing, and oystering; plus the hallmark of the event, muskrat trapping, hunting, and preparing! It’s a unique, cultural and community event.

And mark you calendars on March 4th for the Middle River Bass Club’s annual Fishing Flea Market at Back River United Methodist Church in Essex. Visit the club’s Facebook page for more details. And for full calendar listings, visit the Reel Chesapeake Events page.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

In the “Did You Know?” department of this week’s news, it happens to be National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Well, one more day of it since it began on February 20th and ends tomorrow. According to the NISAW website (which includes tons of resources and species-specific managment policy):

NISAW is a nationwide event to raise awareness about invasive species, the threat they pose, and what can be done to prevent their spread. Representatives from local, state, and regional organizations gather in Washington, D.C., in late February to discuss legislation, policies, and improvements that can be made to prevent and manage invasive species. Across the country, partners hold public events to educate the public and elected officials about how they can help to stop the spread of invasive species. NISAW is managed by the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA).

Our own Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers plenty of resources about invasive species found throughout the state and Chesapeake Bay watershed. Learn more about them—including the most popular among anglers, the northern snakehead and blue catfish—and their impact on our local ecosystems by visiting the DNR’s special Invasive and Exotic Species website.

MD & VA Trout Stocking Continues…

Maryland and Virginia natural/wildlife resource departments continue to stock a variety of trout species adapted to thrive during the cooler winter/spring seasons of the Mid-Atlantic. Rainbow, golden, brown, and brook trout dominate the stockings. Maryland focused on stocking the Western half of the state this week, specifically in Allegany, Garrett, and Washington counties. Virginia spent time stocking sites in more than 10 counties throughout the state, by our count. For exact stocking locations, visit Maryland DNR’s and Virginia DWR’s trout stocking websites.

AnglersCast Announced!

In case you live with ‘dem crawdads under a rock and haven’t heard, Anglers Sport Center in Annapolis announced plans for the retailer’s annual AnglersCast sales event. Mark your calendars for March 11 & 12. The event kicks off the spring angling season and features storewide deals on just about everything, from rods, reels, and lures to apparel, sunglasses, and accessories. It’s considered a can’t-miss event for those looking to stock up on new fishing gear. And for newbs, staff will be on hand to answer your questions. They’ll also feature “Staff Picks” of dynamite rod/reel combos for just about every angling situation and species in the Chesapeake Bay region. Check them out and tell ’em Reel Chesapeake sent ya. Ha!

$9.1 Million for Oyster Restoration

That’s how much money the State of Maryland has contracted to Oyster Recovery Partnership to continue the state’s critcal oyster restoration work. At last week’s Board of Public Works meeting, the funding was announced by Governor Wes Moore (pictured at the meeting with Comptroller Brooke Lierman; photo by Patrick Siebert, courtesy Office of the Governor). Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) is a nonprofit that collects recycled shell and plants hatchery-reared oysters for reef construction in Maryland’s large-scale oyster restoration tributaries: Harris Creek and the Little Choptank, Tred Avon, St. Mary’s, and Manokin rivers.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Acting Secretary Josh Kurtz said, “We’ve met 99 percent of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement minimum threshold for oyster restoration in our tributaries and 77 percent of the high threshold. It’s been an absolute restoration success in Harris Creek, the Little Choptank, Tred Avon, and St. Mary’s—and soon, the Manokin.”

The board also approved $1 million for the Department of Natural Resources to conduct surveys to identify oyster habitats and plant hatchery-reared oysters on reefs in the Eastern Bay sanctuaries of the Chesapeake Bay. The funds will kick off the Eastern Bay project, with work to continue in future years. The project is geared toward multi-sector oyster management to increase the oyster population, habitat, and harvest in this region. 

Enviro Orgs Team Up to Save Eastern Shore Waters

On February 17th, ShoreRivers, Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth (DCPG), Friends of the Nanticoke River, Wicomico Environmental Trust, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation filed a legal challenge against Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) newly-issued wastewater discharge permit for Valley Proteins’ animal waste rendering plant in Linkwood, Maryland. The environmental organizations are challenging the permit due to the potential for the plant’s pollution discharges to contribute to unhealthy water quality in the Transquaking River, Higgins Mill Pond, and Chesapeake Bay. The lawsuit was filed in Dorchester County Circuit Court. More on this as the case develops. You can read the full context of this situation at ShoreRivers website by clicking this link. Pictured is Fred Pomeroy, President of the Board of Directors for Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth, and Morgan Buchanan from ShoreRivers collectingwater samples from the Transquaking River. Photo courtesy ShoreRivers.

Hellbender Art Exhibit

Yesterday, Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) launched the 2023 Restore the Wild Artwork Competition Exhibit at Artspace in Richmond with an opening reception. For this year’s contest, DWR welcomed artists to create and submit an original piece of art (no photography) to reflect Restore the Wild’s mission to restore and create natural habitats vital to the survival of Virginia’s wildlife. The subject focus of 2023’s artwork is the Eastern Hellbender and clean water. Eastern Hellbenders are the largest salamanders in North America, and prefer to live in clear, healthy, fast-flowing streams and rivers with river bottoms composed of sand, gravel, and abundant large, flat rocks. The art exhibit continues through March 17th. Photo of Eastern Hellbender by J.D. Kleopfer/ DWR.

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