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Weekly Creel : Angling & Conservation News

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Welcome to the Weekly Creel, a compilation of regional news and announcements for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts of the Chesapeake Bay region. Please email us directly at to have your organization’s news item or event listing considered for next week’s column. Per usual, here are direct links to the lastest, local fishing reports from Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Anglers Sports Center, and FishTalk Magazine. This week’s catch also includes..

Reel Chesapeake’s Two-Minute Fishing Report

If you’ve been on social media this past week, then you likely know the big news is big fish—migratory, spawning striped bass in the 40-plus-inch class are being jigged or trolled up daily. Word is, from the Bay Bridge south to Bouy 83 or thereabouts is hot, along channel edges and even the expansive flats/points in the early and late hours of the day. Areas in the upper bay, around the Key Bridge and further north toward the Susky Flats are also producing big fish. Side-scan and livescope sonar have been a helpful tools locating them. There’s one week left to catch-and-release the big stripers before Maryland’s April closure.

And that’s okay…because largemouth bass and snakehead fishing are heating up…everywhere. More and more anglers are showing off their catches, especially in headwaters of Blackwater tribs on the Eastern Shore, the Pataspsco, and some of the freshwater millponds. Also, the hickory and American shad run is on! Both shad species are showing up at Fletcher’s Cove on the Potomac and shorebound anglers are catching them…like, right now! The Boathouse at Fletcher’s opens their rowboat rentals today, so now is a great time to get in on the action there. Other tributaries, such as the Patuxent River, should start seeing shad run soon—perhaps this coming week into next. White perch are currently running north on the Pax and Choptank rivers, while the yellow perch are heading south, having completed their spawn. Tidal pickerel should be in the grass flats spawning. Look at aerial maps of rivers to eyeball where the grasses grow. The beds will be still be there, even though the grass died back in winter.

And today, March 25th, at 5:30 a.m., trout season kicked off in Maryland with “Opening Day.” This simply means that all put-and-take trout closure areas are officially and entirely open to fishing now. However, there are still catch-and-release areas and species (brook trout). Visit DNR’s trout page for full details. Do your research and plan accordingly for a productive fishing trip.

“Super Bowl” of Bass Fishing In Full Swing

By the time you read this, anglers competing in the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic will have launched from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, for Day Two of the three-day tournament. The Classic has been tournament bass fishing’s most celebrated event for the past 52 years. And, yes, the Classic has been held on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries—in fact, there was a three-year run on Virginia’s James River (Classics No. 18, 19, 20) when big names in the sport won the event: Guido Hibdon in 1988, Hank Parker in 1989, and Rick Clunn in 1990. The following year, the Classic was held in the Upper Chesapeake Bay and won with 33 lbs., 2 oz. of bass by Ken Cook. This year, we’re keeping an eye on Deale, Maryland’s own, Bryan Schmitt, competing in his second straight Classic. After yesterday’s weigh-in, he sits in 3rd place out of 55 anglers. Last year he finished a respectable 28th on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell. Let’s hope Bryan can give ’em a run in Tennessee!

Calling All Nature Shutterbugs!

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced its annual photo contest this week.

All photographers, all skill levels, are invited to submit entreies now through August 1st for the chance to win cash awards, park passes, calendars, and other great prizes. Enter your best nature photos—must have been taken anywhere in Maryland—featuring birds, insects, flora, recreation, scenic landscapes, weather, and wildlife. Photographers may submit three entries for $10 with additional entries (no limit) at $3 each. The contest is open to both residents and non and photos may be from this year or previous years.

Judges will choose winners for each of the four seasons and an overall grand prize winner. Additionally, a “Fan Favorite” will be selected by popular vote on Facebook. Last year, nearly 2,500 photos were submitted by 500 photographers (check out 2022’s contest page). The winning images are posted on the department’s website. For more information, photographers should visit the Photo Contest web page to see contest rules and how to submit your entry. Pictured: “Fresh Air” by Andrea Conte, submitted to the 2022 Maryland Natural Resource Photo Contest.

State Announces “Keep Maryland Beautiful” Grants

Thirty-one grants totaling $92K have been awarded to support environmental education, community cleanup, and beautification projects through the Keep Maryland Beautiful program. The annual grants are funded by the Maryland Environmental Trust, Forever Maryland, and Maryland Department of Transportation. The grants are administered by Forever Maryland; it is the oldest program of the Maryland Environmental Trust, a unit of the Department of Natural Resources. Keep Maryland Beautiful recipients included schools, nonprofit groups, municipalities and land trusts in 12 counties and Baltimore City. For the full list of recipients listed by county, visit Keep Maryland Beautiful. Photo courtesy Keep Maryland Beautiful.

Feds Announce “BIG” $ for Boating/Marina Facilities

On Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced more than $20 million in grant funding for marinas and other boating facilities. Reauthorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this year’s Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program will support projects in 20 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Boaters and manufacturers fund the program through excise taxes and duties on boating fuels and certain fishing and boating equipment.

“Boating Infrastructure Grants create and add public access for recreational boating and improvements to waterways across the nation, benefiting local communities and economies, wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “Increasing outdoor recreation access and waterway stewardship complement the infrastructure improvements coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and America the Beautiful initiative.” 

This year’s grants will support an estimated 381 new slips and berths as well as thousands of linear feet of additional side-tie docking space, plus other amenities including fuel docks, showers, and Wi-Fi access. States receiving BIG grants include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. More information regarding the 2023 BIG grant awards can be found at by Tom Koener/USFWS.

UMCES Teams with Frostburg State U.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) announced this week that it’s teaming up with Frostburg  State to offer a new joint Master in Environmental Management (MEM) in Sustainability for the fall of 2023. This degree leverages the environmental studies expertise of UMCES and the diverse student body of FSU to prepare leaders who can address 21st century sustainability challenges in the academic, government, nonprofit, and private sectors.

“We are xcited to bring together UMCES, a leading applied environmental research institution, with FSU, a vibrant regional comprehensive university, to offer a program that fills a growing workforce need in Maryland,” said Peter Goodwin, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “It will develop a cadre of diverse environmental professionals with teamwork skills, practical experience, and training in environmental management and environmental justice.”

Virginia’s New Secretary of Natural & Historic Resources Named

In the “ICYMI” department of regional news, Governor Glenn Youngkin of the Commonwealth of Virginia officially named Acting Secretary of Natural & Historic Resources Travis Voyles to the job full-time earlier this month, making him the Secretary now. Voyles oversees the state’s five agencies that protect and restore natural and historic resources, including: the Department of Conservation and Recreation; the Department of Environmental Quality; the Department of Wildlife Resources; the Department of Historic Resources; and the Marine Resources Commission. Before joining the Youngkin administration, Secretary Voyles served as Oversight Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works under Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. You can read more about Sec. Voyles and Viriginia’s environmental departments here.

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