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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 2-Minute Fishing Report

The region welcomed sucessive days of warm weather this week, which has ignited a number of fisheries throughout the region. With striped bass season in a month-long moratorium (Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay), many anglers itching for a big fish bite have turned to blue and channel catfish. Yes, both species are omnipresent in the Bay, from north to south. Places to be include the Conowingo outflow and mouths of the Patapsco, Magothy, Severn, Choptank, Potomac, and Patuxent Rivers. Soaking chunks of baitfish or even chicken breast on fish finder rigs (heavy gear a la surf) should entice bites. Popular state parks to do so include Sandy Point and Fort Smallwood. Bonus: fishing at night when these species are especially active has become more comfortable with the warmer temps.

Another invasive that has hooked local anglers is the northern snakehead and the bite is on fire right now. The fish are teetering the line between pre-spawn/spawn mode and are eating most artificials thrown at them (paddletails, in-line spinners, and topwater frogs in white, chartreuse, orange, and pink). The best bite tends to be late-afternoon in sun-warmed shallower waters with wood cover and/or emerging vegetation. Try the Gunpowder, Bush, Middle, and Patapsco Rivers around Baltimore; the Mattawoman, Pomonkey, and Anacostia tribs around D.C.; the upper Patuxent at Jug Bay, and just about every tentacle of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore. Bonus, these are the same waters to target largemouth bass, which are also staging to spawn in tidal and freshwater fisheries. Now is a great time to visit freshwater millponds throughout the region for lunker bass!

The hickory and American shad have been running strong in the Potomac River at Fletcher’s Cove and the headwaters of Mattawoman Creek. Success comes on tandem rigs with shad darts and small spoons. I personally visited Queen Anne Bridge on Tuesday to see if the shad had started reaching the upper Patuxent, but there was no sign of them. This run tends to be several weeks behind their brothers and sisters on the Potomac, so shad could start running there any day this week. Most shad hotspots should start popping; the dogwoods just bloomed after all (a sure sign)!

Odds and ends to take note of include: don’t forget about pickerel, which are still very active in the upper reaches of tribs, as well as freshwater lakes and ponds. I caught a 23.25″ specimen this week in five feet of water in the upper Severn River. Crappie have started moving from deep water and are staging around wood cover. I visited an Annapolis impoundment and got my first crappie of the season on 1/16oz jigs tipped with stingers. White and yellow perch have finished spawning and are moving into their summer haunts in deep water cover and oyster bars.

And surf anglers are reporting a dynamite bite at Assateague and Ocean City for black drum, which have hit their spring run. Soaking sand fleas on circle hooks tipped with Fishbites has produced well on an incoming tide, which allows the fish to swim over the sandbars to feed in the wash. The run might last one to three more weeks. After that, surf anglers will start targeting the trophy stripers that are starting to migrate out of the Chesapeake Bay and upward to feeding grounds in the northeast.

You can also catch these quick-hit reports each Thursday at On The Water magazine’s weekly roundup of Chesapeake Bay fishing reports.

Bay Bridge Boat Show This Weekend

One of the most notable events taking place this weekend is the annula Bay Bridge Boat Show in Stevensville. Two days left—today and tomorrow. The event is an expansive in-water powerboat show at Bay Bridge Marina and features boating seminars, marine gear, accessories, and apparel, as well as a selection of food tracks, and outdoor bars. Today, there is a heavy focus on Chesapeake Bay angling with several seminars focused on the invasive species, northern snakehead and blue catfish. Tomorrow features seminars on navigation, docking, dining destinations, and how to get your captain’s license. For the full sked and details aplenty, visit Photograph courtesy Annapolis Boat Shows, Inc.

New Riverkeeper for Miles & Wye Tribs

ShoreRivers has announced Ben Ford as the organization’s new Miles-Wye Riverkeeper. Ford joins ShoreRivers after more than a decade at Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society, where he led the Chesapeake Semester, an experiential program studying Bay issues including ecosystem health, pollution, habitat, policy and advocacy, community engagement, and fisheries. An Easton native who learned to sail on the Miles River and taught sailing camps through the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, he now lives with his family in Chestertown.

“The mission of ShoreRivers inspires me, as does the chance to use my creative skills and network to help ShoreRivers fulfill its mission on a river that feels like home. The rivers of the Eastern Shore are so special to me—I want to help others see them the same way,” Ford says of his new role and the catchall organization dedicated to the health of the Eastern Shore’s many tributaries. Learn more at Photograph courtesy ShoreRivers.

Fishing on the Severn Presentation This Week

On Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., renowned Cheapeake Bay angler Shawn Kimbro will deliver the presentation “Fishing on the Severn” to an audience at Cafe Mezzanotte in Severna Park. Presented by the Severn River Association as part of its John Wright Speaker Series, the talk will cover “proven techniques for catching species like perch, pickerel, bluefish, and rockfish right here in the Severn River,” states the SRA. “He’ll also provide some advice about how to keep our fisheries healthy so they can be enjoyed by future generations.”

Kimbro has authored several books on light tackle fishing in the Bay and it’s many tributaries—they include: Chesapeake Light Tackle, An Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay; The Right Stuff, Gear and Attitudes for Trophy Light Tackle Fishing; and How To Catch Chesapeake Panfish. Register for the presentation by clicking this link. You can select the in-person option (space-permitting) or request the virtual Zoom link to watch live. Photograph courtesy Severn River Association.

Maryland the Beautiful Act Passes Legislature

On Monday, which was Sine Die for the Maryland General Assembly (the last day of the 2023 legislature), the Maryland the Beautiful Act (SB 470) earned enough votes to pass both chambers. The legislation will set a statewide goal for Maryland to conserve 30 percent of its lands by 2030 and 40 percent by 2040 through voluntary conservation efforts. The legislation will create a revolving loan fund from which land trusts can borrow in order to secure capital for land conservation projects, and authorize grant funding to the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) to support land conservation efforts such as monitoring and stewardship. Many environmental nonprofits hailed the passage of this Act. Chesapeake Conservancy’s President and CEO Joel Dunn said, “Maryland joins a national and international 30 x 30 movement to respond to the global nature crisis by increasing conservation efforts. This legislation will set a statewide conservation goal and provide new sources of funding to help conservation partners—in particular, land trusts—to help Maryland achieve 30 x 30 and 40 x 40.” Learn more about the Act here.

Aquaculture Projects Receive Funding

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, with the support of approximately $570,000 from NOAA Fisheries, selected four aquaculture pilot projects along the Atlantic coast to receive funding. NOAA Fisheries provided the funds as part of its efforts to foster responsible aquaculture and seafood security in the U.S. After rigorous reviews, which included an evaluation of the technical aspects of the proposals as well as their compliance with environmental laws, the following projects were selected:

(1) University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science-Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology: “Functionally balanced and sustainable shrimp feed production by upcycling food wastes for enhancing shrimp aquaculture in the U.S.”

(2) Thomas Seafood of Carteret, Inc: “A novel, cost-effective and automated production system combining extensive plankton culture with intensive, commercial-scale larviculture of blue crab, Callinectes sapidus”

(3) TerrAqua Environmental Science and Policy, LLC: “Encouraging successful recirculating aquaculture and aquaponic systems”

(4) Virginia Institute of Marine Science: “Co-culture of native grazers species with established farmed bivalves”

All four projects explore promising, but less commercially-developed, technologies for finfish and shellfish aquaculture. The projects are scheduled for completion in 2024.

If You’re New to Boating…

Take note. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Marine Trades Association of Maryland, Annapolis School of Seamanship, and the BoatUS Foundation for Safety and Clean Water are sponsoring free “Welcome to Boating and Fishing” clinics May 6–7 at Sandy Point State Park’s boating ramps. New and returning boaters and anglers are invited to come learn from the pros at free seminars about boating and fishing and view demonstrations on boat launching and safety equipment. Attendees can learn skills to stay involved, be safe, and enjoy Maryland’s waterways. A variety of programs will take place each day between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The full schedule is available on the Department of Natural Resources website and advanced registration is requested. Photograph courtesy Maryland DNR.

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