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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 Reel Chesapeake, On The Water, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Anglers Sports Center, and FishTalk Magazine. The leading photograph (above): Lily pads on Cash Lake at Patuxent Researach Refuge in Laurel, Maryland, taken early-fall 2022 by yours truly.

It’s National Wildlife Refuge Week!

Starting tomorrow, October 8th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service encourages you to celebrate nature during National Wildlife Refuge Week, which continues through October 14th. Founded in 1903, the refuge system provides nature nearby to millions of Americans while conserving vital habitat for wildlife. In Maryland, there are numerous national wildlife refuges, including Patuxent Research Refuge, Eastern Neck, Blackwater, Susquehanna, and Martin.

“National wildlife refuges are places that are so important to community health and the economy because they provide places where both wildlife and people can recharge and find respite. They are American treasures,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “National Wildlife Refuge Week is a great time for Americans to join us in celebrating and protecting the wonders of nature that can be found at a nearby  national wildlife refuge  .”

Increasing access to public lands and waters is a central component of President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative. National wildlife refuges provide habitat for thousands of species and access recreation, from wildlife watching, photography, fishing, hunting and walking in nature.

National Wildlife Refuge Week occurs yearly during the second full week of October. Admission is free October 8th at national wildlife refuges that normally charge an entrance fee. Nearly 500 national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts offer free admission year-round.

Nanticoke Yields New Record Blue Cat

McBroom with the 53-lb. record blue catfish.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources has confirmed this week that for the second time in less than a month that Delaware has a new state record blue catfish. Sydney McBroom of Bridgeville landed the 53-pound whopper—which measured 46.5 inches in length and is believed to be the largest freshwater fish caught since DNREC began keeping recreational fishing records—midmorning September 22nd on Delaware’s portion of the Nanticoke River.

McBroom caught the big cat fishing from his boat, using a whole bluegill as bait and landing it after a 20-minute wrestling match. His catch eclipsed a record that lasted just 20 days, a 48-pound, 7.2-ounce specimen taken by another Bridgeville angler, Chris Andrews. Congratulations Syd! Photograph courtesy Delaware DNREC.

New Hellbender Plates in PA

In the “well, would ya look at that” category of news, this week the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced the launch of a new Eastern hellbender license plate, which honors the state amphibian and supports the state’s Wild Resource Conservation Fund.

The Eastern hellbender is the largest salamander in the United States with some reaching a weight of more than two pounds and extending an impressive length of two feet. It became Pennsylvania’s state amphibian in 2019, a designation that promotes the need to restore water quality and preserve habitat for the amphibian.

UMCES President Retires

After a 40-year career in science and higher education culminating in leading Maryland’s university for the environment, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) President Peter Goodwin retired at the end of September. He had led the university’s commitment to unbiased scientific research and public service while developing the next generation of environmental scientists since 2017.

“The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is a very special community within a unique institution driven by a common mission driven by truly exceptional researchers and staff,” Goodwin said. “It has been the honor of a lifetime to lead UMCES toward its second century of impact in Maryland and around the world.” Congrats on your retirement, Peter! Photography courtesy UMCES.

Bummer Bay Water Quality Report

In the lastest yo-yo’ing of scientific reporting concerning bay health (sometimes its great news, then it’s dismal, so on and so forth), the Chesapeake Bay Program announced last week that only 28.1 percent of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries met water quality standards attainment during the 2019–2021 assessment period. This score is slightly lower than the previous assessment period (2018–2020) when Bay water quality standards attainment was estimated to be 28.9 percent.

Experts believe Bay water quality is still recovering from the impacts of unusually wet weather in 2018 and 2019. This increased amount of rainfall resulted in more nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollutants flowing into the Chesapeake Bay from its surrounding watershed, leading to poor water clarity and lower dissolved oxygen, particularly in the deep waters of the Chesapeake. The estimated water quality standards attainment of 28.1 percent is far below the 100 percent attainment necessary to fully support survival, growth, and reproduction of the Bay’s living resources. Currently, 71.9 percent of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries are likely to be impaired. You can read the remainder of the report here.

But Great News For Anglers!

And here’s an item that recently emerged, all the way from across the big pond. And it’s news with a hunch that you probably already know…sort of. Researchers in the UK published a study in the July issue of Epidemiologia that showed men who enjoy fishing as a hobby might have better mental health. The study, “Mental Health and Recreational Angling in UK Adult Males: A Cross-Sectional Study,” was conducted by Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, Ulster University, and Queen’s University in Belfast. 

The study, which polled more than 1,700 males, found that fishing on a regular basis contributed to a lower risk of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health conditions. Researchers asked about their fishing activities and other factors, including previous mental illness, exercise, and overall well-being. The participants who said they fished on a regular basis were nearly 17 percent less likely to have experienced mental health conditions compared to men who did not fish frequently. 

But you already knew that! Have a great week everyone.

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