As the signs of spring begin to appear across Maryland, anglers brace themselves for a variety of fishing opportunities across the state. From trout season openings to striped bass spawning runs and white bass spawning runs, Maryland offers something for every angler.
Trout season begins in Maryland
One of the most anticipated events for Maryland anglers is the opening day of trout season, which falls on Saturday, March 25th this year. State Department of Natural Resources hatcheries have worked hard to ensure bountiful stocks of healthy trout in put and take management waters across the state.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, Maryland has over 100 stocked trout streams, many of which are within an hour’s drive of Baltimore and Washington, DC. These waters are stocked with rainbow, brown and brook trout and anglers are allowed to keep up to five fish per day.
Maryland’s trout season typically lasts from March through May, with some waters open year-round for catching and releasing. To ensure a successful fishing trip, anglers should check the DNR’s trout stocking website for the latest information on stocking plans, maps and other trout fishing information.
Pre spawn striped bass in Susquehanna Flats
When spring arrives in Maryland, the state’s water temperatures warm, making it the prime time for game fish like striped bass to spawn. Anglers are expected to go full power, casting large crankbaits and soft plastics for pre-spawn striped bass at the Susquehanna Flats catch and release area.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, the Susquehanna Flats area offers some of the best striped bass fishing in the state. The area is a shallow water spawning ground for striped bass and anglers need only use artificial bait and practice catch and release fishing to protect the fish population.
Anglers should also be aware of the striped bass fishing regulations in Maryland. The minimum size for striped bass is 19 inches, and anglers are only allowed to keep two fish per day. In addition, most of the Chesapeake Bay is closed to striped bass fishing April 1 through May 1 to protect the striped bass population during their spawning season.
White bass spawning runs
Spring is also the prime time for white bass spawning in Maryland’s rivers and creeks. Anglers peck for spawning yellow bass as these fish move downstream from their spawning grounds. Minnows with lip hooks are the best baits. The second run of white bass are found in spawning rivers and the upper half of the tide usually provides the best fishing for them.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, white bass are one of the most popular game fish in Maryland, with the largest populations in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Known for their fierce fighting and delicious flavor, white bass can be caught using a variety of baits and baits.
Anglers should be aware of the Maryland regulations for fishing white bass. The minimum size for white bass is 9 inches and anglers are allowed to keep 25 fish per day.
Catfish, crappie and pickerel fishing
Maryland’s rivers and creeks also offer plenty of opportunities for catfish, crappie and pike fishing. A mix of blue and channel catfish entertain anglers in Upper Bay and the tidal rivers whilst crappies are very active this week and can be found in moderately deep waters near structures. Using small marabou jigs or small minnows under a slip bobber is an excellent way to fish them.
Moving on to Freshwater Fishing Saturday, March 25th was a significant day for put and take trout anglers across Maryland. The state Department of Natural Resources reopened waters previously closed to trout fishing at 5:30 a.m. to those wanting to try their hand at trout fishing. The stocking crews had been working overtime to place healthy trout in these waters and ensure anglers would have an enjoyable experience.
Warming water temperatures have caused many freshwater species to become more active during this first week of spring. Smallmouth bass and walleye make fun anglers on Deep Creek Lake and the upper Potomac River. Largemouth bass become more aggressive in their feeding habits as they enter their pre-spawn body stores. They can often be found in moderately deep water near structures – sunken timber, fallen treetops, rocks, bridge piers, emerging grass, and cliffs are good places to find them. Working with crazy or dropshot rigged soft plastics and stickworms is a good choice to lure a pickup. Casting grubs, crankbaits and jigs near structures is also a good choice. On sunny afternoons the shallower waters are good spots to cast spinnerbaits, soft plastics, jerkbaits and lipless crankbaits.
Crappie are very active this week and can be found in moderately deep water near structures. Using small marabou jigs or small minnows under a slip bobber is an excellent way to fish them. Fallen treetops, harbor docks, bridge piers, and almost any type of underwater structure are good places to look for them.
Chainfish are still very popular with anglers casting paddletails and other lures close to coastal structures. Sunken Wood is a popular ambush spot for Chainfish. Sunfish are active this week and can be caught with a variety of small baits or a simple worm and bobber combo.
Atlantic and coastal bays
Finally, in the Atlantic Ocean and coastal bays, there have been some unconfirmed reports of the first flounder catches in Ocean City’s Back Bay regions. Flounders are appearing in Wachapreague, so flounders should be appearing in the Ocean City area now or very soon.
Anglers are fishing the inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area for Tautog this week. Most of the fish that are caught are reportedly just under the 16 inch minimum, but there is plenty of sand fleas action. Other anglers throw soft plastic jigs around the bridge and jetty structure and catch a few striped bass, but most fall short of the 28 inch minimum.
Boats and anglers keen to venture out to the wreck and reef sites in search of Tautog are finally seeing calmer seas. Many anglers have caught large tautog, some exceeding 20 pounds. These are true trophy fish and most anglers will respect their age and release them. White leg crabs are usually the preferred bait for these big fish, but other anglers have had good luck with jigs for smaller fish.
In summary, anglers across Maryland have a wide variety of options this week. From trout fishing to hunting tautog trophies in the Atlantic, there is something for everyone. The warming temperatures and increasing daylight hours only make for more active fish, so it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy all that fishing in Maryland has to offer.