A later start to the walleye season has resulted in the largest member of the perch family being "the most abundant fish species" in Deep Creek Lake, according to Al Klotz, Western Regional Fisheries Manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The season, which began Wednesday, starts with a daily creel limit of five and 15-inch minimum size limit. Klotz said several walleyes more than 20 inches long have already been spotted or caught.
Aside from Deep Creek Lake, walleye are plentiful in the Youghiogheny River Reservoir, Jennings Randolph Lake, Savage River Reservoir, Potomac River and Liberty Reservoir.
"For the past few years we have pushed back the walleye season until mid-April to protect the vulnerable pre-spawn females," Klotz said in a statement released by the DNR. "Over time, this has resulted in robust reproduction and an abundance of quality-size fish. Our 2011 survey showed one of the highest juvenile abundance levels on record."
Some walleye are known to grow more than 30 inches long and weigh more than 10 pounds. Klotz suggests using "minnow imitations and jigs fished over rock piles and along the edges of weed beds" to catch walleyes.
Recreational anglers who catch walleye measuring 26 inches or longer can register them at more than 60 Maryland Angler Award Centers throughout the state and will receive free admission to the 2012 Maryland Fishing Challenge Grand Finale, Sept. 8 at the Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point State Park.
Prizes from a drawing at the festival include tackle packages from Bass Pro Shops and Bill's Outdoor Center, a boat/trailer package from Tracker Marine, a vacation trip from World Fishing Network, and Under Armour apparel.
More information on the Maryland Fishing Challenge, which this year honors fishing legend, author and longtime Baltimore Sun outdoors columnist Lefty Kreh, lists of eligible fish species, sizes and Angler Award centers are available at dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/challenge/index.asp.