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Outdoors commentary: A mid-Atlantic fishing year

Winter trout fishing at Morgan Run.
Winter trout fishing at Morgan Run. (Bill May photo , Carroll County Times)

As the quote above says, and my prior column summarizing 2012 fishing demonstrated, things don't always go according to plan. Actually, at my age, I'm surprised whenever they do.

Nevertheless, I am occasionally struck by the impulse to lay out a schedule of the diverse fishing opportunities throughout the year in our area. Weather was a major factor in limiting our fishing opportunities in 2012, e.g., water levels on the Upper Potomac and Susquehanna River and feeder streams near Conowingo Dam.

I expect we'll get even more weather surprises in 2013. In my particular case, family health concerns will continue to be a major factor, and, I'm limiting my travel plans for this year. But, as the schedule below shows, there are plenty of local opportunities.

Weather permitting, year-round trout fishing is available in some Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania streams. Likewise Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries can provide some opportunities for stripers, white perch and other species if only in limited places, such as warm water discharges. The Maryland/Delaware ponds are another year round option - when not iced over - especially for those waters with good populations of pickerel and panfish.

(Phone calls to locals and Google Map and Internet searches can save wasted time and travel.)

Safety is always a major concern in cold weather. Hypothermia can be a killer.

Once again the Maryland DNR has ignored my request to somehow create six months of May weather and fishing and six months of October weather and fishing in Maryland, so, here, largely built on my preferences, is a possible mid-Atlantic fisherman's schedule. (Note that this schedule does not consider regulations, so in many of the cases where fishing is possible, it is on a catch-and-release basis; likewise tackle restrictions are not considered.)

January and February

Stripers at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) and offshore. Stripers in warm water discharges on the Patapsco and Potomac;

Pickerel, bass, panfish in Maryland/Delaware (MD/DE) ponds and rivers such as the Nanticoke, Magothy, Severn;

Trout in Maryland/Pennsylvania (MD/PA) catch-and-release and delayed harvest streams, such as the Gunpowder, Casselman, Yellow Breeches plus some holdover trout in stocked waters;

Smallmouth bass, catfish and other species using specialized cold-water tackle and tactics on parts of the Upper Potomac River in Maryland and Susquehanna in Pennsylvania; the same species are available on the Upper Potomac in the warm water discharge area near Dickerson;

Two other possibilities I know of but have no experience with are the Peach Bottom Power Plant on Conowingo Lake and Lake Anna in Northern Virginia.

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March

Trout and MD/DE ponds and rivers as above;

Cold weather fishing on the Potomac and Susquehanna as above.

Smallmouth bass, etc. at Dickerson.

April-May

Trout as above plus rivers and ponds stocked by Maryland, DNR such as the Patapsco, sulphur hatch on the Gunpowder;

Shad in the Susquehanna River and feeders, at Fletchers Boathouse on the Potomac plus some Delmarva rivers;

MD/DE ponds and rivers;

Big stripers on Susquehanna Flats and later in the Eastern Bay area;

Big red drum and black drum in the Kiptopeke/Cape Charles area;

Bass, snakeheads, catfish and panfish in the Potomac (Mattawoman area);

Bass, panfish and assorted other species in local reservoirs, e.g., Piney Run and Liberty, Jug Bay on the Patuxent, Deep Creek Lake;

Smallmouth bass, catfish, carp and panfish on the Upper Potomac River.

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June-September

Stripers, sea trout, panfish and bluefish at various areas throughout Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries;

Cobia, flounder and other species in the CBBT area;

Continuing as above:

Trout in Maryland/Pennsylvania (MD/PA) catch-and-release and delayed harvest streams as above plus holdover stocked trout in MD/PA rivers, white fly hatch on PA bass and trout streams;

MD/DE ponds and rivers;

Bass, snakeheads, catfish in the Potomac (Mattawoman);

Bass, panfish and assorted other species in local reservoirs, rivers and lakes;

Smallmouth bass, etc. on the Upper Potomac River as above.

October-November

MD/DE ponds and rivers, pickerel fishing picks up;

Bass, snakeheads, catfish in Potomac (Mattawoman);

Bass, panfish and assorted other species in local reservoirs, Jug Bay on the Patuxent, Deep Creek Lake;

Stripers, sea trout, bluefish and other species in the CBBT/Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel areas;

Trout in Maryland/Pennsylvania (MD/PA) catch-and-release and delayed harvest streams as above plus rivers and ponds stocked by Maryland DNR.

December

Big stripers and bluefish at CBBT;

MD/DE ponds and rivers;

Trout in Maryland/Pennsylvania (MD/PA) catch-and-release and delayed harvest streams as plus holdover fall-stocked trout in MD/PA ponds and rivers;

Smallmouth bass and other species in cold water and at Dickerson as above.

Upcoming outdoor shows

Today - The Mid-Atlantic's Outdoor Sportsman Expo, Showplace Arena, Upper Marlboro, MD.

January 19 - MSSA Frederick 4th Annual Fishing and Boating Expo, Frederick Fair Grounds, Frederick, MD

February 2 - Tri-State Marine Fisherman's Flea Market, Deale, MD

February 2 - 10 - Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg, PA.

February 23 - Fisherman's Flea Market, Gamber Fire Hall, Gamber, MD.

March 2-3 - The Fly Fishing Show, Lancaster County Convention Center, Lancaster, PA.

March 9 - Tiefest, Prospect Bay Country Club, Grasonville, MD.

See MSSA and Tidal Fish websites for other shows and fisherman's flea markets.

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