The Potomac River from the Route 301 bridge north to Washington has been the best largemouth bass fishery in the region for a number of years, and a recent six-month study by the Department of Natural Resources shows that it is continuing to improve.
The creel survey, conducted by DNR's Freshwater Fisheries Division, showed that 70 percent of all anglers fishing above the Route 301 bridge target bass and had an average catch rate of .465 fish per hour. Of the fishermen surveyed, 81 percent said they release their catch.
This year, the population of bass larger than 12 inches in that stretch of the Potomac is estimated to be 372,558, an increase of 57 percent since 1990.
"Water quality improvements, protective fishery management and the conservation ethic of bass anglers has enabled Maryland to develop one of the best bass fisheries in the country," said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin.
The survey showed September to be the best fishing month, with a catch rate of .555 bass per hour.
Anglers surveyed, while saying the fishery is in excellent shape, also said that fishing pressure continues to increase, that boat ramps are operating close to capacity, and that select areas of the river are often crowded.
Good alternative areas for bass fishing are the Middle River-Gunpowder complex close to Baltimore, the lower Susquehanna River and flats and the Chester, Choptank, Nanticoke, Wicomico and Pocomoke rivers on the Eastern Shore.
Last week, the Coast Guard's new personal flotation device requirements for recreational vessels under 16 feet went into effect. The change requires that each person aboard must have an approved, wearable PFD.
The DNR is proposing to restrict commercial blue crab harvests in the seaside bays and tidal tributaries of Worcester County to 25 bushels per day for hard crabs, of which only eight bushels may be females.
Proposed changes also would limit the number of crab pots per boat and require pots to be constructed with two cull rings to allow undersized crabs to escape.
DNR will hold a public meeting to discuss the proposals at 7 p.m., May 16, at the Snow Hill High School.