March did indeed come in like a lion — a white one at that — though perhaps more like a mountain lion. On Friday a dusting of snow ushered in the new month, and waylaid a short trip to a local creek to try for yellow perch. Usually this time of year I’ve had at least a few yellow perch outings under my belt. Not so much in 2019. Blow out tides and dismal weather have made things challenging for this fisherman.
Last week, I reached out to Maryland’s DNR fishery biologist Paul Piavis, our state’s expert on yellow and white perch. He shared water temps in many upper Bay rivers were almost ideal for the yellow perch (neds) to kick off their annual spring spawning run. When I bugged him again at the end of this week, it was a different story. His crew’s net surveys revealed that the catches have dropped off, disappointing to this and other anglers hoping to hit the run. It’s not surprising given that neds (nickname of yellow perch) are guided by water temps (and photoperiod) to make their upstream spawning runs. With even colder weather forecast for the next few days, any full-blown yellow perch spawning run will likely be delayed a spell.
The best action for panfish and pickerel remains on the Eastern Shore, with the Pocomoke above Snow Hill perhaps your best pick to catch fat neds and crappie. Other picks include traditional perch haunts on the Tuckahoe below Hillsboro, and up around Denton area on the Choptank River. Try tandem jigs (UV Glo style in 1/16 or 1/8 ounce rigged in tandem) tipped with soft plastics. Lately I’m partial to Bust ’Em Baits Stingers, or one inch Mister Twister’s Lil' Bit Curly Tail Grub. If you like casting spinners, some of my favorites include Beetle Spins, Mepps, Perch Pounders, Woody’s.
Closer to home, anglers fishing out of Beachwood Park at the head waters of the Magothy have been met with mixed results for neds. That should improve, and you could also have a shot at white perch and perhaps a pickerel. Grass shrimp and live minnows work best but spinners and double-rigged droppers (shad darts or flies) under a small bobber also catch. At the top of the Bay, the lower Susquehanna and Northeast River have neds holding deeper water in 25-50 feet. Go with bloodworms or minnows on standard top-and-bottom rig with enough weight to hold in the current is perhaps your best option.
DNR’S DEER PLAN: Inclement weather last month forced the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to postpone its public meeting on the Eastern Shore to discuss its long-range Deer Management Plan. The new date is 7 p.m., March 13 at Chesapeake College. They’ve also extended the deadline to make comments online or via telephone/email to March 15.
Stakeholders have an opportunity to hear DNR’s plan that establishes long-term goals — 15 years out — for white-tailed deer. Specifically, the agency wants to get the public’s input so they can craft “a well-rounded plan that will address the needs of citizens for the coming years. Deer hunting plays a major role in achieving some of the goals and objectives identified in the plan, but is just one of the strategies the department uses.”
On a related note, DNR announced the results of the deer harvest from Sept. 7, 2018 through Jan. 31, 2019. Hunters taking part in the state’s archery, firearms and muzzleloader seasons killed 77,382 deer, combined.
March 6: Free State Fly Fishers Meeting. Guest speaker Michael Abramowitz will provide tips and methods to stay safe while fly fishing. Davidsonville Family Recreation Center, 3789 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville.
March 9: Kayak Fishing course offered by Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold campus. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost is $59. Mark Bange and John Veil, instructors. Registration at aacc.edu or (410) 777-2345.
March 11: Pasadena Sportfishing Group meeting. Capt. Randy Dean of Bay Hunters Charter Fishing will be guest speaker. Doors open at 6 p.m., meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Highway (Route 2), Severna Park.
March 14: Fly Anglers Fishing Club’s “Brew & Tie.” Kislings Tavern at 6:30 p.m.
March 16: Upper Eastern Shore Anglers & Tacklecove.com host “Saltwater Expo.” Expert speakers and tackle for sale. 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at American Legion 2619 Centreville Road, Centreville MD 21617. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
March 23: Free State Fly Fishers presents “Everything You Need to Know About Fly Fishing for Pickerel,” with Joe Bruce, nationally recognized expert fly fisher. Saturday morning session, from 9 a.m.-Noon. Davidsonville Family Recreation Center, 3789 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville, Maryland.
March 26: Anglers Night Out. Boatyard Bar & Grill. Film is “Tribute to Tuna.” Happy hour 5 to 7 p.m., movie starts at 7 p.m. Boatyard Bar & Grill, 400 4th Street, Annapolis.
April 20: Maryand Spring Trophy Season. Get DNR’s website for specific rules.
Chris Dollar writes about the outdoors for The Capital. Contact him with items for his column or the outdoors calendar at email@example.com