A great time to do some fishing
I’m not a big fan of bucket lists, mainly because I’m still convincing myself I’m far too young to be making one. But recently a list came across my email inbox that got me thinking about making one. This list is the 2016 top 100 family fishing and boating spots in the United States as voted by more than 650,000 enthusiasts across our nation.
Assateague State Park was the only location in Maryland to make the list at number 74. Our neighbor, Virginia, made the ranking at numbers 91 (Smith Mountain Lake) and 93 (Lake Anna).
I’ve been fishing in quite a few of the places on the list, but many of those trips took place when I was a kid. So now it’s my turn to start planning some memorable fishing trips for my own kids. Lake Lackawanna in Pennsylvania (number 43) ranks first on my list of new fishing spots to visit with my family.
I’m pretty familiar with this area, as my Great Aunt Joan hails from the nearby town of Carbondale, Pa. She moved to Maryland a few years ago, and although Pennsylvania will always be home, she is quick to tell you that she doesn’t miss the snow one bit.
There’s a scenic train ride that leaves from Steamtown. And in Scranton, about 10 miles away from the lake, you can sleep in a historic train station that’s been converted into a hotel. All this is just icing on the cake, for the fishing at Lake Lackawanna is outstanding for walleye, catfish and largemouth bass.
This weekend would be a great time to do some fishing, and you don’t have to travel to Florida or even Pennsylvania for a good time. Even though Maryland didn’t make the top 50, you can still do some great fishing here.
And what’s even sweeter, Maryland is offering a free fishing day on Saturday. Recreational anglers won’t need a license to fish, but everyone must still follow the size and possession rules on free fishing days.
Southern Maryland lakes and ponds — The fishing has been excellent at St. Mary’s Lake. Joe at the Tackle Box (301-863-8151) said the bass are off their beds now and biting. Fishing is better in the shallows and anglers are finding them suspended in six to eight feet of water. Topwaters are your best bet in the morning and you’ll want to switch to a slower presentation with soft plastics in the afternoon.
The panfish are biting, and you’ll find crappie in deeper water. Pickerel are being caught on inline spinners, bass baits and all manner of lures.
Potomac River — Reel Bass Adventures guide Capt. Andy Andrzejewski (301-9321509) said the grasses are a good place to fish for quality bass, with a few tournament anglers bringing in six pounders recently. Topwater lures are good in low light and plastics, jig and craw combos, spoons, spinnerbaits, and even rattletraps will catch fish. The spinnerbait bite is hot around sparse grasses on the low end of the tide. Buzz a spinner up to a clump of grass and let it fall. Strikes will be explosive.
Some bluegills are close to the shoreline along marsh banks and near some downed wood. A crappie tube or fly rod popper will catch them. Catfish continue to intercept bass baits in shallow water. Aqualand Marina (301-259-2222) reports a strong catfish bite on a variety of baits. They now have rental boats and anglers fishing the channel edge are sure to load up on tasty blue catfish.
Croaker are yet to arrive in full force. but the warmer weather should bring more fish each day. Perch fishing is still slow.
Patuxent River — Ken Lamb from the Tackle Box said the perch are staying in the rivers as the creeks are still cold and stained due to persistent rain and showers. The rocky outcroppings in the Patuxent are where the white perch are active. Beetle spins, small spoons and tiny rattletraps have been catching perch up to 11 inches this past week.
Croaker are everywhere. They invade the shallows when the sun goes down and shore fishermen are getting plenty on squid, bloodworms, shrimp and peeler crab. The Town Creek Pier is a good place to drop a line for some croaker.
Juniata and Susquehanna rivers (Pa.) — Life Outdoors Unlimited guide Jason Shay (717-507-4377) reports that bass in the open areas are very active and healthy. Bright colored spinnerbaits in rocky areas with good current flow is the ticket right now. The closure will end on June 18.
Deep Creek Lake — Anthony Lascaris from Bill’s Outdoor Center (301-3873474) reports that the business has been a little slow because of the cooler temperatures, but that’s a blessing to the anglers who are fishing right now because the lake is putting out some nice fish. Smallmouth bass fishing is good near docks with tubes and jerkbaits. Northern pike are biting on large minnows. And if you can find sandbeds, you will catch some walleye.
Lake Anna (Va.) — Jim Hemby Lake Anna Striper Guide Service (540-9673313) reports largemouth bass are
hungry and biting on topwater baits. Bass will rise out of 20 feet of water to hit a Pop R, especially in clear water. The deeper the water you fish, the slower you should work your bait giving the bass time to locate and blow up the bait. In low-light conditions, stripers are feeding heavily in the upper water column. When the fish move deep, a surefire method to catch them is to use live bait rigged on downlines. Put the baits at the exact depth of the fish to maximize your catch.
Catfish are plentiful and can be caught just about everywhere on the lake on herring or large minnows.
Chesapeake Bay — Capt. Dennis Fleming from Fishamajig Guide Service (240-538-1260) reports that good numbers of stripers are located just out from Chesapeake Beach in 35 to 40 feet of water and they respond well to 1-ounce jigs tipped with 5-inch plastic. Explosive top water fishing can be had at daybreak around rocks and jetties.
Lamb said trollers are finding tons of rockfish in the 20- to 30-inch range from Parkers Creek to the Bay Bridge and in the mouth of the Choptank River. Capt. Brady Bounds (301-9040471) took a party out last Tuesday from Chesapeake Beach and found fish immediately on structure close to the ramp. The fishermen cast surface
poppers and landed fish until their arms were too tired to continue.
Atlantic Ocean — Bob Foster of Oyster Bay Tackle (410-524-3433) reports lots of bluefish in the bay from the Route 90 bridge to the inlet. Anglers tossing Gotcha plugs, speck rigs and bucktails are catching blues up to 36 inches.
The flounder bite has picked up a little with several keepers from the east channel, the thoroughfare and around the Route 90 bridge. A few kingfish were caught from the Fenwick, Delaware beach on bloodworms and Fishbites.
Tip of the week
This weekend you can fish with no license in Maryland waters, which makes it a great time to give fishing a try or get back into it.
Before you go, you’ll need to learn a basic knot to tie your lure or hook onto the fishing line. The first knot my dad ever taught me was the improved clinch knot and it’s the one I use over and over. Another easy knot to learn is the Palomar. You can find lots of howto videos for tying these knots online.
No matter what kind of knot you try, the key to getting it good and tight is to wet the line before cinching it.