Fishing from one end of Maryland to the other and all points in between has been, and continues to be, great.
Within Carroll County, Liberty and Piney Run reservoirs have been producing excellent catches of crappie, large and smallmouth bass, bluegills and freshwater stripers. At nearby Prettyboy Reservoir, white perch action and bassin' have been superb.
The biggest news on the fishing front is the wonderful Spring Trophy Striped Bass (rockfish) season we are experiencing. I fished out of Tilghman Island with five friends the second day of the season and everyone on board, including Capt. Larry Sims, was blown away when we limited out inside of a few hours.
The largest fish went 39 inches, the rest 32 and 33 inches plus we had lots of 24- to 30-inch throwbacks. The minimum size limit during this season is 32 inches. A 32-incher is 9 to 10 years old, and tons of them are swimming around this spring.
Recently, I fished with Finksburg's Rich Kuchera, Steve Duffet, Wayne Wooden, Mark Rivers and John Runge aboard Captain Gordon Haegerich's Casey J out of Kentmoor Marina, on Kent Island. Rockfish were everywhere and Rivers set the tone of the day's action by hauling in a feisty 29-inch throwback minutes after we began trolling just outside the marina. Two days later I returned to the area with pals Dick Broden, Gary Johnson and my son-in-law, David Navarre.
Unlike the first two days of fishing, when the stripers were scattered into singles, that trip revealed obvious signs of schooling. How obvious? Well, we spent a great deal of time with our eyes glued to the massive walls of fish being revealed by Broden's fishfinder running the channel under the Bay Bridges.
Most of the day was spent trolling everything in the boat from the bridges, south to the mouth of the Severn River. Broden's fishfinder shows individual fish in proportional size and the numbers of 30-plus-pounders we viewed staggered us.
"Yep, I was up there at the same time and place and those fish had lockjaw all right," Captain Alan Faulkner said Tuesday morning before I set off with Westminster area sportsman Paul Herring aboard Captain John Motovidak's Dawn Marie docked at Tilghman Island.
"I had two keepers -- one that went 42 inches -- up off the Severn, but I really had to work for them."
Motovidak shoved us off moments later and not 10 minutes after setting our trolling lines off the eastern side of the shipping channel, in line with the south end of Black Walnut Point, we got into rockfish. Inside of three hours we had two 33-inch keepers, a near-miss 31-incher, a 28-inch fish that I had sworn was a keeper while bringing it to net and three throwbacks in the 18-inch range.
I know of no less than a dozen fish caught topping 40 inches these past couple of weeks, which translates into no less than 20 pounds of pure fight. Most of the 32- to 33-inch rock being caught are weighing 13 to 15 pounds.
Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Director Pete Jensen told me earlier this week that it is believed large numbers of stripers are just now spawning, which appears to confirm the reason behind the huge numbers of rock available.
I understand from Captain Eddie Davis, operating out of the Point Lookout area of the lower Bay, that large numbers of stripers began appearing there last weekend. By all means, get out the next week or so, but don't be disappointed if you miss these trophy-sized fish.
I say this because everyone who should know strongly believe that the best is yet to come during the June 1-July 4 season. That's when the size limit will drop to 28 inches and also when light tackle will replace mostly heavy trolling gear. Cast to breaking rock or chum them to the surface.
If you choose to stick closer to home, Liberty crappie are grabbing tube jigs and wax worms while surprisingly good walleye catches are being made on nightcrawlers and shiners in shallow water areas. The smallmouths are going after deep diving plugs.
Use nightcrawlers and small spinners for Piney Run's panfish, while shiners are responsible for a number of recent 10-pound freshwater stripers. Largemouths are falling for power lizards and worms and the best spot to catch one is shallow water.