The 2023 Maryland trout season kicked off last weekend, and despite the wet and chilly weather, plenty of trout were available for all anglers. However, as the state moves into April, the focus shifts towards the arrival of shad and striped bass runs.
According to the forecast summary for March 29 to April 4, water temperatures in Chesapeake Bay and rivers will steadily rise, providing ideal spawning conditions for gamefish such as striped bass, shad, and herring. Bay salinities are expected to remain normal with average clarity, while most Maryland rivers and streams should have average flows.
The arrival of hickory and American shad at traditional locations has sparked excitement among catch-and-release anglers, with the pace of fishing expected to pick up in the coming weeks. Small flashy spoons and shad darts make for excellent lures.
However, it’s worth noting that the spring striped bass catch-and-release season will be closed from April 1 to May 1, giving the species time to spawn and replenish their populations.
Anglers are encouraged to fill out an online survey to help the Department of Natural Resources track the populations of shad and herring. The survey is available on the department’s website under “Volunteer Angler Survey” and will help state biologists assess the health of these species in the area.
Meanwhile, fishing for white perch in the upper sections of the region’s tidal rivers remains a great option this week. The Bush, Magothy, and Chester rivers are all standouts, but deeper holes and channels in the upper reaches off the spawning rivers are also good places to look for white perch.
In the middle Bay, the shipping channel has been a good location for pre-spawn striped bass. Trolling at depths of 50 feet or more with heavy bucktails and parachutes dressed with equally large sassy shads has been successful. Light-tackle anglers are also finding success jigging with large soft plastics in deep waters.
In the lower Bay, anglers are enjoying the last few days of striped bass catch-and-release fishing in the deepest waters of the shipping channel. Heavy parachutes and bucktails dressed with sassy shads in tandem at depths of 50 feet or more are being used for trolling. Fishing for white perch in the middle to upper reaches of the region’s spawning rivers is also proving fruitful.
Freshwater fishing enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the opening day of trout season was well-received, with generous stockings seeded with trophy-sized trout at every location. The trout stockings continue into spring, and the Department of Natural Resources website is updated regularly with information on recent stockings.
As April arrives, smallmouth bass is providing plenty of good fishing in the upper Potomac River, Deep Creek Lake, and the lower Susquehanna River just below the Conowingo Dam pool. Largemouth bass is also in the early pre-spawn stages of activity and can be found feeding aggressively in ponds, reservoirs, and rivers across Maryland.
Overall, the fishing forecast for Maryland in the coming weeks is looking bright, with a range of options available for anglers across the state.