Visit St. Mary's County Maryland

Where the Potomac & the Chesapeake meet

Opening Day

April 10, 2017 | Rockfish season begins Saturday, April 15.

The weather is finally acting like spring and we will have 80 degree days this week to get the fish going. Saturday is predicted to be close to 70 degrees with winds from the southeast at 13 MPH. Not the best, but acceptable.

The fishing will be great. The early warmth in February brought the fish to our doorstep; the March cold snap stopped the spawn in its tracks. The fish will now be moving on opening day. My prediction is for the first 10 days of the season to be the best. The trophy season from April 15 to May 15 will allow one fish per day, with a minimum of 35 inches. This is for the main stem of the Bay only and all of the Potomac River. The specifics of the boundaries can be found on the Maryland website.

Umbrella rigs are tried and true trolling lures for rockfish. There are a rainbow hue of colors to choose from, all of which will catch fish. I have always liked simple white/white. The Potomac seems to favor chartreuse. Tandem rigs have become very popular as they have much less drag and strain on the tackle. Single parachute and big Mojos are always producers. All of these lures rely on swimming shad bodies in 8- to 12-inch size and in all the colors found in a big box of crayons; all will work if presented to a hungry rockfish.

Hardy fishermen who braved cold, wind, and rain the last couple of weeks found eager rockfish in the shallows in both the Potomac and in the Salt Islands in the mid-Bay. Modest sized stripers and some whoppers around 40 inches have been taking all manner of lures. The favorite for many experienced fishermen is a big swimming crankbait like the Bomber Wind Cheater. The fish love them and they are easy to cast. Jiggers using bucktails, metal jigs and sassy shads have found plenty of rockfish at the warm water outfall at the Gas Plant above Cove Point.

Crappie, pickerel, and largemouth bass have all been active at St. Mary's Lake. The crappie have been plentiful with catches of 20 or 30 per outing common. Only about half of these are of eating size. Shad darts, beetle spins, and live minnows are loved by crappie. Shore fishermen cast a bait beneath a bobber and reel in slowly. Boaters like to troll up and down the middle of the lake. A shad dart with a small split shot dragged slowly will bring strikes. Bass have started nesting and there many in the five-pound class ready to take a whacky worm rig or a swimming plug. June 15 is the opening of Bass season.

Typical catches from Spring 2016.

St. Mary's County Division of Tourism
23115 Leonard Hall Dr.
P.O. Box 653
Leonardtown, MD 20650


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