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Where the Potomac & the Chesapeake meet

Spring 2017 Fishing Forecast

March 13, 2017 | Spring is approaching and the spells of warm weather in February and early March have given way to ugly cold and possible snow.

The Bard's warning to "beware the Ides of March" ring true for fishermen who feel betrayed by the fickle weather.

There were good catches of yellow perch, crappie, and some bass in the periods of false spring. The fish are lined up and waiting for the next break to warm them to action in the ponds and St. Mary's Lake. Crappie fishing in the lake should be very good by the first of April; live minnows will be the key bait. White perch will be spawning at Allen's Fresh on the first 60-degree day coming up.

The alewives have been in the Bay and rivers for about three weeks and the stripers have been active in all sizes chasing them. We had reports of big schools of alewives being chased by big rockfish up the St. Mary's River and even gannets (big sea birds) diving on the bait. All this happened in late February during the spell of 70 and 80 degree days that lasted nearly a week. Rockfish were in the mouth of Smith Creek where a cast bucktail could bring plenty of strikes. These fish are still here but moved into deeper water when the temperatures normalized.

The first rockfish season kicks off on April 15th with the trophy season in the main stem of the Bay when one fish per day will be allowed per person with a 35-inch minimum. On May 16th the season continues in more areas with two fish per day, from 20-inch minimum with only one over 28 inches. All waters open on June1st with the same limits. All of the Potomac and its tributaries will follow Bay rules.

My prediction is that the fish will be here and very active on opening day. Last year the fish did not kick in on opening day and did not get hot until the second weekend of the season. The early warmth has brought the fish here now this year.

Croaker are a mystery. We have seen them in the Potomac on the last week of March on early springs. We have not seen an early run like that since 2008. The alternating warm and cold spells this year may have confused the croaker as badly as it has me.

Spot will be here on the 4th of July. An earlier run may happen in June if we get some hot weather in May and early June, but it would mean 90 degrees for a 10-day period with lows in the 60's - unusual for that early.

Crabs and white perch will be very good all year starting in mid-April.

That is all I want to risk on predictions for 2017. I will begin regular reports as soon as the action begins, hopefully with lots of pictures as I depend on all of you to bring the fish to "The Tackle Box" to get your pictures taken and get on the weekly "hall of fame online" and under the glass at the bait counter.

Edward Edinger with a 14 inch yellow perch from Allen's Fresh caught in late February on one of those 75 degree days.
Ali Jones landed a 19 inch large mouth bass in Mattawoman Creek on the first of March.

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


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