The Contrariest of Months
Despite April’s chill, everywhere there’s water, there are fish
Outside my window the wind is thrashing the trees, the sun is absent and snow flurries are forecast for the next two days. Enjoying April, at times, can be challenging, but this month will also bring a breathtaking explosion of angling opportunities.
Hickory shad are arriving. Even though the winds blow and the skies are overcast, down in the creeks at the head of the Bay where these critters are congregating there is shelter and sanctuary for their spawning. Shad is a catch-and-release fishery, but they are a great experience.
The rockfish catch-and-release fishing on the Susquehanna Flats is finally turning on, and the trophy catch-and-keep season opens the 21st. Though the weather will be nasty at times, if you pick your April days wisely you may just hook up with the striped bass of a lifetime.
The spring white perch run will peak this month. The fish have been showing in good numbers statewide, and their average size continues to increase as the temperatures rise.
White perch is a great fishery for kids as well as gourmands. Most mid-Bay tributary headwater should produce for persistent anglers of any age.
Fish Are Biting
Big rock are taking Assassins and BKDs in the channels and drop-offs at the Susquehanna Flats. They should be up on top soon, so take some large poppers and chuggers to cover all your options. Anglers practicing in the mid-Bay for the April 21 opener are reporting numerous big fish. Trolling tandem soft baits gets the job done best. The catch-and-let-go rockfish bite at Sandy Point and Matapeake is hot even if the weather is not. A big bloodworm on a circle hook does the job there.
Grass shrimp on shad darts under a bobber is still number one for white perch as the spring run accelerates in the tributaries. Shad are in the streams at the head of the Bay, and croaker have been encountered already in the south. We’re surrounded, and it‘s going to be wonderful.
With just a week or so of warmer weather, the bluegills and red-ear sunfish will be on their spawning beds in the freshwater ponds and lakes throughout Maryland. The biggest guys move in first, so early anglers will be rewarded.
For fly fishermen, bluegills and sunfish are a special treat. They are aggressive and approachable, they put up a formidable battle and they will not ignore a small popping bug. It is not often that the long rod, surface flies and floating lines give you such a decided advantage over other tackle. Don‘t miss out.
Largemouth bass fishing will also start up in earnest this month. This is a fish that has a greater following among Maryland anglers than probably any other species even if our rockfish get most of the press.
Maryland has no natural lakes, but plenty of man-made impoundments and ponds are well populated with the
hefty scrappers. As with most species, the trophy-sized largemouths have developed excellent survival tactics.
But in April their spawning activities commence, which will distract even the most discriminating of the bucket-mouths and make them vulnerable.
This remains a catch-and-release fishery until the middle of June, but it offers the best chance of the year at tangling with a real tackle buster. Don’t pass it up.
Yellow perch fishing in non-tidal waters is coming on now, too. A fresh-water fishery that is not particularly well known, the golden beauties are in many of our lakes and ponds and are a taste treat equal to their brackish water siblings. Gastronomically, it is the only rival to a white perch fish fry.
There is no closed season for these fish in non-tidal environments, so if you have a little down time during a bass or bluegill outing, do some exploring. Locating a school or two of yellow perch will definitely be worth your while.
Crappie fishing will also flourish in coming weeks. There are few freshwater fish their size that put up the scrap they do, plus their delicate jaw structure demands a high degree of rod handling finesse to keep them on the line.
Both black and white crappie have a dedicated cadre of admirers. They know that there is a special table quality to a crisply fried paper-mouth, though they like to keep it a secret. Try angling for these rascals for a change of pace, but beware: It’s an addictive activity.
Finally, this month Maryland trout fishing bursts into full flower on the state’s numerous blue-ribbon streams and selected lakes and ponds. The Department of Natural Resources trout stocking though set back by the whirling disease problem this year still manages to provide a substantial number of fish to area waters.
This month the weather can indeed be fickle and at times just cruel, but if you stay in the game you will triumph. Good fishing fortune in April does not favor the comfortable.