Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has recognized its first FishMaryland Master Angler Award recipient. Gary Simpson of Nottingham, Baltimore County, caught a total of 10 different species, meeting all the minimum requirements of the department’s new program.

Simpson’s award-sized catches included: chain pickerel, largemouth bass, white perch, walleye, striped bass, crappie, smallmouth bass, blue crab, red drum, and the common carp.

FishMaryland milestone awards recognize anglers who catch trophy-sized catches of different species caught after Jan. 1, 2019. Each milestone is marked with a certificate and a color-coded sticker as follows:

Angler Award: For catching three different species, meeting the minimum length, the angler receives a yellow sticker.

Expert Angler Award: For catching five different species, meeting the minimum length, the angler receives a red sticker.

Master Angler Award: For catching ten different species, meeting the minimum length, the angler receives a black sticker.

Any angler fishing legally in Maryland may catch and report a trophy-sized fish by landing any of more than 60 eligible species in five categories at or above a certain minimum size.

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Low striper YOY

The 2019 juvenile striped bass index was calculated as 3.4, well below the 66-year average of 11.6, according to the DNR.

The young-of-year striped bass survey measures the annual spawning success of the state fish, commonly known as rockfish. The index represents the average number of recently hatched striped bass captured in samples taken during the survey.

During this year’s survey, biologists collected more than 51,000 fish of 54 different species, including 445 young-of-year striped bass. Weather, river flows, and availability of food for newly hatched fish are all important factors in the spawning success of fish such as striped bass.

*** Fishing report

Chesapeake Bay surface water temperatures continue to drop and fish have lots of cooler, more oxygenated waters to roam. Rivers will cool faster than the Bay, so fish will move out of the rivers as they follow baitfish.

In the upper Chesapeake, striped bass are being found in a variety of locations including the 7-foot and 9-foot shoals, Tea Kettle Shoals, the channel edge from Podickory Point to the mouth of the Magothy, the lower Patapsco River, the Key Bridge, and channel edges at the mouth of the Chester River.

Jigging and trolling has been effective, and some anglers are continuing to live-line spot and small white perch. Breaking fish and slicks are being spotted, which are mostly small striped bass working on bay anchovies, but larger stripers can be found holding close to the bottom and caught with large soft plastic jigs.

White perch are providing action in the tidal rivers and some of the shoal areas. As water temperatures decline in the tidal rivers and creeks, the perch are feeling the urge to move to deeper waters in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. Light-tackle action can be found along some of the deeper shorelines during the morning and evening hours for those using small spinnerbaits and jigs. Anglers are also fishing deeper with bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworms or grass shrimp.

Most of the Spanish mackerel spread throughout the middle bay have headed south. Thomas Point continues to hold fish for anglers live-lining for striped bass, which are suspended along the channel edge there. The early morning and evening topwater bite along shoreline areas continues to improve. Prominent points and old rip rap or breakwaters are often good places to target. Trolling bucktails along the outside edges of these areas where the waters drop off can also be a good tactic.

Speckled trout continue to provide some exciting shallow-water fishing along the marsh edges and stump fields of the Eastern Shore. Casting topwater lures or swimshads is a good tactic. Jigging with medium-sized soft plastics along channel edges is also a good way to get in on the action.

Time is running out for a last batch of large heavy crabs. Cooler water temperatures have many crabs holding in slightly warmer shallow waters, where there is also a high percentage of sooks and small crabs.

On the Atlantic Coast, there is good fishing for kingfish, spot, and bluefish in the surf. A few striped bass are also being caught. At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge areas, bluefish continue to move in and out and are being caught by casting bucktails, jigs, and metal lures. Sheepshead are in residence at the South Jetty and fishing with sand fleas is a good way to catch them. Tautog are becoming more common in the area and pieces of green crab or sand fleas will entice them to bite.

When boats can get out to the wreck and reef sites, the fishing for sea bass has been good, with limit catches common. Rough offshore conditions have made it tough for boats to make the trip to the canyons, but when the wind dies down limit catches of small or chicken dolphinfish have been common and providing plenty of meat for charter patrons. White marlin are still in the mix as well as some large yellowfin tuna and longfin albacore.

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Duck blind know-it-all

The squirting cucumber plant disperses its seeds up to six meters from its parent plant by squirting a stream of mucilaginous liquid containing its seeds.

Follow me on Twitter @csknauss / email me at cknauss@stardem.com

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