Friday, April 29, 2011

Kayak Fishing for Sunfish: Spring Techniques

bluegill sunfish (bream)

During spring, Mid Atlantic kayak anglers enjoy excellent fishing for members of the sunfish (bream) family. Sunfish species include bluegill, redear, pumpkinseed, green, and others. These colorful fish are sometimes found among other members of the sunfish family such as crappie, fliers, rock bass, and warmouth.

Most sunfish feed aggressively leading up to the spawning season. This is a good time to practice early season fishing for sunfish. Prior to the spawning season, sunfish species migrate into spring habitats and begin feeding right away. Most will attack small jigs, soft plastics, or other lures that imitate food sources. Natural baits also work well for sunfish, especially nightcrawlers, insect larvae, tiny minnows, or small crayfish.

During early spring, sunfish are sometimes found in near shore vegetation where they can feed as well as seek shelter. In some cases, kayak fishing is the only possible means of access to these areas.

In slow moving rivers, creeks and farm ponds of the Mid Atlantic, water lilies appear in spring. Sunfish quickly take up residence among the beds. As the spring season progresses, a food chain develops. This aquatic micro-system begins with tiny insects and invertebrates that come to feed on lily pads or algae. These inhabitants attract minnows, sunfish, and other species of fish.

As the season progresses these areas become important feeding areas for crappie, bluegill, and other sunfish species. Most kayak anglers are familiar with these habitats and have a preference for this type of fishing.

Some anglers carry a second rod which is rigged for largemouth bass and chain pickerel. Both species are frequently found in the same structure and are known for their habit of attacking angler's hooked sunfish.

Wye-Tri Adventure Race

The Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area (NRMA) in Queen Anne’s County is registering participants for the inaugural Wye-Tri Adventure Race on May 7.

The event is sponsored by the Maryland Park Service (MPS). The Wye-Tri Adventure Race has been designed in a triathlon format and will consist of three segments: running, kayaking and biking.

The first leg is a 2.5-mile run over wooded and open field trails along Dividing Creek, followed by a 0.75-mile paddle on the Wye River and Granary Creek, and finally a 4.5-mile bicycle course along Wye Island Road and back onto the island’s trail system.

The Wye-Tri Adventure Race is open to anyone 14 or older in good physical health and costs $15 per person. Each participant will receive a souvenir event shirt.

Kayaks of all sizes will be permitted and a limited number of vessels will be available for rental the day of the race (for an additional $5). Personal flotation devices (PFDs) are mandatory for those under 16 years of age and strongly encouraged for all participants.

Wye Island NRMA is a State Park located in the tidal recesses of the Chesapeake Bay between the Wye River and the Wye East River and is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for resource management, nature-based recreation and agriculture. A major emphasis at Wye Island is providing quality habitat for wintering waterfowl populations and other native wildlife.

For more information or to register for the Wye-Tri Adventure Race, contact the Wye Island NRMA office at 410-827-7577 or the Tuckahoe State Park office at 410-820-1668. Visit the Wye Island park website at dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/eastern/wyeisland.asp

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Janes Island State Park Open House Kayaking

Janes Island State Park recently announced that the public is invited to attend its open house from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m on Saturday April 23. This scenic state park lies along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay, near Crisfield Md.

Planned activities include a hayride through the park, kite making, crabbing and/or fishing on the Daugherty Creek Canal, canoeing or kayaking at the marina, a live animal display, Geocaching and other family activities.

For saltwater kayakers, this is a great way to scout out summer fishing areas in the nearby Chesapeake Bay marshes and creeks. There is no cost to attend and free refreshments will be provided.

For more information, contact Beth Shafer at the Janes Island Park Office at (410)968-1565.

Mid Atlantic Hickory Shad Fishing

In the Mid Atlantic region, hickory shad have begun their spring spawning runs. Recreational fishing for these acrobatic fish should continue until mid-May.

These exciting fish can be caught in numerous tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, with the Susquehanna, Gunpowder, Patuxent and Choptank Rivers being known for strong spring runs.

"Now is the perfect time to fish Hickory shad," said Tom O’Connell, director of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service.


Hickory shad are anadromous; they spend their adult life in the near shore waters of the Atlantic ocean and coastal bays, ascending streams and rivers each spring along the eastern seaboard.

Hickory shad are part of the herring family and related to the American shad. They can be caught by using small shad darts on ultra light spinning tackle, or on a variety of small “shad flies” on fly rods.

Kayaks are especially effective for catching hickory shad as their shallow draft allows anglers to explore smaller creeks in search of schools.

Hickories are smaller than American shad, averaging 14 inches in length, with large specimens topping 20 inches.In most states, fisheries allow for recreational catch and release only. The best fishing for shad often occurs at dawn and dusk.

source: MD DNR

Friday, April 1, 2011

Best Kayaking Areas in Maryland

Maryland has a diverse range of areas for kayaking. The state's waterways range from fast moving whitewater rapids to saltwater tidal marshes of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coast.

Western Maryland offers some of the most striking scenery in the state.

Both the upper branch of the Potomac and the Youghiogheny River are famous for their whitewater kayaking opportunities.

Deep Creek Lake (3900 acres) is the largest lake in Maryland. Although its size and boat traffic can be a factor, Deep Creek Lake is a perennial favorite among Maryland kayakers. Deep Creek lake also has man-made areas for white water kayaking.

In Garrett County, Broadford Lake (140 acres) is popular among kayak fishermen. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, panfish, and tiger musky.

Piney Reservoir (Garrett County) - This lake has largemouth bass, yellow perch, tiger musky, rainbow trout, and a variety of pan fish.

Youghiogheny Reservoir lies along the Maryland - Pennsylvania border. The reservoir is known for its outstanding fishing for smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, northern pike, yellow perch, brown trout, and rainbow trout.

Blairs Valley Lake is located in Washington County on the Maryland - Pennsylvania border.

Rocky Gap Lake - Lake Habeeb in Allegany County is another western Maryland lake where kayaking is popular.


In the Northeast part of the state, kayakers can explore rivers such as the Susquehanna and Elk. The lower reaches of these famous rivers are important nurseries for fish and wildlife.

On the Western Shore, historic rivers such as the Severn, Patuxent and Patapsco offer exceptional sightseeing trips.

In Harford and Baltimore Counties, Gunpowder Falls State Park encompasses Big and Little Gunpowder Falls and the Gunpowder River. Topography within the park ranges from tidal marshes and wetlands to steep, rugged slopes. For kayakers, the Hammerman Area offers Gunpowder River access, with beaches and launch facilities for kayaks.

The Potomac River is a nationally famous river for kayaking. Potomac River kayakers can choose from a variety of environments, including fast moving white water, main river trips or excursions along the lower Potomac's tidal marshes. The Potomac is known for its excellent fishing with both freshwater and saltwater species occupying its waters.

On Maryland's Eastern Shore, several rivers provide outstanding habitats for kayakers. Upstream, these rivers are home to cypress swamps and other black water environments. Many of these areas are teaming with fish, birds, reptiles and other wildlife.

In Queen Anne's County, Tuckahoe State Park offers access for kayaking. The main attraction of the park is Tuckahoe Creek, a quiet stream which runs through the length of the park. The park's 60-acre lake is perfect for kayaking and fishing.

The southern counties of Wicomico, Worcestor and Somerset have several outstanding kayaking destinations that are suitable for fishing, birdwatching, and viewing wildlife.

The Wicomico River has plenty of kayaking access. In its upper reaches, the river offers good fishing for largemouth bass. As the river nears Tangier Sound, white perch, striped bass and catfish dominate catches.

In Somerset County, Janes Island State Park offers excellent access. Kayakers can explore the creek that borders the park, or venture farther out to dozens of isolated islands in the Chesapeake Bay.