Fly fishing

Chris Dollar outside: Annual shad run filled rivers and streams up and down the Chesapeake

The shad race, like the trees that share the name of this incredible transient fish, is in full bloom along with a myriad of other foliage. Spring has arrived, with no clearer sign than these anadromous fish pulsating in the creeks and rivers of the Chesapeake Bay from which they originated.

From the upper James and Rappahannock rivers to Fletcher’s Landing of the Potomac and Deer Creek of Susquehanna and points in between, the fishing has been good for these migrating visitors, at least when we have a break from the rough weather. Hit that. The weather has been just terrible lately. Let’s hope for a period of good weather so that those who have not yet cast a line for the shad have a chance.

On a different note, charter skippers and guides as well as sport fishers, who I believe have been unfairly excluded from catch-and-release stripper fishing in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake, have turned to blue catfish to entertain and feed their customers. . And the action was taken down.

Along the coast, the exceptional track of black drums seems to roll straight. Assateague’s beaches produce good catches for surfers. I saw a post and photo from Scott Lenox’s fishing report ( of a 70 pound monster black drum that CW Wells caught in the surf on Assateague Island. Heartbreaking, congratulations.

Early spring is also prime time for the traveling angler, who smartly heads south to the Carolinas or Florida to chase fish. Last week, I received a text from John Rivers, a native of Annapolis, who took his family to the Florida Keys to smartly avoid the lingering March conditions.

Fishing with Big Dawg Sportfishing in Islamorada, they set up near Seven Mile Bridge. John shared that they tagged a few tarpons on the bottom and saw two rolling right over the bridge shadow line. Then his son, Landon, 13, launched a strike, sending a mullet into the big fish skill.

Never one to pass up an easy meal, the tarpon inhaled the bait and away they went. Landon let him run with the mule, then flipped the bail and started staggering. And bam! He was hip! After about 15 minutes of fighting, the Silver King, who the skipper said weighed around 80+ pounds, was released to fight another day.

Landon commented, “It was tough but worth it. Now I want one on the fly.

It’s good to have angling goals, and it looks like the future of sport fishing is looking bright with anglers like Landon on the water. And this is also another example that most anglers enjoy the experience rather than just filling the fish box.

If there was one upside to the two-year lockdown caused by COVID-19, it’s that vast numbers of Americans have discovered — or rediscovered as the case may be — the joys and mental health benefits of getting outside.

Maryland has seen huge increases in visitors to its public parks, peaking at more than 21 million at 75 state parks in 2020. Overflowing crowds forced park rangers to close 14 state parks 292 times, which state officials say was triple the number of times. they turned away visitors in 2019.

The unprecedented crowds brought to light what many have known for years – that Maryland’s state parks are in dire need of improvements across the board. And with the passage of the Great Maryland Outdoors Act at the just-concluded General Assembly, that is exactly what will happen.

An infusion of funds will begin to address long-overdue maintenance projects, expand access in existing parks, and acquire land for the parks. Addressing staffing shortages, expanding recreation facilities, and improving equity of access are also part of the Great Maryland Outdoors Act.

In addition, the new law will allocate funds for infrastructure that improves bike paths and trails. The legislation was spearheaded by State Senator Sarah Elfreth, a Democrat from Anne Arundel County, and Rep. Eric Luedtke, a Democrat from Montgomery County, who also co-chaired the State Park Investment Commission which studied how to improve Maryland state parks and supported by many outdoor and conservation groups.

“You [can] talk to anyone [park] tidy up in the system in any part of the state of Maryland, and they’ll tell you they’re struggling to keep up with just basic park maintenance tasks,” Luedtke told the Appropriations Committee of the general Assembly.

The timing of the new law could not have come at a better time. Congratulations to all those who contributed to its adoption.

Until April 30: Striped closure. No targeting of striped bass, including catch and release.

May 1-15: Spring stripper season. One tracer per day, minimum size 35 inches, in the Chesapeake from Brewerton Channel to the Virginia state line.

May 1: Boatyard Bar & Grill Opening Day Tournament. Register at

May 12: Past, Present, and Future of Striped Bass: A Chesapeake Perspective. The first of three free seminars, “The Dark Years: Lessons from the Striper Moratorium of 1985-1990,” will be broadcast live from 7-8:30 p.m. Hosted by FishTalk magazine, presented by the Coastal Conservation Association and partners. Sign up for free at

June 4: 19th Annual Kent Narrows Fly & Light Tackle Tournament. Sign up at

June 25-26: 4th Annual Fish N’ Paddle Saltwater Slam Kayak Fishing Tournament. Ocean City, MD. Sign up at

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