Sunday, March 24, 2013

What? A perch run? And what's happening at St. Mary's Lake?

-- Keith Lockwood photo/MD DNR
Apparently not all the yellow perch news in the tidal creeks of Maryland is bad. The Department of Natural Resources' Keith Lockwood has a picture on the state fishing report and with it, Keith says that anglers along the upper Tuckahoe River on the Eastern Shore are hooking fat white perch and yellow perch.

While Southern Marylanders correctly complain that the yellow perch are almost non-existant, Keith says there are mixed bags of both species caught in Caroline County's upper Tuckahoe and Choptank rivers. Occasionally, some fishermen bring in two at a time with one hook holding a yellow perch, the other a fat white perch as you can see in the photo,

On the bad side, the once top-ranked Wicomico River at Allen's Fresh and Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County have been very poor as concerns yellow perch spawning runs this year.

Not so good news comes from St. Mary's Lake

Keith Lockwood also passes along not-so-good news from St. Mary's Lake, south on Rte. 5 (turn left on Camp Cosoma Rd. when you see the brown St. Mary's River Park sign). Our long-time friend Mary Groves, the regional biologist for the DNR's Southern Region, reports that this popular fishing destination for anglers looking to catch largemouth bass, sunfish, crappies and chain pickerel has problems.

Kevin Wagner from the Southern Maryland
Bass Club helps deploy one of the structures
The lake is fed by streams naturally low in alkalinity and hardness providing little to buffer acidity that enters the system. This situation causes low productivity meaning that typical food webs struggle to maintain balance. 

Good habitat (partially submerged wood/trees, cobble or stones, rocks and deep pools) is even more important when water chemistry is less than desirable. St. Mary's Lake lacks enough permanent habitat to provide adequate shelter for various stages of fish growth or basic cover that many fish require. Inland Fisheries has tried to improve habitat in St. Mary's Lake for more than two decades. Some of the projects included hand-planting of aquatic vegetation and fencing off the area to discourage foraging animals, seeding exposed shoreline when the lake was drawn down for repairs, and installing artificial submerged bushes made of rot-resistant wood. 

The most recent addition to St. Mary's Lake are submerged tunnel-like structures (approx. 2 ft. X 8 ft.) that are anchored just off the bottom of the lake. They have artificial "grass," made of frayed polypropylene rope. 

Inland Fisheries will monitor the success of these structures periodically to assess fish use and durability. Anglers are asked to not float directly over the structures and to avoid casting near the floats in order to keep from snagging the ropes used to mark the tunnel structures. Any questions can be directed to the Southern Region Inland Fisheries Manager at 301-888-2423 or email at mgroves@dnr.state.md.us.

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