Signs of Spring - White Perch and Herring

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If you’re one of those St. Patty’s Day revelers who may have started your celebration a wee bit early this weekend, and are now licking your celebratory wounds, pull it together long enough to get in on the white perch run. For the most part, the yellows are done their spawn. It’s on to whites now—which is not to say you won't land a ned or two—so by all means don’t doddle. It’s also worth noting we’ve heard the first wave of herring is already up the creeks, and perhaps even hickory shad though we've yet to confirm that. Point here being spring is here, perhaps not by the official calendar, but by the fish calendar. And that’s all that really counts. WHERE: You should be able to catch enough corpulent white perch in many upper Bay tributaries on both the western and Eastern Shore for a nice fish fry. On the Magothy and Patuxent rivers, as well as the upper creeks from Chesapeake Beach past Middle River the white perch run has been on for about a week. So too on the Nanticoke, especially if you launch out of Sharptown. Our guess is that on the Choptank River the fish have moved well above Kingston Landing, maybe as far as Red Bridges. You should expect success above and below Hillsboro’s bridge on Tuckahoe Creek, and ranging up past Route 404 bridge. Definitely don't overlook the feeder creeks: tributaries of Middle River, Bush River, and Wye River are but a few examples. For that matter you may want to explore any of the upper Bay drainages; you just might be surprised at what you find. WHAT TO USE: Fishing the white perch run is similar to fishing neds. If you want dinner, your best bet is drifting minnows or worms (bloodworms or nightcrawlers), pinned either to a plain hook (#6 or smaller) with split shot or in combination with a jig. Tied in tandem a couple of our favorite rigs are a shad dart or and/crappie jig of 1/16-1/4 ounce tipped with minnows. Don’t be surprised if you attract a pickerel with this lure/bait combo. We often like to use float, experimenting with how far apart. Start with 5’. If the fish are in deeper water, however, ditch the float and work the bottom, being careful to keep your offering out of the muck and in the strike zone. You should get a bite within first 10 minutes. If not change up tactics, and consider moving spots. As a side note in the local ponds and reservoirs fat bluegills and crappies are hitting waxworms suspended from a bobber.
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