Holy Saturday Fishing

I have taken-off from work to go fishing every Good Friday for many years, but this year it rained, shifting Good Friday to Holy Saturday fishing.

Dave and I went to Shad Landing at Pocomoke River State Park, near Snow Hill, Maryland, just inland from Ocean City.  We met up with Jeff, who was camping with his two sons Paulie the younger, and Nate the older.

We left at sunrise and arrived to Shad Landing around 9:00 AM.  Our high today was 60-degrees, and we fished from low tide (concentrates the fish), then on a rising tide through the mid-day, six-hour tide cycle.


The fresh tidal Pocomoke River, Corkers Creek and the Nasawango are some of my favorite fishing locations in Maryland, as these water-bodies are lined with extensive and near pristine bald cypress woodlands.


Paulie hauls-out a beautiful yellow-breasted sunfish.


The lure of the day was a white-colored jig, and we went on to catch nearly 100 fish on the day, including large-mouth bass, yellow and white perch, golden shiner, bluegill, chain pickerel, yellow-breasted sunfish and the dominant catch of the day was black crappie.


Dave holds-up an example of a native golden shiner.


Get the net or continue to take pictures?  It was a big fish, so I’d better get the net.


Yes, it was a monster chain pickerel, now to land him.


The large-girthed pickerel came in at 22-inches long.


Time to go back into the water.  Paulie and Nate watched from the nearby boat, enlivened by the thought that any cast could catch a lunker.


Jeff then catches a nice bluegill.  We were all using light action and ultra-light action rods with six to eight pound test, and usually bobbers to help keep the lures off of the bottom, where getting hung-up on woody debris is likely.


Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) was in flower throughout the swamp and forested shoreline.  This native shrub is one of the very first natives to flower in the spring.  Highbush blueberry was also in flower.  I could see the bud swell of swamp azalea and fringe tree and also the semi-evergreen Carolina cross-vine, which occurs at the northernmost extent of its range in southern Maryland.


The faint scent of serviceberry hung in the air, as early insect pollinators came visiting.  You can force bloom serviceberry branch cuttings to flower in the winter just like forsythia, lilac, redbud, pussy willow, pear, cherry and apple.  Serviceberry was occasionally used as a winter cutting bloom for Catholic mass, Sunday services and funerals.


Dave went on to catch a few more pickerel, with the fishing remaining hot.


Just as I snapped this photo, a beaver slapped his tail after entering the water from the bank, to show his displeasure that we were fishing so near his lodge.


Being hooked on a submerged branch or overhanging shoreline vegetation is common, but the retying of lures is worth the multitude of fish that can be caught.


We expected more yellow perch, assuming that the spawning run was just finishing-up.


Most fish were in deep holes and pockets, usually on the outside meander bends, and up under overhanging vegetation and large woody debris blow-downs.


The northern red-bellied cooter (Pseudemys rubriventris) was a common sight basking on river logs.

Cooters are large turtles, and the adults have olive-brown to black shells (upper carapace).  The plastron (lower shell) is primarily red, with some yellow or orange coloration.  The head, neck and limbs of most individuals are black, sometimes with narrow yellow eye stripes.  Adults often appear completely black when viewed from a distance, or if not clean.  In general, the patterns of both shell and and skin become less distinguishable with age, with most adults becoming mostly black.  On average, adult females are larger than males, and prefer relatively deep aquatic habitats, including ponds, and slow moving brackish or freshwater rivers.  The northern red-bellied cooter is a habitual basker and during warm weather will be observed sunning on logs and stumps.


The yellow-breasted sunfish were coming into breeding colors.


It was a beautiful day on the Pocomoke, with spatterdock emerging in the shallows to better define the deep channels of backwater creeks.


Is this the fetal position for just having been unable to land a lunker, or a quick respite between hot fishing holes?


Arriving back to the Shad Landing campground late in the afternoon, we could smell the campfires, and the likelihood for evening fish on the grill.  A great day was had by all.

Thank you Dave and thank you Jeff, perennial fishing buddies, and it was a pleasure to finally meet Jeff’s two boys Nate and Paulie, who I’m sure will carry on the tradition of camping and fishing weekends.