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Thread: Chain Pickerel Possession Limit

  1. #11
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    Thanks for the feedback John. For clarification, when you say the modest populations are “somewhat stressed”, is that based on any formal study, or your lack of success. No disrespect intended, I just want to make sure I correctly understand what you said.


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  2. #12
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    I really appreciate John's insightful and measured response.

    The MD DNR is not aware of a tidal pickerel decline. I know because I recently asked them. I suspect pickerel are not a fish of high interest within the DNR. They certainly do not merit the attention of state officials that striped bass, black bass and snakeheads do. Those species get a whole lot more DNR attention and justifiably so because their potential economic impact on the state is far greater than that of the pickerel. (Those of you on this forum who attended today's excellent CCA event at Bass Pro certainly got that message today.)

    I do not profess to be an expert angler. But I am pretty good at catching fish with lures and flies. I have not caught a tidal pickerel since November, 2016. Yet I catch them routinely when I visit Eastern Shore ponds in both MD and DE. I know how to catch them. And I caught them often in the Severn's tributaries prior to last fall.

    I am not the only one who has noticed their decline in tidal waters. Others have stated they are scarce in the Magothy and the South Rivers. They have stated so here and on other forums. That is why I queried the DNR. Unfortunately, the DNR had no explanation to me other than to say pickerel populations fluctuate with the predominance of SAV. Nor did the DNR acknowledge a scarcity to my query. Frankly, I think tidal pickerel are not a significant blip on their radar screen with so many other economically important fish in MD for them to track.

    As someone mentioned on this thread, I am an angler completely uninformed on pickerel catch limits. I've caught many and never kept one. I was surprised to read here that they have a limit of 10 in tidal waters. From what I understand, pickerel are not migratory fish. I believe they live their entire lives in or close to the creeks and tidal ponds into which they were spawned. Given their likelihood to stay in or near home waters, a limit of 10 daily would seem to be excessive, especially if they were heavily pursued. A few highly motivated anglers could seriously decimate a population in a particular tidal creek. But what do I know about fisheries management other than as I said above I have not caught a tidal pickerel in 12 months? Limits are for the experts to decide.

    So I join John in saying that since the fall of 2016 there are absolutely fewer tidal pickerel to catch in the Severn waters we have access to. As fairly proficient anglers, our combined lack of success in catching them is an indicator that something is very different from prior years. My hope is that the present decline is just a cyclical aberration and they will bounce back in the years to come.

    I thoroughly enjoy catching them. They are my primary local target in cool weather when most other fish depart the Severn. They've given me many hours of enjoyment in the late fall, winter and early spring and they pose an excellent challenge on light tackle. I like to put them back so that I and others can meet up with them time and time again. They may get tired of seeing me. But I never get tired of seeing them! And I've missed them a lot in the past 12 months.
    Last edited by Mark; 11-19-2017 at 09:37 PM.
    Mark

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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtyjake237 View Post
    It is a little confusing but I'll do my best to explain. The same rule applies here, total possession limit is 2 times the daily creel limit... But there is a catch. In non tidal water the daily creel limit is 5 and the total possession limit is 10. In tidal water the daily creel limit is 10. So total possession is 10 and one good day on the Severn fills your total possession limit. I'm glad you asked and wanted to also give you this link to the COMARS it is the state reg.
    http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/com...8.02.11.04.htm
    So there are options, you can store some of those pickerel in my freezer if you want?!?
    -

    It appears there are conflicting regs ........ the one I saw said there was a closed season and yours says there is no closed season

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Memory Maker View Post
    -

    It appears there are conflicting regs ........ the one I saw said there was a closed season and yours says there is no closed season
    Rick - There is a closed season for keeping pickerel from March 15 to some time in April. That was established to allow them to reproduce. That closed season definitely applies to tidal pickerel. I don't know if it also applies to freshwater pickerel.
    John Veil
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  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Thanks for the feedback John. For clarification, when you say the modest populations are “somewhat stressed”, is that based on any formal study, or your lack of success. No disrespect intended, I just want to make sure I correctly understand what you said.


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    Although I am not trained as a fisheries biologist, I have worked with environmental issues, primarily water-related, for my entire career (over 37 years now). Some of that work got into ecology and fisheries populations and management. Pickerel are naturally freshwater fish. Their physiology evolved for freshwater environments. Pickerel seem to have the ability to move into brackish waters, like the Severn, Magothy, and South rivers. But they are not optimally suited for that environment. When a species or a local population lives in conditions that are somewhat marginal (in this case primarily fluctuating salinity), they are more susceptible to different sorts of perturbations, like a spill of oil or chemical, a prolonged hot spell that lowers dissolved oxygen, or stormwater runoff. Also human interventions such as excessive catch and keep, or catch and release in a careless manner, can also weaken or kill individual fish.

    As Mark noted above, I believe that Severn pickerel remain more or less in place throughout the year and are not migratory. They are caught less often in the summer for various reasons. I don't know which of these is more important, but I suspect they both play some role: 1) during warm weather, thousands of perch are in the same shallow shoreline habitats. They often grab my lure before a pickerel gets there. As the perch move away from the shallows in mid October, pickerel catches go up immediately. 2) There is so much natural food available for the pickerel during the warmer months that they don't need to work as hard to find food and are less likely to hit a lure.

    I have been fishing from my kayaks for pickerel in certain Severn creeks for about a decade. Given the poor public access on the Severn, I am limited to fishing in tributaries from half a mile upstream from Rt 50 to half a mile downstream from Rt 450. In the roughly ten tributaries within that range, I have caught pickerel in all of them, but have observed cyclical catch success. The creek where I first started winter pickerel fishing from the shoreline was good for the first two years then dropped to almost no catches for the next several years. Three years ago I did well there, then it dropped again for the next two years. During the same time that fishing went up and down in that creek, pickerel fishing in other creeks also fluctuated, but not on the same cycle as the first creek. I have never experienced a winter that had poor to nonexistent catches in up to ten of my tributaries at the same time. That is the evidence that leads me to believe the pickerel decline is a wider phenomenon than just the natural cyclical behavior.
    John Veil
    Annapolis
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    Member - Pro Staff team for Native Watercraft

    Author - "Fishing in the Comfort Zone" - light tackle fishing techniques for kayaks and small boats

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Why is that? Population? I've been hammering them on the Severn. I assumed the stocks were high. Where I'm from they're considered a nuisance fish.


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    you are about the only one catching them ... lol the #s here have been TERRIBLEEEEEE the last 2 years as far as size goes
    Zach Moore
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.A. Veil View Post
    Although I am not trained as a fisheries biologist, I have worked with environmental issues, primarily water-related, for my entire career (over 37 years now). Some of that work got into ecology and fisheries populations and management. Pickerel are naturally freshwater fish. Their physiology evolved for freshwater environments. Pickerel seem to have the ability to move into brackish waters, like the Severn, Magothy, and South rivers. But they are not optimally suited for that environment. When a species or a local population lives in conditions that are somewhat marginal (in this case primarily fluctuating salinity), they are more susceptible to different sorts of perturbations, like a spill of oil or chemical, a prolonged hot spell that lowers dissolved oxygen, or stormwater runoff. Also human interventions such as excessive catch and keep, or catch and release in a careless manner, can also weaken or kill individual fish.

    As Mark noted above, I believe that Severn pickerel remain more or less in place throughout the year and are not migratory. They are caught less often in the summer for various reasons. I don't know which of these is more important, but I suspect they both play some role: 1) during warm weather, thousands of perch are in the same shallow shoreline habitats. They often grab my lure before a pickerel gets there. As the perch move away from the shallows in mid October, pickerel catches go up immediately. 2) There is so much natural food available for the pickerel during the warmer months that they don't need to work as hard to find food and are less likely to hit a lure.

    I have been fishing from my kayaks for pickerel in certain Severn creeks for about a decade. Given the poor public access on the Severn, I am limited to fishing in tributaries from half a mile upstream from Rt 50 to half a mile downstream from Rt 450. In the roughly ten tributaries within that range, I have caught pickerel in all of them, but have observed cyclical catch success. The creek where I first started winter pickerel fishing from the shoreline was good for the first two years then dropped to almost no catches for the next several years. Three years ago I did well there, then it dropped again for the next two years. During the same time that fishing went up and down in that creek, pickerel fishing in other creeks also fluctuated, but not on the same cycle as the first creek. I have never experienced a winter that had poor to nonexistent catches in up to ten of my tributaries at the same time. That is the evidence that leads me to believe the pickerel decline is a wider phenomenon than just the natural cyclical behavior.

    John I seen Several Pickerel in the severn and magothy last year with very large red sores on them. Not sure what happened.

    But i also have this theory about Salinity..

    Like you said, they are a fresh water fish. Colder months the salinity goes down, and they become more active. What gets me is the amount of red fish, trout, and tropical fish, and dolphins finding their way into the bay the last year in a half. Making me think these pickerel are either moving... or going deeper for more oxygen or something.. It was pretty normal to hit my creek in the magothy and catch 50 fish in a few hours.. now im busting butt to catch 2-3 in 4-5 hours.

    Something definitely changed
    Zach Moore
    Delaware Paddle Sports Fishing Team
    Fishal Custom Baits Pro Staff
    Bait Towel Pro Staff
    2017 Hobie Pro Angler 12
    YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSa...8WkC2WzHhAjVaQ

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