As the days grow longer, yellow perch fishing will start to heat up in the Upper Bay, some of its tributaries and salt ponds.

“Maryland hosts an excellent yellow perch fishery, which provides delicious fare for Maryland tables and fine outings for families, especially those with young anglers in need of a break from cabin fever,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service Director Tom O’Connell.

Over the past several years, DNR fisheries biologists and stakeholders have worked together to improve management of the species and revitalize the yellow perch population. The resulting cooperative management plan has provided ample opportunity for the recreational and commercial fisheries. Each year, DNR biologists assess the status and trends in the yellow perch population. Maryland fisheries managers then use the data to determine the amount of fish that can be safely caught leaving plenty of fish to spawn and thrive. The rest depends mostly on nature.

Yellow perch reproduction has been relatively low for a few years. Therefore, DNR has adjusted commercial harvest quotas accordingly and closely monitors the recreational harvest to ensure target fishing levels are not exceeded. Consequently, despite a lull in reproduction, the population has remained strong enough to support a good fishery, but anglers may have to log more time to catch their creel in 2013

“The 2011 year class appears to be quite strong. These two-year-old fish will be undersized for the 2013 season, but the news bodes well for fishing seasons to come. Although reproduction has been lower of late, the recent levels are still higher on average than they were in the late 1970’s through early 1990’s,” said DNR biologist Paul Piavis.

Recreational yellow perch fishing is open year round with a nine-inch minimum size and a 10 fish per day limit in tidal waters. Check these DNR webpages to find Eastern Shore and Western Shore yellow perch fishing locations. During these freezing spells, Western Maryland anglers can carefully take advantage of a hole in the ice to fool yellow perch. Maryland has no yellow perch creel or size limit in nontidal lakes except in Deep Creek Lake, where the limit is 10 per day.

DNR asks yellow perch anglers to support the agency’s goal of sustainable fisheries management by taking part in the online Volunteer Angler Survey.

Seafood lovers who enjoy eating local artisan foods should watch for the arrival of fresh yellow perch in the markets and restaurants. The harvest has begun, and it will end when the commercial quota is achieved in late February or early March.

Image courtesy Maryland DNR

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