Help Maryland with a problem while enjoying great fishing

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Three fishing friends contacted me last week and asked if I wanted to join them on a short trip to Maryland’s Elk Neck State Park for what they described as some exciting angling.

Hot weather aside, I was all for it.

A one and a half hour journey put us at the state park’s Rogues Harbor Boat Launch as first light was breaking in the eastern sky. From there, we entered the wide and slow-moving Elk River as it flows south to empty into the Chesapeake Bay.

Before we climbed into the boat I took a minute to read a posted sign from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, asking anglers to remove any flathead and blue catfish they caught, as those fish species are considered invasive to the river.

My companions told me that the excitement of hooking into a blue catfish is why we were there.

Having fished here numerous times in the past, my friends had a good idea of their favorite fishing spots. We motored down river about a quarter mile and anchored about 300 yards from the shoreline near a drop-off.

Fishing was slow at first, but quickly a few channel catfish were hooked. These fish reach a really good size in this river, and provide excellent enjoyment for those who latch onto one, but they are not blue catfish, which my friends have landed on prior trips, with some that reach up to 30 pounds and more.

The river here reaches two miles wide at some places, and we jumped around to various spots to try our luck. A steady wind whipped up some whitecaps — which the boat handled well — but made for some bouncing rod tips that had bait and light weights on the lines’ end, sometimes fooling us into thinking that a fish swimming along the bottom was flirting with our hooked bait.

At our third stop, a couple more channel cats were landed, but then one of the rods bent quickly and deeply, and when the hook was struck, the reel’s drag moaned as more line peeled away. A 15-minute battle ended with a huge blue cat in the net.

For those who have never caught a blue catfish, they are strikingly appealing with their shining blue-tinted head, back and sides, and white undersides on a huge sinking belly. My friends have also found their flesh to be pearly white and solid in texture, and particularly good tasting when breaded and deep fried.

For anglers living in the southeastern portion of Pennsylvania, a short trip south to Elk Neck State Park may certainly provide some great catfish angling. Just rig up some normal catfish bait, place it on the river’s bottom, and possibly land a big blue catfish — all the while helping Maryland with an invasive problem.

Categories: Blog Content, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe

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