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A Fish Story by Ross Williams

Updated: Apr 23, 2022

It might be hard to imagine that there is anything going on in the cold Patuxent River before the daffodils are blooming, but spring comes early for some fish. Yellow Perch, White Perch, and Alewife are all early spring spawners. The earliest, the colorful Yellow Perch, begin to gather In the middle of February in our local tributaries like Mattaponi Creek or Western Branch as well as the Patuxent near Wayson’s Corner. They will lay their strands of eggs far up in the creeks on branches or vegetation on the warmest days toward the end of February and early March. While the Yellow Perch are spawning, Alewife can be found in the same areas but they will wait to spawn a little later in March and into April after they arrived from the ocean and avoided nets from fishing ships.

I observed these shimmering silvery fish in Western Branch, although they have been rare recently. White Perch are also beginning to form groups in March at mouths of tributaries, in Patuxent and Jug Bay. When April comes, they will run to Upper Marlboro in the Western Branch and to Queen Anne’s Bridge in the Patuxent. Fishermen know this and can be seen casting their lines in downtown Upper Marlboro for the brief spawning period. The White Perch eggs will simply float slowly downstream to hatch and the fry will eat plankton while drifting along the way. People observe and catch fish at Wayson’s Corner or Western Branch along Race track Road.

Grab a pole, put a colorful grub on a hook and join the fun.

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