Big Fish on
Deep Creek Lake
By Capt. Brent Nelson
Here is everything you always
wanted to know about catching big fish in
but were afraid to ask.
The 4-pound largemouth bass Mary Ann
Johnson lifted from the chilly, high-country waters of Deep
Creek Lake was just one example of the lunker action that
awaits anglers in far western
The trophy fish struck a
Plastics Fat Grub fished slowly on the bottom in 9 feet of
It was one of the larger bass of
Johnson’s fishing career.
She just needed someone to point
her in the right direction.
away in Maryland
’s western most county,
offers an angler 65 miles of shoreline surrounding 3,900 acres
of water. Deep
Creek Lake is
's largest freshwater impoundment. The lake was created in 1925
to provide water for generating electricity, which it still
does, but it now also provides a variety of water- based
activities for the summer vacation community which since has
grown up around the lake.
This high country impoundment has long been known for its
stellar coldwater fisheries. Largemouth and smallmouth bass,
trophy-sized trout, pike, pickerel, walleyes, bluegills and
yellow perch are abundant here. Three
Maryland state record fish were taken from
over the last ten years. A bluegill that weighed 3 pounds and
seven ounces, a yellow perch that touched the scales at two
pounds six ounces and a behemoth northern pike that weighed in
at twenty four pounds twelve ounces are now in the record books.
Area anglers who want to sample this
excellent fishery have only a short ride and the well maintained
, to begin their quest.
The park offers shoreline anglers a
handicapped accessible fishing pier where walleyes, perch,
trout, pike and bass can be taken with some regularity. Adjacent
to the fishing pier is the 4 lane boat launching facility with
piers and boat slips.
Seasonal Tactics and Patterns
Seasonal fishing tactics vary on
The end of March usually signals ice-out and many fish species
begin to migrate to warmer northwest coves and shorelines facing
the sun’s southern rays.
Walleyes, perch and northern pike
are the first to spawn and savvy anglers pursue these fish in
the lake’s shallow, back-cove waters.
Northern pike find it hard to pass
up a big shiner minnow, free-lined under a float.
Another tactic we employ is a 1/2 oz
spinnerbait slow rolled through the up-lake backwaters in
the pike's nursery. The walleyes
and perch prefer smaller presentations such as Case Plastic
plastic grubs, in-line spinners and smaller
Rapala Countdown in a perch color.
As lake waters warm in April and May, both
smallmouth and largemouth bass make short sojourns from deeper
secondary lake points to these same shallow waters to take their
turn in the spawning ritual. Bass are aggressive now and can be
Here's where a
Mizmo tube shines when pitched and skipped under secondary
point docks. A closed season on
bass, until June 15th, was implemented by
Maryland ’s Department of Natural Resources three
decades ago and as a result, bass populations are healthy and
You may fish for either species,
but they must be returned to the lake immediately.
Summertime is tourist time on Deep Creek
and congestion from ski boats, jet skies and pontoon boats turn
into the Times Square of Garrett County.
Most anglers fish early or late in
the day to avoid the rush.
Many fish feed nocturnally and
night-time anglers score big on bass, trout and walleyes.
Early AM is “topwater” time. As dawn
arrives, tiny zoo plankton, attracted to the light migrate to
the lakes surface, signaling breakfast for small perch,
bluegills and trout.
Bass form the back-end of this food
chain and feed aggressively on these small fish. A noisy
Rapala Skitter Prop or
Bigmouth buzzbait will imitate this
behavior and garner vicious strikes from both smallmouth and
As the sun gets high in the sky, bass
retreat to the shadows and shade offered by docks and pontoon
boats moored around the lake. A medium action spinning reel
spooled with ten pound test monofilament mounted on a
Gator Rod will become the
successful anglers best tool.
Case Magic Stiks,
Mizmo tubes and
plastic worms must now be presented to these fish by skipping
the bait across the waters surface and up and under the docks
Allow the bait to fall on a
semi-slack line. Look for any movement of the line signaling
that a fish has picked up the bait before setting the hook.
For the kids, nothing beats a piece of
night crawler or a cricket on a small hook under a float.
Bluegills, perch and bass are
caught by young anglers every year who employ this technique.
The cool, calm and peaceful high-country
days arrive again after Labor Day and anglers usually have the
lake all to themselves. Submerged aquatic vegetation (milfoil
and wild celery) in the deeper water has peeked and many fish
find sanctuary here.
A weedless worm or jig presentation
works well as does a white spinnerbait, for the lakes bass.
Walleye anglers troll crankbaits
and vertically jig spoons with plenty of success as fall
temperatures cool the lake waters.
Don’t expect to become a piscatorial
vacuum cleaner every time you visit this jewel in the Maryland mountains.
Some days and nights, and
especially after a high pressure system dominates the weather
pattern, the bites can be few and far between. But if you’re the
enterprising type angler with an eye for a different change of
try and reap its menagerie of rewards.
native Brent Nelson is a U.S.
Coast Guard licensed captain and guides for Ken Penrod’s Life
He shepherds anglers on
Deep Creek Lake and the Tidal Potomac River near Washington D.C.
He can be contacted at (410) 799-9326 Visit his website: