|I had come down to Dorchester River primarily to paddle Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. But I also wanted to see Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area and the Transquaking River. i stayed in Cambridge the night before and it was a short drive to the WMA. It was a grey. cold and very windy day. My plan had been to paddled in the open Fishing Bay, but conditions just were not cooperating. It was blowing twenty five plus and the seas were nasty little 2 to 3 foot wind waves with big white caps everywhere. At the launch ramp, waves crashed into the ramp bulkheads sending spray flying over the parking lot. I investigated the area and noted many possibilities for future paddles, but not today. i drove to the north and to the more protected Transquaking River. There in the turns of the small river, I found a much more hospitable place to paddle. I launched at the ramp and paddled up river for a couple of hours and then returned. I passed under the vridge near Sand Hill into a small lake. it was quite shallow and I decided to turn back here. The down wind down current of the reversed path made for a fast return. This paddle made for a simple and safe day as an introduction to this part of Dorchester County.
From Maryland DNR site:
Fishing Bay WMA
Representing the largest parcel of publicly owned tidal wetlands in Maryland, Fishing Bay is also the state's largest wildlife management area. Large expanses of tidal marshes in this 21,000- acre area are punctuated by small islands of loblolly pine. Adjacent to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Fishing Bay contributes to one of the largest parcels of land set aside for wildlife in Maryland. Historically, Guinea and Chance's Islands, within Fishing Bay, were sites of early Native American settlements. The Nause-Waiwash tribe members still make annual visits to their ancestral homeland here.
What To See
Both the native white-tailed deer and the Asian sika deer can be found grazing on the wetland plants. Muskrats build their houses within the marsh and compete for habitat with the South American nutria, a large rodent whose voracious appetite for marsh plants threatens this fragile ecosystem. Bald eagles and osprey fish the open waters while ducks and geese enjoy the lush wetland plants. Most commonly seen waterfowl at Fishing Bay include mallards, black ducks, teal, gadwall, pintails, scaup and Canada geese. Many species of shorebirds may be seen or heard, including the secretive black rail.
What To Do
Hunters will find white-tailed and sika deer along the woodland fringe and marsh. Listen for the bugling and whistling of the sika deer stags from September through December. Mallards and black ducks are abundant on the inland ponds, while the best bet for bagging diving ducks, like scaup, is on the bays and river shoreline. Canada geese can be found on the marsh and in the open water. Fur trapping is offered by yearly lease. Saltwater fishing and crabbing are excellent. Public boat launching facilities at Bestpitch, Elliot Island and Shorter's Wharf are convenient to Fishing Bay. Mosquitoes and other biting insects are plentiful from spring through early fall. Bring insect repellent, minimize exposed skin and wear light-colored clothing. Check out a map of the area.
From the Bay Bridge, take U.S. Route 50 east to Cambridge. Follow Bucktown Road south to Bestpitch Ferry Road. Proceed south crossing the Transquaking River to the Fishing Bay entrance. Other sections of the area can be reached by Griffith's Neck Road, Maple Dam Road and Elliot Island Road. For additional information, contact the LeCompte Wildlife Office at (410) 376-3236.
Return to the DNR home page
Funding for Maryland's State and local parks and conservation areas is provided through The Department of Natural Resources' Program Open Space. Established in 1969, Program Open Space symbolizes Maryland's long term commitment to conserving natural resources while providing exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities.
Kayak photo by Tom Darden