Think You’re A Master Angler?


Master Angler, the highest award in Maryland’s FishMaryland program, requires the catch of trophy-sized specimens of 10 species in Maryland waters. Jason Pugh recently became one the four anglers ever to achieve Master Angler status.

Paugh reached this milestone award by catching a largemouth bass (21.25 inches), smallmouth bass (20 inches), crappie (16.75 inches), northern pike (47.25 inches), chain pickerel (25.25 inches), rock bass (10.75 inches), yellow perch (14.25 inches), carp (38 inches), bluegill (11 inches), and wild brook trout (12.25 inches).

“Angler participation in the FishMaryland program has been tremendous since its launch in January 2019,” said Erik Zlokovitz, Maryland’s fishing outreach coordinator. “FishMarlyland showcases the array of freshwater and saltwater species available in Maryland, and we are thrilled for Mr. Paugh to be the fourth angler to receive the program’s highest award. It takes a great deal of talent, drive, and perseverance to earn Master Angler status.”

All but one of these fish were caught in Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, Maryland. Paugh caught the fish on artificial lures. The brook trout was caught in a small tributary of the Savage River system. Paugh is an avid freshwater bass angler, and in 2023, he caught 39 largemouth bass in Deep Creek Lake that met the minimum award size. He fishes primarily with jerkbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms, and small jigs that he designs to use around shoreline structures such as boat docks. The biggest and most surprising catch was a 47.25-inch northern pike that hit a small jerkbait intended for bass.

“I am extremely surprised and excited to learn that this is only the fourth Master Angler award granted in Maryland,” Paugh said.

Paugh has coached high school competitive bass fishing for five years, including four years with his son. The team he coached this year, from Northern Garrett County High School, is one of two teams from Maryland competing in the National High School Bass Fishing Finals Tournament next summer. Paugh has worked as a master electrician for a private company the past eight years, and previously was an electrician in Western Maryland’s coal mining industry for 18 years.

For more information, visit FishMaryland.

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