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FishMaryland Master Angler Jason Paugh with a largemouth bass. Photo courtesy of Jason Paugh
Jason Paugh, of Red House, officially became the fourth Master Angler awarded under the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ FishMaryland program this month. The highest award in the program recognizes the skill and determination required to catch ten trophy-size fish species in Maryland that all meet the minimum award sizes.
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,” Maryland DNR Recreational Fishing Outreach Coordinator Erik Zlokovitz said. “FishMaryland 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 the 47.25-inch northern pike, which hit a small jerk bait intended for largemouth 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.
More information on the award program and how to submit catches is available on the DNR FishMaryland webpage.