Avid Kayak and Shore Fisherman from Solomons becomes Eleventh FishMaryland Master Angler

New Master Angler Eric Packard fishes more than 200 days a year

Photo of man holding a fish

Eric Packard holds a hickory shad. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard

Eric Packard of Calvert County has earned a Master Angler Milestone Award under the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) FishMaryland program. The award recognizes recreational anglers who catch ten trophy-sized fish of different species in Maryland. Packard is the eleventh Master Angler since the program began in 2019. 

In addition to being an extremely avid angler—fishing an average of 240 days per year—Packard serves as a commissioner on the Maryland Sports Fisheries Advisory Commission, representing the tidal and non-tidal recreational anglers in southern Maryland. 

“A cast not taken is a fish not caught,” said Packard. “So get out and take that cast, you can’t catch a Maryland citation-sized fish if you don’t. It all starts with a simple cast.”

The FishMaryland program includes dozens of species from both salt and freshwater. Packard submitted entries for all ten catches and received individual certificates for each catch. The department will present the Master Angler Milestone Award certificate and a gift card prize to Bass Pro Shops at its store in Hanover, Maryland. Packard caught his tenth FishMaryland eligible fish, a spotted seatrout, on July 2, 2024, off of Point Lookout.

Packard’s qualifying catches, in order, were:

  • Chain pickerel – 26 inches
  • Largemouth bass – 22.25 inches
  • Chesapeake Channa (northern snakehead) – 30 inches
  • Red drum – 45 inches
  • Crappie – 15 inches 
  • Spanish mackerel – 22 inches
  • Hickory shad – 18 inches
  • Carp – 31 inches 
  • Striped bass – 43 inches
  • Spotted seatrout – 24 inches

Packard fishes frequently in Southern Maryland and in other parts of the state in fresh, brackish, and salt waters. He fishes mainly by kayak and shore, but also fishes on power boats with his extensive network of fishing friends. He is a contributing writer to FishTalk Magazine, providing content about kayak fishing, shoreline fishing, and weekly reports on fishing around the Chesapeake Bay region, fresh, and saltwater. 

During the rare times when Packard is not fishing, he paints as a self-taught artist working in oil paintings, ink or pencil drawings, and pastels. Packard worked in IT for the national office of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters before retiring. 

Packard has fished since youth and recalls his first time fishing alone in Kansas, where his father was stationed with the Army. “One day my mom said I could fish a nearby pond,” Packard said. “I remember finding a topwater bait hanging in a bush. I tied it onto my Zebco 77, took a cast, and a largemouth bass blew up on the bait. I believe I ran straight home to show my mom the fish! That fish was hooked and so was I.”

FishMaryland is Maryland’s recreational fishing award program and is a fun way to explore year-round recreational fishing and enjoy affordable, accessible, diverse, and high-quality fishing opportunities. More information on the Master Angler Milestone Award and the FishMaryland program is available on the program’s website.

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