Youth anglers were out last week catching Striped Bass for the second round of the Diamond Jim component of the Maryland Fishing Challenge and Fisheries biologists were tagging them as fast as the kids could catch them. One of these fish could be worth $25,000 and as long as at least one of them is caught by a fisherman this summer, someone is going to win some serious cash. Go to the Maryland Fishing Challenge featuring Diamond Jim web site for more information.
Photo Courtesy of Galeen Steele
In the upper most parts of the bay near the lower Susquehanna River and near by tidal rivers and channels fishermen are going to see cloudy water conditions this week due to storm water runoff. Along shoreline structure White Perch are being caught by light tackle fishermen casting a variety of small lures such as spinners and jigs; hopefully the cloudy water will not affect fishing too much. Sometimes using noisy lures such as spinners and small crankbaits will help fish detect your lure when visual sight is poor. There are plenty of Channel Catfish in the region and cut bait on a bottom rig tends to be a favorite method for catching them in the channel areas. There are Striped Bass in the tidal rivers and the early morning and late evening hours tend to offer the best action whether casting in the shallows or jigging along channel edges. At the Conowingo Dam late day power generation water releases often spur the Striped Bass into a feeding mood. Fishermen have been generally using medium sized spin casting rods for long casts into the dam pool with swim shads and crankbaits. Fishermen should keep an eye on the water releases this week for they may be large enough to curtail effective and safe fishing.
White Perch are being found on many of the reefs and knolls in the upper bay near Baltimore such as Man-O-War Shoals, the 9′ Knoll and the Snake Reefs. Most fishermen are slowly motoring over prospective structure and spotting fish holding before sending bottom rigs baited with bloodworms to the bottom. Boats continue to anchor up at traditional chumming locations such as Love and Swan Points, the Triple Buoys area and Podickory Point or Sandy Point Light. There are a lot of small undersized Striped Bass in the chum slicks but plenty of legal sized fish also. Trolling along the channel edges of these areas with spoons and bucktails has been a slow pick and jigging over suspended fish when found is offering plenty of action. Jim Thompson and Jason Haney found schools of suspended Striped Bass near the Bay Bridge and stayed with them for several hours catching and releasing fish. Jim holds up a nice one for the camera and also took a picture of what the school looked like on his depth finder.
Photos Courtesy of Jason Haney
The middle bay region around Thomas Point to the mouth of Eastern Bay and south to Breezy Point and the False Channel continues to provide excellent Striped Bass fishing opportunities for fishermen this week. A very nice grade of Striped Bass is stacked up on the 25′ to 35′ slopes of the channel areas such as the Hill and waiting for fishermen to either drop a delectable live Spot down to them or troll a spoon by. There are plenty of Spot to be found in the shallower portions of the bay and the tidal rivers although fishermen are beginning to report that some of the Spot they are catching are a bit too large to live line. Trolling spoons and bucktails with inline weight to get them down to the fish are working well alone channel edges and ballast stone piles. Chumming has been popular on the outside edge of Hackett’s Bar and Thomas and Tolley’s Points. Light tackle jigging can also be very productive along channel edges where fish are suspended.
Striped Bass fishing in the lower bay region has been a bit slow the past couple of weeks and a lot of boats are making the run up the bay to locations such as the Hill. Chumming at the Middle Grounds, the Mud Leads and near the mouth of the Potomac River has been fair. Fishermen do report though that there is a high number of sub-legal Striped Bass in their chum slicks. Striped Bass fishing in the lower bay is being reported to be good in the Patuxent River and around Cedar Point for light tackle fishermen casting or jigging a variety of lures.
The shallow water fishery for a mix of Striped Bass, Red Drum and Speckled Trout continues to be very good in the lower and middle bay areas. As water temperatures creep into the low 80’s the best fishing will become earlier in the mornings and later at night. Gulp white mullet swim shads have been a favorite for working the shallows especially for Speckled Trout and fishermen are also catching some very large Speckled Trout by fishing soft crab baits in some of the gut and channel areas. White Perch are also in the mix if fishermen downsize to smaller lures such as spinners, spinnerbaits and small jigs. Michael Rosa sent in this picture of a 25″ Speckled Trout he caught and released in the Honga River while fishing in his kayak. This is definitely an interesting camera angle and if you notice on the starboard side of the kayak under Michael’s leg is the Speckled Trout secret weapon.
Photo Courtesy of Michael Rosa
Fishermen are finding good fishing for a mix of croakers, Spot, White Perch and the occasional flounder in many of the tidal rivers in the lower bay. The Patuxent, Potomac, Honga and Nanticoke Rivers are providing especially good fishing for croakers. In the middle bay region the West and Choptank Rivers have been providing good croaker fishing. Shore bound anglers have been finding good croaker fishing at the Bill Burton Fishing Pier especially at dark about half way out on the pier on the north side of the Choptank. Hard bottomed shoal areas adjacent to channels in the bay are also good places to fish for croakers in the evenings; a few traditional locations include the Buoy 72 area in the lower bay and the Sharps Island Flats in the middle bay region.
Recreational crabbers will be out in force this holiday and remember it is legal to crab July 3rd. Crabbing continues to be described as fair to good depending on your opinion on what is acceptable table fare. If you’ve been put in the unfortunate position of providing a crab feast may luck shine on you. Most crabbers are reporting that the bulk of the legal sized crabs they are catching are between 5″ and 5-3/4″ point to point and at that size they are trying to make sure they are heavy. The tidal rivers from Kent Island south tend to be providing the best crabbing and any river that receives a big dose of runoff may see crabs move into deeper channels and lower sections of the river to find saltier water.
Freshwater fishermen like everyone else will have to deal with localized flooding and cloudy water conditions this week thanks to the rash of thunderstorms we’ve experienced lately. Depending on how impacted a particular watershed is fishermen should be able to find acceptable fishing conditions in all regions of the state. John Mullican sent us these observations from the upper Potomac today. The Potomac has some color from recent showers, but is currently in good shape. However, the extended forecast calls for showers and thunderstorms for the rest of the week so fishermen should check the levels before heading out. Smallmouth fishing has been good, though it has been tough to find the larger fish lately, and the fish are in typical summer patterns. Tubes, weightless stick worms, and topwaters have all been productive.
Summer time is upon us and few fishermen know that better than those who try to fish Deep Creek Lake in the summer without getting run over by a Jet Ski or speed boat. Locals will tell you that the earlier the better when fishing main points and dock areas for Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass. As the morning wears on or in the early evening fishermen can find plenty of action in the shallower coves where many boaters will fear to tread. Chain Pickerel, Largemouth Bass and Bluegills can be found in these shallower coves.
Summer and vacations go hand in hand and when folks come to visit it is always fun to introduce them to things you love to do. Uncle Alan (Alan Klotz) decided to take his visiting niece for her first fly fishing lesson at Pleasant Valley Lake recently and on her first cast caught this nice feisty Bluegill.
Photo Courtesy of Alan Klotz
Largemouth Bass, Chain Pickerel and Bluegills tend to also fill the bill in the lakes and ponds or tidal rivers of the central, southern and eastern regions of the state. The Largemouth Bass are moving into a summer pattern of behavior now and that means they will be found in the shallows during low light conditions or dark and looking for cool shade during the day. Most fishermen know the drill and will adjust their fishing accordingly. Topwater lures in the shallows at dawn or dusk and soft plastics in the thick grass or under other types of shade during the day.
Fisheries biologists that are studying Blue Catfish in the Potomac River have tagged some Blue Catfish with dart tags and are asking for cooperation from fishermen that might catch one of these fish. The following provides more information about this study and what to do if you catch one of these fish.
Ocean City area fishermen have been grumbling about weather conditions this past week, heavy rains, storms and strong winds are not a good combination for the best fishing conditions. Surf fishermen are playing with a mix of Kingfish, croakers, Spot and a few small Bluefish and inshore sharks often in the evenings. At the inlet there are flounder, sea trout and Bluefish being caught during the day and a few nice Striped Bass at night. The back bay areas are holding flounder, croaker and small Sea Bass. Unfortunately cloudy water conditions have not made for the best fishing conditions lately but hopefully the water will clear up by the weekend. More than a few fishermen have noted that it is getting harder to find small spot for live lining; most of the Spot are almost eating size for humans.
Offshore, the boats heading out to the wreck sites are finding Sea Bass and a mix of ling and flounder. Along the 30-Fathom Line Bluefin Tuna, large Bluefish and Bonito are being caught. In the canyon areas there are Yellowfin Tuna and Dolphin on top and tilefish down deep. Strong winds have kept most of the fleet at the dock last week but hopefully things will clear up for the weekend.
“I, for one, think that making a hardheaded profession out of fishing is a waste of time, because a fish is only a fish and when you make a lot of work out of him you lose the whole point of him.” – Robert Ruark, The Old Man And The Boy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.