Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | May 02, 2012

Welcome to May, as the calendar just keeps clicking along and we all wonder; "where did April go"? Time has a habit of rolling on often without reference points and children grow by leaps and bounds right before your eyes and adults find themselves trying to figure out how they progressed in age so fast. Sometimes we will find a quiet moment; which seems rare these days to reflect on living each day that is given to us as best we can. Speaking for someone who is definitely over the hill, spend as much quality time as you can with your children and if they're grown up and far away; find some that could enjoy some good old fishing mentoring. You'll usually find you'll get more rewards out of the experience then they do. Brayden Kuhn got to go fishing at Lake Linganore with his dad recently when he caught and released this whopping 22-1/2" largemouth bass.

Photo Courtesy of Brayden Kuhn

The Susquehanna Flat catch and release fishery will end on May 3rd and fishermen who made the trek in the last couple weeks of the season had excellent fishing for male striped bass and just enough big female fish to keep things interesting. Wind was often a limiting factor but there were few large rain events, so generally speaking conditions were favorable.

Just when most fishermen thought they had seen the last of the hickory shad at Deer Creek they came on strong this past Monday. Fisheries Service sampling crews have been trying to collect brood stock for their restoration efforts in other areas and mentioned that the hickory shad have been absent for the better part of two weeks until Monday when they showed up in strength. They also mentioned that blue back herring and alewife herring were mixed in and they saw large numbers of white perch. Water temperatures had actually dropped from 57-degrees the previous week to 53-degrees on Monday; low water levels were also observed. If you've been feeling left out of this years hickory shad run try and get up there before it is history. Fish lift personnel at the Conowingo Dam also report American shad are still showing up at the lifts.

The spring trophy striped bass season enters its second week and fishermen are working the channel edges with all manner of parachutes and bucktails dressed with sassy shads large enough to fillet. These fish have big appetites and hopefully when they are exiting the spawning rivers they will find parachutes and bucktails appetizing. There has been a substantial spawn on the upper Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers since Sunday and these fish should hit the bay by the weekend. Fishermen reported that fishing success this past Sunday and Monday was slow in the mid-bay area and a slow pick in the southern region. Generally that has been the face of fishing success since opening day with the best fishing being reported just before dawn. Traditionally the first week of May and into the second week provide some of the more outstanding catches. Locations such as Thomas Point, Bloody Point, Buoy 83, Hooper's Island Light, Buoy 72A and the western edge of the shipping channel from Breezy Point south are traditional hot spots. Cove Point is and will always be a very popular and productive edge to fish by its very nature and this year has been no exception. Fishermen trolling near the mouth of the Potomac have been doing very well this week as post-spawn fish move down the river. Lisa Windle proudly holds up a nice striped bass she caught near the mouth of the Potomac while trolling tandem white parachutes.

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Windle

Shore based fishermen have been getting their licks in on the striped bass in the bay at mid-bay and southern region shorelines; piers and points have also been favorite places to fish. Cut menhaden and bloodworms are often the most popular baits to use on a bottom rig and in the southern region many fishermen are also using soft crab and peelers. White perch are roaming close to shore and love chewing up a big bloodworm around a large hook intended for striped bass. In the southern region fishermen are also catching a few speckled trout and the season's first black drum on soft crab or peeler baits while fishing for striped bass.

White perch are in residence now in the lower sections of the bay's tidal rivers and can be caught on small jigs, spinners or bait. Croakers are becoming more common in the southern region of the bay and especially at the mouth of the Wicomico on the lower Potomac. Channel catfish can also be found while bottom fishing in most tidal rivers and the lower Potomac and the Wicomico have a large population of blue catfish in the 3lb to 6lb size range. Recreational crabbers are reporting as much as a ½-bushel of heavy crabs in many of the tidal rivers and creeks from the Choptank River south with the eastern shore waters offering some of the best opportunities. The throwback ratio of small crabs tends to be high but the legal crabs are heavy as they approach the season's first shed; which usually coincides with the locust trees blossoming.

Freshwater fishermen are enjoying a wide range of fishing opportunities this week throughout the state. Fishermen chasing trout in the trout management waters of the state are still finding low flow conditions in many waters but good trout fishing due to generous stockings by fisheries crews. Walleye fishing has been very good at Deep Creek Lake and fishermen are also catching smallmouth bass along rocky points and largemouth bass at the mouths of shallow coves. John Mullican sent us this report from the upper Potomac River. Flows in the Potomac River continue to be below average for this time of year. Insect hatches have been heavy with several species of mayflies hatching nearly every evening. During a particularly strong hatch over the weekend I watched smallmouth bass slowly rising and sipping mayflies off the surface like trout. Bass of all sizes were taking advantage of the easy meal, including a number of 12 – 15 inch fish. I was a bit surprised to find that a small surface lure went completely untouched, but a suspending jerkbait would frequently draw a strike. By dusk thousands of mayflies covered the surface and the boat ride back to the ramp would have been more pleasant with a face shield or goggles!

Largemouth bass are beginning to be found on spawning beds now in most regions of the state with the far western region fish still in a staging mode. Largemouth bass fishermen are reporting that targeting grass and spatterdock beds has been very effective with chatterbaits, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic craw baits. Bluegill sunfish are also to be found in shallower waters and forming spawning beds in most areas. This is a very good time to get out to one's favorite pond, lake or tidal river to fish for a variety of species as water temperatures are near idea, the hot summer weather has not moved in yet and fish are very active.

Ocean City area fishermen are seeing water temperatures around 54-degrees this week in the surf and fishing opportunities improve each day. Fishermen are catching large striped bass in the surf on cut menhaden baits and plenty of skates and dogfish. Blowfish have moved into the area so squid on a smaller hook can put some of these tasty treats on the dinner table. They were very abundant in the 1960's and were called chicken of the sea by many or sea squab. One cuts through the top of the fish behind the head without cutting through the belly skin and turns the fish inside out revealing a very nice piece of firm meat with the only bones being the backbone. If you have more than a couple; wear glove since the skin is comparable to 40 grit sandpaper.

Inside the inlet fishermen are catching a few striped bass and bluefish at night. Swim shad lures have been effective for the striped bass and Got-Cha lures have been a favorite for the bluefish. Tautog fishing remains steady with substantial throwback ratio. In the back bay areas flounder are being caught when wind and water clarity conditions are favorable.

The boats venturing out to the wreck sites continue to do well for their fishermen with tautog. The first mako shark and bluefin tuna hit the docks this past week and thresher sharks should be in the area also.

A friend of mine, an ardent purist, was challenged once by a golfing acquaintance as he turned loose a large trout he had just netted. "Why go to all that trouble to catch a fish," the exasperated golfer demanded, "if you don't want to eat it?" "Do you eat golf balls?" my friend inquired. Corey Ford 1958


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.