Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | May 09, 2012

Most of the spring spawning runs of anadromous fish are about over as we continue to move through May and the large spawning striped bass are making their way down the bay. Water temperatures remain stable due to cooler weather and largemouth bass are busy on their spawning beds and carp can be seen thrashing about in the shallows of the state's tidal rivers and creeks.

Fisheries survey crews reported this week that the hickory shad in the lower Susquehanna and Deer Creek area are showing diminished spawning activity. They also reported large numbers of white perch in the area while electro-fishing. Now that the striped bass catch and release season is over many fishermen have been focusing on white perch and channel catfish in the region.

Fishermen in pursuit of trophy sized striped bass have been putting in a lot of time trolling the edges of the shipping channel from above the Bay Bridge to the Virginia line. Fishermen saw a pulse of large fish in the middle/upper bay region this weekend at Love, Bloody and Thomas Points. Most of the large fish being caught throughout the bay are running from about 32" to 36" in size and fishermen reported a lot of smaller male fish under 28" were caught over the weekend. Some expressed amazement that a 24" striped bass could manage to get those large parachutes and sassy shads in their mouths.

Most of the spawning striped bass have left the Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers and fish from the Susquehanna Flats area are filtering down the bay this week. The Potomac River has been a hot ticket for the past week for large fish. Fishermen are reporting that the False Channel has been quiet but the western edge of the shipping channel below Breezy Point has been fair as well as Cove Point, Point No Point and Buoy 72A. Most fishermen have been reporting a slow pick for large striped bass this week and report plenty of bait being seen on depth finders. Tandem parachutes dressed with sassy shads in white or chartreuse has been the favorite presentation. Bannon Wysocki proudly holds up a beautiful 40" striped bass for the camera that his son caught near the Gas Docks recently.

Photo Courtesy of Bannon Wysocki

Shore based fishermen continue to catch some of the larger striped bass moving down the bay but it is slowing down. Some of the better action has been coming from places like Deal Island where fishermen are also catching a few black drum and speckled sea trout. Shore based fishermen can find good fishing possibilities on prominent points with some deeper water or from fishing piers. White perch are spread throughout their normal summer range now and can be caught on small lures or bait. Speckled trout are being caught in the Hooper's Island to Pocomoke Sound region on swim shads such as the Gulp Mullet under a popping cork or just cast and retrieved. Soft crab baits are also a very good way to catch speckled trout and black drum. Croakers are here and pound netters have been catching large ones in their nets. There have not been too many fishermen fishing for them but that will change as interest in the trophy striped bass season begins to wane. A few reports of May worm hatches have come in from the southern region by charter boat captains this week.

Recreational crabbing seemed to slow down this week as the season's first major shed is taking place. Reports from the Choptank River south reveal recreational crabbers catching less than a half bushel per outing and a lot of small crabs. They are also reporting that clear water has been making it difficult to keep crabs on a trotline and some have been doing better with collapsible crab traps.

Freshwater fishermen are seeing largemouth bass in a spawning mode in all regions of the state this week and in some areas the spawning is over. Targeting shallow coves, grass and transition areas have a favorite strategy this week with spinnerbaits, plastic craws, chatterbaits and stickbaits. Fishermen are catching snakeheads in the Piscataway and Mattawoman Creeks by targeting grass with surface lures such as frogs, chatterbaits and buzzbaits. Be sure to enter your snakehead in the drawing for a $200 gift certificate by clicking on this link.

Trout fishermen are enjoying the generous stocking of trout in many of the state's trout management waters this week and stocking will continue in some areas till the end of May. More than a few trout fishermen have had the surprise of their life this season thanks to the efforts of the hatchery team at the Albert Powell Hatchery to raise large rainbow trout to sizes that fishermen could only dream about a few years ago. We received two reports recently from fishermen that leap into the water to wrangle trout in excess of 10lbs up on the bank because they were fishing with 4lb test line and a small landing net. Dennis Butler got a big thrill catching this 27-1/2" rainbow trout in the Gunpowder while casting a small stickbait and was lucky enough to have a fellow angler down stream net it for him.

Photo Courtesy of Dennis Butler

Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake report that the smallmouth bass are spawning on rocky points and flats and that the fishing for walleyes and large yellow perch has been very good. Crappie are holding close to shoreline structure in many of the state's lakes and tidal rivers; fishing minnows or small tubes under a bobber can be a good way to catch them. Fishing for channel catfish in most of the bays tidal rivers is excellent this time of the year and most any kind of fresh cut bait such as white perch or gizzard shad makes for a good bait.

Ocean City fishermen are enjoying a great run of large striped bass this week along the beaches. Most fishermen are using fresh menhaden baits or fresh sand fleas on a conventional bottom rig with good success. Fishermen are also seeing a lot of skates and dogfish in the surf but also black drum and blowfish. Inside the inlet striped bass are being caught at night on swim shads and bucktails and tautog during the day on pieces of green crab or sand fleas. Flounder continue to be caught at the inlet and back bay areas on squid and minnow combos as well as larger baits such as Gulp baits. The boats fishing the wreck sites are finding good numbers of quality sized tautog for their anglers. Farther offshore fishermen are catching blue sharks, a few makos and an occasional bluefin tuna.

"Rivers and the inhabitants of the water elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration." Izaak Walton


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.