Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | May 11, 2016



Last week's rain and wind did not do much to inspire many except the hardiest of souls to step outside and go fishing. There are a lot of fishing opportunities this week and with warmer sunny weather in the forecast the outdoors will be more inviting to everyone.

The Conowingo Dam has been releasing water early in the mornings recently and ending about mid-day. Water temperatures in the lower Susquehanna have been around 60° recently but cooler in Deer Creek. Hickory shad are being caught up near the dam and at the mouth of Deer Creek but this fishery has been slow to develop into the exciting non-stop catch and release action that occurs when warm sunny weather causes a quick rise in water temperatures in Deer Creek. American shad and hickory shad are being caught near the dam pool and some very nice white perch are being caught in the river. Colorful flies and flashy small lures have been good choices for both species of shad and small jigs tipped with bloodworm or a small piece of cut minnow are an excellent way to catch some large white perch. Dennis Hertzog holds up a nice American shad he caught near Conowingo Dam before releasing it back into the river.

American Shad Photo by Dennis Hertzog, Dennis holds an American shad
American Shad Photo by Dennis Hertzog

Although the Susquehanna Flats is now closed to striped bass fishing until May15th. There was some absolutely fantastic catch and release fishing for striped bass under 30" in length last week. There were reports of exceptional fishing and it is hoped that some of these fish will be available when the season opens again and anglers will be able to keep one striped bass between 20" and 26" per day. On June 1st the bay wide regulations go into effect where one may keep two striped bass between 20" and 28" or one above 28" and one striped bass below 28" per day. Tyler Enslin got into the catch and release action last week at the Susquehanna Flats with his fly rod while fishing with his dad; a fun time had by all!

Photo by Rob Enslin, Tyler Enslin holding a striped bass
Photo Courtesy of Rob Enslin

The upper bay region is still producing a few large striped bass along the steep channel edges such as Love Point, the Triple Buoys and the channel edge near Sandy Point and on the east side of the channel above the Bay Bridge. Most everyone is trolling a mix of umbrella rigs, tandem parachutes and bucktails dressed with sassy shads or spoons at various depths. There are quite a few striped bass less than 28" in the upper bay and smaller trolling presentations will be in order after May 15th. There has been a lot of floating debris in the upper bay due to extreme high tides so be careful out there.

Water temperatures in the middle bay region are about 59° this week due to cool and cloudy weather. Grass and winter jellies continue to keep those tending lines busy cleaning baits. Catches slipped off last week but picked up again over the weekend on Sunday but it is evident to most that the majority of the large post-spawn striped bass has moved farther south. Ocean City surf casters reported the first north bound post-spawn striped bass along the beaches this past weekend. There is a lot of bait in the form of adult menhaden in the region, especially deep along the channel edges so perhaps some fish will be distracted enough by this food source to stick around a bit longer. The wind and rain did much to hamper fishing efforts on the bay recently but fairer weather is forecast this week so anyone considering one last lick at these fish should make every effort to get out this week.

A mix of tandem parachutes and bucktails dressed with sassy shads along with umbrella rigs and spoons have been standard fare in most trolling spreads and smart captains are covering all depths. The western edge of the shipping channel continues to be a great place to troll, especially when hard driving westerly winds prevail. With calmer winds the eastern channel edges near Bloody Point, Buoy 83, the Clay Banks and CP Buoy are all good places to troll. Alphie Cisar got to go fishing with his dad and grandfather near Bloody Point and gets some help from his dad showing off this fine looking striped bass he caught

Photo courtesy of Alphie Cisar III, Alphie Cisar III and his dad holding a striped bass
Photo courtesy of Alphie Cisar III

The lower bay region offers some of the best chances at the large post-spawn striped bass that are taking their time in leaving Maryland's waters. This may be due to the large amount of menhaden that can be found in the region. After a short lull the action picked up again on Sunday with good catches of large striped bass along the shipping channel edges, the channel edges of the lower Potomac and to a lesser degree the channel edges in Tangier Sound. Those who are trolling are covering various depths with their trolling spreads with a mix of umbrella rigs, tandem parachutes and bucktails and spoons.

Those who have been light tackle jigging for the larger striped bass are reporting that striped bass less than 28" are beginning to become more common along channel edges and prominent points. There has not been too much action with croakers lately but this action should pick up when warmer weather helps elevate water temperatures. Fishing for blue catfish has been excellent in the lower Potomac River. Wayne Young braved chilly and rainy weather on the lower Potomac and was rewarded with this fine looking striped bass.

Photo Courtesy of Wayne Young, Wayne Young holding a striped bass
Photo Courtesy of Wayne Young

Recreational crabbers have been reporting worthy catches on the eastern side of the bay in Dorchester and Somerset County tidal rivers and creeks. Most who are running trotlines were reporting as much as a half bushel of good crabs per outing. They are also reporting large numbers of smaller crabs chewing up baits. The recent catches represent the adult crabs that have just come out of hibernation and it will take a good molt to fill in the gaps in the size structure. Catches on the western side of the bay and middle bay region have not been as productive.

Deep Creek Lake is slowly warming up and water temperatures are approximately 58° this week. Fishing for smallmouth bass has been good in slightly deeper waters near floating docks and rocky shorelines and points. Most are using a mix of tubes, Senkos and small crankbaits. Largemouth bass are staging in the deeper transition areas leading to the shallower coves. Jigs, spinnerbaits and suspended jerkbaits are good choices for covering these areas. Walleye fishing has been good along deep grass edges and steep rocky shorelines.

Fishing on the upper Potomac is unsafe at the moment due to high flows caused by heavy rains. It may take the best part of a week for conditions to return to levels that will make being on the river in small boats safe and fishing productive.

Largemouth bass are now spawning in most of the central, southern and eastern regions this week or are finished and males are guarding the nests. Any female largemouth bass that is post-spawn is hungry and actively feeding to build up body stores from the spawning process. Casting spinnerbaits, suspended jerkbaits and small crankbaits in the areas adjacent to the spawning shallows is a good bet. Casting soft plastics near cover such as grass and wood is a good tactic in the shallows. Caleb Sturgill caught and released this whopper largemouth bass in a Cecil County pond while casting a white spinnerbait recently.

Photo courtesy of Alicia Sturgill, Caleb Sturgill holdng a largemouth bass
Photo courtesy of Alicia Sturgill

Triadelphia Reservoir is a wonderful place to fish for a variety of fish such as largemouth bass, striped bass, northern pike and tiger musky's. This Saturday the WSSC is holding a family fishing event at 10 am; more information can be found at their website.

Largemouth bass are actively spawning in the tidal Potomac this week with water temperatures in the low 60's. A variety of soft plastics such as tubes, Senkos and craws are a good bet when fishing the shallows. Creeks flowing into the river are an excellent place to target. Northern snakeheads are also up in the shallows near thick grass or spatterdocks getting ready to spawn. As most know snakeheads will hit just about anything that moves but noisy surface lures really tend to get their attention.

The stocking of trout continues this week in many of the state's trout management waters. Put and take areas always get the attention of those who can follow the stocking schedules and the generous stockings provide a lot of entertainment and trout dinners for many.

Ocean City area surfcasters are rejoicing this week as the first post-spawn striped bass make their way north along the beaches. The striped bass that lead the northerly migration tend to be some of the larger fish so the next two weeks is a great time to be out on the beaches soaking cut menhaden baits. Large bluefish also tend to be part of the mix as well as skates and dogfish. A few black drum are caught now and then and those using smaller baits are catching blowfish in the surf. Surf water temperatures are about 56° this week.

At the inlet area, tautog are being caught at the south jetty and inside at the Route 50 Bridge and the 2nd to 4th Street bulkheads. Sand fleas and pieces of crab have been the preferred baits. Striped bass are also being caught at the inlet and although many are just shy of 28" there is plenty of action. Now that larger striped bass are moving through the area drifting live eels will become popular at the inlet. David Beach had some fun catching a few striped bass off the Route 50 Bridge even thought they came up short of 28".

Photo courtesy of David Beach, David Beach holding a striped bass
Photo courtesy of David Beach

Coastal bay water temperatures are about 55° this week and a few flounder are being caught here and there but the action is very slow. There are a few striped bass being caught near the Route 90 Bridge but most are falling short of 28".

Outside the inlet trolling along the shoal areas with a mix of large bucktails and parachutes dressed with sassy shads, spoons, Stretch 25's and umbrella rigs may entice a large migrating striped bass to bite. Others will try their hand at jigging or drifting live eels. Farther offshore the boats going out to the wreck and reef sites are catching tautog in good numbers. The much anticipated recreational sea bass season opens this Sunday May 15th.

A few boats have been taking trips out to the canyon areas and have been finding a few temperature breaks. A few nice bluefin and yellowfin tuna have been caught and some mako sharks have been spotted.

"That all men should be brothers is the dream of people who have no brothers." - Charles Chincholles

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.