Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 08, 2016



It is not hard to tell the amount of daylight in a day is getting longer as we progress through June. There seems to be plenty of time to enjoy a little trip to local favorite fishing spots at the end of the day and what better idea then to take your own or someone else's kids fishing. One youngster favorite is the bluegill sunfish and I often think of this feisty little fish as "the little fish that could". Then are common throughout Maryland, not bashful about going after any kind of bait regardless of clumsy tackle or presentation and give one heck of a showing when hooked. They seem to be just the thing for kids to keep them occupied while fishing with simple tackle. The classic Barbie or Spiderman kids fishing outfit in the hands of a youngster with a bluegill on the other end is a beautiful sight to behold. It will warm the heart of any adult and provides lasting memories for our young aspiring anglers. Caleb Mutchler's dad took him to their favorite local farm pond for a late afternoon bout with some heavy weight bluegills; the smile says it all.

Photo courtesy of Guy Mutchler, Caleb Mutchler holding a bluegill
Photo courtesy of Guy Mutchler, Caleb Mutchler holding a bluegill.

Striped bass fishing in the lower Susquehanna River and along the edges of the flats has been good in the early morning and evening hours recently. The Conowingo Dam has been releasing water in the early afternoons for power generation. Water clarity has been fairly good and striped bass can be caught on soft plastic jigs, topwater lures and crankbaits in the river and flats. There are also plenty of white perch in the area along with flathead and channel catfish. Largemouth bass fishing has been good on the actual flats in the thick grass.

Many of the tidal rivers in the upper bay region are offering good to excellent fishing for white perch this week. Water temperatures are now in the upper 70's in most rivers and the white perch are holding near deeper structure during the day and shallower structure during the evenings and early morning hours. Small jigs with or without a piece of bloodworm works well in deeper waters and small spinners and beetle-spins cast on ultra-light tackle are a fun way to fish the shallows. There are also striped bass holding in the tidal rivers; many are sub-legal fish but larger fish over 20" in length can be found along channel edges and deep structure such as bridge piers, bulkheads and rocks. Jigging has been popular as well as trolling deep, drifting live eels or white perch near the Key Bridge piers or prominent points near Hart-Miller Island.

Chumming for striped bass has become very popular and once again some of the tried and true traditional locations are providing good fishing. Boats have been anchoring up at Swan Point, Love Point, Sandy Point and the Bay Bridge piers. The boats are either chumming or chunking and as is typical in the upper bay there are quite a few sub-legal fish high up in the chum slick. Some of the large striped bass are being caught on the bottom in the back of the chum slick; chunking tends to be more popular at the Bay Bridge piers. A good tide is essential and the best catch reports are coming from an ebbing tide.

Deep suspended fish can be spotted on depth finders along the main channel edges and boats can be spotted working these edges. Umbrella rigs and tandem rigged bucktails, spoons and Storm type swim shads are three of the more popular baits behind planers and inline weights. Jigging around the Bay Bridge piers and wherever concentrations of striped bass can be found suspended is also a good bet for those wishing for some light tackle fishing.

Photo courtesy of Travis Long, holding a striped bass
Photo courtesy of Travis Long, holding a striped bass.

There is a lot of striped bass action in the middle bay region this week from the Bay Bridge south to the around Parker's Creek on the western shore to the Little Choptank on the eastern side of the bay. Striped bass fishing has been excellent in the middle bay region this week, whether one is trolling, jigging, chumming or casting lures along shallow shorelines. Most all of the traditional steep edges in the bay, Eastern Bay and the mouth of the Choptank have been holding fish. Trolling along major steep channel edges with the popular array of umbrella rigs or tandem bucktails and swim shads or single spoons behind inline weights or planers has been very productive.

Chumming has been very good at the drop off near the green can at Hackett's Bar, the Hill, inside of Buoy 83, the Clay Banks and the Summer Gooses. Suspended fish can be spotted at many of these locations and the steep edges off Tilghman Point and the steep edge just northeast of Hollicutts Noose in Eastern Bay. Similar edges are worth a scan on ones depth finder in the mouth of the Choptank and western shore rivers and points as well. There are a lot of striped bass in the 20" to 32" size range spread out over a wide area. Soft plastic jigs tend to be the favorite choice recently in chartreuse or pink. Schools of bait can be seen on depth finders and some breaking surface action is beginning to develop. Water temperatures in the middle bay region are about 75° on top and about 10° cooler at about 35" to 40" down.

Photo courtesy of Sherry Bishop, Matthew Bishop holding a striped bass
Photo courtesy of Sherry Bishop, Matthew Bishop holding a striped bass.

The early morning and evening shallow water striped bass action this week is about as good as it gets. Water temperatures in the shallows are in the upper 70's and striped bass are feeling very comfortable so the action tends to start earlier in the evenings and last longer in the mornings. Most any moving tide is essential and all have their preference; mine is high ebb or flood. Topwater lures such as poppers or skipping bugs provide plenty of entertainment and keeps one's lures out of the grass.

White perch fishing continues to be excellent in most of the tidal rivers in the middle bay region this week. They can be caught off of piers and docks by either using simple bottom rigs (a kid favorite) with baits such as grass shrimp, bloodworms or peeler crab or by casting small jigs. In shallower areas near structure such as sunken tree tops or rocks, small spinners and beetle-spins are hard to beat on ultra-light tackle. Chartreuse Clousers with some silver crystal flash sparkle in them are a fly fishing favorite.

Black drum have been hard to find at the Sharps Island Flats and the James Island Flats for the past two weeks but some have been caught. It takes a vigilant eye on a depth finder and a ready hand on a stout rod with a two ounce sinker and a big piece of soft crab to get into this game. The black drum's smaller cousin, the croaker, is starting to show up near the Little Choptank but fishing has been very slow so far.

In the lower bay region most of the striped bass action has been focused near Cedar Point, Point-No-Point and Cove Point. Most boats are trolling along these channel edges but there is some jigging action to be found at times when concentrations of fish can be found suspended near channel edges or structure like the Wilson Reef near Point-No-Point. The steep channel edges near St. Georges Island on the lower Potomac have also been providing good striped bass action. Boats can be seen anchoring up and chumming at a number of locations in the lower bay and at the mouth of the Potomac River. Old favorites like the Rock Piles near Point Lookout or Buoy 72 have been getting some action as well as the Wilson Reef near Point-No-Point. Smiley Hsu enjoyed a great day on the lower Potomac and holds up a nice one for the camera.

Photo courtesy of Smiley Hsu, holding a striped bass
Photo courtesy of Smiley Hsu, holding a striped bass.

The croaker fishing continues to improve in the lower Potomac near the mouth of the Wicomico River and the lower Patuxent River. No spot have been seen yet but with warmer waters they along with more croaker should arrive soon. Virginia reports excellent croaker fishing in the York River so hopefully some of these fish will move into Maryland waters soon. Blue catfish continue to be a large portion of the catch for anyone bottom fishing in the lower Potomac and provide some heft to the days catch. White perch fishing has been very good in the lower Potomac's creeks and the Patuxent River.

On the eastern side of the bay there is some good striped bass action in the cuts at Hooper's Island and along the marsh edges. The shallow water bite in the mornings and evenings has been excellent and a few speckled trout are part of the mix. The tidal creeks and rivers are full of white perch and are providing plenty of fun action.

Recreational crabbing has greatly improved recently as water temperatures warm and crabs began shedding and moving into tidal rivers. The crabbing has noticeably picked up in the middle bay region's western tidal rivers and good to excellent crabbing continues on the eastern side of the bay. Crabbers will of course see more light crabs but most are able to catch a bushel or close to it of solid crabs per outing. This happy guy got to go out crabbing with his dad and brother and managed to bring home a bushel of Maryland crabs.

Photo courtesy of Sherry Bishop, Matthew Bishop holding a blue crab
Photo courtesy of Sherry Bishop, Matthew Bishop holding a blue crab.

The fishing at Deep Creek Lake continues to be good this week for a variety of fish species. The lake has calmed down a bit since the holiday weekend but boat traffic will certainly increase as warmer weather prevails. Smallmouth bass fishing has been very good along rocky shores and points and near floating docks; tubes and craw type baits tend to be good choices for baits. The largemouth bass finished spawning and on the prowl for something to eat. They can be found in the shallows near grass or in slightly deeper waters. A mix of crankbaits, spinnerbaits, stick worms and jigs are good.

The upper Potomac has been high and muddy recently and the drowning of two small boat fishermen last weekend is a stinging reminder of the unforgiving nature of a powerful river. Water temperatures are in the upper 70's and it is possible that water levels may return to safe conditions by the weekend. May fly hatches have been occurring and the juvenile smallmouth bass have been feasting on them so root beer colored tubes would be a good choice when targeting larger smallmouth bass. Rocky flats, boulders and submerged ledges will good places to target when the river returns to safe fishing conditions.

In most lakes and tidal waters across Maryland the bluegill sunfish are actively spawning. There are always a host of small bluegills hanging near the nests looking to slip in and gobble up some eggs. Working tubes, crankbaits and jigs in a bluegill pattern is a good choice when targeting these shallow and often grassy areas since the largemouth bass will be feeding on these small bluegills. Targeting grass and sunken wood in deeper waters is also a good choice with spinnerbaits and stick worms for those post-spawn largemouth bass that have ventured out of the shallower areas. Paige Sturgill got to go fishing with her dad and brothers at a Kent County farm pond and caught this great looking 4 lb largemouth bass all by herself.

Photo courtesy of Alicia Sturgill, Paige Sturgill holding a largemouth bass
Photo courtesy of Alicia Sturgill, Paige Sturgill holding a largemouth bass.

The tidal Potomac River is carrying a lot of run off this week from heavy rain storms and there is a lot of floating debris and water clarity issues. The largemouth bass seem to be spread out over a wide range of habitat conditions such as deeper structure, grass and shallow areas. An early morning and evening topwater bite is beginning to develop in the shallow areas such as coves and grass fields. Working stick worms and jigs in the grass is a proven tactic and spinnerbaits and crankbaits worked close to sunken wood or similar structure is a good bet.

The Ocean City area has seen some hot and heavy bluefish action this week as large bluefish have decided to invade the surf zone, the inlet and the back bay areas. Surf casters have been catching them on cut menhaden or finger mullet on bottom rigs. At the inlet they are being caught on Got-Cha plugs and bucktails as well as north to the Route 90 Bridge and south to the Verrazano Bridge. There are some smaller bluefish mixed in but these big choppers as they are called up north are causing a lot of excitement for anglers close to the beaches and bay.

There are still some impressive striped bass being caught in the surf this week on menhaden cut bait. There is also a mix of the usual bait stealer suspects in the form of skates, dogfish and now the sting rays are beginning to be part of the mix. More than a few anglers will get some hardcore pull from the sting rays. A few black drum are being caught and those fishing with bloodworms are catching a kingfish now and then.

At and around the inlet the bluefish have been keeping everyone busy but some nice striped bass are also being caught by casting bucktails or drifting live eels. Flounder are moving through the inlet headed for the back bay areas and tautog are still being caught at the south jetty on sand fleas and pieces of crab.

Flounder are being caught in the back bay areas and the best action tends to be at the lower end of the ebb tide. This is most likely caused by warmer water flowing out of the shallower areas of the bay. Strip baits of squid and squid/minnow combos have been the most popular choice lately for baits.

Outside the inlet and offshore at the wreck and reef sites the sea bass fishing has been good to excellent with limit catches being common. A few flounder are also filling in as part of the daily catch. Farther offshore the trolling action has been focused at the canyons, the Rock Pile and the 461 Lump. Good catches of yellowfin tuna along with a mix of white marlin releases and dolphin are being reported.

"Man is troubled by what might be called the Dog Wish, a strange and involved compulsion to be as happy and carefree as a dog" - James Thurber

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.