Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 11, 2014

The daylight hours that fishermen have to play in continues to make up a larger portion of each day with early sunrises and late sunsets. Air and water temperatures are about as ideal as they can get for some fun fishing with family and friends so make sure to get out there and enjoy the outdoors. This Saturday, June 14th is the second of three free fishing days this fishing season so it offers a great time to take someone who has never been fishing before or perhaps has given it up.

Young anglers from the Maryland Youth Fishing Club were out recently catching Striped Bass for fisheries biologists to tag for the first round of the Diamond Jim segment of the Maryland Fishing Challenge. If someone catches Diamond Jim during the month of June they could be $10,000 richer. Children who join the Maryland Youth Fishing Club receive a nice patch, are eligible to take part in Diamond Jim fishing trips and if they post a fishing experience on the youth anglers log they are eligible to be drawn for a mentored fishing trip donated by fishermen and charter boat captains. To find more information for your young angler, visit the youth fishing page.

Everyone will soon see a rather large full moon this coming weekend and those watching the Chesapeake Bay waters will see the climax of the annual May Worm swarms around dock lights at night. Horseshoe Crabs will also use this last full moon and the high tides it generates to complete their annual spawning.

The Conowingo Dam is presently on a mid-day power generation water release and water clarity conditions have been good. Recent heavy rains may change that with muddy water running from local creeks. Fishing for a mix of Striped Bass and White Perch has been very good lately in the lower Susquehanna. The Striped Bass are being caught on soft plastic jigs and the White Perch on small jigs and shad darts. There are also some smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass being caught and there are plenty of Channel Catfish in the river and Flathead Catfish at the dam pool to entertain fishermen.

Fishing for White Perch and Channel Catfish is very popular in the tidal rivers and creeks of the upper bay and provides a fun shoreline or small boat fishing experience. Most use a simple bottom rig baited with cut bait or nightcrawlers for the Channel Catfish and although White Perch can be caught on bloodworms, grass shrimp or minnows; many like to cast small spinners and jigs. Whitney Goodman of Belair is all smiles with this big Channel Catfish she caught in the Chester River on a nightcrawler bait.

Photo by Jim Thompson

Striped Bass fishing in the upper bay region is becoming more focused on chumming this week and so far it has proved to be a very successful way to put some nice fish in the ice chest. Traditional channel edges such as Love Point, Swan Point, the Triple Buoys and Podickory Point have been favorites as well as the bridge piers at the Bay Bridge. Throwbacks are part of the equation being reported this week but so are Striped Bass over 30". Many boats are still trolling and experiencing good results; jigging over suspended fish has proved to be effective and more than a few anglers are live lining Spot near the Bay Bridge Piers.

The middle bay region has been providing some excellent fishing opportunities for Striped Bass this week along the western edge of the shipping channel out in front of Chesapeake Beach and Parkers Creek. Medium sized bucktails trolled in tandem or behind an umbrella rig are very popular as are medium sized spoons. Other good trolling locations have also been near Thomas Point, Buoy 83 and outside of Poplar Island. Chumming at locations such as Hackett's, Gum Thickets, the Hill and the Clay Banks has been good this week and some very nice Striped Bass are being caught. Live lining Spot is becoming more popular as the Spot become more available in the tidal rivers of the region. Much like last year the outside edge of the Hill seems to be the one of the better places to live line Spot for Striped Bass so far this month. Jigging over suspended fish has been a good way to catch Striped Bass along channel edges and when bait can be located; there have also been reports of breaking fish at times.

The shallow water Striped Bass fishery is in full swing in the middle bay region as water temperatures continue to hold in the mid 70's. This time of the year the action starts a little earlier in the evenings and ends later in the mornings than it will next month when water temperatures begin to cook. Topwater lures are always a shallow water favorite whether one is fishing with spinning gear or a fly fishing outfit. Cow-Nosed Rays are here and can be a bit of a nuisance when they stir up the shallows and generally blanket an area with their sheer numbers. White Perch are also being targeted in the shallows and along shoreline structure such as fallen tree tops, rip rap and prominent points. Spinners, Beetle Spins, small jigs and small spinnerbaits are all good choices for White Perch lures.

Croakers are steadily moving into the middle bay region and locations such as the mouth of the Honga River, Hooper's Island and the mouth of the Choptank are good places to look for them. The size tends to be around 10" or so with a fair number falling short of the 9" minimum; hopefully larger fish will move in as the season progresses. Black Drum are still being found on some of the hard shoal areas such as Stone Rock and the James Island Flats but are beginning to scatter to other parts of the bay.

The lower bay region is providing a lot of exciting fishing for a wide variety of fish species. Foremost is of course Striped Bass and they are being found throughout the region. There tends to be a lot of 2011 year class Striped Bass in the lower Patuxent and Potomac Rivers that are falling just short of the 18" minimum but a better grade of fish is being reported out in the bay along the shipping channel edges from the CCNPP south to Point No Point. Trolling spoons and bucktails has been a popular way to fish lately but jigging metal and soft plastics as well as live lining Spot are also very effective.

Shallow water fishing for Striped Bass has been good in the mornings and evenings along the bay and tidal river shores at prominent points where currents flow. On the eastern side of the bay there is also good Striped Bass fishing and the added bonus of Speckled Trout and Red Drum. Heather Wingate holds up a beautiful 27" Speckled Trout that she caught along the Tangier Sound Shoreline.

Photo Courtesy of Heather Wingate

Croaker fishing has been excellent at the Point Lookout Fishing Pier and the fishing pier on the Patuxent River under the Route 4 Bridge as well as other shoreline locations on the western and eastern sides of the bay. Most of the croakers being caught are reported to be just meeting the 9" minimum but there is a sprinkling of much larger ones also. White Perch are abundant in the region's tidal rivers and creeks.

Recreational crabbers are finding fair to good catches of crabs in the middle bay region this week and slightly better catches in the lower bay region. The Eastern Shore tidal rivers and creeks are producing some of the better catches but trot lines and traps are attracting a lot of small crabs that are chewing up baits.

Freshwater fishermen in the western region of the state will be keeping their eyes on local rain events in the region and how that will affect stream and river water flows. Western region fisheries biologist Alan Klotz sent us this short report. Streams are very high as we speak - a lot of heavy downpours yesterday. But, the North Branch Potomac River Catch and Return Areas are having good hatches of March Brown mayflies, and the Savage River Trophy Trout Area has been having good hatches of Sulphur Mayflies. The Yough Catch & Release managed section has been fishing well using # 12 Elk Hair Caddis Fly imitations.

Fisheries biologist John Mullican had much of the same type of report for the upper Potomac River. The storms have been localized so some tributaries may be putting dirty water into Potomac while others may not. More storms are predicted for the rest of the week and the river is predicted to rise several feet. The best thing fishermen can do is check water levels, including the tribs, before they go. Conditions will probably not be ideal.

At Deep Creek Lake there is an early morning Smallmouth Bass bite and walleye can be caught on minnows under a bobber and the same setup works for Bluegill with worms instead of minnows being used. The Largemouth Bass are now in a post spawn mode of behavior and can be found in transition areas slightly deeper than the shallow spawning areas.

Largemouth Bass are moving into a summer pattern of behavior and morning and evening fishing in the shallower areas of ponds, lakes, reservoirs and tidal creeks is one of the more fun places to fish for them. Topwater lures always bring out the best in Largemouth Bass and frogs, buzzbaits, chatterbaits and poppers are a fun way to fish. When the sun is higher in the sky; crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics in deeper waters near grass or sunken wood is a good bet. Bass will also be holding under thick grass looking for shade and weedless stick worms dropped through the grass canopy can get to them.

Ocean City fishing is picking up as water temperatures warm up to the mid 60's. Surf fishing for the large Striped Bass moving up the coast has been good with some big ones being caught on stout tackle and menhaden baits. Small Bluefish are also in the surf as well as skates, rays and small inshore sharks. Kingfish, Northern Blowfish and a few flounder and croaker are being caught on smaller baits. In and around the inlet Striped Bass are being caught at night on swim shads and Bluefish on Got Cha lures. Tautog, Sheepshead and flounder are being caught in the inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area.

In the back bay areas most of the attention is focused on flounder. The channels in Assawoman and Sinepuxent Bays are producing some nice flounder but of course a fairly high throwback ratio to go along with that. Minnows and squid strips are favorite offerings and often in combination; but white Gulp baits are accounting for some of the larger flounder being caught. Cow-Nosed Sting Rays have moved into the back bay areas and it is pretty hard to fish without tangling into one of these buggers while flounder fishing. Angelina Watts was enjoying some flounder fishing with her dad recently when she caught this funny looking critter called a Burr Fish or Spiny Box Fish which is a type of puffer fish that comes to visit the Ocean City area for the summer.

Photo by Rich Watts

The fleet of boats heading out to the wreck and reef sites is finding good fishing for Black Sea Bass and a mix of ling and a flounder now and then. Limit catches of Black Sea Bass are not common but most anglers are able to at least pass the half way mark on their way to a limit.

Farther offshore Thresher, Mako and Blue Sharks are entertaining those laying out chum slicks from the 30 Fathom line out to the canyon areas. At the canyon regions a mix of Dolphin, Yellowfin, Bluefin and Bigeye Tuna are being caught. The area between Poormans and the Washington Canyon has been a particularly good place to troll lately. Quite a few of the Yellowfin Tuna being caught lately are small but some nice 40lb class tuna are being boated.

"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


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.