Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 13, 2012

Although we still have another week until the official start of the summer season, most would agree that it is here. Many different species of freshwater fish are now in their typical summer mode of behavior and that usually means trying to stay cool during the heat of the day; not much different from us. Summer species are drifting into portions of the Chesapeake as well as coastal and offshore waters. Anyone who has been on any of the major east or west bound arteries recently knows that school is out and folks are on vacation. Be sure to make fishing with family part of your vacation whether the destination is Deep Creek Lake or Ocean City.

Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna River are enjoying some good fishing for striped bass at the Conowingo Dam pool by casting swim shads and crankbaits in the early morning hours and evenings. Word is that if you put extra weight on and get down to the bottom one can catch large flathead catfish also. There is good fishing for white perch and channel catfish in the Susquehanna and also the Northeast and Elk Rivers.

Farther down the bay, fishermen were excited last weekend to see the fishing prospects for striped bass improve greatly when striped bass moved into the east side of the bay in the Love Point area. Fishermen are finding a nice mix of striped bass up to 34" along the channel edge by trolling close to the surface down to about 25' deep with swim shads, bucktails and spoons.

The greatly improved striped bass action also showed itself in the Thomas Point area this week and fishermen were finding schools of striped bass breaking water at early dawn and reported the action subsided as the sun rose in the eastern sky. The action after that was reported as a steady pick while trolling swim shads, Drone spoons and bucktails in tandem or behind umbrella rigs. A few fishermen are still using planer boards but most are just trolling flat lines; some with planers. Joe Hurley holds up two nice striped bass he caught near Thomas Point.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Hurley

Light tackle jigging is a good option when fish can be spotted suspended near structure such as steep channel edges or when they are chasing bait near the surface. The Thomas Point area has been offering good opportunities lately and hopefully the northern edge of the Hill off of Poplar Island will begin to produce some action this week. A few fishermen have been chumming near Hackett's Bar, Thomas Point and the Hill with good results and some fishermen have been finding spot in the tidal rivers and live lining with good success.

In the southern region of the bay much of the focus on striped bass involves live lining spot along the 35' channel edge out in front of the Gas Docks. Spot are now readily available in the Patuxent River and surrounding tidal rivers and creeks. Trolling Drone spoons, bucktails and swim shads along the western channel edge from Cove Point up to Breezy Point has also been paying off for fishermen.

Shallow water fishing for striped bass seemed to stumble a bit over the weekend for unknown reasons; more than a few fishermen in the middle bay and southern regions reported having a tough time finding fish in the early morning hours. This could just be a blip that only the striped bass know the answer. Generally, fishing the skinny waters of the bay and tidal rivers has been good recently for striped bass in the middle bay area and a mix of striped bass, small bluefish and speckled trout in the southern region and particularly Tangier Sound.

Fishing for croaker has been very good in the Tangier Sound area, the lower Potomac River and traditional evening areas such as the Middle Grounds and Buoy 72. Everyone is still looking for those 19" croakers but there seems to be plenty of 14" ones when the action is good. Bottom fishermen are also catching a mix of small bluefish, spot, white perch, speckled trout, small sea bass and even a few southern kingfish. Croaker fishing in the middle bay region has been fair with some catches coming from the lower Choptank River and off the Little Choptank.

White perch fishing has been very good in most regions of the bay either by fishing with bait and bottom rigs in the deeper waters or by casting small lures along shorelines in the early morning and evening hours. Small spinnerbait type lures, tubes, spinners and Rat-L-Traps are all good choices when casting along shoreline structure such as sunken wood, rocks and steep edges. This white perch was found in the shallows of the lower Choptank River and fell for a chartreuse Roadrunner type spinner bait.

Photo Courtesy of Keith Lockwood

Recreational crabbers reported mixed results over this past weekend with some reporting surprisingly scant catches as compared to previous trips; most reported catching at least a half bushel of nice crabs per outing. The best crabbing has been from Kent Island south and the eastern side of the bay continues to be more productive than the western side of the bay. Reports from the upper bay tend to be poor with catches of a dozen crabs or less per outing. The area where the Elk River connects with the C&D Canal is always a go to place early on in the upper bay crabbing season because of the flow from the lower Delaware Bay but commercial boat traffic can make it a dangerous place to crab in a small boat.

Freshwater fishermen are starting to see a variety of species begin to exhibit a summer pattern of behavior as water temperatures rise, the daylight hours are longer and the sun beats down. Fish such as walleye and smallmouth bass are holding deep where cool water is inviting. Water temperatures in the upper Potomac for example are now in the low 70's and water flows are low and clear which is typical for the summer. Smallmouth bass fishing has been good and working tubes and jerkbaits close to the bottom of pools has been a good strategy. Fishing for channel catfish has been exceptional and many fishermen are reporting catching big channel cats while fishing lures for smallmouth bass.

Largemouth bass are slipping into a typical summer mode of behavior and fishermen are finding the best topwater fishing early in the morning with poppers, frogs and floating Senko type lures. Casting spinnerbaits and small crankbaits around the edges of grass, spatterdock and transitional depth edges is also a good strategy. Largemouth bass are holding under thick grass, sunken wood and under the shade of fallen tree tops and docks during the day. Fishing for bluegills has been very good and they are spread throughout a wide variety of lakes and ponds around Maryland. Tim Hiteshew holds up a nice largemouth bass for the camera before releasing it back into Rocky Gorge Reservoir.

Photo Courtesy of Tim Hiteshew

Ocean City surf fishermen are now seeing water temperatures reaching 70-degrees this week. Most of the large striped bass have now moved through the region but a few are still being caught now and then. Fishermen using large baits are catching and releasing a variety of large inshore sharks and rays; those using smaller baits are catching kingfish, small bluefish and flounder. In and around the inlet, fishermen are catching small bluefish and striped bass in the evenings and flounder and sheepshead during the day near the south jetty. Flounder fishing in the back bay areas has been good when water clarity is favorable.

Sea bass fishing on the wreck sites has been good with double digit catches of legal sea bass and a lot of throwbacks. A few flounder are also being caught near the wrecks. Offshore fishermen are finding very good fishing for yellowfin tuna with a mix of dolphin, wahoo and white marlin. Mako sharks are also being found alone with a mix of thresher, blues and dusky sharks.

"The greatest enjoyment derived from the use of the fly rod is not necessarily the fish caught- the greatest satisfaction lies, rather in the performance of the cast, the dexterous use of the entire equipment, rod, line, leader and fly. " Joe Brooks


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.