Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 18, 2014

The official first day of summer arrives this Saturday but no one needs a date to know that summer is here as temperatures soar this week and humans and fish look for a bit of cool shade. Many of our fisheries are moving to a summer pattern where often some of the best fishing opportunities occur during the early morning and late evening hours. As water temperatures increase bay and ocean fishermen will also begin to see many of our summer migrant species move into reach of Maryland anglers.

Many Chesapeake Bay and Ocean City area recreational anglers will be live lining spot in the coming months. Although Spot traps can be seen for sale in many tackle shops recreational fishermen need to remember they are illegal to use except by commercial fishermen holding a TFL license. All Spot caught by recreational anglers must be caught by hook and line, a legal size cast net, seine or minnow trap.

The Conowingo Dam has been running on a mid-day power generation schedule lately and fishing at the dam hole and lower Susquehanna River has become more predictable. Water clarity has greatly improved and with that the fishing has also improved. There are still White Perch to be caught in the river as well as Striped Bass, Channel Catfish and even the Smallmouth Bass are active. Tylor Kirklin, holds up a lower Susquehanna Channel Catfish he caught recently while fishing in his kayak.

Photo Courtesy of Tylor Kirklin

At the dam hole Striped Bass are being caught in the early morning hours on lures such as crankbaits and swim shads or live eels and White Perch. Flathead Catfish are also part of the action at the dam hole and will take swim shads close to the bottom or live or fresh cut baits. At the mouth of the river Largemouth Bass are being caught in the grass beds that cover the flats and a few Striped Bass are being caught in the channel areas.

Upper bay fishermen are focusing on Striped Bass by trolling, chumming and jigging over suspended fish. The steep channel edges at Love Point, Swan Point, Podickory Point and the mouth of the Chester River have been favorite places to look for Striped Bass recently. Chumming is beginning to take center stage now as the most popular method of fishing and there are some nice fish being caught. Cow-Nosed Rays have shown up in force in the last week or so and unfortunately they like cut menhaden baits also. The 2011 year class Striped Bass are being attracted to the chum slicks in a big way and most are coming up just a little shy of the 18" mark so the throwback ratio can be high at times. Anglers are urged to treat these fish with care since they represent our future fishing. Most anyone will tell you that they don't enjoy using circle hooks since there is not the fun of setting the hook. However, using circle hooks translates into less gut hooked fish which equals fish surviving for future years.

Trolling for Striped Bass in the upper bay has been productive with bucktails, swim shads and spoons. Most will add that trolling produces a better grade of fish with fewer throwbacks. The channel edges tend to be where the best action is but the sewer pipe north of the Bay Bridge is always worth checking out as well as the bridge piers. Jigging around the bridge piers has been good and live lining Spot at the base of the piers has been an excellent way to catch your Striped Bass.

Fishing for White Perch is a fun alternative to Striped Bass fishing and most of the tidal rivers and creeks on both sides of the bay hold healthy populations. Many fishermen like to use bottom rigs baited with bloodworms when fishing from shore or when fishing the reefs and knolls out in the bay off the Baltimore area. Casting small jigs and spinners is always a favorite summer pastime in the early mornings and late evenings along shoreline structure for White Perch. There are also plenty of Channel Catfish and carp to entertain those wishing to fish a nightcrawler on a bottom rig.

In the middle bay area Striped Bass are what is on most minds and there tends to be plenty of action; especially on the western shipping channel edge out in front of Chesapeake Beach. That is where most of the trolling action is taking place down to the Parkers Creek area. Medium sized bucktails, swim shads and spoons are catching some nice fish. Channel edges and rock piles around the region are also holding fish and it just takes a little exploring to find which ones are productive. Daniel and Jonathan Irons got to go fishing with their grandmother and caught these nice Striped Bass while trolling near the mouth of Eastern Bay.

Photo Courtesy of Daniel and Jonathan Irons

A lot of fishermen are switching over to chumming and doing well on Striped Bass at places like the 30' outside edge of Hackett's Bar, Thomas Point, the mouth of Eastern Bay and the Clay Banks area. Other traditional areas may also hold fish such as the Gas Buoy, Bloody Point, Gum Thickets, the Diamonds, etc; don't be afraid to do some exploring with your depth finder.

Live lining Spot is becoming more of the way to go this week since there are plenty of Spot in the shallower waters of the tidal rivers and it tends to be a no mess, no fuss type of fishing. Another key point is the fact that the Bluefish have not showed up yet in any numbers so baits certainly last longer.

The shallow water fishery for Striped Bass and White Perch is in full swing and quickly becoming more of an early morning and late evening type of fishing as water temperatures climb into the higher 70's. Topwater lures are always a favorite for the Striped Bass but sometimes suspended jerkbaits, crankbaits and swim shads will work well if conditions are choppy. Prominent points and shoreline structure are favorite places to check out. White Perch can be caught on a variety of spinners and small jigs.

Croaker fishing is certainly worth mentioning in the middle bay region as they are being caught in the lower sections of the major tidal rivers and along channel edges out in the bay. The size and abundance so far has been a bit disappointing as compared to 5 or 6 years ago but most at least meet the legal minimum of 9".

Lower Bay fishermen have been focusing their attention on the western edge of the shipping channel from Point No Point up to Chesapeake Beach. Mostly they are trolling a variety of medium sized bucktails, swim shads and spoons along the channel edge but they are also finding Striped Bass in the lower Patuxent and Potomac Rivers. Chumming is becoming more popular in the lower Potomac and on the eastern side of the bay at Buoys 72 and 72A. We have not heard much from the Middle Grounds area yet but when the Bluefish arrive in earnest this area is usually busy with Bluefish and some amount of Striped Bass. Live lining Spot out in front of Cove Point has been producing some nice Striped Bass but is falling short of the mark so far this season set there a couple of years ago.

Shallow water light tackle fishing at prominent points and the eastern marshes has been good lately but as summer temperatures soar and water temperatures follow; this is becoming more of an early morning and late evening fishery for Striped Bass, Speckled Trout and Red Drum.

Fishing for Croakers has picked up at the mouth of the Wicomico River in the lower Potomac and in the Pocomoke Sound area north to Hooper's Island. Peeler Crab and Shrimp tend to be the favorite baits and some of the better fishing has been occurring in the evening hours along channel edges.

Recreational crabbers are generally finding slim pickings in the upper bay tidal rivers this week. One location that may be worth checking is the mouth of the C&D Canal where it dumps into the Elk River; crabs can often be found there. Middle bay region recreational crabbers are reporting fair catches in the regions tidal rivers and creeks with a good portion of the legal crabs being light. The eastern side of the lower bay region has been producing some of the better catches recently but crabbers there also report a lot of small crabs chewing up baits and a considerable portion of the legal crabs are light.

Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are watching lake temperatures approach 70ºF in the main portions of the lake and even warmer temperatures in the shallows. Largemouth Bass are being found under grass and shade in the upper lake in the cove areas and under floating docks. Smallmouth Bass are also being found under docks but tend to be more down towards the dam area. A variety of crankbaits, tubes, flukes and spinnerbaits are being used for both species. Chain Pickerel tend to be everywhere and eager to charge any kind of bait; Bluegills are active and unfortunately so is the summer season boat traffic. Eric Elenfeldt holds up a nice Deep Creek Lake Largemouth Bass he caught on a buzzbait.

Photo Courtesy of Eric Elenfeldt

Fisheries biologist John Mullican sent in a short report on the upper Potomac. The Potomac River is calming down and clearing up, but there is still a bit of color to the water. Fishing should improve as the river conditions do. As we get into typical summer patterns, morning and evenings will be preferred. The same morning and evening patterns of fish activity will also be present for trout fishermen fishing in the many trout management areas in the western and central regions.

Largemouth Bass are also switching to the typical summer pattern of activity of seeking shade during the bright daylight hours and become active in the low light hours of dawn and dusk. Shallow water fishing for largemouth in the summer months means topwater lures and all the fun that comes with surface strikes. Lures such as poppers, chatterbaits, buzzbaits and old favorites like Jitterbugs and Hula Poppers can offer a lot of exciting fishing. When bass are hunkered down under thick grass or under docks or shoreline brush soft plastics that are often rigged weedless is the ticket to success. Bluegills are a fun fish to catch during the summer months and whether you use the old standard of bait and bobber or advance to something like rubber-legged poppers on a light weight fly rod it is all fun.

Water temperatures in the Ocean City surf and inlet areas is close to the 70 degree mark this week and warmer temperatures can be found in the back bay areas. The large Striped Bass are still passing by the Ocean City area beaches and are being caught on menhaden baits. There are also a lot of hungry inshore sharks and rays in the area chewing up baits so bring plenty of bait. Many often find that the head of the menhaden takes more abuse and lasts longer. Those using smaller tackle are catching Kingfish in the surf on bloodworms or cut Spot and a mix of small Bluefish, flounder, croaker, small Black Drum and Northern Blowfish. Nick Hodge was surf fishing in Ocean City with his dad and holds up one of several small sharks they caught and released while trying their luck for Striped Bass.

Photo Courtesy of Nick Hodge

In and around the inlet/Route 50 Bridge area Sheepshead and Tautog are being caught on sand fleas around the rocks, bulkheads and bridge piers. A mix of flounder, small Black Sea Bass and blowfish make up the day time mix. At night Striped Bass are being caught on swim shads and small Bluefish are being caught on Got Cha lures. Flounder are the main focus in the back bay channels but a few large sea trout and medium sized Black Drum are also being caught.

Outside of the inlet the boats heading out to the wreck and reef sites are finding Black Sea Bass for their anglers along with a few Tautog, flounder and ling. At the farther offshore areas a mix of Dolphin, Yellowfin Tuna and Bluefin Tuna are being caught at the canyon areas and some very nice long-fin Albacore and Bigeye Tuna have also been boated recently. Perhaps some of the most exciting dockside chatter resulted in a White Marlin and a Blue Marlin being caught this past weekend at the Poorman's Canyon.

"How like fish we are: ready, nay eager, to seize upon whatever new thing some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time! And how we rue our haste, finding the gilded morsel to contain a hook." - Aldo Leopold


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.