Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 27, 2012

As we bid farewell to June and get ready for the 4th of July that just so happens to fall in the middle of the week this year; summer time fishing is in place. Many of our summer visitors are now here in the Chesapeake Bay and ocean waters and beckoning to fishermen to come out and try their luck and the quiet lakes, ponds and waterways offer a retreat from the more hectic life for freshwater fishermen to try their luck.

Tomorrow biologists and young fishermen will be out on the waters of the Chesapeake tagging and releasing striped bass in portions of the bay from the upper bay to the lower bay for the July portion of the Diamond Jim series. These specially tagged striped bass can be worth up to $25,000 to a lucky fisherman.

In the far upper reaches of the Chesapeake fishermen are finding good fishing for white perch and channel catfish in the channels of the Susquehanna and Elk Rivers. At the Conowingo Dam pool, fishermen are catching a mix of striped bass channel catfish and flathead catfish. The dam is generally on an afternoon power generation schedule. Be sure to check out some of the recent angler's logs about the fishing opportunities near the dam pool.

Fishermen are finding good striped bass fishing above the bay bridge at traditional locations such as Love Point, Swan Point and the eastern side of the shipping channel. Fishermen are chumming and finding the larger fish close to the bottom. Those fishermen that are trolling are using medium sized bucktails and swim shads along channel edges. Fishing around the bay bridge piers has picked up recently and fishermen are reporting catching striped bass by jigging over suspended fish or by live lining spot. Austin Carroll was trolling with his dad just below the bridge when he caught this nice 33" striped bass.

Photo Courtesy of Reed Carroll

Below the bay bridge in the middle bay region fishermen are finding striped bass along the eastern and western edges of the shipping channel and are trolling, jigging, chumming or live lining spot in a number of locations. A few of the traditional spots where the fishing has been good are Hackett's Bar, the Hill, Thomas Point, Tolley's Point, Breezy Point and the False Channel. Most fishermen that are trolling are using medium sized bucktails dressed with sassy shads either in tandem or behind umbrella rigs. Red surge tube lures, swim shads and Drone spoons are also popular choices for trolling. Fishermen are eager to begin live lining spot in earnest but are finding many of the spot they find available are as small as 2" in size. Using finer wire stock hooks can offer an advantage but use caution with dropping hook size if using J style hooks, to reduce deep hooking; using circle hooks will of course alleviate these problems. Shallow water fishing for striped bass in the early morning and late evening hours remains good this week.

The bay and its tributaries seem to be flooded with a lot of small croakers this season and they have been found by fishermen as far as Denton on the Choptank River for example. It would seem that we are experiencing a strong year class perhaps and hopefully they will provide a boost to the croaker fishery in years to come. Although it might be tempting, fishermen should remember that the minimum size for croaker is 9" so small croaker can not be used for live lining. Croaker fishing has been fair at best in the middle bay area with good fishing in the evenings on a proper tide on shoal and channel edges. White perch have been filling in the gaps for fishermen in the tidal rivers and creeks whether they are bottom fishing with bait or casting small lures along shorelines in the early mornings and evenings.

Lower bay region fishermen that are looking for striped bass have been spending a good deal of their time live lining spot at the 35' channel edge out in front of the Gas Docks at Cove Point. Although small, there are plenty of spot available in the region's tidal rivers and creeks. Trolling along the channel edges along the western side of the shipping channel and the lower Potomac remains good this week. Fishermen are seeing more bluefish now, so swim shads are being replaced with #1 and #2 Drone spoons. Chumming in the lower Potomac and areas such as Buoy 72 and the Rock Piles above Point Lookout are producing fair catches of striped bass and better catches of medium sized bluefish. Bluefish are also being found in good numbers around the Middle Grounds area.

The shallow water fishing for speckled trout continues to be a very exciting fishing opportunity in the Tangier Sound area this week. Fishermen are using swim shads and topwater lures and also catching a mix of striped bass and bluefish.

Croaker fishing remains good with the best fishing in the evenings on the proper tide along channel edges and shoal areas. Fishermen are finding peeler crab and shrimp baits have been working well. White perch, spot, bluefish, sub-legal red drum and the occasional flounder help round out the bottom fishing mix. Fishermen are reporting a lot of small red drum or puppy drum in the 12" size category all over the lower bay region in the shallows and deeper waters. One would sure hope they will return when they are in the 19" to 26" size class. Kenny Marshal holds up a little puppy drum from the lower Potomac for the camera before releasing it.

Photo Courtesy of Kenny Marshal

Recreational crabbers report good crabbing this week in most tidal rivers and creeks below Kent Island. Reports from a few crabbers mention the crabbing dropping off in the creeks and backwaters of Kent Island and greatly improving in some western shore rivers such as the Severn. Generally crabbing remains steady with most recreational crabbers able to harvest a half bushel to a bushel of crabs per outing in the middle and lower bay regions and a couple of dozen crabs per outing in the upper bay.

Freshwater fishermen are finding a variety of fishing opportunities across the state. Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are finding a mix of yellow perch, bluegills, chain pickerel, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and walleye in varied locations at the lake. Drifting live minnows at various depths is a good tactic this time of the year, especially near deep grass.

Largemouth bass tend to take center stage during the summer months for fishermen and the early morning and late evening hours are the best times to pursue them in shallow water areas. Casting topwater lures such as frogs are an exciting way to fish for largemouth bass; even if a strike doesn't result in a hook up. Spinnerbaits and chatterbaits retrieved over grass are good choices and seem to be a favorite of snakeheads in the tidal Potomac lately. As the sun rises higher in the sky and temperatures climb, dropping weedless soft plastics down through grass can entice strikes from bass hunkered down in the cool shade under the grass in deeper waters. The shade of old docks and fallen tree tops and the mouths of small creeks are also good places to look for bass trying to beat the heat.

Fishing for bluegills is a favorite summer past time for many fishermen whether watching a bobber with a worm or cricket underneath or fishing with small lures. Perhaps one of the most exciting ways to catch bluegills is with a light fly rod, a floating line and some small rubber-legged poppers. Fishing for channel catfish remains very good this week in the upper Potomac, the Elk, Susquehanna, Choptank and numerous other rivers within Maryland.

Ocean City fishermen are seeing water temperature in the surf at around 74-degrees this week and are mostly fishing for a summer mix of seasonal fish. Using small baits they are catching a mix of kingfish, croaker, spot, flounder and small bluefish. Those wishing for a bit more pull are fishing late in the evening for large inshore sharks and sting rays.

In and around the inlet fishermen are catching sheepshead, flounder, croaker and triggerfish during the day and striped bass and bluefish at night. Most of the striped bass being caught are less than 28" but some big ones are caught every night. Flounder fishing around the inlet and back bay areas has been very good when water clarity favorable. Larger flounder are being caught now that fishermen are beginning to live line spot.

The boats venturing out to the wreck sites are coming back to the docks with good catches of sea bass; the throwback ratio is reported to be high but there are some whoppers out there as evidenced by this nice one held up by Rodney Goetz.

Photo Courtesy of Rodney Goetz

The boats heading out to the offshore waters are finding mostly yellowfin tuna and dolphin with a mix of bluefin tuna, white marlin, blue marlin and an occasional wahoo.

"The most indispensable item in any fisherman's equipment is his hat. This ancient relic, with its battered crown and well-frayed band, preserves not only the memory of every trout he caught, but also the smell." Corey Ford 1952


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.