Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 03, 2012

A lot of folks could be seen on the highways this past weekend headed for day trips or perhaps week long vacations with family in tow most with one purpose in mind; to get near water and its cooling effects on the body and soul. Whether it is a favorite lake, the bay or the ocean, water offers fun and relaxation and fishing can be a big part of that equation. I took my own advice this past weekend when three youngsters came to visit from Manhattan to come and play on the eastern shore. After a lot of swimming and chasing frogs and turtles; we set aside some time to go to our local tackle store and let the kids pick out their own character related fishing outfits and head to the bay for some white perch fishing. Fortunately despite the searing sun the white perch and small striped bass were hungry for grass shrimp and our young fishermen caught their first fish ever and I might add the 2nd and the 12th and so on.

Photo Courtesy of Keith Lockwood

Fishermen in the upper bay region have been finding plenty to do in the tidal rivers such as the Susquehanna River, fishing for white perch and channel catfish with a few striped bass tossed in now and then. Farther down the bay in the region from Rock Hall south fishermen are finding schools of striped bass along channel edges. These fish range from typical 3-year old fish that are less than 18" to 4 and 5 year old fish that can go a nice 22" or more. Most fishermen have been trolling but chumming has been successful and those lucky enough to find some small spot have been live lining along the channel edges and the bay bridge piers with good success. These fish are chasing juvenile menhaden and bay anchovies and often can be spotted on the surface in the mornings and evenings chasing bait; fishermen are reporting that often there are no diving birds to mark the activity. Tracey Geisel proves the point that you just never know what might wind up on the end of your line when fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. There have been some large male striped bass in the upper bay area for several months now and Tracey managed to connect with a 34" specimen near Love Point while trolling.

Photo Courtesy of Tracey Geisel

The fishing for striped bass below the bay bridge down to the Breezy Point area continues to provide a lot of good fishing for striped bass along the edges of the shipping channel in the vicinity of Hackett's Bar, Thomas Point, the Hill, the False Channel area and out in front of Breezy Point. Fishermen have been seeing surface action in the mornings and evenings as striped bass chase bait up to the surface. Casting soft plastic jigs, bucktails and metal has been providing fun light tackle fishing. A good depth finder has also be a real asset this week in regard to finding fish suspended and holding along the channel edges; soft plastic jigs and metal have been effective choices to reach the fish. Trolling continues to be a very popular method to work the channel edges for striped bass this week; swim shads and bucktails in tandem or behind umbrella rigs as well as spoons and surgical tube lures have been good choices.

Fishermen in the southern region of the bay are reporting good trolling opportunities for striped bass in the lower Potomac River with small to medium sized bucktails along the channel edges. Chumming is also been productive at the mouth of the Potomac River for a mix of striped bass and bluefish. At Cove Point along the 35' channel edge out in front of the Gas Docks fishermen are live lining spot on a regular basis now and catching striped bass. There are plenty of small spot in the Patuxent so it makes it easy for the Solomons fleet to obtain bait.

Bluefish are mixing it up with striped bass in the lower bay region and can often be seen chasing bait to the surface. The bluefish are also showing up in chum slicks, nipping a live lined spot now and then and attacking lures trolled behind boats. Many of the fishermen trolling have put their swim shads in storage and are using Drone spoons, bucktails and surgical tubing lures. The Mud Leads and the lower bay in general have been good places to catch medium-sized bluefish.

Croaker fishing in the lower bay and middle bay regions has been most productive at sunset and into the evening hours when a good tide is running. Shoal areas near deep channel areas have been good places to fish such as Buoy 72 in the lower bay and Sharp's Island Flats in the middle bay region. White perch fishing in the channel areas and tidal rivers in the middle and lower bay regions remains good with bloodworms being the most popular bait when fishing with bottom rigs.

Shallow water fishing for white perch and striped bass remains good in the early morning hours with much of the fishing shutting down once the sun rises. Due to hot weather, the evening fishing kicks in gear once the sun sets. Topwater lures and jerkbaits are good choices for striped bass and spinners and Beetle Spin type soft plastics are good choices for white perch.

Recreational crabbers report slim pickings this week in the upper bay tidal rivers and creeks and fair crabbing in the middle bay region's tidal rivers and creeks. Crabbing success picks up in the lower bay and Tangier Sounds area this week.

Many of Maryland's freshwater fisheries are now in what most fishermen would call a summer pattern of behavior. That translates into early morning and late evening fishing for the best success. Whether one is fishing for trout in the western region streams, Deep Creek Lake, the upper Potomac or a small farm pond in southern Maryland fishing early morning and late evening is the key. Potomac River expert John Mullican sent in a short report from the upper Potomac that reflects this typical summer pattern. The Potomac is low, clear and temperatures are running in the mid-80s. Fishing has been pretty good during the morning and evening hours, but gets pretty slow during the day, a typical summer pattern.

Fishing for largemouth bass has been good for fishermen who can get up early and work the shallows with topwater lures over grass such as frogs and poppers. As the sun gets higher in the sky targeting shade such as docks, fallen tree tops and under thick grass will often produce strikes from largemouth bass hunkered down in the shade. Creek mouths that flow into lakes and tidal rivers often run a bit cooler are also good places to target for bass holding there. Trevor Tufty holds up a nice early morning largemouth bass for the camera before slipping it back into the water.

Photo Courtesy of Trevor Tufty

Ocean City fishermen are finding the best fishing for a mix of small summer species in the surf in the early morning and evening hours now that surf water temperatures are around 76-degrees. Kingfish, croaker, small bluefish and flounder can be found in the surf as well as catch and release fishing for inshore sharks this week. In and around the inlet and Route 50 Bridge are fishermen are catching flounder, croaker and sheepshead during the day and striped bass at night. Flounder fishing in the back bay areas is good when water clarity is favorable.

Outside of the inlet the party boats are finding good fishing for sea bass on the wreck sites with a high throwback ratio. Farther offshore fishermen are finding good fishing for yellowfin tuna and a mix of bigeye tuna, bluefin tuna, dolphin, white and blue marlin and wahoo. Deep drop fishermen are finding tilefish along the canyon edges.

"The fisherman fishes; it is at once an act of humility and small rebellion and it is something more. To him his fishing is an island of reality in a world of dream and shadow." Robert Traver


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.