Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 11, 2012

The dog days of summer are certainly here and fish and fisherman alike are adjusting their fishing times to the cooler parts of the day. Some relief is in store for this week and into the weekend so fishing should be a bit more enjoyable. Just remember to drink plenty of water, more than you think necessary and use sun block or cover up from that mid summer searing sun.

Fishermen continue to be pleased with the striped bass action they are encountering in the upper bay this week. All are well aware of recent heat and water temperatures are now 85-degrees or higher. Early morning fishing tends to offer the best opportunities for light tackle jigging, trolling live lining and chumming. Traditional locations such as the Love Point area, Podickory Point, the Sewer pipe and Bay Bridge Piers are all holding fish at times. Light tackle fishermen report finding breaking fish at times; especially in the early morning and often without the company of birds. As is often the case the fish on top are under 18" but often larger striped bass can be found underneath. Trolling Drone spoons has been a favorite lately along with bucktails and surgical tube lures. Chumming has been bringing a lot of small fish into the slicks but fishermen report the largest fish on the bottom. Live lining spot has perhaps been one of the surest methods of tangling with a striped bass once fish are located holding close to structure such as bridge piers or steep channel edges.

Middle bay region fishermen continue to enjoy very good fishing for striped bass below the Bay Bridge south. Much of the action tends to be centered near the Gum Thickets, the Hill, Tolley's and Thomas Points. Early morning and evening tend to be the most productive times reported for a wide variety of fishing methods. Light tackle fishermen are finding fish on top at times or suspended over structure. Trolling with a variety of lures such as Drone spoons, bucktails and surgical tube lures has been a good choice. Bluefish are moving into the region so many fishermen have placed their expensive swim shads in safe storage. Chumming has been productive and live lining spot is probably the number one way to catch your striped bass if one has the time and savvy to collect live spot for bait. More than a few fishermen are also finding bluefish chopping up baits and that fresh cut spot can catch striped bass also. Molly Fed was trolling in the evening near Thomas Point with a spoon when she caught this nice striped bass.

Photo Courtesy of Molly Fed

Fishermen looking for striped bass in the lower bay are now able to concentrate on live lining spot outside of the Gas Docks with very good success. Spot have moved into the Patuxent River and the tidal rivers and creeks in the lower bay region making bait much easier to obtain. Fishermen are also light tackle fishing and trolling for their striped bass and increasing numbers of bluefish at the Middle Grounds and channel edges. Fishing for speckled trout on the eastern side of the lower bay from lower Hooper's Island to Pocomoke Sound continues to offer exciting fishing opportunities for light tackle fishermen. Croaker numbers have increased this past week in the region and especially in the lower Potomac River. Flounder are also becoming more common in the lower bay region.

Fishing for white perch continues to provide good fishing opportunities for fishermen throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay and the tidal rivers and creeks that flow into it. They are being caught in deeper waters with bait and bottom rigs, around the piers of docks, sunken wood along shorelines and rocks. Grass shrimp, minnows and bloodworms are all excellent baits and small lures such as Rat-L-Traps, spinners and Beetle Spins are all good lure choices.

Recreational crabbers report fair to poor catches in the upper bay and good catches south of the Bay Bridge in the bay's tidal rivers and creeks. Undersized crabs and females are making up a large portion of the crabs being encountered on trotlines and in collapsible traps but most crabbers report being able to catch a half bushel to a full bushel per outing.

Freshwater fishermen continue to see most of their fisheries set in a typical summer mode of behavior and that translates into early morning and late evening fishing action in shallower waters and fishing deep or under shade during the day. Largemouth bass in particular are roaming the shallower grass beds during low light conditions and are hunkered down in deeper cool waters during the day or under heavy grass or the shade of a dock or sunken wood. Derick Often caught and released this nice largemouth bass on a plastic frog after dark in a Frostburg area pond.

Photo Courtesy of Derick Often

Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are catching a mix of smallmouth bass in the 12" to 15" size range, large yellow perch and crappie by drifting live minnows over rocky points, humps and deep grass edges. At the deep dam faces many are drifting minnows and nightcrawlers deep for trout. Upper Potomac River fishermen report typical summer low flow conditions and are catching a mix of smallmouth bass and channel catfish.

Much of the summer time fishing action focuses on largemouth bass and with cooler temperatures this week the action should pick up. Topwater lures such as frogs, poppers, chatterbaits and shallow running crankbaits over grass or along edges are always good choices. Grubs, spinnerbaits and soft plastics are good choices to try near sunken wood or shade.

Ocean City area fishermen are enjoying good fishing conditions this week; surf water temperatures are now up to 78-degrees and they are catching a summer mix of small species in the surf such as kingfish, small bluefish, croakers, spot and flounder. In the late evenings some fishermen are also practicing catch and release with large inshore sharks such as sand tigers. In and around the inlet flounder and sheepshead are being caught and small bluefish and a few striped bass at night.

Flounder fishing has been good due to good water clarity and fishermen are working the deeper channels for some impressive sized flounder. Many are using larger baits now such as live spot and catching a better grade of flounder. Croakers, small sea bass and spot round out the bottom fishing mix. Jan Zarfoss sent in this picture to the angler's log of two happy fishermen and some very nice flounder caught in the back bay area behind Ocean City.

Photo Courtesy of Jan Zarfoss

The boats heading out to the wreck sites report good catches of sea bass and increasing numbers of flounder for patrons on the party boats. The throwback ratio tends to be high on the sea bass but fishermen who stick to it often come up with double digit catches of legal sea bass or limits. Offshore fishermen report bluefin tuna and a few yellowfin tuna along the 30-fathom line and traditional fishing areas such as the Hot Dog, Hambone and Chicken Bone. Farther offshore fishermen are finding a mix of white marlin, blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dolphin and bigeye tuna in the canyon areas.

"Kids have one Christmas to look forward to each year, but a fisherman has the same thrill of anticipation every time he takes off fishing. " John Volker


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.