Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 18, 2012

The weatherman promises us cooler weather later on this week; which will be a welcomed event for fishermen. There is plenty of good fishing to be had this week whether smallmouth bass entice you while on vacation at Deep Creek Lake or you wish to try your luck with some flounder in the Ocean City area. Take some fishing gear along while on vacation and enjoy the quiet time fishing allows with family. If your youngster happens to catch their first fish while on vacation take the time to take a picture and visit a local award center to receive an entry ticket to register online. Award center locations and entry instructions can be found at: My First Fish

Upper bay region fishermen have seen their striped bass fortunes take a 180 degree turn since the month of June and are now enjoying good fishing for striped bass. Most of the action is taking place on the eastern side of the bay from Swan Point to Love Point but fishermen are also finding plenty of action along the shipping channel edges on both sides of the bay. A large percentage of the boats are anchored up and chumming at Swan Point and Love Point; captains talk of high throwback ratios of striped bass with the best grade of fish occurring early in the morning and close to the bottom. Trolling spoons and bucktails along the channel edges has been very productive and light tackle fishermen are doing well with live lining spot or encountering breaking fish and jigging.

At the Conowingo Dam area fishermen continue to catch flathead catfish and striped bass by casting swim shads. Farther down the Susquehanna and other upper bay tidal rivers; fishermen report white perch and channel catfish fishing has been good. Recreational crabbers are reporting improving catches of crabs in the region's tidal rivers with a high percentage of female and undersized crabs.

Middle bay region fishermen continue to find good fishing for striped bass in the region below the Bay Bridge to the False Channel/Breezy Point area. The Hill and Thomas Point have been getting a lot of attention from the live lining crowd and for a good reason. Catches have been very good on a nice grade of striped bass. Medium sized bluefish are becoming more plentiful and chopping up baits; switching to chunks of fresh spot on a hook will put some of them in the fish box. Trolling spoons and surgical tubing lures is another way to put a lot of bluefish in the boat and the edges of the shipping channel are where they're at. Fillets of small to medium sized bluefish are great on the grill and smoked bluefish is a summertime Maryland tradition.

Photo Courtesy of Keith Lockwood

Shallow water fishing for striped bass has turned into an early morning venture due to warm water temperatures. Most of the action tends to subside once the sun cracks the horizon. A few speckled trout are starting to make an appearance in the Taylor's Island area and so far legal flounder have been few and far between. Many light tackle fishermen have switched to shallow water white perch fishing and enjoying plenty of action and tasty fillets. Croaker fishing tends to be an evening affair as water temperatures hit 85-degrees on the surface and 76-degrees on the bottom. The action has been fair to good right at dark along channel and shoal edges out in the bay such as Stone Rock and Sharp's Island Flats; depending on the tide.

Recreational crabbers report fair to good crabbing in the region's tidal rivers with female crabs and small crabs are chewing up baits. Many of the commercial guys are starting to switch to bull lips to save time replacing necks every day. Despite warm water temperatures more than a few veteran crabbers are reporting some of their best catches in 8' to 12' of water.

Lower bay region fishermen have a lot to choose from this week in regards to fishing. Striped bass are still being caught outside of the Gas Docks on the 35' edge of the channel but are also showing up strong in the lower Potomac along the channel edges there. Live lining spot continues to be one of the more popular ways to put some striped bass in the fish box but chumming and trolling have also been very effective and a good way to get some payback on all the bluefish that have flooded the region. Most fishermen are trolling a mix of spoons, surgical tube lures and bucktails along channel edges and boats chumming have been setting up at the mouth of the Potomac and other traditional locations such as the Middle Grounds, Buoy 72 and the Rock Piles above Point Lookout.

The speckled trout fishing that has been exceptional on the eastern side of the bay now seems to be spreading to the western side of the bay as well. Light tackle fishermen are reporting catching speckled trout around Point Lookout and the mouth of the Patuxent River. Swim shads, Gulp Mullets and similar soft plastic jigs have been good performers. Flounder fishing has showed improvement along the channel edges of Tangier Sound and bottom fishing for a mix of spot, croaker and bluefish continues to be steady. Croaker fishing is reported to have improved in the lower Potomac and St. Mary's River area this week.

Spanish mackerel are being caught not too far south of us in Virginia waters and are predicted to be here shortly. Best to get to your local tackle shop and stock up on small Drone and Clark spoons before you find yourself staring at an empty peg board.

Recreational crabbers are reporting good to excellent crabbing throughout the region. Everyone is reporting high throwback ratios of small male crabs and lots of female crabs. Recreational crabbers in the lower Potomac River are reporting excellent crabbing this week.

Freshwater fishermen are reporting a typical summer pattern of fishing in most areas of Maryland. In western Maryland fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are reporting catching smallmouth bass in the 12" to 15" size range along deep grass edges on crankbaits and drifting minnows is a good way to catch large yellow perch, smallmouth bass and chain pickerel.

The upper Potomac River continues to run low and clear with water temperatures reaching 90-degrees on a hot afternoon. Despite warm water temperatures fishermen are enjoying good fishing for smallmouth bass and channel catfish with the best fishing in the early morning and late evening hours. Bob Hynes and his fishing buddy recently floated the upper Potomac from Brunswick to Landers catching smallmouth bass all the way on Senkos.

Photo Courtesy of Bob Hynes

Largemouth bass fishing has certainly been settled into a summer mode for sometime now with the best fishing occurring in the early morning and late evening hours. During those times surface lures such as frogs and chatterbaits work well in the shallow grass bed areas. Small shallow running crankbaits and soft plastics over deep grass are also working well. Many of the states tidal rivers have large fields of spatterdock and often they are where the bass are during low light conditions. Casting into them at high tide or along the edges on an ebbing tide are good tactics for largemouth bass and also snakeheads.

Ocean City area fishermen have really been whooping it up this week on flounder in the back bay areas all the way out to the wreck sites. If flounder is on your radar, now is the time to head down and get in on the action. The small coves and lagoons are full of small spot now and many fishermen are finding a doormat size grade of flounder by live lining them in the channels. Surf fishermen are catching a summer mix of kingfish, spot, croaker, flounder and small bluefish in the early morning hours. There are plenty of large inshore sharks and sting rays around for anyone needing some heavy catch and release action.

In and around the inlet fishermen are catching flounder and sheepshead during the day and striped bass and bluefish at night when the boat traffic settles down. Outside the inlet near shoal areas such as Gull Shoals, fishermen are finding flounder and occasionally a cobia. Farther offshore the party boats are catching sea bass and flounder around the wreck sites. There has been some good chunking action for yellowfin tuna at the Hot Dog area and farther offshore a mix of marlin tuna and dolphin are being caught.

"A day of fishing is never a waste. The old timers know that cooperation by the fish is the icing, but there's plenty that can stick with the cake." Gene Hill Sunlight & Shadows


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.