Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 12, 2015



After being away from Maryland for two weeks I couldn't help but notice that things were slightly different as the first slight signs begin to show that summer may beginning to lose its grip. Most of our summer fisheries are now in full swing and it was great to hear that recreational crabbing has greatly improved in the middle and lower bay regions. I want to thank Erik Zlokovitz for filling in for us last week; he did an outstanding job of keeping the latest fishing information flowing. One point that did make me chuckle though, was to see my own picture on the fishing report. When you send out a cell phone picture there is no telling where it will wind up; all in good fun.

Those who fish the very upper reaches of the Chesapeake near the mouths of the Elk and Susquehanna Rivers and surrounding areas are enjoying some better than usual summer fishing for striped bass. This could possibly be attributed to what one might term " overflow" from the upper bay areas near Rock Hall that have been providing exceptionally good fishing for striped bass this season. The best fishing has been occurring in the early morning and late evening hours along shoreline structure and channel edges. Casting topwater lures is one of the favorite ways to fish for them but crankbaits worked in deeper waters along channel edges or similar structure has been productive also. The Conowingo Dam has generally been on an afternoon power generation schedule so locals have been casting plugs into the dam pool in the evenings for striped bass. There continues to be good fishing for flathead and channel catfish in the lower Susquehanna and mostly channel catfish in the upper bay and the region's tidal rivers along with white perch.

Most striped bass tend to agree on what they prefer in regard to where they wish to be at any one time and this year the upper bay is very much to their liking. Over the last 30 years for instance bay fishermen have seen striped bass stacked in at locations such as the Gas Docks, the Gooses, the Hill and upper bay sites like Swan Point and Love Point. This is the year for upper bay fishermen to be able to have excellent striped bass fishing in their back yard and those farther away unfortunately are burning fuel to get there. On the flip side it might be mentioned that middle and lower bay boats are bringing live spot with them and when striped bass are in residence like this one Martin Abel is holding, no spot is too large for live lining.


Photo courtesy of Martin Abel

The fleets that are anchoring up at spots like Swan Point, Love Point, the Triple Buoys, Podickory Point and anywhere in between where fish can be found suspended are split between chumming and live lining. The best fishing is of course on a good tide with an ebb tide tending to offer better chances at larger fish. Smaller sized striped bass are reported to be common in the chum slicks so many anglers are choosing fairly large menhaden fillets and allowing them to rest on the bottom far back in the chum slick for larger fish. Trolling has also been a good option along channel edges and any good looking bottom structure. Red surge tube lures, spoons and bucktails tend to be favorites behind inline weights or planers. Those using umbrella rigs are of course bound to inline weights due to the increased drag of the umbrella rig tripping a planer.

The good striped bass fishing action continues down to the Bay Bridge piers and the sewer pipe where chumming, chunking, live lining spot or jigging has been producing good fishing opportunities. Boats have been positioning up current of the piers and catching fish that are holding close to the piers or the sewer pipe.

There has been plenty of good fishing for white perch in the upper bay region recently in most of the tidal rivers and some of the hard bottomed shoals out in the bay and of course the piers and rock piles at the Bay Bridge. Casting with small spinners and jigs around shoreline structure is always fun and bottom rigs baited with bloodworms, grass shrimp or peeler crab work well in deeper waters as do jigs with dropper flies.

In the middle bay region there are plenty of striped bass in the general vicinity of Poplar Island, Eastern Bay and south to the mouth of the Choptank. The Hill has been getting most of the attention from those chumming or live lining spot but there are striped bass to be found in the surrounding areas also. The outside edge of Hacketts Bar, Buoy 86, the steep channel edges in Eastern Bay such as Holicutts Noose and off Wades Point and Claiborne have all been holding striped bass at times. Going south, the Clay Banks, Buoy 83 and the Diamonds have also been good places to look for suspended striped bass. Most are live lining spot now that they have become more available in the middle and lower bay regions. Anyone checking out the transoms of some of the nearby charter boats will see many lower bay region boats are making the run to middle bay and upper bay locations to put their anglers on fish. There is much talk about the size of the spot being found but the striped bass don't seem to mind the larger sized spot, and one can always opt to chunk after fish are gathered under the boat. Bluefish are a part of the equation at the fishing grounds so one might be left with plenty of half eaten spot. Chunks can be used to catch either bluefish or striped bass depending on who gets to the bait first. Spot are being caught in a variety of places but one of the most consistently productive locations is the Sands. This hard bottomed location is at the mouth of the Choptank, inside of Black Walnut Point and directly north of R 10.

Trolling a mix of red surge tube lures, spoons and bucktails is a good option along channel edges or breaking fish for a mix of small bluefish and striped bass. Breaking fish are becoming a more common sight in the middle bay region especially in the Eastern Bay area. Shallow water fishing for striped bass along shorelines is mostly an early morning and late evening affair for those casting topwater lures.

White perch fishing has been good in most of the tidal rivers whether one is dropping a simple baited bottom rig off a pier or casting small lures around structure. White perch can also part of the mix when croaker fishing in many locations. Those who are targeting croakers will agree that the best time to fish is at dusk and the best places to fish are channel edges leading to hard bottom shoal areas. Baits can vary from peeler crab to shrimp.

The lower bay region is offering a lot of variety this week. There are bluefish of various sizes chasing bait throughout the region with Spanish mackerel mixed in. The best action tends to be around the Middle Grounds and Mud Leads areas. The bluefish will hit red surge tube lures and spoons and the Spanish mackerel tend to prefer small Drone spoons; both are trolled behind planers or inline weights. There are also some large red drum in the same areas that are providing some fun catch and release action; they are being caught on larger Drone spoons or by jigging.

Striped bass fishing tends to still be sparse in most of the region but the best prospects are in the lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers. Live lining spot along channel edges is an option as is casting to shoreline structure early in the morning or late evenings.

Croaker fishing has been very good in the lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers and improving in the Tangier Sound region. Large spot are also a big part of the bottom fishing mix with white perch and small bluefish tossed in.

Recreational crabbers are reporting fair crabbing in the lower parts of the upper bay, very good crabbing in the middle bay region and the recent reports from the Tangier Sound area is that crabbing is exceptional. Recent conversations from the Crisfield area praised the quantity and quality of crabs being caught. Eldridge Watts went crabbing with his son in the Miles River area recently and happily holds up a pair for the camera.


Photo by Rich Watts

It is vacation season at Deep Creek Lake and those wishing to fish are finding they have to get out early to find some peace on the water and also to match the fish's schedule. Water temperatures are in the upper 70's now and early morning and evenings offer the best fishing opportunities for a mix of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, trout, northern pike and chain pickerel. Smallmouth bass are being found near rocky bottom with tubes, largemouth bass near or under floating docks and grass with tubes, various soft plastics and spinnerbaits. Walleye and trout are being found deep near the dam by slow trolling worm rigs or live minnows and northern pike and chain pickerel are being caught in the grassy cove areas.

The upper Potomac is running clear and low with water temperatures in the upper 70's this week. Smallmouth bass tend to be the favorite target and they can be found near rock ledges and breaks or the edges of deep grass. Tubes tend to be one of the favorite choices for bait.

Largemouth bass fishing continues to be good in many areas with early morning and late evening offering the best shallow water action. A variety of soft plastics and topwater lures are good choices for baits. Deeper waters are holding largemouth bass and crankbaits, tubes and jigs are good choices to get to them. The Eastern Shore tidal rivers offer some good fishing for largemouth bass and tend to offer less crowded conditions than the tidal Potomac. Scheduling an early morning or evening trip around a falling tide is a good bet when targeting grass and spatterdock.

Targeting largemouth bass in the shallow waters of tidal rivers will often put one within the realm of northern snakeheads as they expand their range throughout Maryland. Recently a couple of big ones were reported in the tidal Potomac. One caught hook and line by a Virginia angler may have exceeded the current world record of 17 lbs, 12oz and a second shot by a Maryland bow fishermen has exceeded the current state record. Todd Murphy shot this 17.47 lb northern snakehead in Mattawoman Creek with his bow this past Saturday August 8th.


Photo by Branson Williams

The 2015 White Marlin Open is now history with some unbelievable prize money handed out. Now that the boat traffic has settled down, offshore fishing can return to less competitive fun. One thing that is very beneficial to having so many boats offshore is that it helps show us what is out there and the boats brought in a wide variety of pelagic species. At present the boats making the trip to our offshore waters are bringing double digit catches of yellowfin tuna and dolphin back to the docks with some bigeye tuna and wahoo mixed in. White marlin and blue marlin are also being caught and released.

Closer to shore, surf fishing is focused mostly around a mix of kingfish, croaker, spot, small bluefish and some flounder. Due to water temperature and hot sun the best fishing has been occurring in the early morning and late evening hours. At the inlet area some larger bluefish have been making an appearance during flood tides and striped bass are being caught with most being undersized. Croaker fishing has been very good in the channels behind Ocean City with the East Channel being a great place to catch them. Flounder fishing remains good with a lot of throwbacks for those using smaller baits.

Larger flounder are being caught on some of the shoal areas off the beaches such as the Bass Grounds and Gull Shoals. There are some beautiful flounder being caught out at the wreck and reef sites; sea bass fishing is reported to be fair.

"Many of us probably would be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect." - Norman Maclean

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.