Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 03, 2014



Although it still feels like the dog days of August; September is now on the calendar and cooler nights are eventually in the forecast which will begin to tug at water temperatures. There is some very exciting fishing in store for Marylanders as all kinds of fish will become more active.

This weekend the year long Maryland Fishing Challenge and the three month Diamond Jim Contest will culminate in the big awards ceremony at Sandy Point State Park on Sunday September 7th. There will be some big prizes on the stage for those entered in the Maryland Fishing Challenge; including a boat, motor and trailer donated by Bass Pro Shops and a world destination fishing trip donated by the World Fishing Network to be given to some lucky fishermen in attendance. Last year our Diamond Jim winner received a $25,000 check plus a pair of diamond earrings and thousands of dollars in gift certificates. All that attend the event will receive a Maryland Fishing Challenge logo Under Amour T-shirt and free admission to the Maryland Seafood Festival.

The Fisheries Service will have a live fish display of Maryland's invasive fish and will be ready to discuss fishing opportunities for northern snakeheads, blue catfish and flathead catfish as well as any other questions you might have. There will also be world class chefs performing Maryland seafood cooking demonstrations in the Maryland DNR tent. We suggest you arrive early for the best parking and T-shirt size selections and please stop by and say hello. Good luck to all of our entrants and don't forget to bring a 2" trailer hitch so you can hook up to that new boat, motor and trailer combo.

Although recent hot weather has bounced upper bay water temperatures back up to 80F; there continues to be good striped bass fishing along the edges of the Susquehanna Flats in the early morning and late evening hours. Of the two the early morning hours tend to offer the best fishing and most are saying the earlier the better. Topwater lures such as the Chug A Bug and Smack- It Jr. tend to be two of the favorite popper type lures being used throughout the bay for striped bass in the 17" to 24" size range. Largemouth bass can also be part of the action and those casting soft plastics or deep running crankbaits are also catching channel catfish. Flathead catfish can be found farther up the Susquehanna near the Conowingo Dam and David Brown gives us a look inside his cooler of a big flathead he caught in the dam pool.


Courtesy of David Brown

Farther down in the upper bay region there is good trolling action going on from the general region of Hart Miller Island south to the Bay Bridge. Most are now trolling with small spoons and perhaps a bucktail or two due to the small bluefish that are in the region; they will of course make short work on the tail section of sassy shads and swim shad lures. Planers and inline weights are in order and the edges of major channels tend to offer the best opportunities. There continues to be a good number of 2011 year class striped bass in the upper bay which at this point are coming up about an inch or so short of 18". Chumming continues to be productive for those that can find a group of fish to set up on; Swan Point, Love Point, Podickory Point and the Dumping Grounds are good places to start looking. Breaking fish and diving birds are becoming more common this week and a mix of small bluefish and striped bass are usually involved in the fracas. Often allowing metal jigs to sink deep below the surface action can put you in the zone for larger striped bass.

The Bay Bridge continues to be a draw for many; as the bridge piers and the sewer pipe on the northeast side continue to hold striped bass. One typically stages up current and drifting live spot, chunking fresh baits or jigging are all favorite tactics at these piers once it is determined at what depth the fish are suspended at.

In the middle bay region the live lining crowd has been flocking to the Gum Thickets area in recent weeks and it continues this week. The 22' edge tends to be one of the more productive depths for a mix of striped bass and bluefish. Most anglers are reporting that the bluefish can be thick at times and taking a toll on precious live baits. Other channel edges in the area are also good places to set up on striped bass at times. It often takes a little exploring to find a group of fish suspended on the channel edges. Locations such as Thomas Point, the east edge of Hackett's Bar, Bloody Point, the Hill and the Clay Banks are all good places to start looking.

There tends to be a good supply of spot for those who are savvy enough to find a good source. Most know to go shallow when starting to look for spot and finding good hard bottom such as sand or shell can go a long way to success also. Once September starts to cool down and water temperatures begin to drop; spot are going to begin their southward migration. At this point trolling and jigging will fill in as the preferred methods for catching striped bass. This action is already becoming noticeable as a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel harass schools of bay anchovies out in the bay. Most people who are trolling are using small spoons behind planers and inline weights and trolling along channel edges during good tidal current periods.

Light tackle shallow water fishing for a mix of striped bass and white perch continues to gain speed in most areas of the middle bay region; a good strong tide (flood tide being best) during the early morning and late evening hours is important. Topwater lures tend to be a favorite for striped bass fishing due to the excitement of a surface strike and to keep from fouling lures in the grass but swim shads such as the Gulp Mullet can be very effective. This nice striped bass fell for a Smack- It Jr. popper near submerged rocks.


Photo by Keith Lockwood

Small to medium sized spinners, small spinnerbait type lures and soft plastic jigs are good choices for white perch. When fishing for white perch around docks and piers few things can rival a grass shrimp on a simple one hook bottom rig fished close to pilings and deep structure.

The lower bay region continues to offer some exciting fishing opportunities this week for a variety of fish species. There is a mix of Spanish mackerel, striped bass and bluefish chasing schools of bait throughout the main part of the bay. The western shipping channel edge from Cove Point to Point Lookout is providing much of the action for boats trolling spoons behind inline weights and planers. Light tackle jigging under breaking fish is becoming a more common occurrence as bait schools made up mostly of bay anchovies are being harassed by a mix of bluefish, Spanish mackerel and striped bass. Often the melee can be spotted by diving birds but slicks can reveal underwater action.

Bottom fishing for a mix of croaker, large spot and small bluefish has been very good in the general area around the mouth of the Patuxent River and Tangier Sound. The lower Potomac River is offering excellent fishing for medium sized blue catfish and croakers. The Tangier and Pocomoke Sound areas are holding some nice flounder along channel edges and a few speckled trout are being caught along the eastern marsh edges. Large Red Drum continue to entertain catch and release fishermen in the general area of the Mud Leads above the Target Ship.

Recreational crabbers are seeing better catches this week as more crabs reach adult size and put on some heft. Water temperatures are still warm enough for at least one more molt so those wonderful late September crabs that are extra large and full are much anticipated. Generally speaking recreational crabbing in the upper bay is fair at best and good in the middle and lower bay regions.

Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake will begin to see less boat traffic now and may begin to reclaim their lake from jet skies and speed boats. Prominent rocky points are a good place to start to look for smallmouth bass and walleye as water temperatures begin to cool and are holding at the 70F mark at present. Largemouth bass can be found in the grassy coves and near or under floating docks.

Largemouth bass tend to get most of the attention during the summer months and are still holding to a typical summer pattern this week. As water temperatures begin to cool though the morning fishing will last longer and the evening fishing will begin a little sooner. Topwater lures near or over shallow grass is a good tactic and in tidal situations fishing the edges of grass and spatterdock on a falling tide can be a good choice.

Fishing for channel catfish in many of the state's tidal rivers and creeks is a fun option this time of the year. Flathead catfish can be caught in the lower Susquehanna River near the Conowingo Dam and there are plenty of blue catfish in the tidal Potomac to entertain fishermen and fill their freezers. In the tidal Potomac tributaries there are a group of fishermen/ hunters who ply the shallow waters of the tidal creek at night in search of snakeheads with a bow and arrow. Jay Berry recently managed to also find some large blue catfish in the shallows and holds up a whopper in anybody's book for the camera that he arrowed.


Photo Courtesy of Jay Berry

The Ocean City area continues to offer good surf fishing opportunities for a summer mix of small bluefish, croaker, kingfish and flounder. Inshore sharks are also offering fun catch and release fishing. In and around the inlet, fishing for flounder and croaker has been good during the day and bluefish are being caught mostly at night. In the back bay channels leading to the inlet flounder are being caught this week with a mix of croaker, blowfish and small bluefish.

Outside the inlet at the inshore wreck and reef sites the fishing for large flounder continues to be excellent. Most boats are returning to the dock with limits around the rails for their fishermen. Sea Bass fishing remains fair with legal sized fish being hard to come by. Out at the canyons some of the charter boats returned to port boasting of double digit releases on white marlin this past weekend. A mix of dolphin, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna and blue marlin tend to round out the catches so far this week.

"Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught " - unknown author

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.