Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 09, 2015



As is often the case when someone asks you what you're fishing for, one will often name one target fish species, or a group of species. When an angler heads out with a family member such as a son or daughter or a very good long-time friend, there is often a hidden answer deep inside us that is kept there; one that is almost too precious to share with someone outside of the pairing. A father might know that the real reason for this fishing trip was to be closer to a son or daughter and much is shared that would never come out at a sporting or group event. It is a one on one in a relaxed setting where inner most feelings just seem to gently flow out in conversation. The same can be said for a good friend that you are sharing the journey of life with through the years. Much is said and shared while fishing together, and if you catch a few fish, all the better.

Maryland Fishing Challenge entrants will be arriving at Sandy Point State Park early in the morning at Sandy Point State Park this coming Sunday September 13th for the awards event. The base of prizes has really been upped this year with an additional $25,000 in cash prizes being given out as door prizes and drawings in the three divisions of the Fishing Challenge. There will be a lot of happy anglers such as last year's winner of the Bass Pro boat, motor and trailer package.


Photo courtesy of Fisheries

There has been some exciting topwater striped bass action in the very upper reaches of the bay near the Susquehanna Flats lately for those who can get up early in the morning. Sunrise is occurring later as the calendar progresses so those wishing to make the effort can get a little more sleep. Casting topwater lures such as poppers is perhaps one of the most exciting ways to catch striped bass and the edges of the Susquehanna Flats is one of the better places to target them. There have been hardly any water releases at the Conowingo Dam for the last 6 days so the dam pool and lower Susquehanna have been very placid and waters have warmed up.

The upper bay continues to provide good fishing opportunities for striped bass by those who are live lining spot, chumming or trolling. Live lining spot has been one of the more productive ways to catch a nice grade of striped bass at traditional locations such as Love Point. Swan Point, the Triple Buoys and Podickory Point and other locations have also been coming in to play. As schools of bait flood into the upper bay region the striped bass are beginning to spread out and can be found along many of the steep channel edges at various times. A number of boats are still chumming with good success but find their chum slicks contain smaller striped bass and small bluefish. There are bluefish in the upper bay this week and most of them tend to be rather small. Trolling is another option with spoons and red surge tube lures being popular baits in a trolling spread behind planers and inline weights.

There is some good fishing for white perch to be had in the upper bay this week in many of the tidal rivers and areas in the bay. Structure such as deepwater rocks, shoals, reefs and sunken wood like old wharf piers and bridge piers are great places to target. Casting small lures is always a fun way to fish but simple bottom rigs baited with bloodworms, peeler crab, minnows or clam pieces are very productive. Fishing in the mornings and evenings tends to offer the best fishing and a good tide is important.

The structure of the Bay Bridge continues to be a draw as striped bass hold close to the bridge piers and the rock piles. When the current is running, drifting a live spot or chunks of fresh cut bait to the pier bases is always a good bet. Jigging is always a popular method to fish if one can get in position and offers some fun light tackle action.

Below the Bay Bridge there is striped bass action at various drop off edges as the striped bass move to swift current edges in pursuit of the large schools of bay anchovies that have moved into the region. Breaking fish can often be encountered and most of the surface action is made up of a mix of small bluefish and striped bass of varying sizes. If you find small striped bass mixing it up on top, allow you jigs to fall deep and there is a better chance at larger striped bass.

Live lining spot continues to be the most popular method to have a shot at a nice grade of striped bass. The Hill, Gum Thickets, Hacketts, Thomas Point are a few of the drop off edges in the region where striped bass are being found suspended off the bottom. Trolling is an option in the middle bay region this week and steep channel edges and the outside edges of breaking fish are good places to troll. Most are pulling a mixed spread of Drone and Clark spoons for a chance at the Spanish mackerel in the region as well as striped bass and bluefish. Red surge tubes are a good choice to mix up a trolling spread and both tubes and spoons are being pulled behind planers and inline weights. The larger #2 planers allow rigs to be trolled closer to the back of the boat and #1 planers are farther back to help eliminate tangles. There are some large red drum in the region and placing a larger spoon in the spread may give you a chance at some fun catch and release action with these big fish.

The shallow water fishing for striped bass continues to hold to a summer pattern this week as warm water temperatures refuse to budge. It will take a string of cool nights to begin to bring water temperatures down so early mornings and late evenings are the best time to try some topwater fishing along shoreline structure and prominent points. There have been some good reports of action behind Poplar Island and the rocks on the bayside shoreline of Poplar Island.

The lower bay region has had a new influx of bluefish in the past week with many being in the 3 lb range near the mouth of the Potomac and the Middle Grounds areas. Trolling has been one of the more popular methods to catch a mix of bluefish, Spanish mackerel and striped bass this week. The striped bass continue to be a bit sparse in the region but there are some being caught. Most are pulling a spread of spoons and red surge tubes behind planers and inline weights. There are large red drum in the region so it pays to have at least one large spoon in a trolling spread for some catch and release action with these big fish. There are also some cobia being found near buoys in the region and the Target Ship area; casting live bait or swim shads is a good way to target the cobia. Andrew Peacher got to celebrate his 21st birthday by fishing with his dad and catching and releasing this big red drum that he caught on a Drone spoon.


Photo courtesy of Andrew Peacher

The lower Patuxent and Potomac Rivers continues to be the place to cash in on a mix of croakers and spot this week. These fish are going to think about leaving soon so time is a wasting for anyone contemplating fishing for them. There are plenty of white perch in these same areas also and small bluefish are plentiful.

There has been some shallow water striped bass action near prominent points and shoreline structure. Cedar Point and the mouth of St. Jerome's Creek have been good places to give topwater lures a try in the early morning and late evening hours.

Recreational crabbing continues to get better and better each week as crabs continue to molt and fill out for the upcoming colder months. Most everyone is enjoying the season's best crabbing in the tidal rivers and creeks in the middle and lower bay regions. The upper bay region is improving and the lack of rain has elevated salinities in the upper reaches of the tidal rivers and upper bay causing crabs to move into areas they are not seen during earlier parts of the season. These two college roommates spent the Labor Day Weekend enjoying all that the Chesapeake has to offer and hold up two big jimmies destined for some fine eating.


Photo by Rich Watts

Deep Creek Lake somehow survived Labor Day weekend and from now on vacationers and boat traffic will become less and less as the days progress into September. The lake is still holding in a summer pattern so the early morning and late evening hours tend to offer the best fishing opportunities. Targeting shoreline structure and floating docks is a good tactic for a mix of largemouth and smallmouth bass. The shallower coves hold a mix of chain pickerel, northern pike and largemouth bass.

The upper Potomac continues to run low and clear this week. The smaller bass are feeding on aquatic insect hatches and the larger smallmouth bass will often target these smaller fish. Light lines and tubes are a good bet to cast wherever one sees this kind of activity. Greg Doda certainly has something to smile about with this whopper of a smallmouth bass he caught near Point of Rocks on the upper Potomac River.


Photo courtesy of Greg Doda

Largemouth bass are one of the most popular freshwater fish to target during the summer months and they are still holding to a summer pattern. The tidal rivers and creeks continue to offer good fishing in most areas. The tidal Potomac and the creeks that feed into it offer good fishing as does the tidal rivers on the eastern side of the bay and the Susquehanna Flats. The tidal waters are best fished on an ebbing tide as this will tend to concentrate the bass more and an ebbing tide also forces bait to move. Casting topwater lures over grass or lily pads is always an exciting way to fish for largemouth bass. Targeting sunken wood, rocks and similar hard cover is also a good tactic with jigs, crankbaits and slow rolled spinnerbaits.

Bluegills and other sunfish are always fun when using light tackle and few things are more fun that a light fly rod and some rubber-legged poppers on a quiet summer evening at a local pond. There are plenty of channel catfish in most of the state's tidal waters ready to take on anyone willing to fish for them. One word of caution though; blue crabs have moved into the upper river areas and can be mighty pesky when they're working on your catfish baits.

Trout fishermen got a welcomed surprise stocking of rainbow trout in the North Branch of the Potomac and Youghiogheny River late last week. The Freshwater Institute donated rainbow trout to Maryland fishermen and Fisheries crews stocked 400 trout in the put and take section of the North Branch near Barnum and 468 trout in the catch and release section of the Youghiogheny. These areas were chosen since the cold water can support trout populations during the warm summer months and were float stocked.


Photo courtesy of Alan Klotz

The Ocean City area experienced a bit of an easterly blow late last week and partially into the weekend that put a damper on boats heading offshore and stirred up surf and back bay waters. The surf began to calm down by Monday and a summer mix of kingfish, croaker and small bluefish are being caught in the surf during the morning and evening hours. At the inlet a larger grade of bluefish has been moving through the inlet on evening tides. Casting Got-Cha plugs has been one of the more popular ways to catch them and a few striped bass are being caught on swim shads and live spot.

The back bay waters are clearing up after being stirred up by windy conditions and flounder fishing has resumed. The croakers have left the bay area for the most part but there are small bluefish and a few red drum and sea trout to spice things up a bit. The croakers are now being found outside the inlet on some of the trough areas a mile or so off the beaches; a good depth finder will help locate them. The flounder fishing on the inshore shoal areas and the wreck and reef sites continues to be very good. White Gulp baits and flounder belly and similar fish strips are great baits for the larger flounder.

The boats that ventured out to the offshore fishing grounds at the canyons are reporting double digit white marlin releases this week at the Norfolk Canyon and lesser release numbers at the more northern canyons. Dolphin are very plentiful along weed lines and lobster buoys and some gaffer sized ones are also being caught. The offshore mix rounds out with wahoo, yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna being brought back to the docks. Those that take the time for a little deep drop fishing are catching golden and blueline tilefish.

"Time just seems to fly away for a boy, that I s'pose is why one day you wake up suddenly and you ain't a boy any longer" - The Old Man and the Boy, Robert Ruark

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.