Saturday, July 20, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 20, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

It seems that in a blink we now find ourselves in the middle of July; it is safe to say they we are now in the middle of the summer and the hot weather is here to stay for a while. Summer is of course a time for vacations and over here on the eastern shore all manner of vehicles can be seen going back and forth on Route 50 carrying vacationers to and fro with all kinds of stuff tied to roofs and packed to top of the windows. I am also headed off on a vacation on my annual pilgrimage to Hawaii for some surf and sun and you can bet your last dollar my time there will also include some fishing. The next few fishing reports will have the assistance of some of our fisheries biologists reporting in from their regions and with the assistance of 21st Century technology we will do our best to provide the fishing reports you look forward to. I may also insert a few fishing adventure observations from the land of aloha for a little fun.
The fishing scene near the lower Susquehanna and near by tidal rivers that feed into the Susquehanna Flats area have settled into a typical summer pattern of White Perch, Largemouth Bass on the Susquehanna Flats and a mix of Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass in the lower Susquehanna with some Striped Bass action near the Conowingo Dam pool at day break and during late day water releases. Seth McCauley took his uncle fishing on the Susquehanna Flats recently and his uncle shows off a nice 22" Largemouth before releasing it.

Photo Courtesy of Seth McCauley

There is of course plenty of channel catfish action to be had in the tidal rivers and in the channel areas leading down the bay. Many of the traditional knolls and shoals out in the bay between Baltimore Harbor and Rock Hall are holding White Perch and most fishermen are using bottom rigs baited with bloodworms to catch them. The deeper areas around Pooles Island and Hart-Miller Island are also good places to find White Perch, Channel Catfish and a few Striped Bass.
Traditional upper bay chumming locations such as Love and Swan Points have been having their ups and downs in regards to the quality of Striped Bass fishing action. Most fishermen tend to agree that often the best action occurs first thing in the morning and of course with a good tide running. More than a few savvy fishermen would agree that as water temperatures rise above 80-degrees fresh menhaden baits fished on the bottom early in the morning are a winning combination. The 35' channel edge at Podickory Point has been a very good place to live line Spot or to chum for Striped Bass lately and boats have been anchoring up at first light. More than a few fishermen have also found jigging along steep channel edges in the general area and the Bay Bridge piers to be a fun way to catch Striped Bass. Trolling spoons along channel edges has also been a very productive way to put some of the larger Striped Bass that are in the area into the boat.
The action continues in the middle bay region around the general area that one could perhaps call the "Rockfish Triangle" that area from the mouth of Eastern Bay to Thomas Point to the False Channel. This is where the bulk of fish that are being caught in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake are coming from right now. The Hill tends to get all the attention based on the number of boats anchored up but basically any channel edge in the general area at about 30' has the potential to hold Striped Bass and a good depth finder will spot them for you. Live lining Spot is the name of the game and most fishermen have little trouble catching their Spot in most of the regions tidal creeks and rivers in shallower water. Fishermen may notice Spot traps being advertised and sold at various tackle shops; this can best be described as a "buyer beware" situation since one needs a commercial fishing license to legally set any kind of fish trap in tidal waters except approved minnow traps. Ben Legacy and Rachel Hornig got to go live lining Spot, and Ben holds up a nice Striped Bass he caught that Rachel netted for him.

Photo Courtesy of Frank Hornig

Trolling spoons behind inline weights has been a good way to catch Striped Bass this week along the edges of the major channels in the middle bay region; jigging over suspended fish along those same areas can be a good way to put some Striped Bass in the boat also. The shallow water fishery for Striped Bass has become more of an early morning or late evening venture these days as the water temperature creep past the 80-degree mark. Topwater lures are always a lot of fun to use but swim shads and jerkbaits are also a good choice. In the middle and lower bay regions Speckled Trout and puppy drum are also part of the mix. To the delight of anglers this year a good portion of the puppy drum are over the 18" minimum size and are real scrappers.
The best Striped Bass action in the lower bay tends to be in the lower Patuxent and Potomac Rivers this week. Fishermen are jigging over suspended fish holding along steep channel edges in the Patuxent and fishermen are mostly trolling or casting to breaking fish in the lower Potomac. There is some chumming action also going on in the lower Potomac outside of Cornfield Harbor along the channel edges.
Fishing for a mix of Croakers, White Perch and Spot has been good in the tidal rivers south of the Bay Bridge this week. Most fishermen are setting up in the deeper channel areas during the day and adjacent shoal areas in the evenings. Bloodworms, shrimp and peeler crab work well for bait on either high and low bottom rigs or a single hook rig. Shoreline fishermen have been able to get into the action from fishing piers and prominent points all over the bay, especially in the evenings when fish tend to come into shallower waters.
Recreational crabbers are working hard to put together a half bushel or better trip these days in the middle or lower bay regions tidal rivers this week. Crabbers are reporting that a larger number of crabs are filling out and most legal crabs are in the 6" size range. Upper bay crabbers are not finding much for their efforts; salinities are depressed in many areas due to excessive rain fall run off.
Western region freshwater fishermen are enjoying some good fly fishing opportunities in many of the trout management waters within the region this week. There are few finer places to be than a shaded mountain stream on a summer morning or evening. Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are finding some Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass action around the floating docks along the lake shores this week as well as venerable Bluegill Sunfish. The coves are holding a mix of Chain Pickerel, Northern Pike, Bluegills and Largemouth Bass around grass beds. There is also some trout action down by the dam face for those who know the finer aspects of slow trolling deep for trout in the summer months.
The upper Potomac River is offering plenty of Smallmouth Bass action for fish in the 13" to 16" size range and there is always the possibility of a big one showing up on the end of your line. Despite some recent heavy rains the upper Potomac has been in good shape for fishing. As is typical of the summer months the early morning and evening hours usually offer some of the best fishing opportunities. Roger Watkins was fishing near Dam 4 when he caught and released this beautiful 21" Smallmouth Bass.

Photo Courtesy of Roger Watkins

Largemouth Bass tend to dominate the interest of freshwater fishermen during the summer months in the southern, central and eastern regions of the state. The early morning and late evening hours offer the best chance to find Largemouth Bass in a feeding mood near shallow cover such as grass, spatterdock fields or snags. Topwater lures such as frogs and buzzbaits are always the most entertaining but spinnerbaits around the outside edges of this type of cover is also a good choice. During bright sun periods fishermen will have to penetrate down through thick grass where bass are lounging with weighted soft plastics or jig and pig type combinations. Skipping soft plastics under docks and similar shade is also a good bet. Bluegills always offer a fun way to spend time on a quiet pond or lake and the larger ones will give you a run for your money on light tackle. Topwater popping bugs are one of the most fun ways to fish for them but small spinners, tubes, flies and of course good old bait is a popular option
Ocean City area fishermen are finally seeing water temperatures along the beaches move into the low 70's. Fishing for kingfish has been very good in the early morning and evening hours in the surf along with a mix of sea trout, croakers and small Bluefish. Around the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area fishermen are catching some triggerfish around the rocks along with flounder and sea trout. In the back bay areas flounder fishing has been good perhaps due to clearer water conditions. A mix of sea trout, croaker, Spot, small sea bass and legal sized puppy drum help to provide additional fishing action.
Out at the wreck sites fishermen are making some impressive catches of trigger fish along with good catches of sea bass and flounder. Farther offshore fishermen are finding Bluefin Tuna along some of the 30-Fathom hot spots such as the Hot Dog, Chicken Bone, Ham Bone and out to Massey's Canyon; once and a while there also some impressive Yellowfin Tuna and Skipjack Tuna showing up in these same areas. Out at the canyons some 200lb + Bigeye Tuna are being caught along with a mix of Yellowfin Tuna, White Marlin and Dolphin.


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