Friday, July 26, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 24, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

It would appear that Maryland fishermen have a slight break from the scorching heat for a bit. Most fish are feeling the same stress so for most species such as Striped Bass, Largemouth Bass, freshwater trout and even surf species such as kingfish so early morning and late evening hours often provide the best fishing opportunities.
Your author is off on vacation but with the help of friends within the Fisheries Service and the world of laptop computers we are doing our best to bring you the weekly fishing reports. I have been fishing this week off the beautiful island of Hawaii or what the locals call "the Big Island" on the leeward side of the island. My good friend Randy Llanes runs a beautiful 35' Bertram called the Sundowner there. The name may sound familiar to some ESPN watchers of the past show "Big Game Fishing The World" with Norm Isaacs, it is the same boat. The Blue Marlin "Kajiki" bite has been on with a mix of large Yellowfin Tuna, "Ahi" and a mix of dolphin "Mahi Mahi and Wahoo, "Ono". My wife and I have been enjoying catching some nice Blue Marlin and enjoying the adventure of blue water fishing. The waters of Kona present some major differences from back home for sure; we are fishing within 4-miles of the shore and are in waters over 700-fathoms deep. We came upon a pod of Sperm Whales and while trolling by we noticed something on the surface and at first I found it hard to believe my eyes. Being the fisheries biologist that I am we just had to get a gaff in this thing and haul it aboard to have a closer look. Apparently one of the Sperm Whales brought up this Giant Squid from the depths of the Pacific and spit it out for whatever reason. This thing was enormous as you can see in the picture below. The suction disks on the tentacles were outlined with what I can best describe as small sharks teeth; if this thing grabbed a hold of you it was going to leave a mark. The thickness of the mantle, the size of the eyes and beak were just amazing.

Photo by Keith Lockwood

Fishermen from the upper bay portion of the Susquehanna/Elk River complex south to the Pooles Island area report good fishing for White Perch in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and hard bottom shoal areas out in the bay. Most fishermen are using bottom rigs baited with bloodworms but white perch can also be caught in shallower areas near structure with small lures such as spinners and jigs. In a lightly defined area south of Rock Hall and Baltimore Harbor fishermen are also catching large Spot and small croakers while bottom fishing.
Striped Bass fishing begins to improve from Rock Hall south to the Bay Bridge with traditional locations such as Podickory Point and Love Point being popular spots to live line Spot or to chum. The early morning tends to offer the best fishing opportunities especially when chumming. Trolling a variety of spoons, swim shads and bucktails has been offering fishermen a better grade of Striped Bass in the upper bay region; fishermen have been reporting nice fish up to 30" in length. At the Bay Bridge piers fishermen are reporting good fishing for Striped Bass by jigging over suspended fish or by live lining Spot.
The area in the middle bay region around Thomas Point over to the mouth of Eastern Bay continues to be the place to go this week to live line Spot as evidenced by the fleet of boats anchored up on the Hill every day. The size of the fleet can be intimidating to many as they approach what may seem like a city of white hulled boats. Anyone looking for a little more solitude and still good fishing can find it in the general area by checking out channel edges for the tell tale signs of fish on their depth recorders. The areas around the mouth of Eastern Bay, Thomas Point and the False Channel are just a few good areas to check out. Fishermen have had it good for the last month in regards to live lining Spot and there are now positive signs that the Bluefish are arriving on the scene to add a new dimension to sending live Spot to an imperiled trip to the depths of the deeper portions of the bay. Lower salinities may have slowed their progress but we all knew they would eventually arrive; hopefully the more welcomed summertime guests the Spanish Mackerel will arrive soon. Logan Donnelly got to go fishing with his dad at Poplar Island and caught this nice Striped Bass while live lining a Spot.

Photo Courtesy of Logan Donnelly

Fishermen in the lower bay region are finding their best fishing for Striped Bass in the lower Patuxent and Potomac Rivers. Jigging and live lining Spot along channel edges in about 30' of water has been providing good catches of nice fish recently. In the lower Potomac chumming and trolling are also productive options.
Early morning and late evening shallower water fishing with light tackle also continues to be productive in the lower bay and middle bay regions. A variety of topwater lures and swim shads are working well and legal-sized Red Drum and Speckled Trout are a welcomed addition to the shallow water mix. Down sizing lures to spinners and small jigs and spinnerbaits will put fishermen in most areas into good White Perch fishing.
Bottom fishing in the middle and lower bay regions has been providing good fishing for a mix of large Spot, croakers, White Perch and some nice Speckled Trout and Red Drum. Most fishermen are using peeler crab or soft crab for bait but shrimp can also be a good option at times. Some areas that fishermen are reporting good fishing include Eastern Bay, Choptank River, Tangier Sound and just about every tidal river in the two regions. Shore bound fishermen are enjoying good fishing and often can find a nice mix of Spot, croakers and White Perch. More than a few enterprising fishermen have been walking live spot out to the deeper end of fishing piers and live ling them to catch Striped Bass in the deeper water; the Bill Burton Fishing Pier is a good example.
Recreational crabbers are reporting steadily better success with catching heavier crabs in most of the tidal rivers and creeks of the middle and lower bay regions. Most recreational crabbers are reporting being able to put together good catches with trot lines or a full run of collapsible crab traps. Crabbing is still reported to be slow in the upper bay.
Freshwater fishermen continue to focus mostly on Largemouth Bass and Bluegills in the central, southern and eastern regions of the state. Summer time weather has the fish seeking cool shade during the heat of the day so early morning and late evening hours offer the best fishing opportunities. Topwater lures over or near grass cover offer the most exciting way to catch Largemouth Bass and Bluegills. As the bass seek shade under thick grass various soft plastics and jig and pig rigs will get through the grass to bass but as most fishermen know you will be hauling in a wad of grass with your fish so heavy line is preferred.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Doctor

Fisheries biologist and Golden Tilefish record holder Steve Doctor provides this lively report from the coast:
"We are in typical Summer Flounder patterns this week. In the bay, the Summer Flounder action has been good around the afternoon and evening high tide. In the bay and in the surf, anglers are catching kingfish (whiting), small Croakers, large Spot, and huge stingrays. The occasional red drum is also possible. Crabbing is fair to poor up in the creeks, and clamming is good.
Offshore, the water is a soupy mix of hot water, mostly in the 80's, with no real temperature breaks to work with. So, the offshore fishing has ranged from heroes to zeros. The meat products (hambone, hot dog, chicken bone, and sausages - our most popular offshore lumps, humps and ridges), have scattered bluefin, yellowfin, and dolphin.
The Washington Canyon is still producing an occasional big eye for the really lucky boat. Usually they are "there yesterday and here tomorrow." There is also a good yellowfin bite at the Washington on the opposite schedule of the big eyes.
Sea bass fishing is tough work. The bass are not showing up on the depth finder, but are tight to the wrecks. If you find good fish, stay put. Don't go looking for something a little better. The keeper to throwback ration is good if you find the fish.
Summer Flounder have not really made a dramatic appearance offshore yet. They are just occasionally caught along with the sea bass.
What are very present are sharks and stingrays. They seem to be everywhere. Mostly spinners and blacktips; southern and cownose.
Near shore upwelling has the surf temperature varying between 65 degrees and 72 degrees. If you are sweltering in mid-Maryland somewhere, come down and take a dip in the ocean. You will be in for a big surprise."


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