Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 19, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

Recently I found myself being an observer of a mixed group of people excitingly waiting aboard a party boat or "head boat" as some call them to embark on a bottom fishing trip out into the Chesapeake Bay. The mates were busy preparing to cast off at the first signal from a captain that was pacing the upper deck and watching the parking lot for any stragglers. It doesn't matter if you're going bottom fishing out in the bay, casting a bobber and worm into a favorite local pond or watching a trolling spread of lures behind a sport fishing boat. All fishermen have that air of anticipation; for each new fishing trip is an adventure, it's just that "an adventure". Don't miss out and be in the parking lot watching the stern of a boat head out of the harbor which of course is a metaphor for don't watch life leave you behind. Cut some time out for yourself, family and/or friends, dangle a line in the water and enjoy.

Photo by Keith Lockwood

Fishermen continue to enjoy good fishing for White Perch and Channel Catfish in the upper most portions of the bay and tidal rivers such as the lower Susquehanna, Elk, Bohemia and Sassafras Rivers. The White Perch can be found along shoreline structure in the morning and evening hours and can offer some light tackle fun casting small lures. White Perch and Channel Catfish can also be found in some of the deeper areas by fishing bait on bottom rigs. Baltimore Harbor and nearby tidal rivers are also good areas for White Perch around old piers and docks.
Chumming and live lining for Striped Bass at Love Point and Swan Point continues to provide plenty of action for fishermen when there is a good tide running. Fishermen are locating fish on depth finders and setting up on them usually in about 30' of water. There is also good Striped Bass fishing at Podickory Point, the Sewer Pipe and the Bay Bridge piers. Fishermen are successfully using several methods to catch their fish; including chumming, live lining Spot, jigging over suspended fish and trolling. Most fishermen are jigging with metal or soft plastic jigs and trolling small spoons. Anthony Nicholas holds a nice Striped Bass he recently caught in Annapolis with a top water jig.

Photo by Anthony Nicholas

Below the Bay Bridge most of the Striped Bass action is focused around the Hill, the channel edges around the mouth of Eastern Bay and the Thomas Point area and south to the False Channel and the Gooses. Boats have been arriving from up and down the bay to live line Spot along the channel edges, usually in about 30' of water. There tends to be a fair percentage of undersized Striped Bass being caught and fishermen should do their best to insure these fish survive when caught and released since they represent the future. Although they are a little more expensive; circle hooks reduce hook mortality over small treble hooks and J-style hooks. Small Bluefish began to arrive into the area late last week and most likely will gain full force in the next week or so and will be extracting a high price from live liners. Fortunately for us these relatively small Bluefish can make for some fine eating on the grill, broiler or even better yet in a smoker. In my experience Bluefish less than 2lbs make for the best eating, most likely due to that old saying "you are what you eat". Smaller bluefish tend to eat a lot of Bay Anchovies and the larger Bluefish eat mostly Menhaden when close to shore and become fairly oily in meat composition and texture.
There has been no word of Spanish Mackerel in the middle bay region but there were rumors of some caught below Smith Point, Virginia late last week. I happened to be in a Chesapeake Beach tackle shop on Friday morning and some of the captains were stocking up on small Drone spoons. With a little bit of luck perhaps we'll see our first Spanish in our portion of the bay this weekend. A lot of fishermen in the middle and lower bay have been trolling spoons with good success for a mix of Striped Bass and Bluefish. The lower bay region, the Tangier Sound area, the Middle Grounds and the lower Potomac have all been great places to catch a mess of Bluefish while trolling. Fishermen are also encountering large Red Drum while trolling spoons in the lower bay region, especially around the Middle Grounds and above the Target Ship for some catch and release action. There have also been reports of breaking fish in all regions of the bay and they can range from mostly sub-legal Striped Bass in the upper bay to a mix of Bluefish and Striped Bass in the middle and lower bay regions.
Fishermen that fish some of the artificial reef sites throughout the bay are being asked if they wouldparticipate in a survey. The survey will help the Fisheries Service understand the artificial reef ecosystems managed by MARI in the Chesapeake Bay .
Fishing for a mix of White Perch, Spot and Croaker has been good in most of the tidal rivers in the middle and lower regions of the bay. Bottom fishing during the day has been providing a plentiful mix, although some fishermen are not finding the larger croakers we all grew accustomed to several years ago. Boats can be seen drifting in Eastern Bay, the lower Choptank River and tidal rivers on the western shore down to Tangier Sound and the lower Potomac River. Bluefish are becoming common in the mix in the lower bay as well as Kingfish and a legal size Red Drum or Speckled Trout now and then. Shallow water light tackle fishing with small lures is a fun way to fish for White Perch in the mornings and evenings. It is a convenient type of fishing because it is easily done from docks, piers and sea walls. If you can get some grass shrimp or small minnows you can fish right under docks to where the perch are holding; no need to cast out, just fish straight down and hold on. White Perch and Striped Bass like to go right back where they feel comfortable so shaved and cut monofilament line is often the norm if you can't pull them away from barnacle encrusted pilings. Donna Rivers holds up a nice White Perch for the camera before putting him to rest in an ice chest for a ride home for dinner after a fun fishing trip on the bay.

Photo Courtesy of Donna Rivers

Reports from recreational crabbers tend to vary greatly this week. Crabbing still tends to be slow in the upper bay above the Chester River. Success in the middle and lower bay regions tends to steer towards those crabbers that run trot lines and collapsible crab traps early in the morning on a running tide and are willing to move when a location doesn't pan out. Generally most recreational crabbers working from a boat are managing a 1/2 bushel or better of good crabs per outing in the middle and lower bay tidal rivers. There is mention of female crabs and small crabs being a large part of what is being seen while out on the water. This is also the time of the year for doublers which can be seen swimming close to the surface or holding just below the surface of the water on pilings.
Freshwater fishermen continue to see cooler water temperatures in many areas and there is some cooler weather forecast for the end of this week. Early morning anglers have seen mist coming off some of their favorite fishing spots as warm water meets cooler air. Water flows have been good in the western Maryland streams and rivers so trout fishing and Smallmouth Bass fishing has been good. Smallmouth Bass are being caught on tubes in the upper Potomac near rock piles and ledges and near floating docks in Deep Creek Lake. Lauren Jochims was fishing in Deep Creek Lake with her brother when she caught this whopper of a walleye which made for one fine dinner to share with her family while on vacation.

Photo Courtesy of Lauren Jochims

Fisheries survey crews just finished an annual seining survey on Deep Creek Lake and found "fair to good" year-class for young of the year for both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. Crews also surveyed the upper Potomac River for young of the year abundance for Smallmouth Bass. They found poor recruitment in the river section below Brunswick and average numbers for river areas above Brunswick. High and variable river flows are dominant factors affecting spawning success; river flows in the spring of 2013 were above average.
Cooler water temperatures have caused Largemouth Bass to become more active in lakes, ponds and tidal rivers throughout Maryland this week and fishermen are enjoying the action. Early morning and late evening hours still offer the best fishing opportunities for topwater action in shallow areas of grass cover. Poppers and frogs cast over shallow grass are one of the most exciting ways to fish for Largemouth Bass; the surface explosion of a striking bass is not something to be forgotten.
Fishermen in the Ocean City area continue to find some good summertime fishing along the beaches with a mix of Kingfish, Spot, Croaker and a few Bluefish and Sea Trout. Those looking for a little stiffer action in the evenings continue to catch and release inshore sharks and sting rays. In and around the inlet fishermen are catching some large flounder on live spot and Gulp baits; squid and minnows will get you a lot of action but also a lot of throwbacks. There are small sea bass, Croakers, Spot and even some Red and Black Drum in the back bay areas.
Fishermen are finding triggerfish and flounder near the inshore wreck and reef sites and the sites a little farther offshore are offering up catches of Sea Bass and flounder.
Offshore fishermen have been finding some action with Yellowfin Tuna at traditional fishing locations along the 30-fathom line such as the Jack Spot and Hot Dog and the action extends out to the canyons with the Washington Canyon getting a lot of attention this week. Fishermen are catching a mix of White and Blue Marlin, Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna and a lot of Skipjack Tuna. Deep drop fishermen are finding some nice Golden Tilefish along the canyon edges.


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