Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | May 29, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

Anglers all over Maryland whether they fish freshwater or saltwater, are watching their favorite fisheries transition to a summer mode of activity as temperatures heat up. Soon the Largemouth Bass bite will end earlier in the morning hours and begin later in the evenings. Striped Bass will be developing summer patterns of suspending in deeper waters along channel edges and a mix of summer migrants such as croaker, Spot, Bluefish, Red Drum and Speckled Trout begin to fill Maryland's bay waters. Ocean anglers will begin to focus on flounder, Black Sea Bass and offshore species.
Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna River and flats area are seeing large volumes of cold and stained water being released from the Conowingo Dam this week with plenty of storm related debris floating on the surface. Local anglers are witnessing one of the latest spawning runs of White Perch most have seen in a long time. Those who are braving the strong currents are reporting catching perch on just about every cast with a very high throwback ratio of pre-spawn White Perch. Rob Enslin holds up a big one that shows perseverance can pay off with some filleting size perch.

Photo Courtesy of Rob Enslin
Folks have been trying their hand at trolling medium sized bucktails and crankbaits in the channels around the Susquehanna Flats area with sparse results so far due to cold stained water and Memorial weekend boat traffic. The grass on the flats is reported to be filling in and there are plenty of Channel Catfish in the deeper channel areas. A little farther down the bay charter and private boats are beginning to find Striped Bass holding in some of the traditional resident fish chumming areas such as Swan Point, Podickory Point, the Triple Buoys and Love Point Channel edges. A few trollers are still finding a few large post-spawn Striped Bass in the area at tradition steep channel edges.
Anglers in the middle region are seeing a variety of fisheries developing as water temperatures reach the 70°F mark. A few large post-spawn Striped Bass are still being caught along the western edge of the shipping channel from Parkers Creek north to Thomas Point and Bloody Point as well as other steep channel edges. Chumming success is starting to be seen at locations such as Hackett's Bar; jigging around the Bay Bridge Piers and wherever Striped Bass are encountered working on bait. Spot have moved into many of the regions tidal rivers and anglers are now catching enough to give live lining a try at favorite locations. Darren Zagalsky got to go fishing with his dad in the middle bay region and holds up a nice Striped Bass that he caught and released while trolling.

Photo Courtesy of Darren Zagalsky
Memorial Day weekend is the traditional time of the year when recreational anglers start looking for Black Drum at Stone Rock and the James Island Flats and they did find them this past weekend; the action will traditionally continue for another week or so. Dropping a whole or half soft crab down to drum detected on a depth finder is usually the way the game is played with stout tackle and plenty of muscle.
Croaker are also moving into the middle bay region this week, mostly on the eastern side of the bay and the mouths of the major tidal rivers have been a great place to catch them. Additional Croaker catches were reported in front of Hooper's Island and the mouths of the Honga and Nanticoke Rivers using bottom rigs baited with peeler crab, bloodworms or shrimp. White Perch are also filling in at the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and creeks and Anglers are picking them up while bottom fishing or casting lures around shoreline structure.
Striped Bass have moved into the shallower areas along the bay shores providing some fun light tackle fishing. Water temperatures are around 70°F so Striped Bass feel very comfortable moving into a variety of locations. Topwater lures are a favorite due to the excitement of a surface strike but soft plastics and Rapala type swimming plugs are also effective.
The lower bay is seeing several different fisheries developing this week as water temperatures continue to warm. There are still large post-spawn Striped Bass being caught along the western edge of the shipping channel out in front of Cove Point and across the bay at Buoys 72 and 72A. The action will continue to slow as time progresses but it only takes one of these big fish to spark up any fishermen's day. Medium sized bucktails are a part of everyone's trolling spread for fish under 28". Anglers are encountering breaking fish or marking suspended fish more and more as bait schools move into the region with warmer water temperatures. There have also been a few reports of bluefish in the region and surely their numbers will increase next month.
Croakers have been providing plenty of fun fishing action in the lower bay region at traditional shoreline locations and those areas commonly fished from boats. The Point Lookout Pier has been a very good place to catch a limit of croakers at night as well as the fishing pier at the mouth of the Patuxent under the Route 4 Bridge. The lower Potomac around the mouth of the Wicomico River is always a traditional place to catch early season croakers and smaller sized Blue Catfish. The Tangier Sound area is providing some good bottom fishing action for a mix of croakers, White Perch and medium sized Spot.
The shallow flats and deeper guts along the eastern shore marshes are quickly becoming a great place to cast for Striped Bass, Speckled Trout and Red Drum as water temperatures warm. Those stalking fish with light tackle are enjoying the action by casting topwater and soft plastic lures as well as drifting peeler and soft crab baits in the swift current guts and channels.
Recreational crabbers in the middle and lower bay regions reported fair to good catches of crabs in the tidal rivers and creeks on the eastern side of the bay. This is often a common occurrence in the beginning of the crabbing season. Reports from the western side of the bay and the tidal rivers above Dorchester County were sparse at best.
Freshwater anglers at Deep Creek Lake are reporting some exciting Walleye fishing along shorelines with bobber minnow combinations. They are also reporting some good action on Walleyes by casting small crankbaits and swimming minnow lures at dusk. Smallmouth Bass fishing has been good along rocky shores and points and Largemouth Bass and Bluegills are spawning in the shallower coves and the upper sections of the lake. Anglers also were greeted with plenty of boat traffic this past weekend which will be something they will have to deal with on the lake through the summer months.
The upper Potomac has settled down and John Mullican has sent us a nice report. The river is in good shape and the fishing has been good for bass, walleye, and catfish. Some late spawning bass are trying again to spawn following the recent flood, but most bass have moved from spawning habitat to current areas with boulders and ledges to break the current and provide places to ambush prey. Deep diving crankbaits and tubes have accounted for most fish though spinnerbaits can produce big fish at times. On a recent trip in western Maryland over the holiday weekend, my fishing partner Steve and I had a great day of Smallmouth fishing. Tubes and spinnerbaits were the most successful offerings on that day and we boated many nice fish, including a whopper Smallmouth over 20".

Photo by Steve Peperak
Post-spawn Largemouth Bass in many of the state's lakes, ponds and tidal rivers are beginning to transition from loafing outside of the spawning areas to looking for food. Anglers are targeting them in the deeper areas outside of the shallower spawning areas around structure such as sunken wood and rocks with spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Grass is another good place to target post-spawn Largemouth Bass with soft plastics and topwater lures.
Tidal Potomac River anglers report water temperatures in the low 70's with stained water conditions and a lot of woody debris floating down the river. Angler's have been targeting grass in the river and are also fishing up in the creeks to find clearer water. Reports in from the tidal Potomac also mention that crappie have completed their spawning and are schooling up in deeper water. Northern Snakeheads are very active now and can often be found holding in or near grass. John Barnes hooked and dragged this big 31" Northern Snakehead up on the bank of the Potomac recently.

Photo Courtesy of John Barnes
The Ocean City inlet water temperatures finally hit the 60°F mark and warmer temperatures in the shallower bay areas. The exciting news for surf casters this past weekend was the arrival of the large Striped Bass that are passing along the beaches on their way north to New England. Surf anglers using large menhaden baits will be enjoying good fishing for the next couple of weeks. Smaller baits such as bloodworms, shrimp and squid are catching a mix of small bluefish, croakers, Spot, Northern Blowfish and Kingfish in the surf.
At the inlet anglers continue to find good fishing for Tautog and flounder and now are experiencing good fishing for Striped Bass in the early morning and late evening hours. Swim shads, bucktails and live eels tend to be favorite baits for Striped Bass fishing. Flounder are being caught on live minnows, squid strips and Gulp baits; Tautog on pieces of Green Crab or sand fleas. Flounder are also being caught in the bay channels leading to the inlet.
Outside the inlet trolling is occurring along some of the slough areas or drifting live eels for the large Striped Bass that are passing through the region. The boats headed out to the reef and wreck sites are catching Sea Bass and a mix of Ling and small Atlantic Cod. Offshore fishermen were very pleased to find good fishing for a mix of Bigeye, Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna this past weekend in the canyons from the Poorman's to the Washington Canyon when they found 68°F water along the 500 fathom line. A mix of Thresher, Mako and Blue Sharks were found beyond the 30 fathom line.


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