Saturday, July 5, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 04, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

A great American weekend is quickly approaching and families and friends all over Maryland will be celebrating the 4th of July Holiday. There will be vacationer traffic for sure and those just driving home from work or errands will wistfully gaze at families headed on vacation and few things get a fisherman's mind going more that fishing rods or a canoe strapped to the roof of a passing vehicle or perhaps a trailered fishing boat. It would appear we will be seeing some weather later on this week so if you're going out on open water be sure to check local weather conditions. Everyone at the Fisheries Service wishes you and your family a safe and fun 4th of July weekend.
Last weekend we had a couple of extraordinary catches in the Ocean City area that just go to prove you never know what you might catch when you go fishing in Maryland. John Henry of Sunrise, Florida was fishing with friends at Little Gull Shoal off Ocean City and caught not one but two 75 lb Cobia which both surpass the old Atlantic Division State Record of 72 lbs. John Schaaar of Cardif, California was fishing with family on an Ocean City charter boat when he hauled in a 131 Wahoo which surpasses the current 111 lb state record. Both records are pending at this time waiting for the proper paperwork to be filed.

Photos by Steve Doctor

Saturday July 12th there is a fun youth fishing event to be held in Easton from 8:30 to 11:00 am at the ponds off of Glebe Road which are at the corner of Mistletoe Drive and Mary's Court and behind Aqua Pools. There will be volunteers to help introduce young fishermen to fishing and tackle will be provided. The event is being sponsored by the local chapter of CCA and the Elks Club.
A summer pattern of fish behavior has fallen in place at the Conowingo Dam Pool and the lower Susquehanna River as daytime temperatures become a bit toasty. There is an early morning Striped Bass bite at the dam pool and casting topwater, crankbaits or swim shad lures may get you into some of the action. Pitching live eels or small White Perch out into the pool or river can also be a good choice. The dam is on a mid-day power generation cycle and water clarity has been good. There is a line of thunderstorms due to arrive late today or Thursday so watch for local heavy runoff possibilities.
Upper bay fishing prospects for Striped Bass continue to be very good this week. Chumming has been very popular and some very nice fish are being caught although there are a fair percentage of slightly sub-legal fish in the chum slicks. Often letting your bait to sit on the bottom in the back of the slick will entice a larger fish to pick up a bait this time of the year. Love Point, the Triple Buoys, Swan Point and Podickory Point have been popular places to chum but any channel edge where a school of fish can be located is a good place to start chumming. Trolling is usually a good option and especially when the tide is not quite right for chumming; a combination of bucktails, swim shads and spoons have been good choices in tandem or behind umbrella rigs. Jigging has also been effective on channel edges and whenever a school of fish can be spotted on a depth finder suspended over structure.
The Bay Bridge piers and the sewer pipe just north of the bridge on the eastern side have been popular fishing destinations and continue to produce some nice Striped Bass. Jigging near the pier bases or drifting live Spot or cut baits in a chum slick has proven to be very successful ways to fish. Trolling along the sewer pipe and through the bridge supports has also been a good option.
In the middle bay region live lining Spot is quickly becoming the most popular method of fishing for Striped Bass and the Hill has become the destination; a very large fleet of boats can be seen there on weekends. The channel edge of 30' to 35' is the target depth. If a little more elbow room is to your liking there are Striped Bass holding along similar channel edges in other parts of the bay. The outside edge of Hackett's Bar, Thomas Point, the channel edges leading into Eastern Bay, the Clay Banks below Tilghman and the western edge of the shipping channel are all worth a look-see with your depth finder. Trolling along these areas and out in front of Chesapeake Beach has been producing a nice grade of Striped Bass and Bluefish are starting to be caught also. Jigging over suspended fish along these same areas is also a productive way to catch Striped Bass and a lot of fun on light tackle. Nathan sent in this picture of his best fish the he and friends caught while live lining at the hill recently.

Photo Courtesy of Nathan Franco
There has been a little bit of croaker action in the middle bay region but most of the croakers being caught are barely legal size. Channel edges in the lower sections of the region's major tidal rivers and shoal areas adjacent to bay channels are a good place to anchor up in the evenings or fish off a pier and enjoy some peace and quiet as well as bottom fishing. White Perch are available in all of the creeks and rivers throughout the region and can be caught near any kind of structure such as docks, channel edges or sunken wood. It is hard to beat bait such as bloodworms, small minnows or grass shrimp but spinners and small plastic jigs can be a lot of fun on light tackle. Shallow water fishing for Striped Bass is now an early morning and late evening endeavor and a high flood tide is very important for success.
Fishing in the lower bay region is undergoing changes as water temperature rise and more summer migrants move into the region. Perhaps one of the more obvious species are the Bluefish. They are showing up in chum slicks in the lower Potomac, the Middle Grounds, and trolling spreads throughout the region and as part of the mix for shallow water fishing and jigging. Most of the Bluefish are in the 1lb to 2 lb size range but larger Blues will be filling in shortly.
There is some success being reporting with chumming for a mix of Striped Bass and Bluefish in the lower Potomac, Buoy 72 and &72A, the Rock Piles north of Point Lookout and basically anywhere along channel edges where fish can be located on a depth finder. A lot of boats are trolling for their Striped Bass with spoons and bucktails. Live lining Spot is very effective when fish can be found holding along the 30' to 35' channel edges. Outside of Cove Point, Point No Point, Buoy 72, and Hooper's Island Light been a few of the places live lining Spot has been successful.
Croaker fishing has been good in the lower Patuxent and Potomac Rivers, Tangier Sound and near Hooper's Island. The best fishing tends to be in the evenings when the croakers move out of the deeper channel areas and up onto shallower shoal areas so the channel edges are a good place to be. Peeler crab, shrimp, squid and bloodworms are the baits being used and most of the croakers are in the 10" to 11" size range. There are also some eating size Spot being caught and White Perch as well. In the lower Potomac, Blue Catfish can make a large portion of the fish being caught when bottom fishing; most are in the 4 lb to 6 lb size range and make for good eating.
Early morning and late evening shallow water fishing has been good on both sides of the bay for Striped Bass and Bluefish as well as large White Perch. On the eastern side of the bay along the marshes of Somerset County there is also a mix of Speckled Trout and Red Drum and the occasional flounder. Casting topwater lures and white Gulp Mullet lures are a favorite but drifting peeler crabs baits in some of the small channels and guts can pay off well. Smiley Hsu was casting stickbaits in the evening near Gravelly Point when he caught this nice Striped Bass.

Photo Courtesy of Smiley Hsu
Recreational crabbers should be careful not to promise too much when it comes to the traditional July 4th crab feast. Most crabbers are working hard to make a bushel in a mornings outing in the middle and lower bay regions. Some savvy tricks being used to increase catches has been to change baits every 2 hours or so, to check out different depths, use collapsible traps along with a trotline and making sure you have a good tide.
Freshwater fishermen are enjoying some good early morning and evening fishing in Deep Creek Lake this week and early mornings tend to offer the best and more peaceful time to be on the water. It will be the 4th of July weekend and there will be plenty of boats and jet skis bent on disturbing your fishing. Many fishermen retreat to the shallower coves to fish for a mix of Largemouth Bass, Bluegills and Chain Pickerel. Smallmouth Bass can be found under docks in some of the deeper portions of the lake and down by the dam.
Trout fishing can offer some peaceful fishing in the delayed harvest or catch and release trout management areas; especially for fly fishermen. Fishing for Smallmouth Bass in the upper Potomac has been very good for smaller size bass that offer a lot of fun action.
Largemouth Bass are solidly set into their summer mode of behavior of targeting shallow grass and structure in the early morning and late evening hours for food and loafing in the cool shade during the day. Topwater lures are the most fun way to fish the shallows and soft plastics are often the best choice when skipping baits under docks or dropping them down through deep grass. A whacky rigged soft plastic is an excellent choice for this type of fishing. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits worked along the edges of deep grass, spatterdock fields or sunken wood are also a good option.
Ocean City will be a buzz this July 4th weekend as vacationers descend upon the area. Those wishing to wet a fishing line will find some good fishing opportunities. There are still a few large Striped Bass being caught in the surf this week along with a lot of inshore sharks and sting rays. Those using lighter tackle are catching Kingfish and small Bluefish. Surf conditions are forecast to be rough so plenty of lead will be in order to hold bottom.
In and around the inlet and the Route 50 Bridge are flounder are being caught during the day along with small Bluefish. At night Striped Bass are being caught on swim shads and Bluefish on Got Cha lures. Flounder fishing has been very good in the back bay areas behind Ocean City and Assateague Island. Minnows and squid are perhaps the most common bait used but Silversides make excellent bait if you can get them fresh and it is pretty hard to beat large Gulp baits to target the larger flounder.
Fishing for Black Sea Bass has been good on the wreck and reef sites and flounder are becoming an important part of the mix as are small Dolphin and Ling. A few Bluefin Tuna are being caught along the 30-Fathom line as well as Mako Sharks and other shark species. At the canyons a mix of Yellowfin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Dolphin, Wahoo along with White and Blue Marlin are entertaining fishermen and deep drop fishing is producing Tilefish.


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