Saturday, July 19, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 19, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

This time of the year no matter where you may be traveling on our highways, it is easy to see that America is on the move and in vacation mode and many are coming to Maryland to visit. We are very fortunate to have the beautiful landscape and recreational opportunities from the mountains of western Maryland to the sandy beaches of the Ocean City. It is not uncommon to see fishing rods strapped to roofs or against windows in the back of a vehicle alone with collections of vacation gear. Make sure to get out with family and friends and enjoy what many of us take for granted here in Maryland.
Along those lines your fishing report author will be taking a vacation for the next two weeks and yes some fishing will of course be part of my vacation. I hope to be able to add to the fishing report if the internet connections are kind to me but several Fisheries Service biologists will be helping out in my absence. I think you will find their contributions refreshing and insightful.
In the lower Susquehanna River much of the fishing action for Striped Bass is occurring at the dam pool very early in the morning. Casting swim shads, crankbaits and drifting live White Perch or eels tend to be the best methods for trying to catch a Striped Bass. There are plenty of Channel Catfish in the river and some White Perch in the Susquehanna, Elk and other tidal rivers in the area and Largemouth Bass can be found out in the grass beds of the flats.
There is good White Perch fishing in many of the tidal rivers and creeks of the upper bay and many of the reefs and knolls in the bay are holding White Perch and a few croakers. Chumming for Striped Bass continues to be productive at traditional locations such as Sawn Point, Love Point, Podickory Point and the Triple Buoys area. Setting up a chum slick when fish are spotted on a depth finder and having a good strong tide running are important keys to success. Starting early before the sun is up high in the sky and temperatures soar as well as fresh baits are also good choices. The chum slick can often be swarmed with sub-legal fish but larger Striped Bass can be found at times holding close to the bottom at the back of the chum slick. Trolling medium sized bucktails and spoons can also be an effective way to catch a nice grade of Striped Bass along the major channel edges as well as jigging to suspended fish.
Live lining Spot can also be very effective along the more prominent and steep channel edges in the upper bay wherever Striped Bass can be spotted on depth finders. The Bay Bridge continues to be a good place to look for Striped Bass holding near the bases of the piers. Drifting live Spot back to the piers has been productive and chumming has also been producing some action. Jigging soft plastics is often a good option to try when passing by the bridge but the recent arrival of Bluefish in the region has some fishermen switching to metal. Chumming at the eastern edge of Hackett's Bar and Tolley's Point in about 35' of water has been a good choice for fishermen who like to chum or live line Spot. Brady Barrick got to go fishing with his dad and caught and released this nice Striped Bass while jigging near the Bay Bridge piers.

Photo Courtesy of Brady Barrick
Spot can be found at the shallow ends of the Bay Bridge in 12' of water or less and also on the western side of Hackett's Bar and most tidal rivers and creeks in the middle bay region. There are also a mix of croakers and White Perch being caught in these same locations. Bloodworms tend to be the preferred bait when targeting Spot. A fair portion of the Spot being caught are too large for live baits and these are either being used for fresh chunk baits or winding up in a frying pan.
The Hill continues to be a very popular destination for live lining Spot and perhaps maybe a little too popular. The fleet has been anchoring up pretty tight, competition is high and when you add boats moving around, some anchored, some drifting and some trolling through the melee it can try ones patience. Those with a little more imagination and looking for a little more elbow room have been exploring other locations in and around Eastern Bay and other areas. Boats have been setting up on the tight channel edge at R4, the south side of Bloody Point, Thomas Point, the Gas Buoy (83) or the Clay Banks. It may take some slow speed scouting but there are Striped Bass to be found at other locations. Finding small Spot seems to be a bit of a problem for some when they catch mostly 9" Spot. If you can get on a concentration of fish making fresh cut baits from these Spot can work well at times and especially when Bluefish begin to dominate your fishing location. Check your charts and explore other steep channel edges in the middle bay region along the shipping channel and channels exiting some of the major tidal rivers and if you don't already have then punched into your GPS; you might stumble upon a ballast stone pile which often enough will hold some Striped Bass; after all that is why they are called rockfish. Trolling a mix of spoons and bucktails in these areas can also pay dividends in Striped Bass and Bluefish.
Fishing for Croakers and White Perch has been good in the lower sections of the middle bay region's tidal rivers and some of the Spot that are coming from these areas rival the size of the croakers. Large Spot can make for some fine eating when they are filleting size and often are an important item for freezers at the end of the fishing season. They are hard to beat when egg dipped and rolled in panko crumbs and allowed to set for an hour before frying.
The lower bay region has been offering some Striped Bass action along the edges of the shipping channel near Cove Point, Point No Point and the mouth of the Patuxent River. It would not exactly be termed "gang busters but patient and savvy fishermen are able to find Striped Bass holding along these edges. Live lining Spot, jigging and trolling have been effective and to some degree chumming has been working especially for Bluefish. Bluefish can also be found at the mouth of the Potomac River and the Middle Grounds. There has been some talk of large Red Drum north of the Target Ship and the notion of them being here falls in line with previous years occurrences. This is of course strictly a catch and release fishery unless they are between 18" and 27". The usual size to these fish out in the bay that attack spoons is often 40" or better so they meet the minimum award certificate size of 36" for the Maryland Fishing Challenge. The slot sized Red Drum are becoming a more common catch for fishermen jigging along channel edges or casting in the bay shore shallows. Speckled Trout are also a nice bonus when jigging or drifting peeler crab baits. Tim Campbell is all smiles with this nice Speckled Trout he caught near Bloodsworth Island while jigging.

Photo Courtesy of Tim Campbell
Fishing for croakers has been good along channel edges in the lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers as well as Buoy 72, Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds and the major tidal rivers on the eastern side of the bay. Medium to large Spot, croakers, White Perch and small Bluefish tend to round out the bottom fishing mix except in the lower Potomac River where the Blue Catfish are very common from the mouth of the Wicomico River to the Route 301 Bridge.
Recreational crabbers have been having a tough time coming up with a bushel of crabs per outing in most the middle and lower bay regions. Some of the better catches are coming from the lower Eastern Shore tidal rivers. Crabbing has been a disappointment for most recreational crabbers in the upper bay so far this summer.
Deep Creek Lake fishing for Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass continues to follow a summer pattern of early morning and late evening fishing for the best action. This typical pattern is being repeated throughout the state's freshwater areas as fish seek to find refuge from the bright sunlight and hot temperatures of the mid-day. At Deep Creek Lake the Smallmouth Bass are being found down at the dam end of the lake and near deep grass. Small crankbaits, jigs, tubes and craws tend to be good choices for baits. The Largemouth Bass are being found near deep grass, under floating docks and fallen treetops. Whacky rigged plastics skipped under docks or spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwater lures near or over grass work well. There is also a mix of Chain Pickerel, Bluegills, Walleye and Yellow Perch that can be caught; water temperatures at Deep Creek Lake are holding in the mid 70's.
The best fishing opportunities for most freshwater fish tend to be in the early morning or late evening hours during the warm summer months. Fishing for Largemouth Bass has been good in the Baltimore County Reservoirs such as Liberty and Loch Raven and various lakes and ponds throughout the state. Targeting grass, lily pads and spatterdock fields is often a good option with various weedless baits. Baits such as chatterbaits, frogs and buzzbaits are good choices for fishing over grass and whacky rigged plastics dropped through thick grass are good options. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and craws are lures to use in deeper water near structure. In the state's tidal waters a high tide can often cause Largemouth Bass to be up into shallow grass areas looking for food and when the tide is low they can be found holding to the outside of these areas. Richard Norris holds up a nice Largemouth Bass he caught and released at Rocky Gorge while casting crankbaits.

Photo Courtesy of Richard Norris
Channel Catfish can be a good option for fishermen looking for some relaxing fishing from a small boat or shoreline on many of the states tidal rivers and some selected impoundments such as Piney Run Reservoir. Bluegills can offer a lot of entertainment when caught on light spin or fly tackle. Crappie can be found holding near deep structure and can be targeted with small tubes or minnows under a bobber.
Summertime fishing in the Ocean City area is in full summer mode this week. Surf fishermen are enjoying catching a mix of kingfish, croaker and small Bluefish. Now that surf water temperatures are in the low 70's some of the better fishing is early in the morning and late evening. There are also inshore sharks and sting rays to provide catch and release fishing for those looking for more of a tug. At the inlet a mix of Bluefish and Striped Bass are being caught at night by casting Got Cha lures and swim shads; most of the Striped Bass are undersized.
During the day flounder is king at the inlet and back bay areas and the larger ones are being caught on live Spot and large Gulp baits. Squid and minnows are the old standby and are accounting for the bulk of the flounder caught in Assawoman and Sinepuxent Bays. There is also a mix of croaker, small Bluefish and small Black Sea Bass willing and ready to attack squid baits.
Outside of the inlet, Black Sea Bass, Triggerfish, Spadefish and flounder are being caught on the inshore wreck and reef sites. The Triggerfish and Spadefish tend to be found closer to shore and the better Black Sea Bass fishing is being found in deeper waters. The offshore fishing scene has had its ups and downs lately. Bigeye Tuna are being caught in the Washington Canyon and a typical mix of Yellowfin Tuna, Dolphin and White Marlin are being found in the Washington, Poorman's and Baltimore Canyons. At some of the 30 Fathom Line hotspots such as the Hot Dog and Hambone some nice Bluefin Tuna are being caught.


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