Thursday, August 7, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 07, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

Your fishing report author is once again back on Maryland soil and last night I took the opportunity to go cruising out in the middle bay region to get a sense of what is going on out there. The first thing that hit me was, "yep it is August in Maryland" the heat and humidity has returned and the distant shorelines were enveloped in haze. The bay was slick, doublers stirred the surface, cow-nosed rays seemed to be everywhere and the sight of breaking fish can't help but stir a bit of promise. Bait was plentiful, ospreys were working on schools of menhaden and even brown pelicans were getting into the fray. It's good to be back home again.
Fisheries biologists and members of the Maryland Youth Fishing Club were out on July 31st catching and tagging Striped Bass for the August round of the Diamond Jim contest. Click here to find out how to join the Maryland Youth Fishing Club. This last round of Diamond Jim may have a payout of $25,000 and this Striped Bass about to be released by our young angler could be that fish, good luck to all.

Courtsey of Maryland DNR

In the uppermost reaches of the bay a mix of White Perch and Channel Catfish are providing most of the action in the tidal rivers with some Striped Bass action at the Conowingo Dam pool at the crack of dawn. Most anyone that is fishing for Striped Bass in the upper bay is finding that the best opportunities are occurring very early in the morning. It is August and water temperatures are holding around 80F which is fairly toasty for most Striped Bass; if they can find cooler water in deeper water that has sufficient oxygen, that is where they will be. If there is a good current along an edge between deeper water and shallower waters that happens to sweep small baitfish by, that is even better. This is what everyone is looking for and cruising along channel edges at first light watching a depth finder is a good way to get on some suspended fish. Once found, jigging with soft plastics or metal is often a fun way to get into some action but starting a chum slick or live lining Spot is very popular. Some of the traditional edges to check are Love Point, the Podickory Point/Sandy Point edge and the area around the Dumping Grounds. Fresh bait is always a plus and allowing a bait or two to lie on the bottom at the back of the slick is always a good bet.
The Bay Bridge continues to hold fish and a few passes while watching a depth finder will often reveal Striped Bass suspended at a particular depth nears the bridge piers. Drifting live Spot, chunking with cut up Spot, chumming or jigging are all good ways to fish. There are also Spot and White Perch to be found at the shallower ends of the pier.
The Striped Bass situation has become a bit of an enigma for many fishermen in the past couple of weeks and those that are savvy enough to dig down deep into their bag of tricks are coping with the recent changes. As most remember for a couple of months the scenario was to catch your Spot, look for the fleet on the horizon at the Hill and send down your Spot to waiting Striped Bass, it was easy pickings. A lot has changed and the fleet had moved farther into Eastern Bay and now seems to have scattered to the four winds in the general area from Hackett's Bar to the Gum Thickets to Wades Point in Eastern Bay and to Thomas Point. Basically there can be fish found at most any channel edge within this area. Some of the more experienced are looking deep into their play books to switch up on the Striped Bass and are finding a few tricks that are making the difference in successful fishing. Chumming with ground menhaden or using razor clams when fish are spotted on a depth finder can be very effective when fish seem to be uninterested. Chunking those large Spot and allowing baits to sit on the bottom has also been another effective trick.
Trolling is another viable option, especially in the early morning and evening hours during a good running tide. There is more and more bait being seen in the form of Bay Anchovies and breaking fish can also be spotted. A large part of the breaking fish being seen are small Bluefish and Striped Bass but there are larger Striped Bass in the mix. Trolling spoons, bucktails and small red hoses behind inline weights or planners has been a good way to fish and the first reports of Spanish Mackerel in the middle bay region are coming in this week. Charlie Schafer holds up a nice Striped Bass he caught while trolling recently.

Photo Courtesy of Charlie Schafer
Fishing for White Perch, Croaker and large Spot remains good in many areas of the region's tidal rivers and creeks. Fishing along edges with peeler crab or bloodworms in the evenings is a good way to catch Croaker and large Spot and some of the more fun White Perch fishing is occurring near prominent points and structure with light tackle.
More and more Bluefish are moving into the lower bay region this week and two definite size structures are being noted. Along the shorelines and tidal rivers small Bluefish around 12" to 14" are being caught. At bay locations such as the Middle Grounds and Cedar Point larger Bluefish around 18" to 21" are being caught. Most are trolling red hoses and spoons behind inline weights and planners but chumming is also very effective. There are also Striped Bass in the mix with about a 3 to 1 throwback ratio. Spanish Mackerel started showing up this week so small spoons are an integral part of every trolling spread now.
There is some exciting catch and release fishing going on for large Red Drum in the general area of the Middle Grounds up past the Target Ship. Trolling with large spoons has been popular but some fishermen are having good success by spotting slicks and rough water on some of the area shoals and sight casting with spoons and soft plastics. There is also the added bonus of a few Cobia in the area so checking out buoys and having a live bait handy can really make one's day and provide some excellent eating.
Bottom fishing for a mix of Croaker, Spot, Bluefish and the occasional Speckled Trout or slot sized Red Drum can also be part of the mix in the lower bay region. Some of the better areas to fish are Tangier and Pocomoke Sound on the east and the lower Patuxent and Potomac Rivers on the west side of the bay. Besides good catches of Croakers in the lower Potomac River up by the mouth of the Wicomico River, medium sized Blue Catfish are also very abundant.
Recreational crabbers are beginning to experience better catches of legal sized crabs in the middle and lower bay regions this week as more and more crabs molt and progressively reach legal size. There continues to large numbers of small crabs chewing up baits and doublers are a more common sight swimming along close to the surface. Angelina Watts got to go crabbing with her dad recently and sent us this picture of every crabbers dream; a whopper size crab with a rusty bottom. It would not take many crabs of this size to satisfy ones crab feast desires.

Photo by Rich Watts
Recent cooler temperatures at Deep Creek Lake have seemed to spur Largemouth Bass into increased early morning action along lake shore grass beds. Casting various topwater lures and spinnerbaits have been very effective baits to use. Pitching whacky rigged plastic baits under floating docks is another good tactic for Largemouth Bass later in the mornings. This time of the year there are plenty of large Bluegills to entertain young and old fishermen near docks and Chain Pickerel can be found in grassy coves.
On the upper Potomac River Smallmouth Bass in the 12" to 14" size range tend to dominate what everyone is catching; tubes are one of the more popular baits. There are reports of juvenile Smallmouth Bass in the 3" to 4" size range feeding on emerging aquatic insects and large trophy sized Smallmouth Bass are feeding on their little cousins, so patterns in tubes or crankbaits that mimic Smallmouth Bass fry might be a good choice to try.
Largemouth Bass continue to hold to a typical summer pattern of night and early morning feeding and lounging in the cool shade during the day. Topwater lures such as frogs and poppers tend to be favorite baits since they are effective and provide a lot of visual excitement when a bass hits. Targeting thick grass, sunken wood, bridge piers, docks and fallen tree tops are good areas to fish crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs and soft plastics as the morning progresses. Travis Franklin holds up a beautiful Largemouth and shows that sometimes you have to get in the grass to lure out a nice bass.

Photo Courtesy of Travis Franklin
Tidal rivers such as the Potomac and Pocomoke offer good fishing for Largemouth Bass and targeting the outside edges of Spatterdock or grass at low tide with lures such as spinnerbaits or small shallow running crankbaits is a good bet. At an early morning high tide casting back into the cover close to shore with topwater lures is the way to go.
The big event this week in Ocean City is of course the White Marlin Open and the huge payouts. The first two days of the tournament have been a bit slow with some exciting weigh ins but there is obviously a lot more fishing to happen.
Along the beaches the best fishing for a summer mix of Croaker, Spot, Kingfish, small Bluefish and flounder is occurring early in the morning or in the evenings as surf water temperatures hit 76F and the hot sun is a blazing. In the evenings some are bringing out the heavy tackle to practice catch and release fishing for a mix of inshore shark species and sting rays.
In and around the inlet a mix of flounder, Tautog, triggerfish, Sheepshead and small Bluefish are providing entertainment during the day. At night, larger Bluefish are being caught and a few Striped Bass. In the back bay areas flounder fishing has been good with the typical throwback ratio. Using live Spot or large Gulp baits give a higher chance of catching a doormat sized flounder. Terrance Connolly holds up a big Bluefish he caught at the Ocean City Inlet as an aspiring young fishermen dreams of the day when he can catch a Bluefish like that.

Photo Courtesy of Terrance Connolly
Heading out to the wreck sites, boats are finding limit catches of very nice flounder for their patrons and fair catches of Black Sea Bass. Farther offshore the boats fishing in the WMO are catching some Dolphin, Wahoo, Yellowfin and Bigeye Tuna and also some White Marlin releases.


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