Thursday, September 11, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 11, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

The weather smiled on all who attended the Maryland Fishing Challenge awards ceremony this past Sunday at Sandy Point State Park with cool temperatures and sunny skies. Fishermen who had entered into the Fishing Challenge with their award sized fish and those who caught Diamond Jim tagged fish arrived for a good time and a chance at prizes and cash donated by sponsors and the Fisheries Service. Most everyone was happy to just spend some fun time with fellow anglers, sample some Maryland seafood and receive a nice Under Armour T-shirt. Actually winning some of the prizes being given out or sharing in the Diamond Jim payout was icing on the cake. Youth anglers won fishing trips donated by charter captains and fishing organizations. A very excited fisherman won the Tracker boat, motor and trailer combo from Bass Pro Shops, an eastern shore fisherman won a fishing trip to the Bahamas donated by the World Fishing Network and others won gift packages from Bill's Outdoor Center and Costa Sunglasses. Fishing buddies Okey DeRaima and Lee Cheyne shared more fun memories at the Maryland Fishing Challenge ceremonies when Lee won a wonderful fishing gift package from Bill's Outdoor Center.

Photo by Keith Lockwood

The areas around the Susquehanna Flats continue to provide some fun striped bass topwater action for those that can get up early enough to enjoy it. Water temperatures are still high enough that the best action is very early in the morning. The action picks up again late in the evening hours for striped bass in the 17" to 22" size range. The Conowingo Dam continues to be on an afternoon power generation schedule so the best fishing opportunities are early in the morning for striped bass. Casting a variety of lures such as crankbaits, swim shads and topwater lures have been the most popular way to fish. There are plenty of channel catfish in the lower Susquehanna and channel areas around the flats plus some good fishing for flathead catfish near the dam.
Striped bass are becoming more prevalent in the area above the Rock Hall/Baltimore Harbor line near prominent points, channel edges and shoal areas. There are quite a few fish less than 18" being caught but plenty of action for light tackle fishermen or those that choose to troll. Below this general area bluefish have moved in and at times can dominate a chum slick at popular locations such as Love Point. The chumming and live lining fleet has been moving around a lot in the past week searching for the best fishing and clearer water. The Bay Bridge piers continue to provide good fishing opportunities for striped bass for those who are drifting live spot, jigging or chunking. Greg Jenkins is very happy with this nice striped bass he caught at the bridge while live lining spot. Greg mentioned that the fish managed to successfully take an eleven inch spot.

Photo by Rich Watts
Fishing in the middle bay region this week holds a lot of choices. Perhaps first on the list is a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Live lining spot continues to take center stage at the Gum Thickets/ Buoy 86 area for a mix of striped bass and bluefish. Other tradition locations such as Thomas Point, Bloody Point, the Hill, Buoy 83, the Clay Banks, Stone Rock and similar channel edges can hold striped bass at any time so poking around with a depth finder is always a good way to start the day. Finding live spot can be a chore for some and of course some locations are holding more spot than others so again exploration can hold the key to success.
There is a lot of bait in the middle bay region in the form of bay anchovies along major channels and a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are harassing them every chance they get. Casting to breaking fish or jigging to suspended fish is always a fun light tackle option. Diving birds or slicks can lead one to the action where metal jigs are perhaps the best option due to the bluefish. Trolling is another good option and a spread of spoons and surgical tube lures behind planers and inline weights in the favored option. At times as much as 8oz of weight may be needed to place lures in the right zone and experimenting with how much line to let out is also important.
Light tackle fishing along promising shallow areas such as shoreline structure has been good in the early morning and evening hours. Most are casting topwater lures such as the Smack It Jr, Chug A Bugs and similar sized poppers for the fun surface strikes but swim shads and soft plastic jigs are also good bets. Summer is beginning to loosen her grip and cooler nights and days will begin to bring water temperatures down which will give the shallow water fishery a big boost; the drop in water temperatures will also cause striped bass to school up as they feel more comfortable roaming the lower sections of the region's tidal rivers and the bay chasing bait. Jigging with metal is perhaps the best option out in the bay because of the bluefish but taking chances with soft plastics where one might find less bluefish can reap dividends in striped bass and perhaps some speckled trout
Fishing for white perch remains good in the tidal creeks and rivers on light tackle. Casting spinners or small jigs is a lot of fun on a summer evenings along shoreline structure or simply fishing with a bottom rig and bait off docks. There has been some fair to good croaker and large spot fishing in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and out in the bay. Anchoring up on shoal edges late in the evening has been offering the best chance at the larger croakers.
A mix of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and striped bass tend to be the major players in the bay portion of the lower bay region this week. Trolling spoons and surge tube lures behind planers and inline weights has been a popular way to fish for them. There is a lot of bait in the form of bay anchovies in the region and diving birds, slicks or depth finder marking will often reveal the above trio of fish chasing them. Jigging with metal is a fun option for lighter tackle when encountering breaking fish or suspended fish. The bluefish in the lower bay region tend to be larger than those farther north and 4 lbs is not uncommon. The shipping channel edges are often providing the most consistent action and the Little Cove Point to Flag Harbor edge has been a very good place to troll lately. The lower Potomac, Tangier Sound and around Hooper's Island Light have also been very good places to troll. There continues to be some very large red drum near the Mud Leads above the Target Ship and captains are often switching to large spoons after their crew limits out on striped bass for some exciting catch and release action. Ted Macknovitz holds up a beauty before releasing it back into the bay.

Courtesy of Ted Macknovitz
There is some good bottom fishing for a mix of croakers and large spot at the mouth of the Patuxent River and Little Cove Point as well as Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. There is also the opportunity to catch bluefish and speckled trout at the same time. Flounder are being caught along the shallow edges of channels in the Tangier/Pocomoke Sound area for those who spend the time targeting them. White Gulp baits tend to be the favored bait. Also in the lower Potomac in the Wicomico River area up to the Route 301 Bridge there are plenty of medium sized blue catfish to be caught. A lot of fishermen are targeting these fish now and filling their freezers with high quality fish fillets. The fillets are a mild white meat; much milder than channel catfish and freeze well.
Recreational crabbers are seeing better catches this month of larger and heavier crabs. The upper bay region catch opportunities remain fair; crabbing in the middle and lower bay regions has been good. Crabbers are reporting that some of the better catches are coming from relatively shallow waters.
Those who love to fish Deep Creek Lake are starting to feel that they are getting their lake back as boat traffic lessens. Targeting rocky points in about 15' of water has been a good tactic for smallmouth bass and floating docks that are over deeper water are also a good place to target. Tubes, jigs and crankbaits are favored choices for lures. Largemouth bass are being found in the shallower grassy coves and near blow downs and similar structure as well as floating docks over shallower waters.
The fisheries hatchery staff report to us that they recently stocked some fingerling rainbow and brown trout. Staff loaded and transported 13,000 fingerling rainbow trout (9.6 fish/lb) to the North Branch Potomac River Zero Creel Area and 3,000 brown trout fingerlings were stocked in the North Branch Potomac River. Fisheries staff will be stocking adult trout in October for what many call the fall stocking. Anxious trout fishermen are reminded that these stockings will be posted on the trout stocking website as they occur and not before.
Largemouth bass continue to offer fishing opportunities throughout Maryland's many ponds, lake, reservoirs and tidal waters. Although waters are beginning to cool, bass are still holding to a summer mode of feeding behavior. Topwater lures over or near shallow grass or structure offers some exciting fun during the early morning and late evening hours. Working shady areas such as under thick grass in deeper waters, under old docks or deep structure with soft plastic jigs and other soft plastics is a good daytime tactic. Peter Schumacher holds up a nice Rocky Gorge largemouth bass for the camera that he caught on a deep diving crankbait.

Courtesy of Peter Schumacher
Fisheries staff from the Unicorn Lake Hatchery recently did some fingerling largemouth bass stocking to supplement populations. Approximately 700 went to White Marsh Pond (Centreville) and 400 went to Chambers Lake (Federalsburg). These fish generally ranged from 2-4", but a subset of the fish were in the 4-7" size class. The larger fish were stocked into White Marsh Pond.
Ocean City area fishing continues to remain good for a wide variety of summer species. Surf fishing has been good for small bluefish which are being caught on finger mullet. There is also a mix of kingfish, spot, croaker and flounder in the surf. Inside the inlet flounder fishing has been good in the channel areas with some croaker and small bluefish also being caught. The best flounder fishing has been at the wreck and reef sites off Ocean City where some very nice flounder and sea bass are being caught.

Courtesy of Steve Doctor
Farther offshore the boats that have been going out to the canyon regions have been finding lots of small dolphin and a few gaffer sized ones as well. There have been plenty of white marlin releases being reported and a few yellowfin and bigeye tuna are being caught. The deep drop crews are reporting good fishing for blueline and golden tilefish.


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