Friday, May 15, 2015

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | May 15, 2015


By: Keith Lockwood

Nature abounds all around us this week as the landscape and all that live in it each follow their own pace of life. Many freshwater and anadromous fish species have finished their spawning processes and are actively building up body stores for a summer life on the pond or for treks down the bay and out into the ocean for distant regions. The locust trees are blooming this week and this usually coincides with the first shed of blue crabs in the Chesapeake bays tidal rivers and creeks.
In the lower Susquehanna River, water temperatures are now in the upper 60's and the Conowingo Dam has been drastically lowering water releases in the early morning hours. American Shad are being caught in the river and up to the dam and white perch fishing has improved to a great extent this week. Small jigs and spoons have been a good choice when fishing for the white perch. Shad darts are hard to beat when catch and release fishing for the American shad. Beginning this coming Saturday May 16th those who are fishing the Susquehanna Flats and Northeast River area will be able to keep one striped bass from 20" to 26". 
Trolling for large striped bass in the upper bay has been very productive in the past week and should continue as post spawn striped bass leave the Susquehanna Flats area. Boats have been clustering up near the steep channel edge off of Love Point and down to the Bay Bridge on the eastern side of the shipping channel and around the Sandy Point Light channel edge on the western side of the shipping channel. Water clarity has been very good this season and as usual white and chartreuse are the two dominant colors for bucktails and parachutes. At the Bay Bridge some light tackle jigging has been going on for large striped bass attracted by the bridge piers. There has also been some success reported by those choosing to try chumming for their striped bass. Jayden Venable gets a little help holding up his very first striped bass for the camera. 

Photo Courtesy of Jayden Venable

Water temperatures in most parts of the bay are approaching the 70° mark this week and may hit that mark by the weekend. Warmer surface waters are beginning to extend deeper into the depths of the bay and many of those monitoring their depth finders are marking schools of bait at 25' to 30'deep. The winter jellyfish seem to be thinning out to the joy of mates who are responsible for clearing lines. Lately there have been reports of mysterious green seaweed fouling lines on the western side of the bay and causing the same demands of constantly clearing lines. Most likely it is hollow tubed seaweed of the genus Enteromorphawhich grows on oyster shell and similar bottom structure in the tidal rivers and bay. These delicate algae filaments will easily break off and float near the surface because of tiny air bubbles in the hollow strands. Unfortunately they can often be found in clumps floating along in the current breaks which form as tidal currents sweep along the steep channel edges of the shipping channel. These tidal current breaks of course also sweep schools of bait fish along such as menhaden as well as departing hickory shad and river herring which brings us to the point of why the large striped bass are there. More than a few large fish coming on board this week have been coughing up whole blueback herring and menhaden. Spawning is a tiresome business and being able to pick up a bite to eat while heading down the bay is not something to be overlooked. After all, it is going to be a long swim up the coast to New England waters. 
Traditional locations in the middle bay region continue to earn their reputations this week as some of the best opportunities to catch a truly trophy sized striped bass. The steep channel edges at Bloody Point, Thomas Point, Buoy 83 and the western side of the shipping channel are all excellent places to troll large bucktails and parachutes.
In the lower bay region the western side of the shipping channel continues to produce opportunities with Cove Point being especially good. On the eastern side of the bay, the channel edges near the HS Buoy, Buoy 72 and 76 are good places to troll as are the channel edges in Tangier Sound. In the lower Potomac the very steep channel edges out in front of Piney Point and St. George's Island are premier places to troll. Peter Cannavino was trolling with friends on the lower Potomac recently when he caught this massive 48", 45lb striped bass. 

Photo Courtesy of Peter Cannavino
Beginning this Saturday May 16th; those out fishing for striped bass will be able to keep striped bass under 28" so smaller bucktails will begin to become part of everyone's trolling spread. As a reminder the current striped bass regulations are stated below. 
A person may only take or possess: 
  • One striped bass between 28 inches and 36 inches or one striped bass larger than 40 inches from April 18, 2015 to May 15, 2015.
  • Two striped bass larger than 20 inches, only one of which may be larger than 28 inches, from May 16, 2015 to December 15, 2015.
  • EXCEPTION: A person may only keep one striped bass between 20 inches and 26 inches in the Susquehanna Flats and the Northeast River, as described in COMAR, from May 16, 2015 through May 31, 2015. 
    White perch are beginning to show up in the lower sections of the bay's tidal rivers and creeks and providing the fun fishing that carries on through the summer months. The first croakers are beginning to show up at Point Lookout and at the mouth of the Wicomico River on the lower Potomac. Medium sized blue catfish tend to dominate the bottom fishing scene in the lower Potomac and can add a healthy addition to filling up an ice chest with fish.
    Recreational crabbers are reporting catches of 4 dozen or so crabs per outing in the tidal creeks on the lower Eastern Shore this week when trot lining. The tidal creeks such as Slaughter Creek or the Honga River in Dorchester County have been good places to give the season's first crabbing a try. 
    In the western region of the state some of the trout management waters had some heavy runoff issues due to last week's rain events but have cleared up quickly this week. Supplemental trout stockings continue in many of the western and central region waters this week. The water temperatures are still cool enough and the warmer weather offers a stark contrast to the opening day conditions, so make sure to spend some time enjoying the good fishing opportunities that are present. Ron Porter of Frostburg is all smiles as he holds up one of the trophy trout stocked by the Albert Powell Trout Hatchery. Ron also has entered his 27-1/2" rainbow trout into the Maryland Fishing Challenge. 

    Photo Courtesy of Ron Porter
    Fishing at Deep Creek Lake has been very good for a mix of walleyes and large yellow perch for those drifting minnows under a slip bobber. Walleyes can also be caught towards dusk by casting deep diving crankbaits along steep rocky shorelines. Smallmouth bass are becoming active around rocky points and floating docks are beginning to appear. Largemouth bass can be found near cove entrances as they begin to move into spawning areas within the shallower areas of the coves. 
    Largemouth bass are in a post spawn mode of activity in most of the state's waters this week except for the most western areas. Bass can be found at the mouths of shallow coves and creeks, near emerging grass beds and most any kind of structure. The bass are actively feeding on a mix of small bait fish, crawfish and most anything else that presents itself such as frogs, small snakes, mice and even the occasional baby duck. Soft plastic frogs, chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, soft plastic worms and small shallow running crankbaits are all good choices. When fishing on the tidal creeks and rivers of the lower Eastern Shore and the tidal Potomac the northern snakehead may also strike these same lures near heavy grass. Northern snakeheads are moving into shallow grassy areas to prepare for spawning and just can't help but strike noisy surface lures.
    Crappie have been spawning for a couple of weeks and continue to hold near structure such as fallen tree tops, sunken brush or bridge and marina piers. A minnow or small jig under a slip bobber will put you in the zone for some good fishing. Johnny Yesker and his brother Wyatt got to go fishing with their dad on an Eastern Shore pond and had a ball catching some crappie. 

    Photo Courtesy of Johnny Yesker
    Ocean City area fishing has had a real shot in the arm for the past week with the continued presence of large bluefish dominating the areas inside and outside the Ocean City Inlet. Surf casters are catching them on fresh menhaden baits or finger mullet with an occasional large striped bass. Most everyone is reporting that the head of the menhaden serves as the best bait due to the fact that it can better withstand the chewing of smaller bluefish and skates. A few surf casters are also using sand fleas on bottom rigs to catch a medium sized black drum now and then.
    Water temperatures at the inlet are about 61° and the large bluefish keep moving in and out and providing good fishing for those casting bucktails, Got-Cha lures or metal. Tautog have moved into the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area and are being caught on sand fleas and pieces of green crab.
    Flounder fishing is improving in the back bay areas with some of the best action taking place up near the Route 90 Bridge. Bluefish are also in the area and can be caught by trolling or occasionally on a flounder rig.

    Outside the inlet the sea bass season opens this Saturday May 15th and everyone who likes to fish the wreck and reef sites will be looking forward to getting into some of the season's first action. Farther offshore a few medium sized bluefin tuna are being caught by trolling while blue sharks and smaller makos are showing up in chum slicks.


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