Thursday, June 18, 2015

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 18, 2015


By: Keith Lockwood

Many will say summer is made for kids; it is a time when they are out of school, its warm and they can pursue fun interests with family and friends. Any parent or mentor that has taken a young person on their first fishing trip and hopefully a successful one knows the joy of seeing the smiles on their faces with their proud catch. It is all about fun and hopefully a life long journey of having fun fishing and enjoying the outdoors no matter how old they are. The Fisheries Service maintains a website for our young anglerswith all kinds of links to fun adventures such as the Youth Fishing Club, My 1st Fish certificates and fishing rodeo schedules. Be sure to check out the site for your young fisherman or steer them towards it if they are computer savvy already. 
Vibrio are bacteria that naturally occur in brackish water like the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and salt water especially during warm weather. Vibrio infections are relatively rare in Maryland and nationwide. However when Vibrio or other bacteria come in contact with an open wound they can cause serious infections, especially in people with liver disease or weakened immune systems. The following link can offer fishermen and crabbers some safety advice.
The upper bay has been a very popular place to fish for striped bass this week as boats can be seen anchored up from the Bay Bridge to Swan Point chumming. The suppliers of menhaden chum must be doing a brisk business since this has been the most popular method of fishing for a couple of weeks now. Traditional locations such as the Bay Bridge Piers, Podickory/ Sandy Point Light, The Dumping Grounds, Love Point and Swan Point have been very popular places to chum or chunk for striped bass. Some of the better catches are being made early in the morning before the sun gets too high in the sky and of course a good tide is essential. Many are reporting that better fish are coming from the back of the slick on the bottom with slightly larger baits. Jim Davis was fishing with a piece of soft crab at Podickory Point when he caught and released this nice striped bass. 

Photo Courtesy of Jim Davis
Trolling is of course a good alternative to chumming and often accounts for a better grade of fish. Channel edges are a favorite place to troll a mix of bucktails, swim shads and spoons. Jigging can be effective when fish can be found suspended near structure and casting to shoreline structure is always a fun way to fish with light tackle. There are some striped bass being caught in the Conowingo Dam pool by those casting swim shads and surface lures. The shoreline edges around Turkey Point including the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers, the Baltimore Harbor areas old piers and any kind of shoreline structure down to the Bay Bridge can offer some fun fishing. Water temperatures are moving into the mid 70's so this is becoming more and more of an early morning and late evening fishery.
Fishing for white perch in the upper bay continues to be a popular option along shoreline structure such as old piers, docks, jetties and prominent points. Ultra light tackle with small lures is a favorite way to catch them from the lower Susquehanna south along all of the tidal rivers and creeks. Yellow Perch, largemouth bass and chain pickerel can also show up on one's line when fishing this way in the upper bay region. Simple bottom rigs baited with bloodworms, small minnows, grass shrimp or peeler crab are also popular. When fishing with bait, channel catfish will also be part of the catch. At present the white perch action on the shoals and knolls out in the middle of the bay opposite Baltimore Harbor has been light. Most who have stopped over these popular spots report few white perch present. Johnny Yesker was fishing at Stoney Creek with grass shrimp when he caught this big channel catfish. 

Photo Courtesy of Johnny Yesker
In the middle bay region chumming for striped bass has been the most popular focus of fishermen this week with trolling being second. The chumming action has been taking place at the Hill and nearby channel edges to some degree and the 30' outside edge of Hacketts Bar. Some captains have been checking out channel edges throughout the region and setting up chum slicks on suspended fish to avoid the crowds at the Hill. As usual a good tide is important so be sure to plan your trip around the tides and use circle hooks to avoid deep hooking of striped bass that have to be released.
Trolling for striped bass has been good in the middle bay region along channel edges, ballast stone piles and any other type of deep structure that will hold fish and when schools of bait can be located. The west side of the shipping channel from Chesapeake Beach to Deale has been particularly good lately. Most are trolling bucktails and swim shads in tandem or behind umbrella rigs. Spoons are also being used with inline weights. 
The shallow water fishery for striped bass and white perch continues to be productive and entertaining for those using light tackle along shoreline structure in the early morning and evening hours. Prominent points, sunken structure all offer great places to work surface poppers for striped bass. White perch can usually be found in these same areas and can be caught on small spinners, jigs, spinnerbaits and similar lures. If sitting back and watching a rod tip bounce or a twitching bobber is your game; bait such as grass shrimp, small minnows, bloodworms, wild shrimp from a seafood store or peeler crab are good choices in these same areas.
Croaker fishing in the middle bay region has been a tough nut to crack for some in the past week. Hot weather usually drives croakers into the deeper channels and delays their movement to shoal areas where they feed after sunset. Anchoring up on channel edges near hard bottomed shoal areas after sunset offers the best croaker fishing. During the day, areas as deep as 50' to 80' may have to be explored to find croakers and even then they sometimes will fail to bite. A few popular locations to anchor up include Hacketts Bar, Tolly Bar, Thomas Point, Buoy 84, the west edge of Stone Rock and R 10 in the Choptank River to name a few. 
In the lower bay region finding good striped bass fishing is not an easy affair. At present there are scattered striped bass to be found along channel edges, the lower Potomac, Tangier Sound and various tidal rivers. Concentrations of striped bass holding at Cove Point, the lower Potomac and Buoy 72 have yet to materialize. A few boats have been chumming at these locations and others are finding striped bass and a few bluefish but most are trolling. Trolling has been a slow pick along channel edges but if one puts in the time they will put striped bass in the boat. A variety of bucktails and spoons are being used with inline weights and bucktails are also being trailed behind umbrella rigs.
Light tackle fishing for striped bass along shoreline structure has been a fun pastime for those venturing out in the early morning or evening hours. Surface lures are usually a favorite but swimming plugs, crankbaits and swim shads are also productive. Fly casters are using Clousers, Deceivers and skipping bugs. On the eastern side of the bay speckled trout can also be part of the shallow water mix and if smaller lures are used white perch inhabit these same areas.
Bottom fishing for a mix of croakers, white perch and spot has been good in the tidal rivers and Tangier Sound. Some of the best croaker fishing has been occurring in the lower Potomac River around Colton's Point, Ragged Point and Point Lookout. White perch, spot and blue catfish will round out the mix in the lower Potomac. Bottom fishing has also been good in the lower Patuxent. Evenings offer the best opportunities along channel edges but fishing deep during the day can put some croakers in the boat also. Over on the eastern side of the bay a mix of croakers and spot are being caught in the deeper parts of Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. Hot daytime temperatures seem to have driven the croakers to deeper water and some traditional areas such as the Honga River and Hooper's Island areas have not been productive lately during the day.
Recreational crabbing continues to improve as warmer water temperatures increase the metabolism of crabs and they begin to molt more often. The best chance of catching a ½ bushel or more of crabs remains on the lower and middle bay regions tidal rivers and creeks. Crabbers using collapsible traps and trot lines are doing fairly well this week and catches should improve as the summer progresses. Jim Livingston poses with a hard earned half bushel of crabs from the Annapolis area with his grandson. 

Photo Courtesy of Jim Livingston
Freshwater fishing at Deep Creek Lake is beginning to shift into a summer mode of activity as water temperatures in the main lake hit the 76° mark and the shallower coves are even warmer. Early morning and evening fishing for largemouth bass around floating docks and structure has been good. Casting soft plastics under docks or over grass is a favorite tactic but spinnerbaits and crankbaits can be a good choice also. Smallmouth bass are being found near rocky points and deep structure during low light hours. At the north end of the lake where waters become shallower there are plenty of chain pickerel, bluegills and largemouth bass to entertain anglers. Lately carp have been seen churning up shallow waters in the coves and lake shores.
Smallmouth bass fishing remains good in the upper Potomac River, water flows are acceptable and water temperatures are about 75°. Current breaks such as rocks, logs or ledges are a good place to cast tubes, soft plastic jigs and small crankbaits. Many of the smallmouth bass are in the 12" to 14" size range but larger bass can be found. 
Trout fishing remains good in many of the trout management waters in the western region. The more restrictive areas such as the trophy trout or zero creel limit areas offer the most opportunity for some fun fishing with plenty of entertainment.
Summer time and largemouth bass naturally go together and as the bass shift into their summer mode of behavior early mornings and evenings are the best time to target them. Two things tend to drive their behavior during the summer months, cool shade during the heat of the day and finding something to eat during the evening and night time hours. Shade is where you find it; under docks, fallen tree tops or brush, under a heavy mat of grass, lily pads or spatterdock. Skipping weedless baits under overhead structure or dropping weighted weedless baits through grass is a good tactic. During the early morning or evening hours various baits cast near shallow structure will often put you where bass are cruising as they prowl for baitfish or anything else that looks good to eat. This can include frogs, mice, small snakes, crayfish, tadpoles, etc. Chain pickerel will often be in these same areas and in ever increasing territory, northern snakeheads will be found in shallow grass. Sean Allen enjoyed some fun fishing on the Patapsco River in his kayak and holds up a nice largemouth bass for the camera before releasing it. 

Photo Courtesy of Sean Allen
At Ocean City bluefish are still being caught in the surf and inlet areas but the situation has now settled down to bluefish in the 2 lb size range. They can be caught in the surf with finger mullet rigs or by casting Got Cha lures at the inlet. Kingfish are becoming more common in the surf and small baits of squid, bloodworms, shrimp or strip baits will catch them. Croakers should be showing up soon and will be a welcomed addition in anyone's ice chest. There are still a few large striped bass being caught in the surf and a larger number of ones that do not meet the minimum length of 28". Inshore sharks and skates and the season's first sting rays are filling in the slot designated for pesky bait stealers.
At the inlet water temperatures are about 74° this week. Bluefish and striped bass are being caught in the evenings when boat traffic is down and flounder and small sea bass during the day along with a few tautog. In the back bay areas flounder fishing stepped into high gear over the weekend as water temperatures warmed and water clarity improved.
At the wreck and reef sites off Ocean City sea bass fishing is being described as fair to good with less cod and more flounder being caught. Tautog are still on option on these locations. Farther offshore at the Baltimore and Washington Canyons a healthy mix of yellowfin tuna and dolphin are being caught with bigeye tuna and white marlin releases rounding out the mix.


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