Thursday, June 25, 2015

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 25, 2015


By: Keith Lockwood

Recently I was reading an article where a group was complaining about trash left by fishermen and their campaign to ban fishing from an area very popular with fishermen. I've found myself reflecting on all the years that I have mentored Boy Scouts, young outdoorsmen and my own sons about picking up other people's trash in the outdoors whether it comes from hikers, campers, photographers, fishermen or just visitors to the outdoors. For those who love the outdoors it is hard to understand why someone would discard trash and disgrace something we love dearly. All of us would never do such a thing and many will shake their heads when they see it. I urge everyone to go one step further and pick up other peoples trash, whether it is fishing line, blister packs or those ever popular containers of Canadian Nightcrawlers. Some of the access points we find so valuable are often abused and the abuse does not go unnoticed by others. 
The upper bay region has been offering some great fishing opportunities this week for striped bass. Chumming from the Bay Bridge up to Swan Point near Rock Hall has been popular and boats can be seen anchored up at spots at the bridge and sewer pipe, the Dumping Grounds, Podickory Point, Love Point and Swan Point and several places in between. When traditional locations become crowded often a good depth finder can locate suspended fish near steep channel edges and one can find a little elbow room. Chumming and chunking can be very effective on a good tide and as water temperatures hit the 80° mark the early morning hours tend to produce some of the larger fish. There are a lot of throwback sized striped bass in the chum slicks and anglers are urged to keep their lines tight and set hooks immediately when using J style hooks. Using circle hooks is the most ethical choice to use when chumming and drifting cut baits back in a chum slick and helps significantly cut down on deep hooking of fish.
Trolling is a good option in the upper bay region and a mix of swim shads and bucktails in tandem or behind umbrella rigs has been catching a nice grade of striped bass along channel edges and lumps. Spoons are also being used with inline weights and trolled as a single lure to cut down on tangles. Jigging is another good option where suspended fish can be found. There is a lot of bait in the upper bay region in the form of menhaden which of course attracts the attention of striped bass. Jigging near the bridge piers of the Bay Bridge is always a "go to" option and this nice striped bass held up by Matt Home who was on a visit from Reno, Nevada would spark up anyone's day. 

Photo by Rich Watts
There are plenty of white perch to be caught in the upper bay region and the action starts in the lower Susquehanna River and extends south along bay shorelines and the lower sections of the region's tidal rivers and creeks. Casting small lures along submerged structure is always a favorite past time during the summer months and early morning and evenings usually offering the best results. Fishing with bait such as bloodworms or grass shrimp can offer some fun fishing from docks and piers or out in a small boat on some of the knolls and reefs out in the bay. There are always plenty of channel cat fishing in the upper bay and the tidal rivers where cut bait and nightcrawlers will do the trick and there also are flathead catfish below the Conowingo Dam.
There is a lot of striped bass action to be had in the middle bay region and much of it is focused around the area east of Poplar Island known as the Hill. There is additional chumming action to the north near the outside edge of Hacketts Bar, east of Bloody Point, Thomas Point and the channel edge south of Buoy 83 to some extent. There are a couple of steep channel edges in Eastern Bay that are worth checking out also, one is near Hollicutts Noose and the other from Wades Point to Tilghman Point. Spot have not shown up in any appreciable numbers yet in the middle bay region so chumming and chunking with menhaden has been popular. Trolling is a good option and the western edge of the shipping channel near Chesapeake Beach has been getting a lot of attention.
Croaker fishing has been an evening affair for the most part for anyone bottom fishing in some of the major tidal rivers and out in the bay. At dusk look for channel edges leading to hard bottomed shoal such as Stone Rock or the edges of the Choptank River channel. During the day the deeper parts of the channels are worth exploring at locations like the Airplane Wreck. Bottom rigs baited with pieces of wild shrimp, peeler crab, strip baits or bloodworms will do the trick. 
Shallow water fishing for a mix of striped bass and white perch continues to offer fun fishing in the early morning or late evening hours. Water temperatures are 80° or better in most areas so the best fishing does not occur during the heat of the day. Surface poppers or skipping bugs offer the best entertainment when fishing for striped bass while small spinners, jigs and spinnerbaits work best for white perch.
Fishing for striped bass in the lower bay region has not been an easy affair lately and many of the charter boats that need to produce for their patrons have been running up to the Hill in the middle bay region to chum. There is some chumming action going on at the mouth of the Potomac River for a mix of striped bass and bluefish this week. Trolling seems to be a good option this week in the lower bay region since one can cover a lot of water in the search for striped bass. There is a lot of bait in the lower bay so there is hope some of the striped bass farther up the bay will come down to feed and perhaps stick around. Most are currently trolling a mix of bucktails and spoons along channel edges in the lower Potomac River, the bay and Tangier Sound. Jigging over suspended fish can be productive and also working places where swift currents sweep past prominent points or channel edges. Cedar Point at the mouth of the Patuxent is a favorite location and over on the Eastern Shore the cuts separating Hooper's Island are a great place to work bucktails or soft plastic jigs in the currents along the channel edges. There doesn't seem to be much talk about speckled trout along the Eastern Shore marshes, not that there ever is since this is a hush, hush fishery. This year appears to be a little different so far and the talk around the docks and boat ramps are that speckled trout are few and far between.
Croakers and a mix of large spot, white perch and small bluefish are being caught in the Tangier Sound area this week with the deeper channels being fished during the day and channel edges fished at dusk. The lower Patuxent River has been offering good fishing for croakers and the fishing pier under the Route 4 Bridge has been a good place to fish as well as the Point Lookout Fishing Pier in the evenings. Croaker fishing has been very good in the lower Potomac River along with a nice mix of large spot and medium sized blue catfish. Colton Point and Bushwood have been excellent places for shore bound fishermen to enjoy the fishery. This pair of croakers were caught near St. Clements Bay.

Photo Courtesy of 123 Fishing Rigs

Recreational crabbing continues to slowly pick up speed as the summer months progress. Recreational crabbers using collapsible crab traps and trot lines are averaging a half bushel or better on the eastern side of the bay from the Choptank River south and close to the same in the western side of the lower bay region. On the western side of the middle bay region most recreational crabbers are averaging a couple of dozen to a half bushel of crabs per outing. Cow-nosed rays have been pesky bait stealers for those using trotlines baited with razor clams and have been tearing up the bait bags.
Freshwater fishing at Deep Creek Lake has settled into a summer mode of fishing the mornings and evenings along with dodging jet skis and speed boats. Largemouth bass can be found near shade such as floating docks, waterside brush or fallen tree tops as well as thick grass in the upper regions of the lake. Smallmouth bass can be found near floating docks over deeper water and rocky points. Tubes and crankbaits work well for the smallmouth bass and soft plastics skipped near or under shade are the ticket for largemouth bass. Walleye are being found deep near the dam along with trout and chain pickerel and bluegills near grass in the coves.
Fishing for a mix of smallmouth and largemouth bass has been good in the lower Susquehanna River this week; tubes and crankbaits have been working well for the smallmouth bass. Largemouth bass are being found near grass in the river and the flats and soft plastics have been working well in the grass and small crankbaits and spinnerbaits along the edges of the grass. The FLW Tournament is in full swing down on the tidal Potomac so most largemouth bass fishermen are steering clear and fishing other locations such as the upper bay and some of the Eastern Shore tidal rivers. Like the tidal Potomac the middle and lower Eastern Shore is developing its own population of northern snakeheads and despite fears of competition with native fish they are providing some exciting action and meals for those fishing the area. This fine looking one was caught by Ken Cunningham in Dorchester County and Ken added that it tasted great. 

Photo Courtesy of Ken Cunningham

The Fisheries Service hatchery program has been raising some tiger muskies this spring for stocking into Maryland waters. They received some eggs from Pennsylvania and after hatching them they are quickly moved to rearing ponds that are full of forage fish for them. Apparently they can grow very quickly due to their voracious appetite which can also cause some rearing problems in the form of cannibalism that can be as high as 50% per day.

Photo by Dave Sien

Ocean City water temperatures are at the 70° mark this week. Surf fishing has settled down to a mix of medium sized bluefish being caught on finger mullet rigs and a few striped bass being caught on fresh cut menhaden along with a lot of sting rays and inshore shark species. King fish can be caught in the mornings and evenings on bloodworms or small pieces of cut bait.
At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area bluefish are being caught on Got Cha lures in the evenings and a few striped bass on swim shads and live eels. Tautog and a few sheepshead are being caught near the jetties and bridge piers on sand fleas or pieces of green crab. Flounder are in the inlet and back bay channels and white Gulp Mullet baits have been the ticket for catching the largest flounder. 
Outside the inlet flounder are being caught along the beaches and out at the wreck sites where sea bass fishing is taking place. Sea bass fishing is reported to be fair to good with the best catches coming from the deeper wreck sites. Allison Lorden holds up a nice pair of flounder she caught on Gulp Mullet baits off Ocean City. 

Photo Courtesy of Allison Lorden

The boats returning from the canyons have been bringing a nice mix of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and tilefish back to the docks. There have also been a few bigeye tuna brought in and numerous white marlin releases are being reported.


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