Thursday, July 9, 2015

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 09, 2015


By: Keith Lockwood

The July 4th weekend is now behind us and hopefully for all of you it was filled with family and friends getting together for barbecues and perhaps some fresh caught fish and blue crabs from Maryland's waters. A lot of families from other states will be visiting us in the next two months on family vacations from the waters of Deep Creek Lake to the beaches of Ocean City and it is always fun to see how much they enjoy all that we often take for granted here in Maryland. Don't miss out and get out there and enjoy the good old summertime in Maryland.
The Fisheries Service's Juvenile Striped Bass Survey began on Monday and biologists will be busy for the next three months trying to gain knowledge on the success of striped bass reproduction for 2015. It is always a much anticipated survey result and should be available by late fall. A lot of information is acquired on other species in the bay's tidal rivers that is gleamed from the seining results and is used by fisheries biologists here and surrounding states. You can learn more about this interesting program by going to the Juvenile Striped Bass web page. These youngsters visiting from Manhattan watch carefully as biologist sort, catalog and measure all of the various juvenile fish species from the Choptank River. In this haul everything from juvenile largemouth bass to striped bass were found along with various forage fish species.

Photo by Keith Lockwood

Anyone fishing in the bay or tidal rivers has been dealing with discolored water and high water in many areas due to the runoff from successive storms that have been pounding Maryland and neighboring states in recent weeks. The upper bay is no exception; the Conowingo Dam has been dumping a lot of water through open gates causing high and discolored water in the lower Susquehanna and nearby areas in the upper bay. Noisy topwater lures or crankbaits with rattle beads would be a good choice in the rivers and shoreline areas when fishing for striped bass in the mornings and evenings. Bait is another option, white perch and channel catfish should have no trouble sniffing them out. There is always a group of anglers that specialize in fishing live eels around Pooles Island and that tactic can work in other areas as well where currents and structure cause striped bass to hold.
The steep channel edges around Podickory Point, Love Point, the Triple Buoys and Swan Point have been a great place to chum for striped bass and as long as there is a good current the fishing has been good. Trolling a mix of spoons, bucktails and surge tube lures behind inline weights or planers have been a viable option also. Nathan Franco was chumming with friends at Love Point when he caught this whopper of a striped bass. 

Photo Courtesy of Nathan Franco
The Bay Bridge piers and rock piles have also been good places to check out for suspended striped bass and large white perch. Boats can be often seen working up current of the piers and either chumming or chunking and drifting baits back to the bases of the piers. Another option is to jig with bucktails or soft plastic jigs near the pier bases and lastly some are having good luck trolling deep and making passes under the bridge.
In the middle bay region when it comes to striped bass most of the action is taking place in the region near the mouth of Eastern bay and to the north and south for a few miles. Chumming has been the name of the game at the Hill for quite a while but live lining is taking over for those lucky enough to find some spot. Striped bass fishing has not been good in general in the lower bay but there are spot down there so many of the boats making the trip to the Hill are bringing spot with them. Those spending the time to catch what few spot they can in the middle bay region complain that spot are too few and too large but the striped bass don't seem to be complaining and somehow manage to swallow them. So far the bluefish have not invaded the region but they will shortly and surely tempers will flare when precious spot begin to take a hit. Hopefully bait size spot will begin to fill into the middle bay region soon as water temperatures steadily creep past the 80° mark.
Trolling along channel edges north and south of the mouth of Eastern Bay has been productive up to the Bay Bridge and south to the mouth of the Choptank. There has not been much trolling action being reported south of Chesapeake Beach on the western side of the shipping channel.
Shallow water fishing for striped bass and white perch has been good in the early morning and evening hours along shoreline structure and prominent points. Most have their favorite spots to check and as long as a good tide is running the action can be a lot of fun when using topwater lures for striped bass. Some of the more popular go to places include Thomas Point and the rocks around Poplar Island. There have been a lot of small 12" striped bass chasing even smaller bait in the region's tidal rivers lately; juvenile menhaden and bay anchovies tend to be the target. White perch are holding in the tidal rivers around most any kind of structure and can be caught shallow on small lures or deep on bait. White perch are perhaps a perfect fish to introduce children to fishing since most piers and docks hold some and just require dropping the line straight down. 
Croakers and spot bottom fishing is becoming more reliable in the middle bay region but still has a way to go to match the action in the lower bay region. The best croaker fishing has been occurring along channel edges in the evenings on a good tide. Peeler crab tends to be one of the better baits to use for croakers, bloodworms for spot and expect some white perch to move in from time to time.
In the lower bay region when it comes to striped bass fishing the best opportunities this week are in the lower Potomac River where chumming and trolling are the principal methods of fishing. Those chumming are reporting bluefish in the 16" to 18" size range swarming in chum slicks. Those trolling are using bucktails, surge tube lures and spoons behind planers along channel edges in the lower Potomac with good success. Unfortunately there is not much striped bass action occurring along the western side of the shipping channel to report. Smiley Hsu sent in this picture and a report in the Angler's Log of some excellent striped bass fishing he experienced in the lower Potomac River recently. 

Photo Courtesy of Smiley Hsu
The Middle Grounds is holding a lot of bluefish this week and trolling spoons and surge tube lures behind planers is the preferred method to catch them. There are also some large red drum being caught and released in the area above the Target Ship. Trolling large spoons is a good tactic and sometimes schools can be spotted by churned up water and jigging offers an exciting way to catch and release a trophy sized red drum.
The lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers are holding a lot of croakers and spot along with white perch. Channel edges and deep reefs are offering wonderful fishing opportunities and some of the piers offer excellent fishing for shore bound anglers. Colton's Point, Bushwood, Point Lookout and the Solomons fishing pier all offer great fishing this week. Peeler crab, bloodworms and shrimp have been the preferred baits on two hook bottom rigs. The Tangier and Pocomoke Sound areas have also been offering excellent bottom fishing opportunities for a mix of croakers, spot, bluefish, white perch and small sea trout. 
Recreational crabbing is steadily improving in all regions of the bay. Most recreational crabbers are able to put together a bushel or close to it per outing in the middle and lower bay regions. In the upper bay the Chester and Magothy tend to offer the best crabbing this week. Most likely the amount of rain the tidal rivers are receiving may hold crabs from further migration up the bay for a bit. This nice mess of crabs was destined for a July 4th crab feast and there are more out there for this coming weekend. 

Photo by Rich Watts
Freshwater fishing at Deep Creek Lake continues to hold in a typical summer pattern. Largemouth bass can be found in the early mornings and evenings near or in shoreline grass or structure such as fallen tree tops by using frogs and buzzbaits. Poppers and similar topwater lures are a good choice for smallmouth bass near rocky bottom areas. Trout and walleye can be found deep near the dam face.
The upper Potomac is still running high and muddy and with more thunderstorms in the forecast it does not look like the situation will change for the better soon. The waters of the tidal Potomac are also discolored and one has to work hard at times to entice largemouth bass to strike. A falling tide in the early morning or late evening hours has been offering the best action and frogs and buzzbaits are good choices for working the grass. Small crankbaits and spinnerbaits are good choices along the outside edges of the grass beds at low tide.
Anyone who enjoys fishing Triadelphia Reservoir will be in for a disappointment next spring. The WSSC must make repairs to the dam beginning in the early spring of 2016 and will have to draw the reservoir down by 33%. There will be no angler access allowed to Triadelphia Reservoir for the estimated 2 years that it will take to complete the project. The draw down may very well have impacts on the Patuxent tailwater during trout season also.
The tiger muskie fingerlings we were discussing in an earlier fishing report that were being raised at the Cedarville Hatchery have been stocked into Seneca Lake (2,800) and Centennial Lake (900) recently to provide anglers with another game fish with trophy size potential. Also 20,000 fingerling striped bass produced by the Manning Hatchery and raised at the Chalk Point Generating Station in Aquasco, Maryland were recently stocked into Rocky Gorge and Triadelphia Reservoirs.
The Ocean City fishing scene has a lot of variety this week as the summer season progresses. Surf fishing is mostly focused on fishing for kingfish, croakers and small bluefish in the mornings and evenings. Bloodworms have been the preferred bait for kingfish and croakers, finger mullet for the bluefish. Those wishing for a bit more tug are using cut menhaden baits for some catch and release fishing for inshore sharks and sting rays.
Water temperatures are around 75° now at the inlet and more flounder, croakers and spot are flowing into the back bay systems. The flounder are reported to be generally small but some large ones are being caught regularly. One way to cut through the smaller flounder is to use larger baits and the 5" white Gulp swimming mullet has become a favorite. Bluefish are being caught in the inlet on Got-Cha plugs, evenings and incoming tides offer some of the best action. A few striped bass are also being caught at the inlet/Route 50 Bridge areas on swim shads, live spot and live eels. Laila Pascucci caught this nice flounder on chartreuse Gulp while fishing a back bay channel recently. 

Photo Courtesy of Laila Pascucci
Outside the inlet flounder are being caught on some of the near shore shoal areas and also out at the wreck and reef sites. Sea bass fishing at the wreck and reef sites is reported to be fair but flounder action has been very good.
At the fishing sites along the 30 fathom line which are often called the "meat products" ( Hot Dog, Ham Bone, Chicken Bone, Sausages) yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna and dolphin are being caught by boats trolling a mixed spread of lures and rigged ballyhoo. Farther offshore at the canyons there is the same mix of yellowfin and bluefin tuna, dolphin and white marlin releases. Those who are on station at dawn have also been catching some impressive bigeye tuna and a couple of large wahoo have been caught.


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