Thursday, August 20, 2015

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 20, 2015


By: Keith Lockwood

It seems that American families are on the road this week as there is short time before kids have to go back to school. It is always fun to see a vehicle going by crammed with family and gear up to the windows with bicycles, coolers and fishing rods strapped to the roof. Enjoy and be sure to make fishing a part of your vacation if you are going to be near water.
The Maryland Fishing Challenge (MFC) is rounding the bend of the last couple of weeks for anglers to catch a qualifying fish and be registered for all the prizes that are being offered during the Sunday, September 13th awards event at Sandy Point State Park. The parking passes and information packets will be mailed soon to those who qualified. Again, the event is Sunday, September 13, last year the event moved from Saturday to Sunday due to overcrowding and traffic concerns at the park. 

Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale Photo

At the very top of the bay there has been some striped bass action along the channel edges near the mouth of the Susquehanna and Elk Rivers and shoreline structure. The best fishing is before the sun rises above the horizon and topwater lures tend to be one of the better choices. In the Susquehanna River the Conowingo Dam is on a late afternoon power generation schedule and the increased flows and cooler water in the river can stir smallmouth and striped bass to become more active.
The good striped bass fishing continues to be the best show in town in the upper bay from the Swan Point fishing grounds south to the Bay Bridge. The striped bass have been moving a bit as they will, since they do have fins and swim. Traditional steep edges such as Swan Point, Triple Buoys, Love Point and Podickory Point will usually hold fish and the Dumping Grounds and the sewer pipe just above the Bay Bridge have been hot spots from time to time also. Most captains will slowly motor around a bit till they pick up fish on the depth recorder and then set up. Chumming and live lining spot are perhaps the most popular and effective methods of fishing. A good ebb tide usually offers the best fishing opportunities and the best chance at catching some of the 30"+ striped bass that have been frequenting the upper bay fishing spots. The best odds for catching the larger striped bass are to allow a fresh menhaden fillet or spot fillet to linger on the bottom in the back of the chum slick or to live line spot. A lot of folks are unhappy about the large size of the spot available this year but have faith that the striped bass can get them down; just give them a little longer to work them down before setting the hook or letting the line pull tight when using circle hooks. 
In many areas of the east coast chunking for striped bass is a common practice and it will work here also if you find the spot are too large for the 20" to 28" striped bass. It is also a way to seek revenge on pesky bluefish and there are plenty of channel catfish that will pick up baits off the bottom. Trolling has been a good option in the upper bay and spoons, bucktails and red surge tube lures (hoses) are good choices to tow behind planers or inline weights. The Bay Bridge piers are holding striped bass and this location offers light tackle fishing a chance with jigs worked around the piers and concrete abutments. The east side of the span tends to offer some of the better opportunities for striped bass.
There is plenty of good white perch fishing in the upper bay tidal rivers and at hard bottom shoal areas in the bay. The 7' Knoll' Snake Reef and the western side of the Bay Bridge are a few places to check. Bloodworms or peeler crab on a bottom rig or jigs with dropper flies are a good choice to catch them. There are also some large spot being caught in the mouth of the Magothy River. Mark Phipps took his granddaughters Kaylin and Jenna out to the Bay Bridge for some fun white perch fishing and it sure looks like they had a grand time. 

Photo courtesy of Mark Phipps
South of the Bay Bridge there has been good striped bass fishing at the eastern outside edge of Hacketts Bar, Tolly's, Gum Thickets and Brickhouse Bar as well as the Hill, Eastern Bay, Buoy 83 and south to the Diamonds at the mouth of the Choptank River. Most are agreeing that the striped bass are moving around in the general region so it pays to be flexible and check out various locations. Most are live lining spot but chumming and chunking is also taking place. Trolling a mix of spoons, bucktails and red surge tube lures is a good option along channel edges for a mix of striped bass, small bluefish and spanish mackerel. Breaking fish are becoming a more common sight as the above trio chase schools of bay anchovies. Usually the bluefish and spanish mackerel will be on top and the striped bass underneath so casting and jigging with metal on light tackle can be a fun way to fish for them.
Casting for striped bass along shoreline structure continues to be a great way to spend a quiet morning or evening casting topwater lures. Water temperatures are in the low 80's so the early morning fishery is usually over once the sun cracks the horizon. A good tide is always important and structure such as the rocks on the west side of Poplar Island is great places to target. There are often plenty of white perch around structure also; rock jetties, breakwaters, fallen trees and piers are all good places to cast small lures.
The lower bay region has a welcomed infusion of fishing opportunities this week. Spanish mackerel have moved into the region in good numbers and it is not uncommon to catch a 10 fish limit by trolling spoons behind planers between Cedar Point and Cove Point. Some larger bluefish have also been reported at the Middle Grounds and the mouth of the Potomac River. Speckled trout are also becoming a more common part of the shallow water mix along the marsh shorelines on the eastern side of the bay.
There have been a lot of reports of wide areas of breaking fish along the edges of the shipping channel this week. The top layer of activity tends to be a mix of bluefish and spanish mackerel chasing bay anchovies with some striped bass holding underneath. Casting into the mix and jigging with metal has been offering a lot of fun light tackle fishing and trolling near the action with spoons and red surge tubes has been productive.
Shallow water fishing along shoreline structure has been good in the early mornings and late evenings in the lower Potomac River, lower Patuxent River and the eastern side of the bay. A mix of striped bass and bluefish are being caught on the western side of the bay and speckled trout can be added to the mix on the eastern side.
Bottom fishing for white perch and large spot has been very good in the lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers with croakers also thrown into the mix. Bloodworms on a bottom rig have been the most popular method to catch them. Fishing from a boat is of course a great option but several shoreline locations also offer great fishing. The Colton Point pier, the pier at Bushwood, Point Lookout and the Solomons Fishing Pier are all excellent places to catch a mix of white perch, spot and croakers. Ryder Hall was fishing in the lower Patuxent River for croaker and spot when he was surprised with this channel catfish. 

Photo courtesy of Ryder Hall
Recreational crabbing continues to become more successful as the summer month's progress and blue crabs have moved far up the tidal rivers in the last two weeks. There are a lot of crabs in the mix now and plenty to go around for those who know how the game is played. Crabbers are reporting a lot of Jimmies that are about a ½" short of legal size in the shallows and one more molt and they will enter the legal fishery. They also report a lot of sooks in the shallower areas and anyone who has taken a walk on a pier lately can't help but notice all the sooks trying to harden up before trekking towards the mouth of the bay, doublers are also common. The absolute best bait to use right now are razor clams and of course that involves snoots, mesh bags and a lot of interference from cow-nosed rays and terrapins and the price of a bushel of razor clams are holding around $45 now. Most feel it is worth it though when they are rewarded with extra large crabs when they set in about 20' of water. The basics are that there are a lot of small crabs and sooks that will eat up your baits in the shallower waters; the big guys are generally holding in deeper water.
Deep Creek Lake continues to offer some summer fishing options for those willing to get up early before vacationers roust up and hit the lake for water skiing and jet skiing fun. There is some pretty good smallmouth bass action early in the morning and late evening along rocky shores in 6' or less of water. Tubes tend to be the most popular bait with crankbaits also effective. Largemouth bass can be found near or under floating docks and also at the mouths of some of the coves. When boat action gets a little too hectic the shallower coves that are full of grass can offer some good fishing for bluegills, northern pike and chain pickerel.
The upper Potomac is running low and clear this week. Many are using fluorocarbon and lighter lines to fool smallmouth bass with tubes near rock ledges and current breaks. Farther down the Potomac in the tidal areas below D.C.; there are largemouth bass and northern snakeheads to be caught near shallow grass in the early morning or late evening hours. A falling tide always makes this type of fishing more productive. Soft plastic frogs and buzzbaits have been the most popular baits to use. Many are also switching to fishing deeper waters near bridge piers, drop-offs, docks, rocks or sunken wood with jigs, crankbaits or slow rolled spinnerbaits near the bottom for largemouth bass that are lounging in the cool deep waters. Shaun Simmons holds up a nice smallmouth bass he caught and released while floating on the upper Potomac recently.

Photo by Shaun Simmons
There has been some very good largemouth bass fishing action up on the Susquehanna Flats for those fishing plastic frogs and buzzbaits over the thick grass there. Smallmouth bass are being caught in the lower Susquehanna River in the late afternoons when the Conowingo Dam releases water for power generation. 
Maryland's many diverse ponds and larger impoundments hold a variety of freshwater fish with largemouth bass being one of the more popular targets for fishermen. It is pretty hard to beat the early morning and late evening hours for the best largemouth bass action and a variety of soft plastic and hard baits will work. 
The Ocean City area is of course in full summer mode and fishing for summer migrant species of fish is in full swing. Along the beaches there is an early morning and late evening bite for a mix of kingfish, croaker, spot and small bluefish. Bloodworms, small strip baits and artificial bloodworm baits are the ticket to this show on a simple bottom rig. When targeting bluefish finger mullet on a mullet rig works best. 
At the inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area flounder are being caught from shore and boats in the channels. The Gulp white mullet bait continues to be the best option when trying to catch larger flounder. Traditional squid and minnow baits are catching also but the throwback ratio is usually higher. Live lining spot is one of the best ways to target large flounder and sometimes you may also catch a striped bass. Most of the channels in the back bay area's behind Ocean City and Assateague are holding a mix of flounder and croakers.
Outside the inlet there is good flounder fishing on many of the shoal areas such as the Bass Grounds. The flounder tend to be larger than inside the inlet on a whole and limits are not uncommon. The wreck and reef sites are also offering good flounder fishing along with fair fishing for sea bass. Allison and Don Lorden hold up some nice flounder they caught near some inshore structure. 

Photo courtesy of Allison Lorden
Farther offshore the trolling fleet continues to work on a mix of yellowfin tuna, dolphin, white and blue marlin and the recent arrival of good numbers of wahoo. Those that stop for a little deep drop action on the edges of the canyons are bringing a mix of tilefish back to the docks.


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