Thursday, May 19, 2016

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | May 19, 2016


By: Keith Lockwood

" The sun will come out tomorrow so you gotta hang on 'til tomorrow come what may, the sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun, tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow, you're only a day away". Those broken lyrics from the stage show Annie drifted through my mind yesterday evening as I was practicing some fly casting on my front lawn and getting damper by the minute in the drifting drizzle. Looking at the extended forecast, tomorrow promises to be sunny but it would seem we're right back into rainy weather by Saturday. 
Photo courtesy of Wayne Young
Photo courtesy of Wayne Young

The water releases at the Conowingo Dam have been wavering from morning releases to both morning and evening releases that are falling in the realm of average flows. There has been some exciting fishing for flathead catfish at the dam pool by those using heavy spinning outfits along with jig heads with fresh cut bait on them. A few American shad and hickory shad are being caught and released near the dam. White perch fishing has been very good in the lower Susquehanna River; jigs dressed with a bit of bloodworm have been a popular way to fish. The lower Susquehanna River will continue to be closed to striped bass fishing until June 1st. The Susquehanna River area closed is that region upriver of a line drawn between the boat ramp at Susquehanna State Park in Lapidum to Twin Rocks to Tomes Wharf in Port Deposit. The defined Susquehanna Flats area which is below the same line (described above) opened up this past Sunday, May 15th where anglers can keep one striped bass between 20" and 26" per day. On June 1st both areas will be open to bay wide striped bass regulations.
Fishing for large post-spawn striped bass in the upper bay has slowed down considerably now that most large fish have moved south towards the mouth of the bay and the Atlantic. If one is fishing below the line drawn from the south corner of Hart-Miller Island across to Rt. 21 at Tolchester striped bass above 20" in length are legal to catch. The striped bass map site can help with understanding the changing striped bass regulations prior to the June 1st switch over to the summer season regulations everyone is familiar with. 
A few good places to start looking for medium sized striped bass would be the lower Baltimore Harbor area for those who like to jig or troll along the channel edges and the bridge piers at the Key Bridge. The Love Point channel edges as well as Podickory Point are also good places to look for fish. Umbrella rigs are often a popular tactic for trolling and many will be using inline weights to get them down. Medium sized spoons and bucktails or swim shads can be trolled behind planers.
There is some excellent white perch fishing to be found in many of the upper bay region's tidal rivers this week. The white perch tend to still be in the deeper waters in the lower parts of the rivers. Depths of 20' to 30' tend to be best, and one can either use a bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or try jigging with small rigs tipped with a piece of bloodworm. There are also plenty of channel catfish in the tidal rivers that will bite on most any kind of fresh cut bait, nightcrawlers or chicken livers on a bottom rig.
The Bay Bridge piers and rock piles continue to be popular with anyone looking for striped bass holding near structure. Jigging can be effective as is slow trolling down deep or even chumming. There are plenty of striped bass around in the region under 28" so places like the bridge piers, the sewer pipe and channel edges outside of Hackett's Bar, Thomas Point and Gum Thickets are good places to check. 
Trolling a mixed spread of large and medium sized lures will put one in a good position to be able to take a few nice school sized striped bass home for dinner and still hold out for the possibility of catching a trophy sized fish. Large and medium sized bucktails and parachutes in chartreuse or white and dressed with sassy shads will be in order as well as umbrella rigs and spoons. Inline weights and planers will help to get the offerings down to where striped bass may be holding along channel edges. The western edge of the shipping channel is always a go to area for boats coming out of western ports along the 35' to 45' edge. On the eastern side of the bay the edges from Buoy 83 south along the Clay Banks, the False Channel and down to the CP Buoy are good places to target. Water temperatures are still rather low at about 60° this week.
White perch are moving down the tidal rivers in the region but have yet to fill in their summer time haunts in relatively shallow areas around piers and shoreline structure. Look for them holding in about 20' to 30' of water in the mid to lower parts of the tidal rivers. Bottom rigs and dropper flies or small jigs tipped with pieces of bloodworm will get one into the action. Since the perch tend to be concentrated this is a great opportunity to bring any young anglers you can find in on the action since it usually nonstop.
Reports from the lower bay region tell of some action on large striped bass off of Cove Point along the 40' edge over the weekend and sporadic action and the outside edge of the HS Buoy and 72. There are also reports of good concentrations of medium sized striped bass near Point-No-Point and the Wilson Bridge Reef. The cuts through Hooper's Island have also been a great place to fish for medium sized striped bass with light tackle. Anchoring up on the inside edge of the channel cuts and casting soft plastic jigs or bucktails up current at a 45° angle and walking the dog is a great tactic to get in on the action.
Trolling mixed spreads of large and medium sized lures in the lower Potomac has been good along the steep channel edges out in front of St. Clements Island and Piney Point in the past week. A few trophy sized striped bass are being caught every day and good numbers of medium sized fish are part of the mix. This fine looking striped bass was caught near Cobb Island.
Photo courtesy of Charles Vinson, showing a trophy sized striped bass
Photo courtesy of Charles Vinson, showing a trophy sized striped bass

Despite chilly water temperatures the croaker fishing is beginning to pick up in the lower Potomac at the Wicomico River, the lower Patuxent River and around Point Lookout. The croakers tend to be in the 9" to 10" size class. At the Wicomico River area there are also plenty of medium sized blue catfish to help fill coolers. White perch can be found in the middle region of the Patuxent River and tidal rivers that feed into the lower Potomac. The perch are holding relatively deep and bottom rigs or jigs tipped with pieces of bloodworm are the ticket to this show.
Recreational crabbers are still working on the adult crabs that have emerged from the bottom of the bay this week. Catches have been fairly good in the lower Eastern Shore counties with a half to a full bushel being caught per outing. Crabbers report that they have to work for them often employing trotlines and traps at the same time to find where the best lays are and using razor clams for bait. Water temperatures in the tidal rivers are in the low 60's and some of the better catches have been coming from about 8' of water. The locust trees are getting ready to bloom and this event usually marks the time of the first shed for Maryland blue crabs.
Chilly and overcast weather has not done much to lighten up the freshwater fishing scene but there is good fishing to be had in a variety of waters. At Deep Creek Lake water temperatures are holding around 58° in the main lake and around 63° in the shallow cove areas. Smallmouth bass fishing is about as good as it gets near rocky points, shelves and near floating docks. Suspended jerkbaits, stick type worms, tubes and jigs are all good baits to use. There is also good fishing for yellow perch, walleye, crappie and other lake inhabitants such as rock bass, chain pickerel and rainbow trout. When drifting along deep grass lines and structure with shiners, there is no telling what you might catch. Largemouth bass can be found in the shallower cove areas as are northern pike. Northern pike can be found elsewhere in a few selected reservoirs such as Tridelphia Reservor in central Maryland where David Costopoulos this enormous northern pike recently. 
Northern Pike, Courtesy of David Costopoulos
Northern Pike, Courtesy of David Costopoulos

The upper Potomac River is still running high and shows no sign of calming down with continued rain in the forecast. Only the most experienced with good boats should dare to be on the river; wading and fishing from kayaks might not be a good idea. Trout fishing has been good since most of the smaller streams and creeks seem to be handling the runoff okay. Crews are out stocking trout in many of the trout management waters so make sure to check the trout stocking website or better yet sign up for email notifications of when areas are stocked. 
Photo courtesy of Ethan Fike, holding trout
Photo courtesy of Ethan Fike, holding up trout caught with a relative

In most areas of the state except the coldest western Maryland waters; largemouth bass are either actively spawning or are off the nest sites. In many cases the males will still be protecting the nests from pesky sunfish and other small species of fish that consume bass fry and eggs but the females should be more mobile. They can be found holding anywhere from the shallow areas to transition areas near structure such as grass, spatterdock edges or sunken wood. Spinnerbaits are often a good choice when trying to cover a lot of water. Stick worms, tubes and suspended jerkbaits are also good choices when working close to cover. This happy angler poses with a nice Lake Artemesia largemouth bass before slipping it back into the lake.
Photo courtesy of Karon Hickman, largemouth bass
Photo courtesy of Karon Hickman, largemouth bass

Ocean City surf water temperatures are holding around 58° this week. The weather has not been the greatest along the beaches for getting a start on a tan but the fishing has been good. Surf casters and those casting around the inlet and back bays to some extent have been catching large bluefish. Most are being caught while casting topwater lures, bucktails and suspended jerkbaits while trying for some of the striped bass in the area. Others are being caught on fresh cut menhaden or finger mullet baits in the surf. The northward migration of large striped bass is moving along Maryland's beaches and most are being caught on cut bait. There is also a mix of blowfish and the occasional black drum in the surf and of course what would a day at the beach be without those pesky skates and dogfish.
At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area there has been good action on striped bass on swim shads and bucktails. Most are under the 28" minimum but not all and with the larger migrants moving through the region; drifting live eels is popular. There have been some large and smaller bluefish moving in and out of the inlet area this week. Tautog continue to be a popular target at the south jetty and various rocks and bulkhead areas near the inlet. Sand fleas or pieces of green crab are the baits of choice. In the back bay areas a few flounder are being caught on the ebbing tides with minnows and Gulp baits. There are some large and smaller sized bluefish moving through the back bays also.
Offshore tautog fishing has been good on the wreck and reef sites and the 2016 sea bass season got off to a good start once the wind subsided. There were some limit catches of sea bass reported on the Ocean City party boats and most everyone along the rail went home with at least half their limit. Farther offshore blue sharks were common at the canyons for those fishing for makos. A few boats were able to find a 64° temperature break on the east side of the canyons and found a good bite of yellowfin tuna.


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