Thursday, July 14, 2016

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 14, 2016


By: Keith Lockwood

As a lifelong fisherman and a bit of a softy when it comes to kids and fishing, I had a warm spot glowing in my heart when I stopped by a kids fishing derby in Easton last Saturday morning. The local Elks Lodge did an amazing job of organizing what was a well attended event. One of the things that really struck me was that they provided fishing outfits for some of the less advantaged kids who live in town. To see them running around with a fishing outfit and actually catch one of the bluegill sunfish stocked by the Fisheries Service gave me an inner glow that carried me through the rest of the weekend.

Photo by Keith Lockwood
Photo by Keith Lockwood

As of yesterday the Conowingo Dam has not been releasing water for power generation in the afternoons. Fishing tends to be slow during these lulls although there tends to be a little topwater action for striped bass at dawn in the dam pool. Farther down the Susquehanna there are plenty of channel catfish to catch, largemouth bass in the grass of the flats and white perch in the adjacent tidal rivers.
The upper bay region has a lot of striped bass opportunities this week. The fleets anchored from Sandy Point Light north along the western edge past the mouth of the Magothy River and at the Love Point area to Swan Point are certainly noticeable as they chum for striped bass. The 25' to 30' channel edge tends to be the sweet spot when a good tide is running. There are other options for those who like to get away from the crowds. There are striped bass in the lower Patapsco River and similar tidal rivers in the upper bay region. Early in the morning and late evening are good times to try topwater lures along shoreline structure or jigging along channel edges can be productive. Catching small white perch in the tidal creeks and live lining them down deep along channel edges out in the bay is also a good way to catch a nice grade of striped bass. There has also been some limited striped bass action reported at some of the shoal areas such as Tea Kettle shoals and 9' Knoll so they may be worth taking a quick look at with a depth finder. Trolling umbrella rigs with bucktail or swim shad trailers is a good bet as are spoons trolled behind a planer. Bluefish are starting to show up in the upper bay so swim shads may come in a little short and sea nettles are becoming more common also. Water temperatures are about 79° with a salinity of 8 ppt. Chris Trumbauer was trolling near Swan Point and has good cause to smile with this nice 32" striped bass. 

Photo courtesy of Chris Trumbauer
Photo courtesy of Chris Trumbauer

The Bay Bridge continues to be a good place to look for striped bass suspended near bridge piers. Some have been chunking with good luck as well as live lining small white perch and jigging. There is plenty of striped bass action in the middle bay region just below the bridge near Hackett's down to Thomas Point. Boats can be seen anchored along the 30' edge chumming. As with the dense chumming fleets above the bridge sometimes it is worth it to move away from the congestion and explore other channel edges for a little more breathing room. Suspended fish can be spotted on depth finders and chumming or live lining white perch can pay off well. At times fish can also be found near some of the anchored cargo ships at anchor for some light tackle jigging or trolling. Umbrella rigs or single spoons tend to be popular now for those trolling, especially now that bluefish are in the region. Lonnie Johnson was jigging near Thomas Point when he caught this nice striped bass.

Photo by Travis Long
Photo by Travis Long

A few croakers are being caught in the middle bay region in the evenings as they move out of the deep channels to shallower waters to feed but they tend to be fairly sparse. Not so for white perch though. They are holding in all of their typical summer haunts and are providing plenty of fishing action for those who care to fish for them. Grass shrimp or blood worms on a bottom rig tend to be a standard for those who like to fish bait. An ultra-light spinning or baitcaster is a great outfit to use for casting beetle-spins, small jigs, shad darts or spinners around shoreline structure for white perch. It can be a lot of fun on a quiet summer evening and also provide some tasty fillets for the frying pan.

The shallow water striped bass fishery continues to hold great opportunities for catching some nice fish. There are a fair percentage of smaller fish mixed in but there seems to be plenty of action along prominent points and structure such as old piers, jetties and sunken rock breakwaters. Suspended jerkbaits and swim shads can be very effect lures to use but topwater poppers are by far the most entertaining. A high flood or high ebb tide tends to be one of the better times to fish the shallows and as water temperatures move into the low 80's the action tends to be over as the sun rises above the horizon and starts an hour or so before sunset. Lou Wayson made the effort to get up early and be out on the water before sunrise and was rewarded with this nice Choptank River striped bass.

Photo by Rich Watts
Photo by Rich Watts

Lower Bay region fishermen have wondering where all their striped bass have gone and of course the answer is north for a fair percentage of them, but not all. There are some striped bass being caught along the steep channel edges in the lower Potomac near Tall Timbers and also the lower Patuxent. Most are trolling small spoons behind planers or umbrella rigs with inline weights to get lures down deep. Bluefish will also be a big part of the mix when trolling. There is also a good shallow water bite in the early morning and late evening hours along select shoreline structure on both sides of the bay.

Although striped bass may be sparse, the lower bay has some incredible fishing opportunities no other region has. Two of those exciting options are croakers and cobia. The croaker fishing in the evenings along channel edges and shoal areas have been exceptional with limit catches the norm. Perhaps more exciting though is the presence of good numbers of cobia in areas near the Target Ship, the Middle Grounds and off Smith Point. Most boats are setting up chum slicks to lure the cobia in and drifting cut bait to them. It has been quite a while since Marylanders have had such good opportunities to catch a cobia in Chesapeake Bay waters. There are a lot of bluefish in the region so they will certainly be lured to these chum slicks. 

All of the tidal creeks and rivers in the lower region of the bay are holding excellent numbers of white perch. They can either be caught deep on bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or grass shrimp or caught along shoreline structure in the evenings or early mornings. Fishing light with small beetle-spins, shad darts or spinners is a fun way to catch a mess of white perch. There are also plenty of medium-sized blue catfish in the lower Potomac and channel catfish in the Patuxent. Here is Kyle Murphy with a nice stringer of blue catfish from the Potomac. 

Photo courtesy of Pat Murphy
Photo courtesy of Pat Murphy

Recreational crabbing continues to be very good in most of the tidal rivers and creeks in the bay. The middle and lower bay regions tend to offer the best crabbing but the upper bay is quickly improving. In the middle and lower bay regions most of the crabs are holding in 13' of water or better and the largest crabs are reported to be in about 20' of water. Razor clams continue to outperform chicken necks and a lot of 2" to 3" crabs have been showing up on baits lately. Some crabbers in the upper bay stand by their fresh baits of cut white perch as one of the better baits to use in collapsible crab traps. Salinities are high enough now that sea nettles are downright pesky when running a trotline. 

Freshwater fishing in the western region of the state at Deep Creek Lake has now focused on fishing early in the morning for smallmouth bass near rocky bottom in about 12' of water with tubes and crankbaits. Largemouth bass can be found looking for shade under floating docks or deep grass. Casting whacky rigged soft plastics under the docks or into the grass is a good tactic to get them to pick up a bait. Drifting near deep grass with minnows under a slip bobber can provide some relaxing fishing for a mixed bag of walleye, smallmouth bass, large yellow perch and chain pickerel. Water temperatures at the surface of the lake are about 75°.

The upper Potomac is running low and clear at the moment and that could change quickly with expected thunderstorms later on this week so be sure to check water levels. If conditions stay low and clear, light lines, fluorocarbon leaders and long casts will put you on smallmouth bass. The best times to fish are the early mornings and late evenings over rocky bottom, boulders and fast current. Tubes tend to be the best way to go. 

Fishing for largemouth bass has anglers either up early before dawn out on the water or fishing in the evenings near shallow structure such as grass and lily pad fields. The largemouth bass are holding to a typical summer mode of behavior, where they seek out cool shade during the bright sunny days and move towards the shallows to feed in the evenings and night till morning.

Some of the central region reservoirs that are popular with largemouth bass fishermen also hold the possibility of catching large landlocked freshwater striped bass. The striped bass are stocked as fry and last month a total of 750,000 fry were stocked into Triadelphia (Howard, Montgomery counties) and Rocky Gorge (Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's counties) reservoirs. Through cooperative efforts between staff and the WSSC, there is a popular and productive fishery for striped bass in the reservoirs, where fish exceeding 20 lbs are caught with regularity. These fry were produced at Manning Hatchery from brood striped bass from the Patuxent River. The fish were spawned in the facility and later returned to the river.

The big news last week in the Ocean City fishing community was the amazing 94.6 lb cobia that 9-year old Emma Zajdel caught while fishing with her dad and friends near Little Gull Shoals. The following link will take you to the Department of Natural Resources press release. 

Photo by Steve Doctor
Photo courtesy of Steve Doctor

Ocean City area surf casters are enjoying good fishing for kingfish in the surf, especially in the mornings and evenings. A mix of flounder, small bluefish and dogfish add a little variety. Those fishing larger baits have been catching some large bluefish, inshore sharks as well as sting rays.

At the Ocean City Inlet/Route 50 Bridge area, bluefish have been moving through the inlet and some are rather large and striped bass are being caught in good numbers. Casting bucktails, swim shads and spec rigs has been popular and a few anglers are having good luck drifting cut baits. Flounder are in the area and casting white Gulp baits has been popular and a few sheepshead are being caught on sand fleas near the South Jetty.

The channels in the back bay region are holding flounder and catches have been fairly good. White Gulp baits have been popular as have squid and minnows. There are also bluefish in the back bays.
The boats heading out to the wreck and reef sites are finding sea bass and a few flounder. Double digit catches of sea bass are fairly common. Farther offshore bluefin tuna are being caught near Massey's Canyon and the Washington Canyon. Yellowfin tuna are being caught at the canyons by trolling and chunking as well as near the 30 Fathom Line, dolphin, wahoo, white marlin and a few bigeye tuna round out the offshore mix.


No comments:

Post a Comment