Weekly Fishing Report: June 14
Despite increased water releases at the Conowingo Dam in the past week, water temperatures in the lower river area are climbing into the mid 70s this week. Fishing for channel and flathead catfish near the dam pool and the lower river has been very good. There are striped bass being caught in the river but most are in the sub-legal size range. The best success for larger fish has been at the dam pool and the channel edges around the flats in the early morning and late evening hours. Casting topwater lures has been the best way to target these areas, especially along the edges of the flats.
In the upper bay region, most of the striped bass fishing action is taking place at Swan, Love and Podickory Points as well as the Muds, where boats are anchoring up and chumming. The throwback ratio can be high at times with two and three year old striped bass dominating the chum slicks. Larger fish are present and often come from the back of the chum slick close to the bottom, as always a good tide is important. Trolling is a good option and usually offers a better grade of fish. Chartreuse bucktails and sassy shads have been a favorite as have surge tube lures. All are pulled behind inline weights to get them down to where the fish are suspended deep along channel edges. Jigging is another option, especially when suspended fish can be found near structure such as channel edges, the sewer pipe above the Bay Bridge or the Bay Bridge piers and rock piles.
Fishing for white perch in the upper bay has been very good in the region’s tidal rivers and creeks. The lower Patapsco River and surrounding creeks have been a very popular to fish for white perch lately. Casting small jigs, spinnerbaits, spinners or fishing with bait have been producing nice catches of large perch. Channel catfish are also widespread in the upper bay region and can provide a lot of fun bottom fishing.
The striped bass fishing action has been good in the middle bay region along the main channel edges of the bay and several tidal rivers. Striped bass in the 2 and 3 year old age group tend to be very common when breaking fish are encountered or lured to chum slicks. There continues to be good chumming at the outside 30-foot edge of Hackett’s Bar. Most are able to catch some impressive fish in the mid-20 inch class. Locations such as the Hill, the Diamonds and basically anywhere one can find fish suspended along channel edges can be good places to set up chum slicks. The channel edges of Tolly Bar and Gum Thickets are a couple other spots worth investigating.
Breaking fish are being seen from at times along steep channel edges where bait in the form of bay anchovies tends to be swept in the accelerated currents. Topwater lures are a fun way to fish but most are finding smaller striped bass on the surface and larger ones deeper with jigs. Soft plastic jigs seem to be the favorite choice in chartreuse, pearl and pink. Trolling is certainly a viable option in these same areas. Medium sized bucktails dressed with twistertails, spoons and surge tube lures behind inline weights or planers have been popular. Deep diving crankbaits will also work well but usually require a slower trolling speed.
Water temperatures are about 75°F on the main part of the bay and slightly warmer in the tidal rivers. The shallow water fishery for striped bass has been very good this week but requires being ready to fish before sunrise or late in the evening. Poplar Island is a great place to fish topwater lures as is most of the larger tidal rivers in the region and Eastern Bay.
Fishing for white perch in the tidal rivers has been excellent this season with a greater number of larger white perch than we’ve seen in quite a while. Bottom fishing with bloodworms, peeler crab or grass shrimp is a great way to catch them around deep structure. Casting small spoons, spinners and jigs around shallower structure is also a great way to catch them in the mornings and evenings.
The lower bay region has plenty of fishing action this week. The size structure of the striped bass is very similar to the other regions of the bay; a lot of 2-and-3-year-old striped bass with 4-and-5-year-old fish mixed in. Breaking fish are being seen throughout the region with small striped bass and bluefish mixed it up on the surface and larger striped bass lurking in the depths. The channel edges where the current moves along at a good clip is a good place to look for bait being balled up. Jigging with soft plastics has been good when suspended fish can be found under breaking fish or holding near structure. Trolling is another good option and the steep channel edges in the lower Potomac near St. Georges Island of the shipping channel edges in the bay are good places to troll. A mix of bucktails, spoons and surge tube lures are working well behind inline weights or planers.
Chumming is another option and Buoys 70 and 72A, the Middle Grounds and Point No Point have been popular places to chum. A mix of striped bass and bluefish are being attracted to the chum slicks. Also anywhere fish can be spotted suspended near the bottom can offer a good chumming location.
The shallow water striped bass fishery has been fun for those casting topwater lures or swim shads in the lower Patuxent River, the St. Mary’s River and the Eastern Shore creeks and tidal marshes. On the eastern side of the bay from Hooper’s Island south to Pocomoke Sound there is excellent fishing for speckled trout. They are being caught in creek mouths on a falling tide by drifting soft crab or peeler crab baits or by casting Gulp swim shads or topwater lures along marsh edges. White perch fishing on both sides of the bay has been excellent in the tidal rivers and creeks. A few croakers are being caught at various traditional locations and flounder are being caught along channel edges in Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds.
Before we get into the crabbing, freshwater and ocean reports, I wanted to mention a new state record white catfish in the Chesapeake Bay category (tidal waters) that was caught in the lower Potomac River, at the mouth of St. Clements Bay. Jacob Vosburgh, 20, of Lexington Park, caught the fish, recorded at 8.27 pounds, on June 1. The white catfish was 23 inches in length. Jacob was using bloodworms as bait with a “Carolina” style sliding-sinker rig. This rig is also known as a “fishfinder rig” or “sliding egg sinker rig” depending on the region where you are fishing. The “Carolina Rig” was originally developed by largemouth bass fisherman for use with plastic baits, but in this case, it was fished with a natural worm bait. Congratulations to Jacob on this great catch!
Recreational crabbing has been excellent in the middle and lower bay tidal creeks this week and fair to good in the upper bay. Razor clams continue to be the bait of choice for the best catches. Light crabs are now part of the mix so culling through your catch is a good idea.
Freshwater fishing at Deep Creek Lake has been good for smallmouth and largemouth bass near floating docks and shoreline structure. Tubes, stick worms and crankbaits have been good baits to use. Yellow perch and walleye are holding along deep grass edges and drifting minnows is a good way to target them. Trout can be found deep near the dam face and northern pike at cove entrances.
The upper Potomac River is in fine shape this week for smallmouth bass fishing. Casting tubes near current breaks, submerged ledges and large in current boulders is a good tactic. The premier trout management waters of the western region are providing good to excellent trout fishing this week. Broadford Lake received a stocking of 600 8-inch hybrid striped bass last month adding to the existing population that exists there, offering some excellent fishing opportunities.
Rocky Gorge Reservoir in the central region recently received stockings of striped bass and walleye fingerlings along with slightly larger sized tiger muskies. The Baltimore County Reservoirs are providing excellent fishing opportunities this week as largemouth bass in particular in a very active feeding mode of behavior. Water temperatures are still relatively cool so the bass are active most of the day but will be looking for shade during the sunniest part of the day.
The tidal Potomac River is fishing well this week as water clarity improves. Targeting the shallower areas early in the morning with topwater lures has been providing plenty of action from largemouth bass and northern snakeheads. The hatchery crews recently stocked approximately 260,000 largemouth bass fingerlings in the creeks and rivers that feed into the tidal Potomac. The tidal Potomac is of course home to more blue catfish than anyone could ever count and provide fun bottom fishing and excellent table fare.
The tidal rivers of the lower Eastern Shore are providing good fishing for largemouth bass this week and northern snakeheads are also part of the mix. Northern snakeheads are very common in the Blackwater area, the upper Little Choptank, Nanticoke, and Wicomico Rivers. Chatterbaits and buzzbaits tend to drive them to abandon and are an exciting way to catch them.
Over on the coastal side of Maryland everyone whether fishing the back bay areas or the canyons is getting a much needed reprieve from the wind this week. Water clarity is improving in the back bays and near the inlet making for better flounder fishing, large baits continue to account for the largest flounder in the channel areas and reduced boat traffic makes for more enjoyable fishing. At the inlet flounder and sheepshead round out the day action and bluefish, weakfish and striped bass fill in the evening and night. The sheepshead are showing up along the jetties and bulkheads and sand fleas are the preferred bait. Striped bass, weakfish and bluefish are being caught on bucktails, swim shads, Got-Cha lures and by drifting cut bait.
Surf anglers continue to fish finger mullet rigs for bluefish and cut menhaden for striped bass. The expected surge of large striped bass migrating north has been a bit disappointing so far with only a few large fish caught. Those fishing smaller baits are catching flounder, blowfish and small black drum.
Sea bass fishing has been good to excellent on most days and flounder are now becoming more common in the mix. The boats headed out to the canyons are seeing a wide variety of fish this week. There has been a surge of Bluefin tuna varying from football size to giants. Bigeye tuna are part of the mix and a few yellowfin tuna are being caught. Gaffer size dolphin have also been plentiful at times. Mako sharks are being caught by those that target them at the 30 Fathom Line or out at the canyons.
“All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.” -Chief Seattle
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.