Weekly Fishing Report: July 5
The holiday weekend is but a memory now and I hope your memories are good ones. It was a scorcher in many areas of Maryland and people flocked to the water for relief. It did my heart good to see fishing rods peeking out through mini-van windows or in the back of pickup trucks as folks headed to their waterside destinations. The summer will tend to move along now and before we know it we’ll be starring Labor Day in the face so don’t put off spending time with family and friends fishing.
The Lower Susquehanna River continues to give up a fair amount of striped bass for those willing to be at the Conowingo Dam pool at sunrise. The power generation releases usually begin before daybreak and continue into the afternoon. Casting heavy swimshads with surf casting gear into the most turbulent parts of the pool has been a great option. Others are having success casting topwater lures in the boulder fields farther down river at sun up.
A few striped bass are being caught around the edges of the flats but most of the action in the upper bay is focused from the Rock Hall area south. Chumming has taken center stage at Swan Point, Love Point and Podickory Point. It has been a good idea to locate suspended fish on a depth finder and anchor up and allow chum and baits to drift into the deeper edges of the channel. As always a good tide is essential. As usual, the chum slicks are being swarmed with two and three year old striped bass that are less than twenty inches in length so it takes some strategy to get to the larger fish that often are 28″ or better. Allowing baits to get to the bottom and in the back of the slick has been the best tactic, and sometimes it takes a squeeze on weight of a half-ounce or so a couple of feet in front of the bait. Surface water temperatures are now around 82 degrees so the larger fish will like to stay deep and mornings will usually offer better fishing results. Channel catfish can be part of the mix when fishing baits on the bottom.
Trolling has been another option in the upper bay and pulling small to medium parachutes, bucktails and surge tube lures in tandem or behind umbrella rigs with inline weights. Jigging can be fruitful, especially at the Bay Bridge piers and rock piles on a good running tide.
White perch are providing plenty of fun fishing action in the tidal rivers and out in the bay. The deeper structure in the rivers such as old piers, rocks and prominent points have been a good place to fish with bottom rigs and bloodworms or grass shrimp or shad darts and jigs tipped with the same. Out in the bay, hard bottom at some of the shoal and knoll areas are holding good schools of good sized white perch.
In the middle bay region, just below the Bay Bridge, Hackett’s Bar continues to be one of the better options for those who wish to chum for their striped bass. At times striped bass can be found suspended along channel edges near the mouth of Eastern Bay near the Hill. Anchoring up on suspended fish along the outside edge at about 30′ and letting baits lie on the bottom at the distal end of the slick has been a great strategy. A large number of the striped bass being seen in the middle bay region are less than 20″ in length so it takes some sorting through at times to come up with legal fish. Now that water temperatures are in the low 80’s, mornings will usually offer the best opportunities for larger fish.
Trolling a mix of small to medium sized bucktails, parachutes or surge tube lures behind inline weights has been a good option along some of the steeper channel edges on the western side of the shipping channel and near Buoy 86 and the mouth of Eastern Bay. Jigging underneath breaking fish or when suspended fish can be spotted is also a good option this week. Eastern Bay and the main channel areas in the bay are good places to check.
The shallow water striped bass fishery in the middle bay region continues to offer enough nice striped bass over 20″ to make getting up before sunrise worthwhile. Topwater lures are best in the grassy areas, to avoid fouling your lure. Old submerged breakwaters, prominent points and shoreline structure in the lower portions of the tidal rivers and the bay shores are the places to target. The rock jetty shoreline of Poplar Island is always a popular place to fish as are the shores of Eastern Bay and the lower Choptank.
Fishing for white perch in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers and creeks continues to be good this week and offers some fun summer time fishing with light tackle. The perch are usually found close to structure such as old piers and rocks or on live oyster bottom. Bloodworms or live grass shrimp are two of the better baits to use on a simple bottom rig and placing a piece on a shad dart and working close to structure is a good option.
In the lower bay region there is good chumming for a mix of striped bass and small bluefish along the eastern edge of the shipping channel from the HS Buoy south to Buoy 72 and the Middle Grounds. On the western side there has been some chumming action at Cove Point, Point No Point and up the Potomac River near St. Georges Island and Piney Point. Jigging has been good at these same locations on occasion when suspended fish can be spotted on depth finders or under small fish that are chasing bait on the surface. Soft plastic jigs have been a favorite lately despite the presence of bluefish.
There has been some good topwater action in the early morning hours at Cedar Point, the St. Mary’s River shorelines and over on the Tangier/Pocomoke Sound area marsh islands and creeks. Most of the action on the western side of the bay tends to be striped bass but on the eastern side there is a mix of speckled trout, small striped bass and a few puppy drum. Drifting peeler crab or soft crab baits on a falling tide in many areas with a good current is a good way to catch speckled trout, as is casting white Gulp mullet swimshads.
Bottom fishing in the region is a mix of small croaker, kingfish, a few spot and a lot of white perch. There are some flounder being caught on the hard channel edges in Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. Gulp baits on a bottom rig or jig head or a flounder rig baited with squid and or minnows have been good baits to use.
Recreational crabbing in the lower bay tidal rivers and creeks has been excellent this past week and most crabbers are doing well with chicken necks. In the middle bay region crabbing is good where razor clams have been the favorite bait for the best catches. Recreational crabbing in the upper bay tidal rivers has been fair at best with most struggling to come up with decent catches.
Freshwater trout fishing in the western region’s trout management waters that are catch and release are offering good fishing for fly fishermen who keep an eye on the various hatches. These managed waters can be viewed on the trout stocking maps for the western and a few select central region waters. Pick a county and scroll down past the stocked waters section to the trout managed waters to obtain information.
Deep Creek Lake offers some good fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass this week if one gets out before the sun rise. Boat traffic and vacationers are in full swing now on the lake and it makes it hard to fish in some form of peace and quiet. Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be found looking for shade under floating docks and flipping whacky rigged soft plastics is a great way to entice them to strike. Yellow perch, walleye and trout will be holding deep in the deepest parts of the lake such as the dam face.
Many freshwater fish are now into a summer mode of behavior where they seek shade and cool water during the day, which usually means they go deep or seek refuge under thick floating grass or some type of shade. That shade can be shoreline brush, docks and piers, fallen tree tops or suspended logs. They tend to move into shallower waters at dusk and largemouth bass will feed all night into early morning and then retreat to cooler waters. Generally the best tactics are to be on the water at dawn to fish topwater lures in the shallows over grass or shallow structure. Frogs, buzzbaits, chatterbaits or poppers are all good choices. During bright sunshine it is often best to fish whacky rigged soft plastics down through the floating grass in deeper waters or pitch them under docks or near deep structure. When fishing tidal rivers a falling tide in the morning is a great time to fish shallow grass and when fishing the tidal Potomac or lower Eastern Shore, northern snakeheads will be in the mix.
Over on the far eastern side of the state at the Ocean City area, a wide range of summer species are providing good fishing. In the surf, those using shrimp, squid, bloodworms or sand fleas are catching a mix of croakers, kingfish, small black drum and flounder in the surf. Fishing with finger mullet will entice small bluefish and larger cut baits will catch a variety of inshore sharks which provide some fun catch and release action.
At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, flounder and sheepshead are being caught during the day. The flounder are caught on squid or minnow baits or by working jigs with Gulp baits along the bottom. The sheepshead and a few triggerfish are being caught on sand fleas along the jetties and bridge piers. In the evenings a few striped bass are being caught by jigging with bucktails and swimshads or by drifting cut baits or live eels, a few bluefish are also in the mix.
The channels in the back bays are holding flounder and when the water is clear the catches have been good. White Gulp baits are catching some of the larger flounder but the old standby of minnows and squid are hard to beat. A few sea trout, small bluefish and puppy drum help round out the mix. Flounder are also being caught on some of the shoals areas within a mile of the beaches.
The boats heading out to the wreck and reef sites are experiencing good fishing for sea bass for their patrons. Clams have been the preferred bait and flounder can also be part of the mix when jigs or flounder rigs are used.
The boats that are trolling along some of the 30 Fathom spots are finding yellowfin and bluefin tuna. The Hot Dog and the Sausages have been two of the more popular spots lately. Farther offshore a mix of yellowfin tuna in the 50 pound size range along with bigeye tuna and bluefin tuna are being found. White marlin, dolphin and the occasional wahoo help round out the mix. Green machines, rigged ballyhoo and spreader bars have been the formula for success.
“The most indispensable item in any fisherman’s equipment is his hat. This ancient relic, with its battered crown and well-frayed band, preserves not only the memory of every trout he caught, but also the smell.” -Corey Ford 1952
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.