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Maryland Fishing Report – June 12

Photo of man on a small boat with a fish

Bret Grossnickle found some quiet time and this beautiful smallmouth bass at Liberty Reservoir. Photo by Bret Grossnickle

Summer breezes and warm temperatures set the stage for all kinds of fishing this week. Whether fishing in the Atlantic Ocean or Chesapeake Bay, or just lazily watching a fishing rod nestled in a forked stick at your favorite freshwater fishing hole, it’s all good. We can all find a bit of peace and reflection wherever the outdoors takes us.

As the weather gets warmer, so does the water temperature. Summer heat can be damaging to fish, and for the striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay, certain conditions can be deadly for fish that are caught and released. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources provides a weekly striped bass fishing advisory forecast during the hottest months, using “warning flags” to let anglers better plan their fishing to help protect our state fish. 

Striped Bass 7-Day Fishing Advisory Forecast for June 12-18, with green flag days every day except Thursday and Friday, which have yellow flags..

Forecast Summary: June 12 – June 18:

Warm, sunny weather with low winds this week will make for stable fishing conditions in Maryland’s waters. Main Bay surface water temperatures have warmed to the mid 70s.  River temperatures have also risen to the low 70s. With Maryland’s part of the Bay continuing to run fresher and warmer than average, there will be abundant areas with suitable salinity for hunting blue catfish. 

Unfortunately, due to the abundant spring rains, and the resulting pulse of nutrients (or algal food), areas with suitable amounts of oxygen – at least 3 mg per liter – are very limited.

Map of Chesapeake Bay color coded by oxygen levels in the water

Image courtesy Virginia Institute of Marine Science

On the Potomac River, avoid the low oxygen areas below 10 feet between the Wicomico River and St. Georges Island. On the eastern side of the main Bay, from Tolchester south to the Little Choptank, avoid waters deeper than about 15 feet. As always, the best fishing areas could be further refined by intersecting them with underwater points, hard bottom, drop-offs, and large schools of baitfish. 

Expect average flows for most of Maryland rivers and streams. Expect average water clarity for the Maryland portion of the Bay. To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay satellite maps

There will be above average tidal currents on Tuesday as a result of the full moon June 22.

For detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area, check the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Click Before You Cast website.

Upper Chesapeake Bay
 Photo of man on a boat with a fish

Photo courtesy of Mark Hanson

Fishing for striped bass has been good in the Conowingo Dam pool and the lower Susquehanna River this week, and should continue. The striped bass may be attracted to the area by well oxygenated water and cooler water temperatures. Unfortunately, the lack of salinity is not good for the fish, so anglers should limit practicing catch and release, and if they do, bring the fish in quickly. Casting paddletails and soft plastic jigs and drifting cut bats are all popular ways to fish. When fishing for striped bass with bait, using non-offset circle hooks is mandatory.

There are plenty of flathead catfish in the Conowingo Dam pool being caught on cut bait. Blue catfish can be found in the lower Susquehanna River south to the Bay Bridge and including all tidal rivers in the upper Bay. Most anglers are using cut menhaden for bait but white perch, gizzard shad, and chicken liver also work well. 

Striped bass are being caught throughout the upper Bay. The mouth of the Patapsco and Baltimore Harbor is seeing a concentration of striped bass and getting a lot of action from anglers trolling, jigging, and using spot and white perch for live-lining. Love Point and the mouth of the Chester River are two other locations that are getting the attention of anglers. In most areas of the upper Bay, anglers will be seeing striped bass holding in depths of less than 20 feet.

The Bay Bridge is always worth checking out and one can usually find striped bass lurking near the bridge piers. There are dissolved oxygen problems for fish below 20 feet at the bridge, so the east side of the bridge at the 25-foot drop-off occurs might be a good place to drift baits. Soft crabs, cut menhaden and live spot are all good baits to use. Casting soft plastic jigs during the early morning and late evening near the bridge piers is always a fun way to fish. If you’re not chipping paint off your jigs, you’re not getting close enough to the piers. As always, a good running tide is helpful.

White perch are providing typical summertime fun for anglers fishing grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm near docks, piers, and sunken structure in the form of channel edges, oyster reefs in the tidal rivers and creeks, and shoal areas out in the Bay. In the early morning and late evening hours casting small spinnerbaits, spinners and small soft plastic jigs near shoreline structure is always a fun way to fish and a great way to target the larger white perch. 

Chesapeake Channa (snakeheads) continue to provide plenty of action in the tidal rivers of the upper Bay. The western side of the Bay seems to be the place to be lately if you want to catch a large one. Casting frogs, chatterbaits, and buzzbaits over thick grass has been one of the best options to target these large fish. 

Middle Bay
Photo of man on a boat with a fish

Photo by Herb Floyd

The NOAA buoy at the Gooses is showing a water temperature of 72 degrees this week and an average salinity of 7.1 mg/l. Recently salinity values have been low due to rain but as the summer progresses and rains lessen, salinities should elevate. The middle Bay north of the Choptank to the Bay Bridge shows poor oxygen levels for fish below 20 feet in most areas. Below the Choptank, oxygen values at lower depths improve.

Given the above, it is no wonder that anglers are reporting the best striped bass fishing along the shorelines of the Bay and near the mouths of the major tidal rivers. The early morning or late evening is always a great time to cast poppers and Zara Spooks in the shallows over grass beds and old rock jetties that are now submerged. Using a 7-weight fly rod spooled with a forward taper floating line can offer endless topwater action as striped bass attack a skipping bug. In slightly deeper waters where grass is not a problem, casting jerkbaits, paddletails, and soft plastic jigs can offer plenty of action near large docks, rocks, and areas with plenty of current. Locations near Kent Island, Eastern Bay, Poplar Island, Thomas Light, the Naval Academy shoreline and the mouth of the Choptank and Little Choptank are just a few locations worth checking out. 

These same areas can also be great locations to look for larger white perch during the mornings and evenings. Casting small spinnerbaits, spinners, spin jigs, and small soft plastic can entice the larger white perch to strike. Depending on depth a sinking tip fly line with small chartreuse Clouser and a 4-or 5-weight fly rod can offer some fun action.

White perch are usually holding at the many docks, piers, and bulkheads in the tidal rivers of the middle Bay, especially the ones over deep water. When fishing with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm on a simple bottom rig, there is no need to cast, just fish close to the dock piers. All that is needed is a one-hook bottom rig that can be tied with a No. 4 hook so it will be about 6 inches to 8 inches off the bottom, using a half-ounce to 1 ounce sinker. This is a great setup for our youngest anglers. To learn how to catch your own grass shrimp, search our article in the Angler’s Log on the Maryland DNR website. 

Blue catfish are still holding in the tidal rivers of the middle Bay, with the Choptank River currently holding the greatest numbers. Fresh cut baits of menhaden, white perch, or chicken liver work well. The catfish are spread out over a wider area now and channel edges and nearby flats are good places to find them. Anglers will start to see blue crabs nipping at baits and often the accompanying rod tip twitches will catch one’s attention. If you are fishing with circle hooks and a sliding sinker rig, the bait pickup by a catfish will be more pronounced.

Lower Bay
Photo of man on a boat with a fish

Jack Reily is all smiles with this impressive, speckled trout. Photo courtesy of Jack Reily

Anglers are seeing a wide variety of summer migrant species moving into Maryland’s lower Bay, providing all kinds of fishing opportunities. Striped bass are being caught in the lower Potomac River and locations in the Bay and tidal rivers. In the Potomac, much of the striped bass action occurs in shallower waters; anglers are using spot for live-lining along channel edges as well as jigging with soft plastics. Trolling medium-sized bucktails dressed with sassy shads or twistertails along various channel edges has also been effective. Cove Point, Cedar Point, and the east side of the shipping channel from Buoy 76 south to buoy 72B are good locations. 

Speckled trout are being caught in the lower Potomac near Point Lookout, Cedar Point, Tangier Sound, Pocomoke Sound, and north past Hoopers Island. Anglers are catching them in the early morning and evening hours along the shoreline by casting paddletails and sassy shads. Lure manufacturers have been coming out with some very effective underspin jig heads in the 2/0 and 3/0 class, a larger version of the familiar Roadrunner type lures. They provide some extra attraction to puppy drum and speckled trout. One of the most effective ways to catch them is to drift soft crab or peeler crab baits at the mouths of tidal creeks on an ebbing tide. They are also being caught on bottom rigs baited with soft crab or peeler crab, just watch out for cownose rays when fishing this way.

Slot-sized red drum are also being caught in the same manner as speckled trout. Casting paddletails, soft plastic jigs, and spinnerbaits near grass beds or stump fields during the morning and evening hours is an effective way to fish for them. Large red drum are being caught from the Middle Ground north past the Target Ship. Most anglers are locating large red drum and black drum on their depth finders or by spotting slicks and then casting large soft plastic jigs or dropping soft crab baits. 

Bluefish are being caught in the lower Bay region, most are in the two-to-four-pound class and are being caught by trolling spoons or bucktails and incidental catches when fishing with soft plastic jigs or bait. Anglers targeting flounder are finding a few near Point Lookout and Cornfield Harbor and Tangier and Pocomoke sounds. The flounder are found on hard bottom near channel edges. Gulp baits in pink or white are favored baits. Cobia season opens June 15 and there have been a few reports of cobia being spotted in the Target Ship area; as the month progresses more cobia will hopefully arrive. 

Spot are being caught in the lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers this week for live-lining and some large enough for table fare. Blue catfish tend to be dominating the fishing scene in the tidal Potomac from the Wilson Bridge south past the Route 301 Bridge, The Benedict area to Jug Bay is the place to fish for blue cats in the Patuxent River, and another good location is the section of the Nanticoke River from Sharptown south. Most anglers are using cut menhaden for bait since it is so available and leaves a good scent trail.

More than a few recreational crabbers are reporting a noticeable slump in crabbing this week. Most are working water depths of 8 feet to 14 feet and catching 5.5-inch crabs that are heavy; they are also catching larger crabs in the 7-inch size range but unfortunately most of the larger crabs are light. Crabbers are seeing a slight decrease in the price of razor clams, which many prefer for their trotlines and crab pots. The shallower waters of less than 8 feet tend to hold a lot of small crabs. Crabbers will just have to be patient until the larger crabs fill out and the smaller crabs shed and eventually become legal-sized crabs. 

Freshwater Fishing
Man on a riverbank holding a fish

This fine-looking smallmouth bass came from the upper Potomac. Photo courtesy of Sharif Soliman

Beginning June 16, trout anglers in Western Maryland will be able to access several delayed harvest trout fishing areas with a daily limit of five trout per day. Those waters include sections of the Casselman River and the North Branch of the Potomac River. Anglers are urged to check the Maryland Fishing Guide for the exact location boundaries. There are no tackle restrictions, and the season will extend to September 30. 

Water flows have been moderate in the upper Potomac River this week and anglers are enjoying good fishing for smallmouth bass. Water temperatures are in the low 70s and water clarity has been good. Casting a mix of spinnerbaits, tubes, swimbaits and crankbaits have been good lures to use near current breaks, underwater ledges and large underwater boulders. Smallmouth bass can also be found in the lower Susquehanna River as well as Prettyboy and Liberty reservoirs. 

Fishing for largemouth bass has improved, now that the fish have shaken off their post-spawn slump. Largemouth bass are ambush predators so look for them holding near grass, sunken wood, or steep drop-offs and feeder creek mouths. When fishing in grass, getting into the thick of things with weighted plastic worms is a great tactic in water deep enough for a largemouth bass to be lurking underneath. This tactic can work well when the fish are seeking cool shade underneath. Spinnerbaits and jerkbaits can be good choices when working the edges of grass or spatterdock fields. In tidal waters this can be a great place to fish on an ebbing tide. When fishing near grass with frogs, chatterbaits and buzzbaits for largemouth bass, Chesapeake Channa, also known as snakeheads, can often be part of the mix when fishing tidal waters. Crankbaits, soft craw baits, and jigs can be a good choice when targeting sunken wood and drop-offs. 

Crappie are schooled up in deeper waters near structure. Marina docks, sunken wood, and bridge piers all fit the bill. The tidal Potomac River near the Wilson Bridge on the northeast side and the marina docks at Fort Washington are great places to look for crappie. Liberty, Triadelphia, and Loch Raven reservoirs also have good populations of crappie. Many of the smaller bodies of water on the Eastern Shore and tidal rivers also have good populations of crappie.

There is a youth fishing rodeo event this Saturday, June 16 at the Cypress Branch State Park in Kent County. The event starts at 10 a.m. For more information call Erin Gale at 410-820-1668. 

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays
 Photo of woman on a boat with a fish

Photo courtesy of Ashlee Hammonds

Surfcasters are still catching a few large striped bass that must be released but are creating a thrill. Most anglers are using cut bait of menhaden, mullet, or peeler crab and large red drum can be part of the mix that must also be released. Bluefish are also being caught on cut bait. Black drum are being caught on peeler crab and sand fleas. Inshore shark species and cownose rays are part of the mix this week when fishing with large baits. Anglers fishing with smaller baits of squid, peeler crab, and bloodworms are catching a mix of flounder, blowfish, and kingfish. 

Assateague State Park hosts its annual Youth Fishing Derby on June 15 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This event is free for all; participants must be children under 16, and they will get the chance to learn fishing techniques and try their hand at surf fishing alongside Maryland DNR staff. Contact Matthew Smith at or 443-397-0078 for more information.

At the Ocean City Inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, bluefish, striped bass and a few large sea trout are being caught by anglers casting soft plastic jigs and by drifting peeler crab and cut bait in the current. A few sheepshead have been caught by anglers working sand flea baits near the jetty rocks and bridge piers. Hopefully more sheepshead will show up as the summer progresses. 

Flounder continue to move through the inlet headed for the back bay waters, so the inlet is a great pinch point to intercept them. Traditional baits of squid and minnows work well, and pink and white Gulp baits often account for the larger flounder. The channels leading from the inlet to the back bay areas are a good place to drift for flounder, just be careful of large boat traffic.

Fishing for black sea bass has had its ups and downs lately but most often if captains move to different wreck or reef sites, they can put together a good catch for their patrons. Flounder have been part of the mix lately. 

Out at the canyons boats that are trolling are seeing the first yellowfin tuna of the season. Usually, it is just a couple of tuna per trip, but some have been lucky enough to catch a substantial number of yellowfins. Those who are deep dropping for blueline tilefish are doing very well with some nice catches reaching the docks.

“There is only one theory about angling in which I have perfect confidence and that is that the two words, least appropriate to any statement about it, are the words ‘always’ and ‘never.’ ” – Lord Grey of Fallodon, 1899

Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Keith Lockwood, fisheries biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Click Before You Cast is written by Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham.

This report is now available on your Amazon Echo device — just ask Alexa to “open