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Maryland Fishing Report – June 26

Photo of girl holding a fish

Blue catfish, photo courtesy of Chandlier Dominick

It is now officially summer, but with this heat we didn’t need a calendar to tell us that! The early mornings and evenings offer some relief for anglers —  wading or an overhead canvas, T-tops, or the simple shade of a shoreline tree, or wading can offer a cool and peaceful place to fish. July 4 is coming up and provides a license-free fishing day in Maryland – a great opportunity to introduce someone to fishing for the first time.

For anglers who catch striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay, remember that summer heat can be deadly for fish that are not keeper sized and must be 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 19-25, with a green flag day Wednesday, yellow flag Thursday, red flags Friday through Sunday, yellow flag Monday, and green flag Tuesday.

Forecast Summary: June 26 – July 2:

Continued warm and sunny with moderate winds and a chance of T-storms this week will make for some unsettled fishing conditions in Maryland’s waters. Main Chesapeake Bay surface water temperatures have warmed to about 80 degrees. River temperatures have also risen to the mid to high 70s and low 80s. Maryland’s part of the Bay continues to run fresher and warmer than average. Areas with suitable amounts of oxygen, greater than 3 mg per liter, have improved since last week. However, on the Potomac River, avoid the low oxygen areas below 15 feet between the Wicomico River and St. George’s Island. On the main Bay, from Tolchester south to the state line, avoid areas deeper than 30 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 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 Wednesday and Thursday as a result of the full moon June 22. Expect average flows for the Maryland rivers and streams.

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

Anglers are enjoying good fishing in the Conowingo Dam pool during the evening and to a lesser extent in the early morning. The best fishing success is reported to be during power generation, which usually occurs late in the afternoon to meet power needs during the hot weather. The surge of cool water and the promise of tidbits of chopped up gizzard shad get fish in a feeding mood. Striped bass, flathead catfish, and blue catfish are being caught in the dam pool. The action will extend down the river during the early morning and late evening hours. Anglers are casting a variety of topwater lures, paddletails jigs, jerkbaits and cut bait; the catfish can run down a lure but are mostly caught on cut bait. 

Good fishing for blue catfish extends throughout the entire upper Bay and the tidal rivers. The Chester River near Crumpton has been especially good recently. Blue catfish are actively spawning in some waters and may be found in the upper reaches of the tidal rivers. Chesapeake Channa, or northern snakeheads, are entertaining anglers in the tidal rivers this week. Casting a variety of bladed lures and topwater lures over or near thick grass beds is the most popular way to fish for them. 

The Baltimore Harbor area and the mouth of the Patapsco River continue to hold striped bass and the fleet is fishing on them by live lining and jigging. Water temperatures are now in the 80s and anglers are asked to forgo catch and release fishing once they have their one fish limit and perhaps think of fishing for blue catfish or white perch. High water temperatures, low salinity values and the inability to find cool waters in the depths due to low dissolved oxygen values do not fare well for the released striped bass. The waters near the mouth of the Chester River and north towards Rock Hall are still experiencing dissolved oxygen problems. Anglers are urged to review catch and release procedures to limit striped bass release mortalities. 

There seems to be plenty of spot to be caught off Sandy Point State Park, and a mix of spot and white perch are also being found on some of the knolls and shoals in the upper bay. Bloodworms are always the preferred bait for spot and good bloodworms are hard to find these days. An old trick to extend your bait supply is to mix pieces of nightcrawler in with the bloodworm juice on the cutting board. Lug worms and bloodworm scented artificial baits can work well also.

White perch can be caught on peeler crab, grass shrimp and small minnows. The tidal rivers and creeks in the upper bay hold white perch. Deeper waters can be fishing with bait on a bottom rig. In the early morning hours and evening hours casting small spinnerbaits, small, bladed jigs and soft plastic jigs near shoreline structure is a fun way to fish and target larger white perch. 

Middle Bay

Water temperatures in the middle Bay are in the low 80s this week and salinity values have risen to about 9-10 ppt due to the lack of rain. Dissolved oxygen values in the deeper waters of the middle bay region are looking much better this week than they did two weeks ago. Anglers are reporting once again this week that some of the best striped bass fishing is occurring in the shallower waters around the bay during the early morning and late evening hours. 

Photo of five small fish

Juvenile menhaden, also known as bunker, photo by Keith Lockwood

There are signs of good reproduction of menhaden this year. Small schools of young of the year menhaden can be seen pushing water on the surface of the Choptank River this week and most likely other tidal rivers. We all know they are an important link in the Bay’s complex food chain and provide food for a variety of fish and especially striped bass. 

Earlier this week charter boats were seen backing up to the Bay Bridge piers on the western side of the bridge and their anglers were drifting live spot back to the pier bases. The striped bass bite in the middle Bay is mostly an early morning and late evening affair. Using spot for live-lining along channel edges can work well, as does casting a variety of topwater lures, jerkbaits, and paddletails near promising shoreline structure. Anglers are reporting a slot size red drum now and then to sweeten the mix. Speckled trout seem to have retreated with the warming waters in the shallows. Cownose rays have been a real problem for many anglers in regards to getting snagged with lures other than topwater. 

The tidal rivers are showing good numbers of white perch for anglers this week. The perch are holding next to deep and shaded structure and oyster reefs in the tidal rivers. Grass shrimp and peeler crab have become more popular baits due to the price and quality of bloodworms this summer. To see some tips on catching your own grass shrimp check the following angler’s log post. Tips on catching your own grass shrimp can be found on the DNR website. Casting small spinnerbaits, bladed jigs and spinners is a fun way to fish for the larger white perch during the morning and evening hours. Spot are being found off Chesapeake Beach and the backside of Black Walnut Point on Tilghman Island. Pods of dolphin have been chasing the spot from here to there in the middle Bay recently. 

Lower Bay

Water quality is good in the lower Bay this week, except for areas of the Potomac River in the general area of the Route 301 Bridge, which show low dissolved oxygen values for fish. In the lower Potomac River near Point Lookout and in the St. Marys River anglers are finding good fishing for a mix of striped bass and small to medium-sized red drum along the shorelines. 

A mix of striped bass and red drum that are often referred to as puppy drum are providing good fishing near Hooper Island south to Tangier Sound waters. Casting topwater lures over grass beds has been an excellent tactic. Drifting soft crab or peeler crab baits at the mouths of marsh draining creeks on a falling tide is also a great way to target striped bass, puppy drum, and speckled trout. Catches of speckled trout have fallen off in the past week but some are still being caught.

Flounder have been a welcome addition to the species being caught in the lower bay region recently. There are a fair number of throwbacks but anglers who are targeting them are catching legal-sized flounder around Point Lookout and Tangier and Pocomoke sounds. The hard-bottom shoal areas next to channels have been a favorite place to target. 

Fishing for spot has been good in the lower Patuxent and Potomac rivers, and Tangier Sound, but recreational anglers are not the only ones pursuing the spot. Pods of dolphins have been working the schools of spot over and are reported to be pushing them farther up the rivers. 

Photo of man holding a large fish at night

Red drum, photo courtesy of Darren Bentley

Catch-and release fishing for large red drum has been good in the general area from the Middle Grounds past the Target Ship. Most anglers are spotting them on side scan sonar and then getting over them and dropping soft crab baits or large soft plastic jigs. If one keeps watch for slicks or disturbed water, schools of red drum can be spotted that way. Trolling large spoons is also a viable option. Bluefish are being caught along the main channel edges by trolling spoons and surgical tube lures. Cobia are known to also hit tube lures and a few are being caught that way. Most anglers in pursuit of cobia are chumming and drifting back cut bait, or live eels; when waters are calm, sight casting large soft plastic jigs or live eels to surface cruising cobia is an exciting way to catch them.

As much as water temperatures in the 80s might not be so comfortable for finfish, blue crabs do very well in warm waters and their feeding and growth increase rapidly. Many of the larger crabs that were light a couple of weeks ago are now heavy with meat and the medium-sized crabs are getting ready for another shed. Better dissolved oxygen levels in the tidal rivers have allowed the crabs to move into waters 10-15 feet deep. Recreational crabbing is very good in the lower and middle Bay and catches are slightly less in the upper Bay. 

Freshwater Fishing

It is vacation time at Deep Creek Lake and many visitors there will want to get out on the lake and try some fishing with the family. One can rent a pontoon boat at several of the boat rentals, and they make a great platform for drifting along deep grass lines with a minnow in search of smallmouth bass, yellow perch, crappie, and largemouth bass. Rigging a worm is a great way to entertain your younger anglers to target bluegill sunfish. Trout can be found deep by slow trolling nightcrawlers on a weighted rig. Targeting floating docks with wacky rigged worms is a great way to entice largemouth and smallmouth bass lurking nearby.

Warm summer temperatures can put trout in a stressful situation with anglers practicing catch and release, especially in the central region. The Department of Natural Resources website has posted some guidelines put together by the trout biologists

The upper Potomac River is warming up and flows have been down, so it is difficult to navigate in a boat, but many locations are providing fun wading conditions for anglers fishing for smallmouth bass. Casting to current breaks, large boulders with tubes, small crankbaits and spinnerbaits is a fun and cooling way to spend a morning or evening fishing on the upper Potomac. 

Photo of boy holding a fish

Largemouth bass, photo courtesy of Donnie Davis 

Largemouth bass are now holding to a summer mode of behavior, where they feed at night and spend the day loafing in any cool shade they can find. The early morning and late evening tend to offer the best fishing opportunities in the shallower waters. This is where largemouth bass do most of their hunting for prey. Topwater lures in the form of frogs, buzzbaits, poppers are all great lures to use. Casting spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and lipless crankbaits in the slightly deeper waters on the edges of the shallow grass or spatterdock fields is a good intermediate step. Once the sun gets up and the heat of the day arrives, look for deep cover, thick grass mats over deeper water, overhanging brush, fallen treetops and docks. Largemouth bass can be enticed to pick up a wacky rigged worm if it is dropped in front of their face. Weight will be needed to get down through thick floating grass.

Chesapeake Channa, (northern snakeheads) will be part of the mix when fishing topwater lures over or along the edges of grass in tidal waters. They have a protracted spawning season so they may be observed protecting fry balls. Do your best to annoy the heck out of them by working topwater lures towards the fry balls and encouraging them to strike at a perceived threat to their fry.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays

Surf anglers are enjoying a summer mix of species this week along the Assateague beaches. Bluefish and large red drum are being caught on cut mullet and menhaden along with a variety of inshore sharks. Black drum are being caught on peeler crab, sand fleas and clams. Kingfish and spot are being caught on bloodworms and flounder and blowfish on squid. 

At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, a mix of striped bass and bluefish are being caught by anglers casting soft plastic jigs during the early morning and evening hours. Jetty rocks, bulkheads, bridge piers and dock piers are all good targets. Drifting cut bait in the current is also a good way to catch both species. 

Photo of two men on a boat with a large fish

Yellowfin tuna, photo courtesy of Mason Kerr

Flounder are providing plenty of action in the inlet and the back bay channels this week. Boat traffic can be a real problem and safety hazard so be careful. Fishing in Sinepuxent Bay can be a good alternative with less boat traffic. In front of the Ocean City Airport has always been a productive location to fish for flounder.

Outside the Ocean City Inlet, anglers are finding flounder on some of the inshore shoals and wreck sites. A little farther offshore the artificial wreck and reef sites have been providing good fishing for black sea bass, although captains are reporting sometimes the sea bass seem to have lockjaw.

Out at the canyon waters, yellowfin tuna are becoming more common for boats trolling. Gaffer size dolphin can also be part of the mix, and hopefully white marlin will begin to show up. Deep drop anglers are enjoying good fishing for a mix of golden and blueline tilefish, with some impressive fish coming back to the docks. 

“An undisturbed river is as perfect as we will ever know, every refractive slide of cold water a glimpse of eternity.” – Thomas McGuane, 1990

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