Maryland Overview | April 28, 2010

The big news this week for Chesapeake Bay fishermen is of course the continuation of the Spring Trophy Season. Trolling large parachutes and bucktails dressed with equally large sassy shads is the most common offering out there but many fishermen are finding Tomics, spoons, Storm shads and Stretch diving crankbaits can also catch fish. Planer boards tend to account for a lions share of the fish but a flat line far behind the boat can be equally good for fish traveling near the surface. Deep lines are beginning to also account for many of the fish being caught as bay water temperatures begin to tickle the 60-degree mark. The shipping channel edges in the 35’ to 55’ depth range has been the most productive and those steep edges at the more traditional locations continue to live up to their reputation. The steep edges at Bloody Point, Thomas Point, Breezy Point, Cove Point, Hooper’s Island Light and Buoy 72A are just a few examples.

The post-spawn striped bass are leaving the major spawning rivers in the mid and lower bay regions and tend to offer the best chance for a big post spawn fish. Water temperatures in the Susquehanna Flats area are above 60-degrees now and fishermen are reporting an upswing in the catch and release fishery there. Generally 64-degrees is the threshold temperature that the striped bass will begin to spawn. Air temperatures are predicted to be in the low 80’s this weekend so the spawn may begin soon. Large topwater plugs always offer a lot of entertainment when big fish blow up underneath them. Soft plastic jigs, crankbaits and spoons are also good options for this exciting fishing.

The hickory shad runs at Deer Creek and Octoraro Creeks are at peak. Fisheries biologists and fishermen report that the female hickory shad are there and are getting ready to spawn so if you’ve been thinking about going; don’t miss the boat. American shad are reported to be in the lower Susquehanna River and at the Conowingo Dam Pool. These shad are the larger cousins of the hickory shad and offer a thrilling fight on light tackle; like the hickory shad they are also a catch and release fishery. For those who would like to take some fish home for dinner the river and surrounding area are full of white perch and channel catfish.

Although most bay fishermen are focused on striped bass this week a much anticipated visitor is beginning to show up in the southern region of the bay at places like Point Lookout and the mouth of the Wicomico River on the Potomac. The first good catches of croakers were made this past weekend and this fishery will only get better as water temperatures rise. White perch are beginning to filter down the tidal rivers into the lower sections and are gathering near traditional locations such as old piers, docks, etc. A bottom rig baited with grass shrimp, spinners, beetle spins and jigs can be the ticket for catching a nice mess of perch this week.

Freshwater fishermen continue to enjoy good trout fishing in many of the put and take areas this week; water temperatures and flows have been favorable. Be sure to check out the spring stocking schedule to see where trout are being stocked near you.

The water temperature at Deep Creek Lake is now in the mid-50 degree range and fishermen have been getting out on the water to fish for a mix of walleyes, yellow perch, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. Main points, steep rocky edges and emerging grass beds are all good places to fish this week. Warmer weather is due later on this week which will help warm up water temperatures a bit more and improve fishing.

Largemouth bass in many areas of the state whether it be an impoundment of tidal river are in a pre-spawn mode of behavior and in some areas spawning is already taking place. Generally bass will be holding outside of the shallows near grass beds, sunken wood or near the mouths of tidal feeder creeks. A wide variety of lures can be used when largemouth bass are holding in these areas and soft plastics are often at the top of the list. Spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and jerkbaits can also be good choices to try around different cover and holding areas.

Crappie can still be found schooled up near steep edges and deep sunken cover such as fallen tree tops and brush. Small jigs and minnows are good choices for this type of fishing. Sunfish are beginning to show their spawning colors and can be found in some of the shallower areas. Channel catfish are ready for any fishermen who will cast a nice gob of worms or cut bait to them out in some of the deeper waters where they are lurking.

The surf fishing scene busted loose this past weekend along the Ocean City and Assateague Island beaches. The post-spawn striped bass migrating out of the Chesapeake and headed towards New England waters delighted fishermen with unprecedented action in some cases. More than a few fishermen reported catching and releasing as many as a ½-dozen fish in short order; some over 50” in length. Fresh menhaden baits are what’s for dinner and the head usually holds up best against the onslaught of hungry skates and dogfish. Surf fishermen are also landing some bluefish and black drum and even a few large flounder in the surf. In the back bay areas a few keeper sized flounder are being caught and striped bass and bluefish are being found inside the inlet. Tautog fishing at the inlet continues to be very good on the bottom of the ebb tide in some of the deeper holes. The offshore wreck sites are producing limit catches of large tautog this week.

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


Keith Lockwood has been writing the Maryland Fishing Report for over 6 years. Keith is an avid angler and hunter, and he makes some of the best deer jerky this side of the Blue Ridge.

Keith Lockwood
-- Fisheries Biologist