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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | May 26, 2010

Welcome to Memorial Day Weekend and what many consider the official kick off to summer. The kids are still in school, the official start of the summer season is not until June 21st and if you’re around the water you will be reminded that it can still be a bit chilly. It will be a time for family gatherings, perhaps the first crab feast, barbeque and of course some fishing at a favorite spot. Please take a moment for reflection at some point to remember and honor those that have given so much over the years to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today. Our freedoms have come at a very great cost.

Chesapeake

Water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay hit the 70-degree mark this week and fishermen are seeing some profound changes in the fishing scene within the bay. There are still some striped bass over 28” swimming in and around some of the channel edges but most are now in the 18” to 28” size range and many are males that have decided to hang around a while longer. The big girls have been working their way up the coast heading for cooler and saltier waters along the New England coast. Surf fishermen near Ocean City have been enjoying excellent fishing for the last couple of weeks as these fish move by.

Photo Courtesy John Buchwald, click to enlarge.

Many fishermen continue to troll the edges of the shipping channel with parachutes and bucktails in tandem or behind umbrella rigs as well as spoons. Smaller offerings of these popular lures are now part of everyone’s trolling spreads as striped bass under 28” are fair game. More and more fishermen are now chumming at popular locations such as Podickory Point, Love Point, the Hill, Buoy 72 and numerous other traditional locations where it is common to mark fish. Light tackle jigging is a good way to enjoy some good fishing; bait is being seen in many areas where currents run along prominent deep points or channel edges. Soft plastic jigs such as larger Bass Assassins and BKD’s are popular as are metal jigs. Watching for birds and slicks or working fish suspended over structure are some of the more productive ways to find fish to jig. Brady Buchwald, Age 7, loves to go fishing with his dad and this time he got to catch this nice striped bass while fishing off of Tilghman Island.

It’s black drum time once again on the Chesapeake. Fishermen started to get into them over this past weekend and the action will begin to peak in the coming week if things go according to schedule. Fishermen will be slowly roaming shoals such as Stone Rock, Sharps Island Flats or some of the shoals near the Diamonds with all eyes on their depth finders. The James Island Flats are certainly worth a look also. Soft Crabs, sinkers, circle hooks and stout tackle are the tools of the trade. This is not finesse fishing; it is more of a slug fest so come prepared to do battle. More and more fishermen are releasing black drum these days; which is good but they do make good table fare. You generally only get the meat above the ribs because of worms but it is very good; it reminds me of blowfish. If you do keep a black drum, take the time to carve out the boney grinder plates in the upper back of their throat, about where your tonsils would be. They make a great trophy reminder and conversation piece.

Fishing for croakers seems to be improving this week as more and more fishermen report good catches. Fresh shrimp, bloodworms or peeler crab are good choices for bait and the best catches are coming from the southern region of the bay, Tangier Sound and the lower Potomac River. Flounder are also showing up along channel edges, flats and shoals and some are impressive in size. Cornfield Harbor at Point Lookout and Tangier Sound has been the place to go lately. Medium sized bluefish are beginning to show up and if they’re not being caught they are leaving behind their calling card of tailless sassy shads.

White perch fishing continues to be excellent in the lower Susquehanna River and just about any good-sized tidal creek or river in the Chesapeake Bay region. Lures such as spinners, beetle spins and small grubs are good choices and it is hard to beat fresh grass shrimp on a hook. They’re fun to catch, easy to find and real good eating so gather up a couple of junior fishermen after school and fish under a pier or dock close to home. Recreational crabbing continues to steadily improve this week and most crabbers report being able to catch a bushel in an outing in the middle and southern bay regions.

Freshwater

Freshwater fishermen in all but the colder waters of the western region of Maryland are reporting largemouth bass in an aggressive post spawn mode of feeding behavior. They are scattered through thick grass and structure. Buzzbaits, weightless worms and spinnerbaits have been the choice of anglers fishing the grass. Jigs or anything that looks like a crawfish has been working well around sunken wood or similar structure such as docks.

Photo Courtesy Alan Klotz, click to enlarge.

Fisheries biologist Alan Klotz sent us an entry for the Angler’s Log concerning a kid’s fishing derby in Accident, Maryland be sure to check it out. One of the pictures catches a moment all fishermen can relate to, fishing in the rain. There have been many jokes and quotes about fishing in the rain, we’ve all done it and all find our own joy and peace; even thought we might be getting soaked. Kyle Klotz’s smile says it all.

Out in the western region of Maryland fishermen are reporting that largemouth bass can be found in deeper staging areas near shallow spawning coves or actually actively spawning. They can also be found lurking near floating docks in reservoirs such as Deep Creek Lake. The smallmouth bass are spawning on rocky flats and are also being found near emerging grass. The water in Deep Creek Lake is still cool enough that walleye can be found close to shore. Trout fishing remains high on the list for fishermen in the western and central regions in the high quality managed trout waters and the put and take areas as well.

Photo by Big Vinny, click to enlarge.

Coastal Bays & Ocean

Coastal fishermen had another good week of fishing and are looking forward to more of the same. The surf fishing for large striped bass continues to be a real thriller this week as surfcasters pick away at the northward migration of large post-spawn fish. Pesky skates and dogfish continue to be part of the equation but the rewards of catching large striped bass in the surf seems to make all that fade away. The big striped bass have also moved inside the inlet and are being caught from the Route 90 Bridge south to the Verrazano Bridge heading out to Assateague Island. Some really nice flounder have also moved inside the inlet and fishermen are enjoying good fishing. Rich Watts and his buddy Vinny spent the weekend flounder fishing in Assawoman Bay and reported catching 10 keeper-sized flounder from 22” to 26” long in 2-days of fishing. The formula of large baits producing large flounder seems to prove itself with Rich’s favorite bucktail Gulp shrimp combo and this 7lb flounder.

Small bluefish are also being caught in the inlet and beaches of Ocean City. The sea bass season got off to a great start on Saturday with the best catches coming from some of the deeper wreck sites. Tautog fishing continues to be good at the Ocean City Inlet and wreck sites. The first mako shark of the season was reported to have been caught just inside of the Washington Canyon over the weekend.

Maryland Fishing Challenge Featuring Diamond Jim

Qualifying entries for the Maryland Fishing Challenge have been pouring in to the Fisheries Service in the last month. Based on the number of striped bass entries it would appear the Spring Trophy Season was a good one. A lot of large rainbow trout have also been entered thanks to the efforts of personnel at the Albert Powell Trout Hatchery. Be sure to check out the Fishing Challenge website and be prepared to enter your catch at one of our citation centers (Fishing Challenge Webpage).

The Maryland Fishing Hot Spots Map has been updated to a zoom-able, pan-able Google map and is available here. New Angler's Log Reports are added daily and available here. The Maryland's Junior Anglers webpage ahs been updated. Check it out here.


“The art of bottom fishing is that of letting the fish come to the fisherman, instead of vice versa… Bottom fishing in short, is the Thinking Man’s fishing.”

-- Louis D. Rubin Jr.

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.

Keith Lockwood
-- Fisheries Biologist