Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 30, 2010

Photo Courtesy Keith Lockwood, click to enlarge.

Chesapeake Bay

For those of us that have more years behind us then in front of us, we realize how fast time can slip by and that certainly seems to be what has happened to June. In a blink it has just about passed us by and here we are facing the 4th of July weekend. As difficult as it might seem to make the time, do your best to spend some summertime fishing or crabbing with family and friends because it’ll be Labor Day before you know it. Yesterday a fleet of charter boats were out on the bay tagging striped bass for the July round of Diamond Jim. We had a lot of young fishermen on the boats catching the striped bass that were quickly tagged by fisheries biologists and released. It was wonderful to see fathers and mothers with their children enjoying an outing together and perhaps even more striking was to seeing non blood related kids being chaperoned to go fishing by a caring neighbor or friend. Rich Watts did both and for this empty nest father it warmed my heart to see two kids having so much fun fishing. Angelina Watts holds up a striped bass she caught near Buoy 82 immediately after being tagged by fisheries biologist Rudy Lukacovic. Everyone on the boat was convinced that this is truly Diamond Jim in person and that this guy can be worth up to $25,000 if caught by a fisherman. For more information on Diamond Jim and the Maryland Fishing Challenge be sure to check out the website.

Now that July approaches and bay water temperatures are in the mid to upper 80’s throughout the bay fishing is now in a summertime mode. This means many fish are seeking cooler water temperatures and becoming more active in the early morning and evening hours. Tide as always plays a major role is fishing success so try to time your fishing with a good running tide and low light times of the day.

Upper bay fishermen are getting out on the fishing grounds at dawn this week to beat the heat and to find striped bass in their most active mode. Chumming continues to be good at traditional locations such as Swan Point and Love Point but again the early morning hours have been offering the best results. Also the larger fish are being caught right on the bottom and fresh bait means a lot. Trolling in the upper bay has been a pick at best and umbrella rigs with swim shad trailers have been the best option. There are plenty of white perch on many of the knolls and reefs in the bay and lower sections of the tidal rivers; blood worms have been a favorite choice for bait.

Middle bay region fishermen are finding trolling along the western edge of the shipping channel productive as long as a good tide is running. A lot of bait in the form of small menhaden is being reported in all regions of the bay and often fishermen are seeing shaking rods as their lures and line slice through these thick bait schools. Other areas that have been producing good trolling results at times are the channel edges above and below Poplar Island and the Hackett’s Bar area. Many fishermen are itching to begin live lining spot along channel edges and the proper size spot can be difficult to find at times. Often enough fishermen are finding 3” spot in the tidal rivers but the 4”- 5” ones are hard to come by. There have been reports of suitable spot at Hackett’s Bar but most traditional areas are really hit and miss. Tangier Sound is holding a lot of spot but that is one heck of a run for bait.

Light tackle jigging and casting has been an option for fishermen that are finding breaking fish. Since small menhaden is what is on the menu for striped bass, keep an eye out for birds, and slicks and even keep your nose in the air because you can smell them from a long way off. Shallow water fishing for striped bass is mostly a pre-dawn enterprise now that the water is so warm but it certainly can offer some exciting topwater action for anyone who can get up early. Check out the June 28th Angler’s Log entry for more detailed information on pre-dawn shallow water fishing.

Fishermen are finding plenty of croaker and white perch in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers this week and most of the best croaker action is occurring at dark. Warm water temperatures have the larger croaker holding deep during the day and they are only coming up along the channel edges at dark. Traditional bottom rigs or jigs baited with shrimp, peeler crab, squid or clams are the ticket. Often croakers are attracted to crab pots that are baited with razor clams so keep that in mind if you can find pots in about 30’ of water. Flounder are also becoming more wide spread in the middle region of the bay on channel edges leading to hard-bottomed shoals.

Lower Bay region fishermen are trolling, chumming and live lining spot for their striped bass this week. Cove Point near the Gas Dock continues to be a real hot spot as is Buoy 72 and the lower Potomac. Suitable sized spot have been easier to find in the lower bay tidal rivers and sounds and the 30’ channel edge in front of the Gas Dock has been a favorite place to go live lining spot for striped bass. Larger bluefish have moved into the Middle Grounds area and they can be caught by trolling or chumming. Flounder fishing has been very good in the Cornfield Harbor area as well as Cedar Point, Point No Point and Pocomoke Sound up to Hooper’s Island. Croaker fishing continues to be good and the largest croakers are being caught at night as the big fish travel out of the deep channels up onto shoal areas to feed. Buoy 72 and similar areas have been favorite places to go. During the daytime hours croakers can be found from the lower Potomac to Tangier Sound and up past Hooper’s Island, spot are also part of the mix in the Tangier Sound area.

Recreational crabbers are enjoying good crabbing in most of the tidal rivers and creeks from the Bay Bridge south. Upper Bay crabbers report the best crabbing has been in the Elk River near the mouth of the C&D Canal.


Photo Courtesy Jeff Poling, click to enlarge.

Freshwater fishermen are seeing most of the best fishing opportunities now occurring during the early morning and late evening hours now that most fish are in a summer pattern of activity. Jeff Poling was fishing with his dad recently and caught this fine looking crappie.

Fishermen looking for largemouth bass have been fishing the grass beds with poppers and spinnerbaits near edges and weedless plastics and frogs over and in the grass for lurking bass. Mike Kirby posted an informative report on fishing at Deep Creek Lake on June 29th; be sure to check it out.

Oceanside fishermen are enjoying good fishing for flounder at the Ocean City area; triggerfish and sheepshead have showed up at the inlet as well as small bluefish. Surf fishermen are catching and releasing sharks and kingfish are now being caught in the early morning and evening hours. Offshore fishermen are catching sea bass and tautog on the wreck sites; yellowfin tuna, dolphin and white and blue marlin are being caught in the canyon regions.

“I can still can’t hear that “summertime” song without fetching up the Old Man as large as life, despite all he said about summers belonging to boys and the old folks standing aside. I reckoned for most of his days the Old Man figured he was a kind of overgrown boy himself.”

-- Robert Ruark, The Old Man And The Boy


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