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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 7, 2010

Chesapeake Bay

The summer heat is upon us and fishermen and fish alike are making adjustments in their activities to beat the heat. In the Chesapeake Bay much of the best fishing is now being experienced in the early morning and late evening hours for a variety of fish. Freshwater fishermen are seeing the same type of time table for species such as largemouth bass and even surf fishermen are finding that the early morning or late evening hours hold the best opportunities for summer species of fish in the surf.

Upper bay fishermen continue to chum for striped bass at many of the traditional locations such as Love Point. They report the best and largest fish are being caught early in the morning and on the bottom when a good tide is running. Fishermen have also been live lining spot in their chum slicks now that the bait is readily available and they are also placing a few bottom rigs out for croakers. Croakers have been making a good showing lately in the upper bay as well as white perch and spot. Trolling has been a slow pick along channel edges and fishermen are also jigging near structure. There is a lot of bait in the form of small menhaden in the upper bay and they can be seen rippling the surface when waters are calm. Fishermen have been catching a few striped bass in the dam pool below the Conowingo Dam at daybreak on surface lures and crankbaits. There are plenty of catfish to catch in the river also and a number of fishermen have been reporting increasing numbers of flathead catfish as part of their catches. Be sure to check out Paul Mullin's Angler's Log entry about his experience with catching flatheads in the Susquehanna and the regional biologist's comments.

Fishermen in the middle bay region saw a new visitor on the scene this past weekend that will have a profound effect on striped bass fishing. Bluefish in the 4lb+ range arrived in earnest and are chewing their way through schools of small menhaden and anything else they come along; such as swim shad lures, live spot intended for striped bass and soft plastic jigs. They seem to be increasing in size each year and anyone who remembers the days of 14lb bluefish in the 1980's is probably wondering if we'll be seeing that size fish in year's to come. At any rate these new arrivals are quickly taking charge and striped bass will no doubt try to stay out of their way.

Photo Courtesy John Jacobs, click to enlarge.

Fishermen have been casting to breaking fish at locations such as Eastern Bay and popular channel edges throughout the middle bay region. Jigging has been effective under the breaking fish as has trolling along the outside edges. Trolling continues to be a pick along the western channel edges off of Breezy Point and Parker's Creek and near Buoy 83 and other channel edges. Live lining spot and chumming has been effective at the Hill, Hackett's and similar locations. The best action is being reported in the early morning and evening hours and tide is very important. Spot are becoming easier to find in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and fishermen are also finding some nice croakers. The best time though to target croakers has been at dusk along channel edges that lead to hard-bottomed shoals where the croakers are feeding at night. Young Cody Jacobs caught this nice croaker in the lower Choptank River over the weekend while fishing with his dad.

Shallow water fishing for striped bass in the early morning hours before sun up continues to be good in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and prominent points on the bay and around Poplar Island. White perch can be found at these same locations so it pays to have a lighter spinning rod rigged with a beetle spin, Rooster-tail spinner, a little Road Runner or Stump Jumper. For fly fishing enthusiasts a chartreuse Clouser on a 4 or 5 weight fly rod is hard to beat.

Lower bay region fishermen are finding their striped bass in many of the traditional locations this week and they are settling into a summer mode of fishing style that includes chumming, live lining spot, trolling, casting and jigging. Live lining is quickly becoming the most popular, now that spot are readily available and the striped bass are holding on the 30'+ edge of the shipping channel out in front of the Gas Dock. Chumming in the lower Potomac, Buoy 72A and the Middle Grounds has been good and medium sized bluefish up to 6lbs are now regulars at just about all of the popular fishing locations for striped bass. Anyone trolling for striped bass has now switched to bucktails, spoons and surgical tubing lures.

Shallow water fishing for striped bass has been good in the early morning hours along Hooper's Island, Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds and spots on the western side of the bay such as Cedar Point. A few nice spotted or speckled trout help fill in the mix on the eastern side of the bay as well as white perch throughout the region. Croakers and spot are now a mainstay in Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds and mostly croakers on the western side of the bay. The best croaker fishing is by far in the evening right at sundown and several hours into the night. A lot of nice flounder are being caught by fishermen who are targeting them and three fish limits are not uncommon.

Recreational crabbing is very good in most regions of the bay this week. The upper bay is still playing catch up but the crabbing in the upper bay and the upper regions of the tidal rivers is improving fast due to the lack of rain and increased salinities. The crabbing in the middle and lower regions of the bay is excellent so make sure to get out there and enjoy it.

Freshwater

Photo Courtesy James Whalen, click to enlarge.

Freshwater anglers are locked into a summer mode of fishing that equates to the early morning and late evening hours for largemouth bass and most other species. The largemouth bass are seeking shade, so skipping soft plastics and other lures under docks, moored boats and overhanging bushes is the ticket. Thick grass is one of the other places largemouth bass will seek cool shade so fishing over or through the grass is the name of the game to reach them. James Whalen caught and released this fine looking largemouth bass at an Emmittsburg lake recently.

Trout fishermen are finding good fishing opportunities in most of the western region's trout waters and a selected few in the central region. Water levels can be down so stealth and presentation are paramount. Alan Klotz sent in an Angler's Log about trout fishing in the western region so be sure to check it out.

Ocean

Fishermen in the Ocean City area continue to find good fishing for flounder in the inlet and back bay areas although there is a high throwback ratio. Sea robins and small sea bass are part of the package this week and the first croakers are due to show up any day now. Small bluefish continue to move in and out of the inlet at dusk and striped bass are being caught at night. A mix of sheepshead, triggerfish and tautog are being caught near the jetties and bulkheads at the inlet. Surf fishing has settled into an early morning late evening proposition with a mix of kingfish, croakers, small bluefish, sharks and sting rays. Wreck fishermen are finding fair to good fishing for a mix of sea bass and tautog. Offshore fishermen are catching bluefin tuna, dolphin and a few yellowfin tuna and marlin.

The Maryland Fishing Challenge Feat. Diamond Jim

The Maryland Fishing Challenge and the Search for Diamond Jim continues this week and fishermen have the opportunity to check in the Award Certificate qualifying fish at the many citation centers around the state or register catch and release entries on line at the Fishing Challenge website. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp

The release of the July component of Diamond Jim went off without a hitch last week and he is out there somewhere swimming in the bay with a $20,000 tag waiting for some lucky fishermen to catch him. He is a typical school sized striped bass that can be readily caught while trolling, chumming, live lining, casting or jigging; so good luck. The youth division of the Fishing Challenge continues this month with only a handful of registered fishing rodeo events left for young anglers to participate in. Be sure to check out the link below to enjoy a wonderful fishing experience you and your young anglers and be in the running for a free guided fishing trip. http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/news/story.asp?story_id=74

“Great spirit- I want no blood upon my land to stain the grass. I want it all clear and pure, and wish it so, that all who go through among my people may find it peaceful when they come, and leave it peacefully when they go.”

-- Ten Bears

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