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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 14, 2010

The recent rains and cooler weather have many of us thinking we must be somewhere else this past weekend; certainly not Maryland in July. High water temperatures have retreated a bit as a result with most water temperatures in the Chesapeake now hovering in the low 80's and in the mid 80's in most freshwater waters. Whether one is freshwater or saltwater fishing most fishermen are seeing the best fishing in the early morning hours and to a lesser degree in the late evening hours.

Chesapeake Bay

This past weekend was pretty much a wash out for many fisherman but a few managed to slip out in between the rain drops. Fishermen in the upper bay continue to find good fishing for white perch and a few croakers on many of the shoal and knoll areas such as Belvidere, Tea Kettle and Man-O-War Shoals and also in the lower Chester River. Those looking for spot for live lining are finding them near Sandy point, the mouth of the Chester River and other tidal rivers in the region. One of the best places to live line spot for striped bass in the upper bay has been the Bay Bridge piers. Boats have been holding up current of the piers and drifting spot back to the pier bases. Chumming can be effective near the bridge piers and continues to be a good way to fish for striped bass at the Love Point area.

Photo Courtesy Keith Lockwood, click to enlarge.

Middle bay region fishermen are finding a mix of striped bass and bluefish spread throughout the region this week. Breaking fish are being found anywhere from the mouth of Eastern Bay south to locations such as Buoy 83 and the western edge of the shipping channel. Fishermen are finding a mix of bluefish and striped bass working over schools of small menhaden. Casting, jigging and trolling have been popular methods to use when breaking fish or slicks can be found. Fishermen are now finding sufficient numbers of suitable sized spot in the tidal rivers and using them for live lining along channel edges in the 30' to 40' depths. The north edge of the Hill, Thomas Point, Hackett's, False Channel and out in front of the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant are some of the channel edges that have been producing good fishing lately when live lining or trolling.

Bluefish continue to make their presence known in the middle bay region and they are likely to become more widespread as the summer season progresses. They tend to range from little snapper size to as large as 4-pounds recently. If put on ice quickly they can be a welcomed addition to the broiler, grill or smoker. Bluefish are of course best cooked fresh; they don't freeze well so if you find yourself with a mess of them smoking a batch will provide some fine eating over a longer period of time.

Croaker fishing continues to be good along channel edges in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and out in the bay near hard shoals in the evening hours. White perch and spot are biting in the tidal rivers and striped bass can be found in the shallows along the shorelines before sun rise.

Fishing in the lower bay region has settled into a summer mode of live lining, chumming or trolling wherever striped bass can be found holding along channel edges in 30' to 40' of water. The most popular place to live line spot this year is again out in front of the Gas Docks but anywhere striped bass are holding can be productive. Chumming in the lower Potomac, Middle Grounds and near Buoy 72 continues to be good; especially in the early morning hours. As always, a good tidal current is important for the best fishing. Trolling is mostly a pick throughout the region for both striped bass and bluefish. The largest bluefish are coming from the Middle Grounds/ Target Ship area either by chumming or trolling.

The best croaker fishing is occurring in the evening hours near channel edges leading to hard shoals; Buoys 72 and 72A, the mouth of the Honga River, Hooper's Island Light, the lower Potomac as well as Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds are all popular places to fish for croakers and spot. The best flounder fishing at the moment tends to be along the channel edges of Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds and a few sea trout have also been reported.

Recreational crabbing continues to be good throughout the Chesapeake's tidal rivers. The crabbing in the upper bay has greatly improved and crabs have moved far up the tidal rivers in all regions of the bay. Warm water temperatures have driven crabs from some of the shallower backwater areas of tidal creeks into the deeper waters of the rivers but recent weather should have things back on track soon. Crabbers are reporting a lot of small crabs chewing up baits and since there is a lot of shedding going on, crabbers are also sorting through a lot of light crabs.

Freshwater

Photo Courtesy Newell Fields, click to enlarge.

Warm summer weather has freshwater fishermen and fish limiting most of their activity to the early morning and late evening hours. Most fish are seeking a cool place to rest during the day; deeper waters, cool creek outlets or shade tend to fit the bill. Enterprising fishermen skipping lures such as soft plastics under docks and bushes can often get a strike from largemouth bass that just can't help themselves. Poppers and frogs retrieved over or near thick grass is a good bet in the early morning or late evening hours. For the more adventurous dropping jigs and soft plastics down through thick grass will entice largemouth bass to pickup a bait; just be ready for the bushel basket of tangled grass that usually comes with the bass. Newell Fields was fishing tight against the brush at the Conowingo Dam pool when he caught and released this fine looking largemouth bass.

Ocean

Oceanside fishermen are finding flounder fishing in the inlet and back bay areas at Ocean City steady but most fish are under the minimum size. Larger baits tend to weed out the smaller flounder. Small sea bass, bluefish and sea robins are also part of the mix. Triggerfish, sheepshead and a few tautog are being caught during the day at the inlet; bluefish and a few striped bass are hitting at night. Wreck fishermen are finding fair to good fishing for sea bass and tautog. Offshore fishermen are finding yellowfin tuna along the 100- fathom line and a mix of bluefin tuna, dolphin, wahoo and marlin out to the canyons.

The Maryland Fishing Challenge Feat. Diamond Jim

The Maryland Fishing Challenge and the Search for Diamond Jim continues through summer and fishermen have the opportunity to check in their award 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 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 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