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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 21, 2010

It would be safe to say that we are about at summer's mid-point and so far it has been a hot one. Water temperatures are generally holding in the low 80's at the moment in the bay and the high 80's in freshwater areas. Freshwater fishing continues to be an early morning and late evening game for most fish species as they adjust to the heat and bright overhead sun. The Chesapeake summer migrants in the form of croakers, spot, sea trout, flounder and bluefish are providing plenty of action for fishermen and Spanish mackerel promise to arrive soon. Oceanside fishermen are experiencing good fishing for inshore species and the offshore action is kicking in with the arrival of some very nice sized yellowfin tuna.

Chesapeake Bay

Upper bay region fishermen have a number of choices this week and two species that are at the top of the list are striped bass and white perch. Fishermen are catching spot near Sandy Point or the mouth of the Chester or Magothy Rivers and live lining them at the Bay Bridge Piers with good success. Jigging with soft plastics or chumming at the pier bases can also be very effective. Chumming at Love Point and Swan Point continues to be a steady option for fishermen with the best fishing occurring early in the morning on a strong tide. Trolling along channel edges and lumps is best described by fishermen as a slow pick but it is producing fish. White perch are spread throughout the region and some of the best fishing is taking place on the various shoals, reefs and knolls off Baltimore. The bars and channel edges of the lower Chester and Patapsco are also good places to fish with either bait or small jigs such as Road Runners or beetle spins. Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna are reporting water temperatures in the high 80's and late afternoon water releases from the dam. The best fishing has been occurring during water releases for catfish.

Photo Courtesy Keith Lockwood, click to enlarge.

The fishing in the middle bay region continues to be good this week for fishermen that can adjust to the heat. Bluefish are spreading throughout the region and can vary in size from 10" to over 24". Live lining spot is becoming more popular as spot are now easier to obtain from the tidal rivers. Striped bass are being found holding along steep channel edges such as the mouth of Eastern Bay, the False Channel and out in front of the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant. Bluefish are up to their old tricks of making short order of spot intended for striped bass.

Bluefish are mixing it up with striped bass feeding on schools of bait fish such as small menhaden just about anywhere currents sweep along channel edges in the bay. Fishermen have been reporting breaking fish around Eastern Bay, Poplar Island, Buoy 83 and all along the western side of the shipping channel. Casting to the breaking fish, jigging underneath or trolling along the edges have all been productive methods to put some striped bass in the ice chest. Most fishermen who are trolling are using planers or inline lead to get their spoons and bucktails down to where the fish are. This fish fell for a Got-Cha plug worked through a mix of striped bass and bluefish near the False Channel.

Croaker fishing remains good this week; they can be caught during the day in some of the deeper areas but the best fishing has been towards dusk along channel edges. The larger croakers tend to hold deep during the day and move to channel edges and shoals at night to feed. A variety of baits such as peeler crab, shrimp, bloodworms and squid are good baits to use. White perch and spot are also part of the mix when fishing near the mouths of the regions tidal rivers.

Lower bay region fishermen who are looking for striped bass this week have been focusing on live lining spot at channel edges in about 35' of water or chumming; Cove point out in front of the Gas Docks has been popular for live lining and the chumming fleets are spread from the Middle Grounds to Buoy 72 and the lower Potomac River. There seems to be plenty of spot in the tidal rivers that are of suitable size for live lining now so many fishermen are switching over to this type of fishing. Bluefish are of course part of the game so a proportion of live spot always wind up as bluefish fodder. Bluefish are also invading chum slicks and can be a substantial part of the days catch. Trolling has been a good option are for striped bass and bluefish and most are using inline weights and planers to get spoons, surge tube lures and bucktails down to where the fish are holding.

Fishermen are reporting finding breaking fish from time to time and taking advantage of casting and jigging to a mix of striped bass and bluefish. Shallow water fishing has been good on some of the prominent points on the western side of the bay in the early morning hours. The marshes and islands on the eastern side of the bay, Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds have been providing good shallow water action for striped bass, speckled trout and a mix of large croakers, white perch, flounder and bluefish.

Recreational crabbers are reporting improving catches with slightly cooler waters this week. Crabs have been moving far up the bay and tidal rivers due to the lack of rainfall and increased salinities. Crabbing has been good in the upper bay, middle bay and lower bay regions. A lot of small crabs have been chewing up baits and many crabbers are reporting about a 4 to 1 throwback ratio for undersized crabs.

Freshwater

Freshwater fishermen have been finding that the most productive times for fishing are the early morning and late evening hours. Fishermen as far west as Deep Creek Lake and east to the tidal rivers and small lakes of the eastern shore are finding largemouth bass holding under thick grass or shade. Deep Creek lake fishermen have been casting soft plastics under floating docks, moored boats and grass for a mix of smallmouth and largemouth bass. The largemouth bass throughout the state are holding for the most part in shade which often means thick grass. Surface lures such as frogs or dropping jigs and plastic down through the grass have been very effective ways to entice bass into striking.

Photo Courtesy Rick Pelland, click to enlarge.

Ocean

Fishermen in the Ocean City area are finding a typical mix of summer species such as flounder, small bluefish, triggerfish and a few tautog inside and around the Ocean City Inlet and back bays. Surf fishermen are catching a mix of small summer species such as kingfish, croaker, flounder and small bluefish in the early morning and evening hours. Larger sharks and sting rays are also being caught on larger baits in the surf at the same times. Rick Pelland fishing a menhaden bait in the surf off of 72nd Street in Ocean City when he caught and released this large sting ray.

Fishing on the wreck sites off Ocean City has been a pick of sea bass, tautog, triggerfish and flounder. The offshore fleet has been mixing it up with some very nice 50lb+ yellowfin tuna this past week from the 100-fathom line out to the canyons as well as a mix of white and blue marlin, dolphin and even some sailfish.

The Maryland Fishing Challenge Featuring Diamond Jim

The Maryland Fishing Challenge continues to receive entries as the summer rolls on and close to 2,000 anglers are now registered for what may be one of the largest fishing tournaments in the America. More than 60 species of fish are eligible for the Maryland Fishing Challenge including large and smallmouth bass, trout, walleye, musky and panfish in the freshwaters of Maryland; rockfish (striped bass), bluefish, drum, sea trout and perch in the Chesapeake Bay; and tuna, marlin, flounder, kingfish and sea bass caught in Maryland waters off the Atlantic Coast. Check out how to enter at the Fishing Challenge site. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp

Photo Courtesy Keith Lockwood, click to enlarge.

Anyone who catches an award-qualifying fish and enters the challenge becomes eligible to participate in the grand prize drawing for a boat and trailer package from Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats. Other prizes include thousands of dollars in fishing gear, merchandise from Under Armour, fishing trips from Bill's Outdoor Center and a seven-day dream excursion to the island of Tobago courtesy of the World Fishing Network.

DNR Fisheries Service has released 320 specially tagged striped bass so far this summer into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and will release up to 200 more in August. Each month, one of the released fish will be secretly selected as the official Diamond Jim, worth $20,000 this month. If no one catches that Diamond Jim, DNR will release another batch of tagged fish in August, including a new Diamond Jim worth $25,000. The other tagged fish are imposters worth $500 or more.

Diamond Jim is still swimming around out there in the bay and could very well be this guy right here that is being held up by one of the volunteer youth anglers that helped Fisheries biologists tag the July Diamond Jim fish.

"What is most emphatic in angling is made so by the long silences- the unproductive periods."

-- Thomas McQuane

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