Fishermen in the Susquehanna Flats Catch & Release area have been concentrating on the smaller striped bass that are in the 18” to 26” slot that are now present in the area. Fishermen are reporting good results in being able to catch fish in this size category and are certainly happy to be able to keep one fish. The best results tend to be from jigging in the channel areas with soft plastics or metal jigs. Fishermen are also reporting though that schools of breaking fish can be spotted now and then which makes for some exciting fishing opportunities.
The hickory shad have departed the area for the most part and American shad were very scarce this year below the Conowingo Dam. Fishermen are reporting excellent fishing for channel catfish in the Elk and Susquehanna Rivers and in the channels in the very upper bay area. Fishing for white perch in the lower Susquehanna River is also described as excellent with the best fishing success occurring with bottom rigs baited with bloodworms.
Fishermen in the lower Patapsco River area are reporting white perch and a few striped bass are being caught. The NOAA Buoy at the mouth of the Patapsco is currently showing a water temperature of 62-degrees and a salinity of 5 to 6 p.p.t.; which is pretty low but understandable when one considers all the rain we’ve had in the last week or so. Fishermen are reporting stained water in the upper bay with some of the clearer water present on the east side of the bay. The weather has not been kind to fishermen trying to fish in the upper bay lately due to windy conditions and flooding in the tidal river areas.
Many fishermen are of course trolling along the channel edges in hopes of finding a large striped bass; but many are now targeting the smaller fish less than 28” by trolling smaller presentations and trolling near lumps and knolls. A number of fishermen have begun to chum for their striped bass and are having good results when the tide is running. Some of the old favorite locations such as Podickory Point and the Baltimore Light have producing some exciting fishing for striped bass.
Mid Bay Region:
There has not been much in the way of pleasant weather for fishermen this past week trying to fish out on the open waters of the bay. Fishermen have been plagued with windy days and several days of rain. The striped bass fishery is beginning to undergo a profound change that will take us into our traditional fishery that will last until this fall. The large striped bass have moved through the region for the most part although the late spawners will still be encountered for the next week or so as they head south. Many in the borderline length size of 28” will stick around for a while; especially the males until water temperatures climb to uncomfortable levels. Fishermen who are trailing smaller bucktails and swim shads behind their boats will have a shot at these smaller fish and boats will begin to troll over structure such as lumps and old ballast rock piles. Umbrella rigs will be one of the most popular items being trolled and for good reason since they work so well. Of course no one enjoys reeling in a mess like that; but they do catch fish.
Fishermen are now finding schools of striped bass under bait or holding over deep structure. Soft plastic jigs such as BKD’S or Bass Assassin’s. metal jigs like the popular Crippled Herring, Stingsilver or Butterfly jigs will be found as the lures of choice by most fishermen when jigging. As water temperatures rise into the upper sixties striped bass will begin to move into the shallower waters towards evening to feed and this will mark the beginning of the shallow water fishery that is enjoyed by many fishermen. It is a time to break out the surface poppers and if one is fly fishing; a floating line and skipping bugs. At present the salinities are very low in the tidal rivers due to the heavy amount of rainfall we’ve been experiencing and these same rainfall events have dropped water temperatures.
A number of fishermen have been reporting good experiences with chumming this past week. The striped bass seem to be receptive to chum and it can be a lot more fun than trolling. Good reports came in from Hackett’s Bar, Gum Thickets and just north of Buoy 84 on the 24’ finger that extends north to the channel edge.
There has not been much to report in the past week on the croaker front; cold water and low salinities seem to be holding the croakers back in more southerly waters. Fishermen have been catching a few off the Dorchester County areas but this fishery has really yet to develop into much. White perch are now residing in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and are moving into hard –bottomed areas in Eastern Bay and off some of the major tidal rivers at locations such as Holland Point and Cooks Point. A few commercial crabbers have been plying the tidal creeks looking for crabs for the Memorial Day weekend market but there does not seem to be much dipping going on. It is generally thought that recent rains have driven many of the season’s first crabs out into deeper and saltier waters.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
Fishermen have been getting in their last licks in at the large post-spawn striped bass that are moving through the region. Generally speaking the size of the fish that fishermen are encountering has dropped to fish less than 36” in most cases. The bulk of the fish moving through the region are the late spawning fish which tend to be smaller first time spawners. These fish are using the same pathways as the larger fish did so fishermen have been trolling along the steep edges of the shipping channel in the bay and lower Potomac River. Most fishermen are now also employing smaller offerings such as bucktails and swim shads to target striped bass under 28” in size as well as the larger offerings typically used during the spring fishery.
Fishermen continue to be spotting schools of breaking fish in the lower region of the Potomac River and also north of Point Lookout up to the Gas Docks; especially on the change of a tide. Fishermen are trolling through them with success but most fishermen would rather break out the light tackle and jig for their fish when encountering this kind of action. The size range of these fish tends to range from approximately 20” up to about 32” in length. Most of the popular soft plastic jigs or metal have been working as the fish suspend under bait. A few bluefish have been showing up in the mix ranging from small ones in the 18” size range to big choppers in the 6 lb size range.
Water temperatures and salinities have been depressed in the region due to heavy runoff coming down the Potomac and several of the major tidal rivers. The NOAA Buoy at the mouth of the Potomac currently shows a water temperature of only 63-degrees and a salinity range of only 8-11 p.p.t. The mouth of the Wicomico River and the Potomac River has been ground zero for croakers for several weeks now and that situation has not changed much this week. Limited catches are being reported in the Point Lookout area and Tangier/Pocomoke Sound. Most boats have been focusing on striped bass for the last couple of weeks but word has it that several boats had good catches of croakers at the Middle Grounds on evening fishing trips recently.