There have been no significant water releases at the Conowingo Dam since the 19th but the fishing for striped bass at the dam hole should pick up once the releases begin again if the region gets some rain. Chase Eberle and Dominick Fertitta of Bel Air hold up their limits of nice striped bass they caught near the base of the dam last Wednesday during a water release.
Fishermen continue to report good fishing for striped bass, channel catfish and white perch around the Pooles Island area. Most fishermen have been either bottom bouncing or live lining small spot and eels for the striped bass. The fishing for a mix of small bluefish and good sized striped bass really starts to pick up from the area between Rock Hall and Baltimore Harbor and continues south to the Bay Bridge. Fishermen are encountering breaking fish over the shoal areas and along the edges of the channels. They are either casting to or jigging under the breaking fish and have been coming up with some rather large male striped bass recently as well as lots of small bluefish. Trolling spoons has also been a very productive way to catch this mix of bluefish and striped bass. Umbrella rigs and bucktails dressed with sassy shads are also effective but the bluefish have been extracting quite a toll in short strikes resulting in loss of the sassy shad.
Fishermen continue to report that small spot are still available in the shallows of the bay and tidal rivers and that the bluefish to striped bass ratio at locations near the Bay Bridge, Podickory Point, Love Point and up to Swan Point is about 4 to 1. Steve Cieliesz caught and released this nice 35” striped bass and several others while live lining spot at Love Point.
Fishing for white perch continues to be very good on many of the hard shoal areas such as Belvedere Shoals, the Snake Reef and the rock piles at the Bay Bridge just to name a few. The lower areas of the regions tidal rivers are holding good populations of white perch at this time and they can be caught by jigging or bait. Recreational crabbers are still catching good numbers of heavy crabs in several of the regions tidal rivers with a ratio of approximately 3 to 1 females to males.
Mid Bay Region:
Live lining small spot continues to be the number one game in town for those fishermen looking to catch striped bass. There are still plenty of small spot to be found in the shallower areas of the bay and the tidal rivers. The striped bass have holding along the deeper edges of the channels and the channel edge off the Gum Thickets has been a particularly productive location lately. Unfortunately bluefish have been covering up fishermen at times and chopping up live spot baits intended for striped bass. A large number of big male striped bass have moved into these areas and fishermen have been catching striped bass up to 39”; either by live lining spot or by trolling and jigging.
Fishermen are finding a mix of striped bass and bluefish chasing schools of bay anchovies and small menhaden out in the bay often near channel edges. Bay anchovies tend to constitute the largest amount of bait and many fishermen have been using smaller jigs or even epoxy flies to catch the fish on the surface. Dropper flies tied in above metal jigs or trailing behind a hookless popper are usually very effective. Due to the amount of bluefish in the neighborhood fishermen need to be aware of shiny terminal tackle to avoid being cut off by bluefish. Unfortunately when casting to breaking bluefish just having your line in the water can result in being cut off due to the large number of snapping jaws in the water. Fishermen are also reporting excellent fishing by jigging with metal in the lower regions of the tidal Choptank River and Eastern Bay for striped bass; the larger striped bass tend to be found out in the bay at this time.
Trolling also is a very effective method this week for catching both striped bass and bluefish. Fishermen are trolling spoons because of the large number of bluefish in the area and striped bass as well as bluefish have been hitting them. Most fishermen are using planers and inline weights and trolling either blind along channel edges or along the outside edges of concentrations of fish. Ed Hyland holds up two nice striped bass he caught while trolling along the shipping channel edge below Breezy Point.
The croakers have moved south for the most part now but there still are flounder holding along many of the channel edges and shoal areas of the middle bay region. The good flounder fishing should continue for at least a couple of weeks longer before cooler waters push them south. There are plenty of white perch holding near oyster reefs in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and striped bass are now roaming the shallows during the early morning and evening hours.
Recreational crabbers have been enjoying plenty of elbow room in the tidal rivers and excellent catches of heavy crabs. The female to male throwback ratio is about 4 to 1 in most areas so baits have been getting chewed up fast; but most crabbers would agree it is a small price to pay for good catches of heavy male crabs.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
Fishermen in the lower bay region continue to find bluefish plentiful throughout the entire region. Most of the bluefish are in the 16” to 18” size range and they are chasing bay anchovies. Most often fishermen are finding the surface action to be comprised of small bluefish and small striped bass with larger bluefish and striped bass below mixed in with large red drum and small sea trout now and then. Jigging underneath the surface action will often result in finding larger fish. Metal jigs have been one of the more popular lures to use lately; Got-Cha lures are a close second. The largest bluefish in the region continue to be caught in the area below the Target Ship south to the Middle grounds where some of them are 6-pounds or more in size. A number of fishermen have been trolling for these larger bluefish with spoons and surge tube lures. They also have been finding large red drum in the process; many in excess of 40” in size. Trolling along the western side of the shipping channel inside of the targets and near cedar point has also been good.
The shallow water fishery for striped bass is now in full swing in many of the regions tidal river shallows such as the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers as well as the shallows along the eastern side of the bay from Hooper’s Island south. The early morning and evening hours is the time to quietly drift along casting topwater lures or swimming lures such as soft plastics and jerkbaits for the striped bass and bluefish that are roaming the shallows. Fishermen have also been finding speckled trout on the eastern side of the bay and puppy drum on the western side. Some of the puppy drum have been falling into the legal slot limit size of 18” to 27” long; the daily limit is one per day. Andrew Mueller caught this nice striped bass while fishing near the Route 301 Bridge on the lower Potomac River.
The croakers are becoming harder to find these days and when boats do report finding them they are often small. The best catches of large croaker this week have been coming from the Middle Grounds and below Tangier Light in the evening hours. The larger spot are also becoming harder to find in the tidal rivers but white perch are offering excellent fishing in most tidal rivers and creeks. The flounder fishing remains very good this week with locations such as Cornfield Harbor and the channel edges in the Potomac and Patuxent as well as Tangier Sound excellent places to catch them. Steve Fulks caught this one that he released near Solomon’s while fishing from his kayak.
Recreational crabbers have been having no trouble catching a bushel of crabs in most of the regions tidal creeks and rivers. The throwback ratio of female crabs is high this time of the year but the male crabs are large and heavy.
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