Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 01, 2011
As we all reflect on last weekend's activities, most found time to remember solemnly what Memorial Day and the holiday weekend means to each of us. Beyond the true meaning of the holiday there was the "coming out" for the kick off of the summer season, picnics, beach traffic, family events focused around barbequing and of course fishing. For many it was enjoying being at one's favorite fishing spot whether on the shore or out in a boat. For many diehards it was the realization that you're not alone out there anymore and will be sharing the open waters of lakes and the bays with recreational boaters of all types and skills; so much for peace and quiet.
Yesterday the first series of Diamond Jim striped bass were released into the Chesapeake Bay bearing chartreuse colored tags that can be worth a lot of money. There will be two additional scheduled releases occurring over the next two months with approximately 200 fish tagged each month. Each month one of the tagged fish is the actual Diamond Jim and this months Diamond Jim is worth $10.000. The other tagged fish are called imposters and are worth at least $500. If the Diamond Jim of a particular month escaped capture, the following month's Diamond Jim will double in value up to $25,000 and the previous month's Diamond Jim will become an imposter. There is a big change in the rules this year and everyone should take note of this. New this year if the real Diamond Jim is not caught before September 6th, the $25,000 will be distributed between the anglers in attendance at the Grand Prize Celebration that caught imposter fish. So some angler or anglers are leaving the event with a whole lot of cash. Also worth noting is that the odds of collecting some big prizes are looking real good for those anglers that have entered award fish in the Fishing Challenge. Be sure to check out the Fishing Challenge website for how to enter award fish and don't miss out. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/
Water temperature in the Chesapeake are now hovering above 70-degrees and the focus now for fishermen looking to catch striped bass is trolling, light tackle jigging, chumming and for those lucky enough to have a supply of live spot, live lining. Trolling for striped bass has centered on a mix of medium sized lures ranging from surge tube lures, spoons, bucktails, and swim shads to umbrella rigs. Any one of them can be the hot lure for any particular day so it pays to experiment with a variety of presentations. The steep channel edges of the shipping channel and approach channels are always a good place to troll as are bottom structure such as ballast stone piles and reef sites. One universal point continues to dominate fishing reports this week and that is that there are plenty of marks on depth finders but fishing action has been a slow pick at best. May worms seem to be the reason as this annual swarming event of food abundance for fish makes for fish that have eaten their fill and show little interest in a fisherman's offerings. One consolation fishermen should consider when getting frustrated this week is that the May worm swarming will be over soon and those fillets will be a bit fuller on the fish that will be caught. This happy angler caught this nice striped bass while trolling near the False Channel on a charter boat recently.
Quite a few fishermen have been chumming for their striped bass this week and most have been having acceptable results when a good strong tide is running. Most fishermen are reporting that the action has been steady with some nice fish over 28" being caught in the mix. In the upper bay, the Love Point area has been getting the most attention but striped bass can be found at times at Swan Point, Triple Buoys and Podickory Point. Middle bay region fishermen have been chumming at the Hill, Thomas Point and Buoy 83 with good results at times. In the lower bay, the channel edges at the mouth of the Potomac River, the Rock piles north of Point Lookout and the Buoy 72 area have been favorites lately. In all regions baits left to lie on the bottom have been catching some of the larger fish.
Light tackle fishermen have been spotting some breaking fish from time to time working on small menhaden and jigging over structure has been productive. The striped bass are moving freely throughout the bay now and can be found along bay shore shallows. Surface lures such as poppers are a fun way to target these fish and the marshes of the lower eastern shore are holding a good number of fish at the moment.
The annual black drum run at the area around Stone Rock kicked off over Memorial Day weekend and fish are being caught. This action should continue through this week and perhaps last another week. Croaker fishing continues to be excellent in many areas of the middle and lower bay with traditional locations such as the channel edges of the lower Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers, Eastern Bay, Buoy 72, Tangier Sound and Hooper's Island Light being just a few good places to check out. Peeler crab is perhaps the number one favorite bait but shrimp, bloodworms, squid and clam are also good baits to use. White perch are now holding on many of the oyster bars in the upper bay such as the knolls and reefs off of Baltimore but most any good oyster bar in the middle and lower bay will most likely be holding a mix of white perch croaker and improving numbers of spot. Bloodworms tend to be the bait of choice for white perch fishing.
Recreational crabbers continue to report good catches in the tidal creeks and rivers of the middle and lower eastern shore and to a lesser extent in the creeks and rivers of the western side of the middle bay. The tidal rivers and creeks of the lower western shore have been good. Crabbers report a lot of undersized crabs are chewing up baits and some of the larger crabs can be light.
Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are enjoying some of the season's best fishing for smallmouth bass this week as the post spawn fish are hungry and on the prowl. Tubes, soft plastics and crankbaits are ideal lures to cast near rocky points and outside of floating docks and rocky flats. Most of the smallmouth bass being caught are in the 12" to 16" size range. Largemouth bass are spawning now in the shallower coves and chain pickerel, northern pike and bluegills can also be found near the coves.
Trout fishermen are beginning to see fewer fishermen now on their favorite waters as interests tend to move away from trout this time of the year. This is a wonderful time to enjoy a little peace and elbow room whether casting spinners or fly fishing.
The upper Potomac is running strong and cloudy and there is an official boater advisory, so be sure to check river levels, be careful and do not venture out in unsafe conditions. The lower Potomac River is still experiencing cloudy water conditions and floating debris below Washington D.C. but largemouth bass fishing has been good. Often the feeder creeks are running clearer and the action can be even better there. Grass is the key now and most fishermen are targeting grass beds with soft plastics or surface lures such as chatterbaits. When the grass is deep, retrieving a small crankbait over the grass is very effective. Fishermen in the tidal Potomac have also been catching some impressive sized snakeheads lately and posting on the Angler's Log. Fishermen are asked to kill each snakehead they catch and so there are some epicurean possibilities out there for all would be chefs. The meat is white and solid and makes for some great battered and fried fish nuggets. Fishing for largemouth bass in the tidal rivers of the eastern shore has been good for fishermen targeting grass beds, spatterdock fields and sunken wood. A variety of plastics, spinnerbaits and crankbaits have been good choices to use this week. Michael sent in an anglers log and a picture of this huge snakehead he caught in the tidal Potomac while flipping a spinnerbait near the shore.
The many lakes, reservoirs and small ponds that dot the Maryland landscape all hold fishing potential for a wide variety of freshwater fish. Largemouth bass are of course at the top of the list and cover such as grass is the place to target them. Water temperatures are still cool enough that the fish have not quite yet settled into a summer pattern of early morning and late evening activity. Bluegills can offer a lot of fun this time of the year and are a favorite target for our younger fishermen. Channel catfish can be a good choice in many impoundments and tidal waters and blue catfish in the Fort Washington area of the tidal Potomac will give you plenty of pull.
Fishermen in the Ocean City area are seeing surf water temperatures in the 68-degree range now. The run of large striped bass is beginning to wane as most of the post-spawned Chesapeake Bay fish have moved farther up the coast on their way to New England waters. There are still plenty of good fishing opportunities for striped bass though in the surf. Fresh menhaden has been the bait of choice and a mix of inshore sharks, cow-nosed rays and dogfish are also chewing on baits. A few black drum are being caught on clams and kingfish are starting to show up for fishermen using smaller baits. Small bluefish continue to be in the surf and can be caught on most any cut bait or finger mullet.
At the inlet the night crew has been catching striped bass and bluefish with the best fishing at the top of the flood tide. Swim shads, bucktails and live eels or spot have been good choices to catch striped bass. Got-cha lures has been one of the best choices for catching the small bluefish. During the day tautog and flounder are being caught inside the inlet. Flounder fishing continues to be good in the back bay areas and fishermen using larger baits have been catching a lion's share of the bigger flounder.
Sea bass fishing has been the major focus at the wreck and reef sites off of Ocean City this week and the fishing has been good. A mix of tautog and cod has also been part of the take. Ricky Herbert was working a Diamond Jig over a wreck site recently when he caught this incredible 6.4 lb sea bass; a whopper of a sea bass indeed.
Some exciting reports came in from the canyon areas this past weekend as fishermen caught a mix of yellowfin and bluefin tuna and at least one bigeye tuna was landed. Boats were out fishing for mako sharks this week and a few were brought in to the docks. Thresher sharks were reported to be chasing bluefish and a few blue sharks were caught and released. Be sure to check out Mike Naylor's angler's log and the short video of a beautiful blue shark being released at the stern.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) encourages the live release of North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus) due to overfishing occurring on the population. In order to promote the live release of shortfin mako sharks, NMFS has developed a web page where commercial and recreational fishermen can contribute information about shortfin mako shark releases and populate an interactive web map. The shortfin mako live release web page contains current information on shortfin mako stock status and regulations, along with details on tagging programs and safe handling and release guidelines. You can find the main shortfin mako live release webpage and web map at the following links.
Standing behind a fisherman is as perilous as peering over the shoulder of a man looking into his wallet. Randy Voorhees