Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 08, 2011

While attending a youth fishing derby this past weekend something really struck me about a feisty little fish that often gets little respect or attention from adult fishermen. We're talking about the bluegill; that tough little guy with an attitude; the Jack Russell Terrier of the freshwater fish world. The bluegill is often the first fish we encounter as budding fishermen in our youth and these little guys serve us well as an introduction to the world of fishing. Many of us in our adult life still love to target them with a simple bobber and worm or graduate to a light fly rod and rubber-legged foam spider flies. Let us all pay homage to the bluegill.

Chesapeake Bay fishermen throughout the bay are beginning to see water temperatures approach the 80-degree mark and with those elevated temperatures striped bass are beginning to hold in deeper waters and only venture into the shallows during early morning and late evening hours. Salinities on the western side of the bay are still significantly depressed from runoff and at present the NOAA Buoys at the Gooses and off Annapolis are barely recording 3 p.p.t.; but here at the Oxford Lab on the Tred Avon the salinity was 6.3 p.p.t. this morning. The tidal rivers are now open to fishing for striped bass

Fishermen are reporting a few school sized striped bass are being caught below the dam and channels near the mouth of the Susquehanna. Channel catfish seem to be everywhere in the Susquehanna over to the Elk River and the white perch fishing has tapered off. Chumming for striped bass at Love Point, the Triple Buoys and Swan Point continues to be a steady pick with the best results coming early in the morning with a good running tide. Baits allowed to settle to the bottom under the chum slick often produce some of the nicer fish being caught. Trolling close to the bottom along channel edges has been accounting for some striped bass. White perch are being found on many of the knolls and shoals of the upper bay; bottom rigs baited with bloodworms are the preferred method of fishing. Herb Floyd sent in this picture of two striped bass he caught while chumming at Love Point this past Sunday.

Middle bay region striped bass prospects for this week focus on trolling along channel edges, chumming or live lining, jigging over structure and casting in the shallows in the early morning or late evening hours. Some of the best trolling action has been along the western side of the shipping channel near Parker's Creek and the Radar Towers in about 30' of water. The north edge of the Hill at the mouth of Eastern Bay and the False Channel are also producing fish at times. Umbrella rigs, spreader bars and tandem rigs with Storms, swim shads, Tsunamis or spoons close to the bottom have been working the best. Jigging with bucktails and soft plastics has also been productive over structure such as channel edges, bridge piers or stone piles. Warmer water temperatures in the tidal rivers and shallows of the bay have caused many striped bass to begin holding deeper out in the bay but some will move into the shallows towards evening when the sun is low and roam the shoals all night looking for food; they usually depart as soon as the morning sun clips the horizon. Surface poppers are perhaps the most fun lure to fish but swimming plugs such as Rapalas and the Gulp white mullet swim shad will catch a lot of fish. Fly fishermen will find skipping bugs offering the most excitement but chartreuse Clousers and Deceiver flies are hard to beat for consistent strikes.

Black drum are still being caught at Stone Rock and although the action has not been exactly hot and heavy it only takes one fish to light up your day. Stout tackle, ½ a soft crab on a big circle hook with 3 or 4-ounces of lead and a good depth finder get you admission to this event. Lesser known shoals such as the James Island Flats are worth taking a look at also if you're in the area. The smaller cousin of the black drum; the croaker are being found along the 20'to 35' edges of channels mostly in the evenings and in deeper waters during the day. The mouth of Eastern Bay and the lower Choptank River has been offering some of the better fishing this week. White perch can also be mixed in; especially on oyster bottom and spot are becoming more common. William Akridge found out that channel catfish can also be mixed in when bottom fishing for croaker in the lower Choptank River.

Fishermen in the lower bay region are trolling deep along the channel edges of the shipping channel and tidal rivers such as the Patuxent and Potomac for striped bass. The 35' to 40' edge seems to be the sweet spot and Storms and similar type swim shads, spoons, surge tube lures and spoons have been catching fish. Bluefish are starting to show up in the lower bay region; mostly near the Middle Grounds at the moment. They will move throughout the region in short order and will be chewing up soft plastics. Jigging for striped bass over structure such as channel edges is a good option right now and fishermen are reporting bait slicks and breaking fish from time to time. Chumming is a good option now at traditional locations such as Buoy 72 and the Rock Piles north of Point Lookout and with more and more spot becoming available, live lining near Cove Point and other traditional locations will become more common place.

Croaker fishing has been very good at the mouth of the Patuxent River, Tangier Sound, Pocomoke Sound, Buoy 72 and the mouth of the Potomac. The croakers tend to hold deep during the day and move up into shallower waters towards evening. A few flounder are being caught along channel edges in Tangier Sound and Cornfield Harbor, sea trout, larger spot and even black drum can also be part of the mix at times.

Recreational crabbers are reporting fair to good catches of crabs from Kent Island south with the best crabbing on the eastern side of the bay. Smaller crabs are reported to be very abundant in the shallows so most crabbers are working their trotlines or collapsible crab traps along channel edges in 10' to 15' of water. As expected a fair proportion of the larger crabs can be light.

As would be expected, freshwater fishermen are seeing water temperatures rise and with that, fish activity behavior is also changing. Fishermen in the western region are seeing water temperatures at Deep Creek Lake at 70-degrees now and are finding largemouth bass, bluegills and chain pickerel in coves and near floating docks; smallmouth bass are outside of the dock areas and rocky flats. Trout fishermen are finding good flows in the regions trout waters and numerous aquatic insect hatches are making for some active fishing for fly fishermen. Fisheries Biologist John Mullican sent in this report concerning the upper Potomac.

The upper Potomac River is in great shape and the fishing has been very good. Fishermen have been reporting great success on 11 - 15" smallmouth on tubes, magic stiks, senkos, and x-raps. Try riffle areas and target calm pockets behind ledges and grass beds. Log jambs and boulder shorelines are good places to target channel catfish. During a recent electro-fishing survey we collected a tremendous smallmouth bass that measured 22", probably the largest ever collected during a Potomac survey.

Largemouth bass in the central, southern and eastern regions of the state are now transitioning into a summer mode of activity where they can be found feeding in the shallows in the early morning and late evening hours and seeking cool shade during the day. Heavy grass and spatterdock fields are good places to cast chatterbaits and buzzbaits; as the day wears on whacky rigged worms or other soft plastics can be worked down through grass in deeper waters where largemouth bass are seeking cool shade. Deep sunken wood is always a good place to check for sulking bass with spinnerbaits, crankbaits or soft plastics. The grass beds on the Susquehanna Flats are a favorite with largemouth bass fishermen and Nate Hawthorne holds up a good reason why; a beautiful bass he caught while fishing with his dad.

Fishermen in the Ocean City area are beginning to see a shift towards the traditional summer mix of fish species at water temperature hit 70-degrees in the surf and higher in the back bay areas. A few big striped bass are still being caught in the surf and at the inlet but other species are now dominating the action. Large inshore sharks such as sandbars are now being caught and released and cow-nosed rays are very common. A summer mix of small bluefish, medium sized black drum, kingfish, croaker, and flounder are being caught in the surf. A variety of baits ranging from cut menhaden to squid and artificial bloodworms are being used. Small bluefish continue to move through the inlet area at night and especially at high flood; Got-Cha lures has been the best choice to catch them. There are some striped bass mixed in and there lies the dilemma of casting soft plastic swim shads in harms way when toothy bluefish are around. Tautog and flounder are being caught and small sea bass have moved in also.

In the back bay areas flounder fishing is the mainstay and fishing has been good. The throwback ratio can be high at times but using larger baits can cut down on the number of small flounder being hooked. Channels and edges from the Route 90 Bridge to the airport at Sinepuxent Bay are all good places to fish for flounder.

Sea bass has been the primary focus of the boats heading out to the wreck sites and double digit catches are not uncommon. Fishermen are also mixing in a few tautog and cod fish to their catches at times. Offshore in the 30-fathom regions fishermen have been fishing for thresher and mako sharks. Farther offshore in the canyon regions the first white marlin have been caught and larger yellowfin tuna are beginning to show up. They are a welcomed addition to the smaller ones that often don't qualify as legal fish. A couple of yellowfin in the 80lb to 90lb bracket were caught this past weekend and all would agree; that is a nice yellowfin. Bluefin tuna continue to be part of the mix and even a bigeye now and then. The offshore weather forecast from Buoyweather for the Wilmington Canyon region calls for suitable boating conditions the rest of the week except for Saturday when breezy white capping conditions are predicted to develop with a moderate chop with winds from the ESE at 15-25mph; Sunday things quiet down again. Check before going out and try to have a much hull under you as possible.

An undisturbed river is as perfect as we will ever know, every refractive slide of cold water a glimpse of eternity. -Thomas McGuane


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.