Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 06, 2011

Fishermen are finding that fishing has settled into a typical summer pattern in the freshwater and Chesapeake Bay regions. Warm water temperatures and sunny conditions are offering some challenging but exciting freshwater fishing conditions for trout, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. Striped bass in the Chesapeake waters tend to get finicky and on the move now that water temperatures in the bay have reached the 80-degree mark in many areas. Fishing offshore at Ocean City just gets better as the ocean temperatures rise and fishermen are experiencing some of the best fishing for tuna and marlin in recent memory. The sight of this beautiful white marlin alongside the boat is a lasting memory and treasure for any fisherman.

A new batch of striped bass were tagged last week for the July component of Diamond Jim and one of these fish is worth a whopping $20,000. An exciting change to this year's Diamond Jim event is the fact that even the tagged imposter fish are eligible to split the grand prize. There are some exciting prizes up for grabs also for any fishermen who register their catch that meets the minimum size requirements for a wide variety of species; check the following link for details.

Upper bay region fishermen are finding a typical pattern of summer chumming success at the Love Point area this week. The action there is best on a morning tide with the best fish being caught on fresh menhaden baits close to the bottom. Most of the action in the chum slick tends to be predominately sub-legal striped bass in the 15" category. Farther up the bay at the Conowingo Dam Pool a few legal sized striped bass are being caught at dawn by fishermen casting crankbaits, swim shads and live bait such as white perch and eels. There are plenty of channel catfish spread throughout the region in the upper reaches of the bay and its tidal rivers. White perch can be found on oyster lumps in the bay and also in the tidal creeks. Recreational crabbers are finding increasing numbers of crabs in the tidal creeks and rivers.

The Bay Bridge has been a focal point for fishermen looking for larger striped bass that congregate near the bridge piers lately. The fish like the structure and wait for the tidal currents to sweep food items past the piers. Casting various types of soft plastic jigs, bucktails and metal near the bases of the piers can be a very effective way to catch some nice fish. Depth finders are very helpful in locating which piers are holding fish. Chumming can work at times and chunking or live lining spot are also good choices for fishing.

Live lining spot has taken center stage now in the middle bay region as the supply of spot has become more abundant. The spot can be located in the shallower areas of the tidal rivers and transported to channel edges that are holding striped bass; typically the striped bass are holding in about 35' of water close to the bottom. The False Channel has been a favorite spot lately; especially since the supply of spot are close by, just off the channel at the #9 Green Buoy. The edges of the Hill and Thomas Point have been other places striped bass have also been holding periodically. Now that the heat of summer is upon us fishermen will often find the fish are moving quite frequently. Trolling is a good alternative at times and a mix of bucktails dressed with soft plastics and spoons can work well. Most captains are running inline weights or planers now since the fish are holding close to the bottom. Bluefish have not moved into the region in any appreciable numbers yet so soft plastics and live spot have a good chance of lasting a while.

Croaker fishing continues to be fairly good this week although it is now mostly an evening show; as warm water temperatures have the croakers holding deep during the day. Channel edges, evening hours and bottom rigs or jigs baited with squid strips, shrimp or peeler crab round out the ticket for good catches. White perch are holding in the tidal rivers and creeks and can offer good light tackle fishing near sunken structure. Channel catfish continue to be found throughout the tidal rivers and the dawn shallow water striped bass fishery has been very spotty at best; especially in the tidal rivers. Recreational crabbers are enjoying good crabbing opportunities in the regions tidal rivers and creeks.

The live lining of spot outside of the Gas Docks on a morning tide has been the number one show in the lower bay region when it comes to catching nice sized striped bass this week. The bluefish have not moved in yet to dominate the scene so success on striped bass has been good. The spot are plentiful in the tidal rivers and creeks and the striped bass are holding along the 30' channel edge out in front of the Gas Docks. Trolling bucktails and spoons with inline weights or behind planers is a good option throughout the region. The shallow water bite for striped bass has been very good along the shorelines; especially in the Tangier Sound area. The better fishing tends to be over though as soon as the sun cracks the horizon. There is also a mix of large croaker and white perch being caught as well as the occasional speckled trout.

Fishing in the lower bay region for croakers, large spot and occasional sea trout has been good in the lower Patuxent River, shipping channel edges such as Buoy 72, the Middle Grounds, Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. The best action for the larger croakers has been in the evenings. The flounder fishing in the Tangier Sound area continues to be very good and anyone who has a fancy for flounder should make every effort to get in on the action. Shoal areas next to channels where the current sweeps across are one of the better places to look. Recreational crabbers report good catches of crabs from the tidal rivers and creeks.

Freshwater fishing in all regions of Maryland whether your target is trout or largemouth bass has settled into a typical summer pattern. Trout fishing in the cool waters of western Maryland and some of the central regions tail race waters continues to be fun this time of the year. There is plenty of room and the fishing is more challenging to spin and fly fishermen.

The upper Potomac has been running clear lately and fishermen have been enjoying good fishing for smallmouth bass. Casting tubes is an effective and economical method of fishing around rock eddies and snags since the smallmouth are always looking for anything that looks like a crawfish. Most of the smallmouth are less than 16" in size but offer plenty of action.

Fishing for largemouth bass is an early morning and late evening shallow water game as these are the most active times for bass looking for food items in the shallows. Casting plastic frogs, buzzbaits or spinnerbaits near or over grass can offer some exciting fishing. In tidal areas an early morning ebbing tide is a perfect time to target the edges of grass beds and spatterdock fields for cruising largemouth bass. As the sun climbs above the horizon targeting shaded sunken wood or dock areas with small crankbaits, soft plastics and spinnerbaits can entice sulking bass to strike. Largemouth bass can also be found holding under thick grass with weedless soft plastics or a jig and pig rig.

"Pig Rig"

Ocean City area fishermen are finding a nice summer mix of croakers, spot, kingfish, small bluefish, flounder and small sea trout in the surf this week. There are also good opportunities for catch and release of large inshore sharks and sting rays. Bluefish continue to move in and out of the inlet at night and are being caught by fishermen casting Got-Cha plugs. Striped bass are also being caught on various swimming plugs and swim shads as well as live spot. Live spot are also accounting for some large flounder in the Inlet/Route 50 Bridge area. The south jetty has been a good place to look for a mix of tautog, triggerfish and sheepshead during the day. Flounder fishing in the back bay areas continues to be good from the airport to the Route 90 Bridge.

Sea bass fishing has been good on the wreck sites off Ocean City with an occasional triggerfish, tautog, cod and flounder rounding out a nice mix. Offshore the yellowfin tuna and white marlin bite has been very good. Fishermen have been scoring in the canyon areas on a mix of yellowfin tuna, white marlin, blue marlin, dolphin and mako sharks. Inside of the canyons, locations such as the Jackspot and Hambone have been producing a mix of bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna and dolphin. A regular on the Chesapeake Bay, "Big Vinny" traveled offshore with friends to catch and release his first white marlin.

Surely the longer a man fishes the wealthier he becomes in experience, in reminiscence, in love of nature, if he goes out with the harvest of a quiet eye, free from the plague of himself. -Zane Grey


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.