Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 10, 2011

As summer rolls on through the month of August the terms "dog days" and 'doldrums' can often be heard in conversation regarding the heat and humidity. Cool mountain streams and the shaded banks of a favorite fishing hole can help dispel those notions. True it is pretty hot out there and fish are reacting to it much in the same way we are. Whether you are standing in the surf of Ocean City or a mountain stream in western Maryland, fishing early in the morning or late in the evening will often bring the best results.

Justin Kelly was fishing with his friends on the Pocomoke River recently in their quest to try and land one of the pesky gar they have been encountering on the bass fishing trips there. After losing several rigs and switching to a steel leader, Justin finally landed one of these prehistoric fish and it turned out to be a large one. They figured it might be large enough to enter in the Maryland fishing challenge and at 49" it easily met the 36" minimum but what they didn't count on was that it beat the existing state record of 16lbs by a full pound. Justin's 17lb. longnosed gar is now officially the new state record.

Photo Courtesy Frank Horning

Bay water temperatures are holding in the low to mid 80's in most regions of the bay and of course tend to be higher in shallower waters. The Susquehanna River is running about 85-degrees this week and fishermen are catching a few striped bass in the dam hole right at dawn on live eels and lures. Farther down the bay most of the striped bass action tends to be focused around the Love Point area. Early morning chumming/ chunking on a good tide has been a good option for fishermen in the upper bay region. Fresh baits of spot or menhaden close to the bottom have been catching the largest fish. Trolling deep along the channel edges of Love Point and channel edges such as Podickory Point/ Sandy Point Light are producing fish at times also. Swim shads behind umbrella rigs or in tandem have been a good choice as well as spoons.

The bases of the bridge piers at the Bay Bridge continue to get a lot of attention from fishermen as they continue to pick away at some of the striped bass that are holding in the current there. Jigging with soft plastics or metal, drifting live spot to the pier bases or setting up a chum slick and chunking up current also have been productive.

White perch and channel catfish are still in play in most of the regions tidal rivers and on the reefs out in the bay. Casting small lures along shoreline structure in the tidal rivers early in the morning or late in the evening is a favorite way to catch white perch on light tackle. White perch are also holding on the oyster reefs out in the bay but fishermen have been reporting that the perch tend to move from day to day so fishermen need to be flexible when bottom fishing with bait. Recreational crabbing in the upper bay tidal rivers and creeks has slowed down due to the heat and warm water conditions. The best crabbing is being reported to be in less than 10' of water.

Out in front of Poplar Island and the False Channel have been the "Go To" places to fish this week for striped bass. Most fishermen are live lining or chunking with fresh spot. The spot are being caught nearby in shallower waters and most tend to be a bit large for the grade of striped bass that are holding in the deeper waters of the False Channel. Chunking has been a very effective way to fish and the spot go a lot farther also; some enterprising fishermen are also tossing out small pieces of spot to entice fish closer to the boat with good results. Frank Horning caught this nice striped bass at the False Channel recently.

Photo Courtesy Frank Horning

Bluefish have not been much of an issue this year and the few that are showing up are generally in the 12" to 14" size range; a welcomed relief for live liners and sassy shad lures but they are missed by some who enjoy the tasty fillets broiled, grilled or smoked. White perch can offer some fun summertime light tackle fishing in the regions tidal rivers and creeks in the early morning and evening hours along shorelines. The shallow water striped bass fishing has generally been poor due to high water temperatures. Recreational crabbing is suffering also but in contrast the best crabbing has been in waters less than 8' in most areas. The crabs have been moving up the tidal rivers and the Choptank River is packed with trotliners from the town of Choptank to the Dover Bridge for example.

Most fishermen would agree that the place to be in the lower bay region if you're looking for striped bass continues to be the 30' channel edge outside of the Gas Docks. There continues to be a good supply of medium sized spot in the Patuxent River for fishermen to use for live lining to striped bass. Fishermen are also finding larger spot and white perch in some of the deeper waters of the Patuxent. Tangier Sound fishermen are finding a mix of large spot, croaker very early in the morning or at night. The mid-day heat and warm water temperatures have been putting the damper on day time bottom fishing in the lower bay region in general. Flounder fishing in the Tangier Sound area has been a bright spot for fishermen. For those who can be out fishing before the crack of dawn speckled trout can be found along the shallow waters of the lower eastern shore.

Hot summer weather usually tends to put many freshwater fishing opportunities on hold during the day as fish seek out cool shade and often hunker down in a type of maintenance mode; which is not much different from us sitting on a shaded porch with a cool drink. The water temperatures in many areas are just too warm for comfort. The water temperature in the upper Potomac for example are in the high 80's; not a comfortable temperature for smallmouth bass or walleye. Those who know how to play the game during the summer doldrums will be seen out fishing before sunup or late in the evening targeting deep holes and underwater ledges in the upper Potomac. Trout fishermen will be on the same schedule and using light leaders and stalking likely looking spots. Fisheries biologist recently stocked some big rainbow trout in the North Branch of the Potomac in the Catch and Release areas such as this nice one.

Photo Courtesy Alan Klotz

Largemouth bass can be enticed to strike in the early morning or late evening hours; often with surface baits near shallow feeding areas. When it comes time to dig them out of the cool shady places during daylight hours, soft plastics and jigs dropped down through thick grass or by skipping soft plastics under docks and overhanging brush can be the answer. Deep sunken wood is another place to explore with crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics. Bluegills are one fish that doesn't seem to mind the heat and a slip bobber with a piece of worm or a cricket is hard to beat. Places like Deep Creek Lake, Piney Run Reservoir or your favorite local pond are great places to have some fun with bluegills.

Surf fishermen at Ocean City are finding the best time to fish for the summer mix of croakers, spot, kingfish, flounder and small bluefish is early in the morning or late in the evening due to the scorching sun. Fishermen are also catch and releasing sharks at night. Inside and around the Inlet a few striped bass are being caught at night by drifting live eels or spot and fishermen are picking at triggerfish and flounder during the day. Flounder still reign supreme as the most targeted fish in the back bay areas; the throwback ratio is high but some big ones are being caught especially on larger baits. Croakers and small seabass offer a little diversion as do large spot.

Outside of the inlet the boats headed out to the wreck sites are catching sea bass and flounder. Farther offshore the fleet heading out to the canyons are finding a mix of yellowfin tuna, white and blue marlin as well as wahoo and dolphin. Yellowfin tuna and dolphin are also being caught near the Jackspot and Hambone. We are of course into the third day of the Ocean City White Marlin Tournament and although no blue marlin granders have been brought in so far this year some impressive bigeye tuna were brought in; with the largest being 279lbs.

The fisherman fishes; it is an act of humility and a small rebellion and it is something more. To him, his fishing is an island of reality in a world of dream and shadow. -Robert Traver


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.