Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 13, 2014
Most of us are starting to realize that summer is not going to last forever as the month of August chugs along and we begin to see reminders such as "Back to School" sales and families trying to schedule a family vacation before the kids have to go back to school. The 2013/2014 Maryland Fishing Challenge is nearing its end at midnight on September 1st. To date there are 1,035 anglers registered into the contest with their award certificate qualifying fish(s) and 18 anglers have caught Diamond Jim tagged Striped Bass. The awards ceremony will be held at Sandy Point State Park at the Maryland Seafood Festival on Sunday September 7th so don't miss out on entering the Maryland Fishing Challenge and attending the awards ceremony. You could be one of the big winners; last year one young woman won the Diamond Jim cash prize of $25,000 plus another $6,000 in gifts from local tackle shops. Angler's in the Maryland Fishing Challenge Angler's Award drawing won major prizes such as a boat, motor and trailer, donated by Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats, and a World Fishing Network sponsored fishing trip to the Bahamas. For more information on the contest and last year's winners be sure to check out the Maryland Fishing Challenge webpage.
At the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the nearby flats area there is some good fishing for a mix of Striped Bass and Largemouth Bass for anyone who is willing to be out there before the crack of dawn. As is the case with shallow water fishing in other parts of the bay, the action is usually over as soon as the sun lifts above the horizon. Surface lures such as poppers over or near grass provides the best and most exciting action. There is also good White Perch fishing at the mouths of the upper bay tidal rivers and casting with ultra light tackle is the best bet. Prominent points are a good place to check out, especially ones that have been fortified with rocks. Old piers and similar structure are also a good bet and often the best fishing is alongside such structure. Small jigs or grass shrimp are a good bet when fishing near old docks or piers especially in the Baltimore area. This nice White Perch fell for a small Roadrunner jig.
Photo by Keith Lockwood
Small Bluefish are beginning to be more common in the upper bay this week with very small Bluefish being seen in the tidal rivers and ones in the 12" to 14" size range out in the bay. The boats that are chumming are seeing them in their chum slicks and also a large number of throwback sized Striped Bass. Captains are reporting the best fishing for Striped Bass while chumming is occurring very early in the morning. Surface water temperatures in the upper bay are holding around 80F so larger Striped Bass are often holding deeper in the chum slick and most often are right on the bottom. The Love Point channel edge and places like the Triple Buoys, Swan Point, Podickory Point and the Dumping Grounds have been good places to scout for setting up a chum slick.
The Bay Bridge piers continue to be a good place to check out for Striped Bass. The fish are usually suspended at some depth close to the piers and can be spotted on a depth finder. Jigging, drifting back live Spot, setting up a chum slick or simply chunking with fresh Spot are all good tactics. White Perch, croakers and Spot can be caught near the shallower piers.
Fishing action for Striped Bass in the middle bay region continues to be good but anchoring up at the Hill and catching your Striped Bass within minutes on live Spot is not necessarily the case this week. The Striped Bass have spread out to other channel edges within the region such as the eastern edge of Hackett's Bar, Gum Thickets, Thomas Point, Bloody Point, Wade's Point and R4 in Eastern Bay. The Striped Bass tend to be finicky at times and once located on a depth finder captains are using tricks such as chumming with cut Spot, ground Menhaden or Razor Clams. Bluefish are very much part of the scene so precious live Spot are at great risk and a lot of fishermen are using larger Spot for chunk baits with good success on Striped Bass and obtaining some amount of revenge on the Bluefish. Most of the Bluefish being seen in the bay are about 14" so they are good on the grill or in a smoker. These smaller sized Bluefish are mostly eating Bay Anchovies so they tend to not have as much of the oily nature of their larger brothers and sisters that focus on Menhaden.
Trolling bucktails, surge tube lures and spoons has become even more popular this week with the arrival of Spanish Mackerel. Most are using inline weights or planers in front on their lures and reaping a steady pick of Striped Bass, Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel. The eastern and western edges of the shipping channel have been good places to try trolling. More and more breaking fish are being seen this week as schools of Bay Anchovies become more abundant. Some of the better areas to watch for breaking fish are where strong currents sweep the bait schools along channel edges. Most of the surface action is composed of small Bluefish, Striped Bass and Spanish Mackerel but larger Striped Bass can often be found underneath. Brian Zagalsky is all smiles with this Spanish Mackerel he caught while fishing with his dad.
Courtsey of Brian Zagalsky
Bottom fishing for a mix of croakers, large Spot and White Perch has been good in most of the tidal river channel edges and evening fishing for the croakers has been providing the best results. Casting with ultra light tackle around shoreline structure is a fun way to catch White Perch as is dropping straight down close to dock piers with small jigs or shad darts tipped with grass shrimp.
Shallow water light tackle fishing for Striped Bass is a before the crack of dawn situation this week due to warm water temperatures and bright sun. The late evenings are a second choice and a lot more forgiving for those who need their sleep. Small Bluefish are also part of the mix and it pays to have an ultra light rod set up with a small spinner for White Perch.
In the lower bay region there are a wide variety of fishing opportunities this week. Trolling for a mix of Striped Bass, Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel is perhaps at the top of the list for many. The eastern and western edges of the shipping channel where strong currents are sweeping schools of Bay Anchovies along have been a favorite area to troll. Most boats are trolling a spread of spoons such as small Drones and Clarks behind planners or inline weights but also are adding surge tube lures and bucktails to the mix. Trolling larger spoons near the Target Ship can result in some heavy duty catch and release action with large Red Drum. Breaking fish which consist of the marauding trio of small Striped Bass, Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel chasing Bay Anchovies can be encountered most anywhere in the lower bay but swift current areas along steep channel edges and points tend to be the most common place where this interaction is occurring. Casting to the surface fish with metal or bucktails is a lot of fun and allowing your lure to drop deep underneath the topwater action is often a good bet for larger Striped Bass.
Chumming is a viable option this week in the lower Potomac, the Buoy 72 area and the Middle Grounds for a mix of Striped Bass and Bluefish. Live lining Spot at channel edges such as Cove Point, Point No Point and Cedar Point are also productive when fish can be located suspended along the 30' edge.
Bottom fishing for a mix of croaker, Spot and small Bluefish has been very good in Tangier Sound area and the lower Potomac. In the lower Potomac Blue Catfish can be a major part of the catch and in the lower Patuxent and eastern tidal rivers White Perch are an added bonus. Flounder are being caught for those who are looking for them along shoals near channels in the Tangier/Pocomoke Sound area and a few western shore locations such as Cornfield Harbor, the mouth of the Patuxent, Cedar Point and Point Lookout. A few Red Drum and Speckled Trout are also being caught along the shores of the eastern side of the bay and near the Target Ship. Steve Bosley holds up a nice Speckled Trout he caught near Bloodsworth Island.
Courtsey of Steve Bosley
Recreational crabbing is improving in all regions of the bay this week. In the upper bay, catches average around a dozen or so per outing and generally averages around a bushel per outing in the middle and lower bay regions. As would be expected crabbers are seeing quite a few doublers, light crabs and small crabs.
Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are seeing water temperatures in the mid 70's this week. Cold water fish species such as Walleye, Yellow Perch and Smallmouth Bass tend to be seeking out colder water and that usually means deeper water. Smallmouth Bass are being seen down at the dam end of the lake and occasionally Walleye can be caught at night along steep edges. Largemouth Bass are being found in the shallow waters of coves and grassy shorelines at dawn and late evening and under thick grass or floating docks later on in the day.
Many of the catch and release trout management creeks and rivers in the western region are offering good trout fishing this week with the best fishing in the early morning and evening hours. The upper Potomac River is running low and clear but that may change with predicted rain in the forecast. Smallmouth Bass in the 14" size range have been the most common target for anglers on the river but Channel Catfish also offer some great fishing. Fisheries biologists recently sampled the Savage River trout populations and a young volunteer from Garrett College holds one of the nice Brown Trout they sampled and released.
Courtsey of Alan Klotz
Summer time fishing for Largemouth Bass continues to be a focus for many in the early morning and evening hours near the grassy shallows of ponds, lakes and tidal rivers throughout Maryland this week. Topwater lures over or near shallow grass is the ticket for some fun action and in the lower Potomac Northern Snakeheads are also a big part of that action. As the day wears on Largemouth Bass can be found under the shade of thick grass, docks, bridges and fallen treetops. Often a whacky rigged soft plastic is a good way to get a loafing Largemouth to strike.
A mix of Channel Catfish, Bluegills and Chain Pickerel are always ready and willing for young and old anglers and usually are simple to catch. Nightcrawlers or cut baits are great baits for Channel Catfish, Bluegills love worms or crickets under a bobber and Chain Pickerel are prone to attack any moving lure that crosses their path.
The big news in Ocean City last week was of course the White Marlin Open and with 288 boats participating, it seemed hard to believe that only one White Marlin made the qualifying weight and fetched a cool 1.2 million dollars to a captain and crew from North Carolina.
Surf fishing this week tends to focus on a summer mix of small species such as croaker, Spot, small Bluefish, Kingfish and flounder. Water temperatures are near 79F so often the best fishing is early in the morning. In the evenings there is some catch and release action for a mix of inshore sharks and sting rays.
In and around the inlet and Route 50 Bridge a mix of flounder, croaker, small Bluefish and a few Sheepshead, Tautog and Triggerfish during the day; at night larger Bluefish and a few Striped Bass are being caught. The back bay areas are providing a mix of flounder, croaker and small Bluefish for those fishing the channel areas.
At the inshore wreck and reef sites out to the 30 fathom line there has been some excellent flounder fishing with a sprinkling of legal sized Black Sea Bass. The throwback ratio on the Black Sea Bass tends to be rather high as reported this week. At the offshore canyon areas the boats are returning to the docks this week with double digit catches of yellowfin tuna at times along with a mix of dolphin, wahoo and White and Blue Marlin releases.
"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." - Sir John Buchman 1875-1940