Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 14, 2011

The western and northern watersheds that feed the Chesapeake Bay received amazing amounts of heavy rainfall last week as most know and this has caused big problems for the Chesapeake Bay and fishermen who wish to fish it. Last week the Conowingo Dam experienced the third greatest deluge of water to arrive at the dam in the history of the dam. The dam has 53 gates to discharge excesses of water and last week the engineers at the dam had 44 gates open to deal with a flood stage of 32'. The residents below the dam in the towns of Port Deposit and Havre de Grace were the first to feel the effects of the flood waters and upper bay residents were next. Large amounts of floating debris could be seen stretching far south into the middle bay region by the weekend. This satellite image from NASA gives some prospective to the amount of discolored water entering the bay.

This past Saturday the final awards ceremony for the Maryland Fishing Challenge and the Diamond Jim awards took place under sunny skies and muddy conditions at Sandy Point State Park. Eleven Diamond Jim hopefuls opened envelopes to see if they were lucky enough to win the $25,000 grand prize. Diamond Jim did not show up but the eleven anglers split the $25,000 and all went home with a healthy check. All of the anglers that arrived for the event received really nice Under Amour T-shirts with the Fishing Challenge logo and that will certainly be worn proudly the next time they go fishing. When it came to the big drawing for the Fishing Challenge prizes 12-year old Robert Hamilton of Silver Spring won himself a boat motor and trailer combo donated by Bass Pro Shops. Kenny Reasin won an all expense paid fishing trip to the Bimini Game Club on Bimini Island donated by the World Fishing Network. Other anglers won thousands of dollars worth of gift certificates from area tackle shops such as Bill's Outdoor Center, Marty's Sporting Goods, Angler's Sport Center and Kent Island Kayaks. A big thanks to all the sponsors and good luck to all anglers hoping to catch that big fish to enter the 2011/2012 Maryland Fishing Challenge.

Robert Hamilton

Fishermen in the upper bay region are obviously seeing cloudy water conditions and debris laden water but there are opportunities for fishing particularly in the tidal rivers on the eastern side of the bay where clearer water tends to prevail. Water temperatures in the upper bay have dropped to around 70-degrees so fish are free to roam all depths and in particular the shallower areas where small baitfish can be found. White perch and striped bass can be found in the early morning and evening hours on a moving tide in these areas. Topwater lures, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swim shads are all excellent choices to use in the shallower areas; especially near structure. Jigging or trolling along channel edges in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers can also be productive and breaking fish may also be encountered.

Fishermen looking for opportunities in the middle bay region are looking to the eastern side of the bay where clearer water means better fishing conditions. As one would expect the salinity is depressed in the middle bay; especially on the middle and western side of the bay, water temperatures are in the low 70's. Fishermen are finding good fishing from Eastern Bay south by locating striped bass holding over structure or by spotting schools of breaking fish. Jigging, trolling and casting are all working well for a mix of striped bass, small bluefish and a few Spanish mackerel. The morning and evening shallow water fishery has turned on with cooler water temperatures and shore line structure such as submerged breakwaters and prominent points are great places to cast a variety of topwater lures, swim shads and crankbaits. Live lining spot continues to be good in the area of the False Channel and chunking larger spot has been working equally well. Joey Cover found breaking fish near the mouth of Eastern Bay and caught this nice 34" striped bass when he cast a Crippled Herring jig into the melee.

Photo Courtesy Joey Cover

Fishing for white perch continues to be good in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers; often in shallow water near submerged structure in the mornings and evenings. Small jigs, swim shads and spinnerbaits are good choices for some light tackle fun. Fishing for large spot continues to be good in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and many are large enough to fillet. The croakers are in the process of moving south and are headed for Virginia waters.

Lower bay region fishermen are seeing fewer effects from Irene & Lee and water conditions are clear, salinities are down and water temperatures are in the high 70's. A mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are chasing schools of bait in the form of bay anchovies throughout the region. Casting into breaking fish, jigging underneath or trolling nearby are all good methods to employ. Live lining at the Gas Docks continues to be a proven winner for fishermen looking to catch their striped bass without a lot of traveling. Spot are still plentiful in the Patuxent River so it is an easy type of fishing.

Fishermen in the lower bay region are getting their last licks on the croakers as they head south and are finding large spot in the tidal rivers and Tangier Sound area. White perch can also be found in the region's tidal rivers and creeks. The shallow water fishing for a mix of striped bass, bluefish and speckled trout continues to be good. Cooler water temperatures have really kicked this fishery into high gear on both sides of the bay. Casting a variety of lures with light tackle during the morning and evening hours is a very pleasant way to fish.

Freshwater fishermen are seeing water conditions improving in the streams and rivers of western Maryland and conditions should be good on the upper Potomac and most of the regions lakes by the weekend. Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake will have a little extra company this coming weekend with triathlon participants. The reservoirs, lakes and tidal waters of the central and southern regions really took a hit last week with heavy rains so they will take a little longer to recover. Targeting grass bed edges and structure will be a good strategy this week for largemouth bass that are responding to cooler water temperatures and are putting on the feed. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, topwater lures and soft plastics are all good choices to use. At times clearer water may be found in feeder creeks to reservoirs and tidal waters and if found these are very good places to target. Scott Huryk was fishing in Mattawoman Creek, a feeder creek to the tidal Potomac River when he caught and released this hefty largemouth bass.

Photo Courtesy Scott Huryk

Fishermen in the Ocean City area are seeing water temperatures in the low 70's this week and calm surf conditions. The waters of the back bay areas have cleared up and fishing is back in gear for flounder. Surf fishermen are finding excellent fishing for small bluefish in the surf using finger mullet and bottom rigs. There is still a mix of kingfish, large spot and a few sea trout and flounder also in the mix. At the inlet/Route 50 Bridge area, tautog are becoming more common and fishermen are catching a mix of tautog and sheepshead on sand fleas. Bluefish are moving in and out of the inlet area at night and some striped bass are also being caught. Got-Cha plugs are one of the best choices for the bluefish and live eels and swim shads for the striped bass.

Flounder fishing in the back bay areas has been very good recently and cooler water temperatures have the flounder in a feeding mood. Soon they will begin to move out of the far corners of the bays and will be moving through the channel areas headed for the inlet. The boats headed out to the wreck sites report good fishing for sea bass and the boats are often encountering croakers on the trip back to the inlet. Offshore fishermen are finding excellent fishing for white marlin in the Norfolk and Washington Canyons and also finding double digit catches of dolphin near weed lines.

For the man sound in body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every sky has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously. -George Gissing


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.