Warm water temperatures in the upper bay have been dictating fishing conditions for striped bass and successful fishermen have learned to adjust the times they fish and the methods they use. A few striped bass are being caught in the dam pool below the Conowingo Dam by fishermen casting topwater plugs and swimming shad lures during evening water releases but opportunities are slim until one gets down to the Pooles Island area. Fishermen have been having some success there live lining spot and white perch in some of the deeper water edges.
Fishermen have been finding striped bass holding to a number of lumps in the upper bay area. At times fishermen will jig to them when they spot fish on a depth finder or they’ll encounter them balling up bait below the surface or pushing it to the surface. Small bluefish are usually mixed in and the striped bass can be 14” to barely legal or much larger fish at times. Many of these lumps are also holding white perch. As is usually the case with breaking fish the smaller striped bass tend to be on top and the larger ones holding closer to the bottom. Boats that have been trolling have been doing fairly well with small umbrella rigs with sassy shads and Storm type trailers. Spoons and red surge tube lures are also working and certainly do better with the bluefish which run about 14” to 18” in size. Jim Gonzales was trolling near the Dumping Grounds with friends when they encountered a school of striped bass balling up bait and they had six rods go down at once.
Boats continue to chum for striped bass and bluefish at a number of locations such as Swan Point and Love Point. The best bite tends to come in the early morning or late evening and some fishermen are also live lining spot in the chum slicks with good success. Many fishermen have been focusing on live lining spot and white perch at steep channel edges and deep structure such as steep points and edges of lumps. Podickory Point and the basic channel edge from Sandy Point Light to Baltimore Light have been getting a lot of action from live liners. The bridge Piers of the Bay Bridge have also been a popular location to live line spot and to jig for striped bass. Fishermen also report there are a lot of white perch holding at the rock piles in the center of the bridge. Recreational crabbers have been averaging up to a ½ bushel of crabs per outing on tidal rivers such as the Elk, Bush, Gunpowder and the Chester.
Mid Bay Region:
Despite increasing warm water temperatures in the middle bay region fishing has been pretty good for a variety of species. Most of the action though tends to come from deep water as most fish look for cooler waters in the depths. The light tackle shallow water fishery for striped bass will not pick up again till sometime in early September when water temperatures begin to cool. Fishermen do report though there are a lot of white perch roaming the shallows and some of them are pretty good sized. Spinners, small spoons and of course beetle spins are favorite lures to cast on ultra-light spinning tackle.
Fishermen have been live lining spot in the mouth of Eastern Bay and south to the False Channel; the western shipping channel edge from Thomas Point south to Calvert Cliffs has also been getting a lot of attention from live liners. The basic fishing pattern is to find the small spot in shallow waters of the tidal rivers and flats along the shores of the bay and transport those fish out to steep channel edges and points in about 30’ of water where striped bass are holding. There has been some talk of large striped bass hanging out inside the security zone at the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant and much like the Gas Docks patient fishermen are waiting for them when they venture farther out into deeper water.
Bluefish are spread throughout the region and are mixing it up with schools of striped bass to chase bait. Often the action comes to the surface marked with diving birds. Other times the action is below the surface and marked by a slick. When encountered, fishermen have been enjoying casting to the surface fish or jigging to the deeper fish. A number of boats have been trolling along the channel edges and over deep structure such as ballast rock piles and points. They are catching a mix of striped bass and bluefish on small umbrella rigs, spoons and red surge tube lures. They are covering the surface and using inline weights and planers to go deeper. Some of the best bluefish action has been reported in the vicinity of the Gooses. There has not been much to report in the way of Spanish mackerel in the middle bay; so far they seem to be hung up down by Smith Point, VA.
Bottom fishing for croakers has become a little more difficult in the last couple of weeks as warm water temperatures push them deep. As most anglers know not all deep water is inviting to fish this time of the year so the croakers are prone to move. The Choptank is still holding a lot of croakers but a good catch is not always a sure thing, many are small and some are micro sized (only 4”to 5”). The channel area out by the Sharps Island Flats has been a good place to fish and a number of boats have been anchoring up there at night and fishing very late. Due to warm water conditions the croaker’s daily foray up onto the shallows can be as late as several hours after dark.
White perch are in good supply and can be caught out in the bay at such places as Cooks Point or Holland Point. Most fishermen are using bottom rigs but they can also be caught on small jigs. Most of the regions tidal rivers and creeks have good numbers of white perch and they can be a great “starter fish” for youngsters on a summer evening. Recreational crabbers are doing fairly well in most of the regions tidal creeks and rivers. Most are able to put a ½ bushel to a full bushel catch in an outing by using trotlines or collapsible crab traps. The best catches are coming from the Dorchester County area and crabbers in all areas are reporting a lot of small crabs, light crabs and sooks.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
Fishing for a mix of striped bass and bluefish continues to be good in the lower bay region this week. Most fishermen continue to live line spot at places such as outside the Gas Docks and the general area around Cove Point with good success. The spot are plentiful in the lower Patuxent River and most other tidal rivers and creeks within the region. Bluefish have been cutting into the live spot baits but that is just part of the game. A number of fishermen are trolling for striped bass but find they have to use spoons and red surge tube lures instead of sassy shads because of the bluefish in the region. Breaking fish are being encountered throughout the region in the main part of the bay. The usual suspects are striped bass and bluefish but Spanish mackerel are becoming a greater part of the melee recently. Fishermen are either casting to the surface fish or jigging underneath. The best catches of Spanish mackerel have been coming from the area bounded by Smith Point to the south, Point-No-Point to the North and the Mud Leads to the east. Thomas Bean sent in this short report on fishing for Spanish from the mouth of the Potomac. Saturday I had good success with catching Spanish mackerel in the Potomac River out from the point off St. Georges Island to Smith Creek. We ended up with 3 in the cooler but had several get off at the boat. A couple of charter boat captains were also fishing there and catching them. Mixed in with the Spanish were lots of snapper blues in the 12" to 15" range. The Spanish were 18" to 21". Other than one or two birds diving in the water there was no clue as to the fish being there. When we started scouting the area the fish finder lit up with bait balls and soon as we got the lines in the water fish were coming in the boat.
Bluefish in the 2 lb to 4 lb size range are being found near the Middle Grounds and smaller fish are generally showing up all over the two regions. Fishermen have also been bumping into schools of large red drum in the region from the Target Ship to Hooper’s Island. There tends to be no rhyme or reason when and where they’ll show up but fishermen who are prepared are enjoying some wonderful catch and release action.
Croaker fishing continues to be good in both regions with the best fishing during the day coming from some of the channel areas. The typical evening action along the edges of the channels such as at the Southwest Middle Grounds has not been happening until late at night. The area around the Target Ship and the Middle Grounds has been a favorite hotspot as has below Tangier Island. Large spot are becoming hard to come by at times in the upper Tangier Sound area but seem plentiful in lower Tangier Sound, the lower Patuxent and the lower Potomac Rivers. Fishermen have also been coming up with an unexpected fish species in the tidal rivers while fishing for spot and white perch. There are a number of small red drum in the 8” to 14” size range being caught.
Flounder are being caught along the hard channel edges and shoal areas in Tangier Sound, the mouth of the Patuxent, Cornfield Harbor and the Point Lookout Bar. Speckled trout continue to be caught along the Somerset County Marshes. Recreational crabbers report good to excellent crabbing in the many tidal creeks and rivers within the regions.
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