As of May 16th striped bass are fair game above the Brewerton Channel line and fishermen took advantage of being able to add striped bass to their catches this past weekend while also fishing for white perch and channel catfish. The fishing for channel catfish and white perch has been good in many areas of the upper bay; particularly around the mouth of the Susquehanna and the Elk River. The white perch are holding in the channels and deeper holes and are being caught on bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or by jigging with small jigs and spoons. The striped bass are being caught by casting soft plastic jigs around structure such as channel edges and old piers. Channel catfish can be found from the Baltimore Harbor area to the Susquehanna; including most all of the tidal rivers and creeks. Cut bait is a good choice, especially menhaden and fishermen can often catch striped bass at the same time while chunking or chumming. Steve Pater was out fishing with his brother near Hart-Miller Island when he caught this nice channel catfish.
There are a lot of options open this week for fishermen looking for striped bass in the upper bay region. Boats have been chumming at traditional locations such as Swan Point, Love Point and the channel edge from Baltimore Light to Sandy Point Light with good results. Boats continue to troll along channel edges and have been finding striped bass in the 18” to 23” size range. Casting crankbaits and soft plastic jigs along shoreline structure such as old piers and rocks has also been a good option in the early morning and evening hours. There has not been much talk of breaking fish in the upper bay region this week but that should change soon.
Shoreline fishermen have been catching good numbers of white perch and channel catfish along with a few striped bass from fishing piers and prominent points. Recreational crabbers are reporting sparse catches this week in the regions tidal rivers and creeks.
Middle Bay Region
There are a lot of exciting fishing options this week in the middle bay region. The large black drum arrived at the Stone Rock areas late last week and the fishing has been very good this week. Boats have been gathering up on the site and probing the depths with their depth sounders looking for the tell tale signs of the drum. They tend to run in tightly packed schools and the basic idea is to drop a whole or ˝ a soft crab in front of them with a sinker and circle hook. Some fishermen like to eat them and some don’t. The meat is very different in the large fish and is usually steaked out of the fillet portion above the ribs and can be grilled, baked or broiled. The scales on a big black drum are the size of silver dollars, tough and so large you can count the growth rings; one picked off before release can be a nice souvenir of your catch. The fillet section from the anus to the tail usually has the larval form of a parasitic tapeworm found in sharks. The sharks become the host of the adult tapeworm when they eat a drum infested with the larval stage of the worms. We are told that the larval worms are harmless to fishermen but I have never tried it personally. If you do decide to eat one; you might consider removing the pharyngeal plates that are located back in the throat, sort of where your tonsils would be. These enameled plates are a strange sight and make a great conversation piece and trophy. The drum use these plates to grind up crabs and clams and make their drumming sound. Phil Brown and Li Lin are all smiles with their two nice black drum destined for the dinner table.
There is plenty of striped bass action this week; both large and medium sized fish are being caught by boats trolling along the channel edges, near ballast stone piles and similar bottom structure. Most fishermen are pulling a combination of large parachutes and medium sized bucktails or spoons at a variety of depths. Umbrella rigs continue to be popular in attracting fish and just about everyone has at least one in the spread. More fishermen began to chum this week at channel edges and points such as the outside edge of the Hill and below Thomas Point. Catches were reported to be from fair to good. Fishermen are reporting good signs of bait and striped bass along the western side of the shipping channel from Breezy Point to Cove Point in about 30” of water. Those that are lucky enough to encounter breaking fish are casting to striped bass in the 17” to 23” size range with soft plastic jigs and bucktails. Others are finding the striped bass deep either on bait or close to structure and are jigging with soft plastic jigs and bucktails. Lately there has not been much action reported near the Calvert Power Plant Rips; which makes sense now that bay water temperatures are creeping past the mid-60-degree mark. Barry Finkelstein was trolling with friends near the Brick House Bar when he caught this nice fish.
The first croaker action of noteworthy attention occurred this past weekend as fishermen found them spread from the Choptank Fishing Pier and Eastern Bay area to the Hooper’s Island area. The catches in Eastern Bay and Choptank were sparse but croakers were caught. There were also croakers caught on the edge of Stone Rock and similar type shoals throughout the region. It will probably take a couple more weeks for the concentrations of croakers to amass in the middle bay region.
Recreational crabbers did well this week finding medium sized crabs in many of the region’s tidal rivers and creeks. Most of the crabs being caught are measuring about 5-1/2” but are heavy. Many of the crabs this past weekend were close to shedding and showed signs of being green peelers. The larger crabs that are being caught tend to be light and most crabbers are throwing them back to fatten up. Collapsible traps are working well; especially in deeper waters and later on in the day. Razor clams have been a favorite but others are reporting cut fish and chicken necks are working just as well. Greg Falter and his wife Beckie spent a few hours running 24 collapsible traps baited with chicken necks in Thompson’s Creek to put together this ˝ bushel of crabs recently.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
There is some good fishing to be had this week; whether one is chasing striped bass or croakers. Fishermen reported good fishing opportunities for school sized striped bass outside of the Gas Docks, the Buoy 72 area, the Middle Grounds area, Point No Point and Cedar Point. Many fishermen are still trolling for their striped bass with medium sized bucktails behind umbrella rigs or in tandem on flat lines. Others are finding plenty of action in the mornings with breaking fish outside the Gas Docks and other edges of the shipping channel in about 25’ to 35’ of water. Vertical jigging to deep fish hovering over structure or bait fish has also been a good option this week. Casting to shore line structure such as the rocks at Cedar Point with a variety of lures is providing good fishing for boat fishermen in the early morning or late evening hours. Most fishermen like to use single hooks on a soft plastic such as a BKD or Bass Assassin but surface poppers such as the Storm Chug a Bug can add the excitement of a surface strike.
The croaker fishing really began to shift into high gear this week in the Tangier Sound area and the tidal rivers of Dorchester and Somerset Counties. Fishermen reported good catches of croaker on peeler crab, squid and shrimp baits while bottom fishing. The mouth of the Honga, Nanticoke, Wicomico, Manokin, Big Annemessex and Pocomoke Rivers are all good places to fish as well as Tangier Sound. Along the hard bottom channel edges flounder are also being caught and speckled trout are being caught in the shallower areas near the marshes. Joe Becht was fishing in the mouth of the Manokin River with friends and shows off their catch of croakers and a striped bass.
Recreational crabbers are catching crabs in the tidal rivers and creeks in the two regions of the lower bay with trotlines and collapsible crab traps. All of the tidal rivers and creeks in the Dorchester and Somerset Counties and the Patuxent on the western shore are good places to crab this week. Most of the crabs are what are normally called medium size at about 5-1/2” but this past holiday weekend as one would imagine they were labeled as Number 1’s on the commercial market.
Click here for information concerning harmful algae blooms
Click here to view recent bay satellite images at mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/NASAimagery/EyesInTheSky.cfm