Recent heavy rain fall and hot temperatures have set the stage for afternoon power generating water releases at the Conowingo Dam. The releases have been substantial and may cause some difficulty for anglers but the cool water does spur fish below the dam into increased activity. Anglers should still be able to fish in kayaks and small boats close to the dam in the mornings but watch out for those mid-day releases.
There is a mix of small bluefish and small striped bass spread from the general area of Pooles Island south to the Bay Bridge. They are being encountered up on top chasing bay anchovies or holding near underwater structure such as shoals or channel edges. At times larger striped bass are nearby; so often moving to another concentration of fish can pay big dividends. When breaking fish are found casting spoons and bucktails are a good option, jigging metal or bucktails over deep structure works well also when fish concentrations can be located. Trolling is perhaps one of the more popular methods this time of the year when fish can not be readily located. Small spoons have been one of the more popular lures to troll behind planers or in line weights; since they will catch both bluefish and striped bass. Surge tube lures are always good if bluefish are high on your list.
The chumming fleet continues to center its attention at the Swan Point and Love Point areas for a mix of striped bass and bluefish. The throwback ratio for the striped bass can be high at times since it seems that most of the fish being caught are 2 and 3-year old fish. This puts them at the 12” to 17-1/2” size range; but there are some striped bass up to 27” being caught. The early mornings with a good strong running tide tend to present the best opportunities for larger fish and often baits on the bottom account for the best odds.
Fishing for white perch and spot and small bluefish continues to be good for fishermen fishing from boats and selected shoreline areas. Shoreline areas with prominent deep water points are very good places to fish and Sandy Point State Park is just one of those locations. The point on the beach where the tide sweeps around the point is an excellent place to fish as is the breakwater jetty that defines the entrance to the harbor close to the bridge.
Recreational crabbers continue to try and put together catches of crabs this week. Those with enough savvy and fortitude have been doing fairly well but in general across the board catches can run from a ½ dozen crabs to a full bushel per outing. Crabs are spread throughout the region up to the Elk River.
Middle Bay Region
Spanish mackerel seems to be the cry that is being heard from one end of the middle bay region to the other. Fishermen are always up for some new excitement and the recent influx of Spanish mackerel is certainly filling the bill. They are spread out from the Kent Island south to the southern limits of the region. The mouth of Eastern Bay from Bloody Point Light to Poplar Island has been a real hot spot lately as well as both sides of the shipping channel. Trolling small spoons behind planers and inline weights has been the most common way to catch a mess of Spanish this week. There continues to be plenty of large red drum in the region so placing a couple of larger spoons in a trolling spread can offer some exciting catch and release action. Spanish mackerel have been attacking schools of bay anchovies in the area along with a mix of bluefish and striped bass. Often the Spanish mackerel can be seen grey hounding through the air chasing bait. Small spoons and metal jigs have been two of the more popular lures to use when casting into such a melee.
Bluefish are also spread from one end of the region to the other and providing a lot of exciting action for anyone fishing in the region. They can be caught by casting into breaking fish, jigging, trolling, chumming, live lining or chunking. As most fishermen have found out by now, bluefish will make short work of live spot that are meant for striped bass; three or four quick bites and there is usually nothing left. Chunking with cut spot can often have some effect on soothing one’s revenge and also add some tasty bluefish to the fish box. If chilled down quickly in a mix of ice and salt water they are good grilled, broiled or smoked. If grilling or broiling them skin the fillets and smoking them after brining in a low temperature smoker for 8-10 hours makes for some fine eating.
There are certainly plenty of striped bass in the region and they are being caught by trolling or jigging underneath breaking fish. The water temperatures are fairly high now and the larger striped bass are often holding in deeper and cooler waters. Fishermen are having some success with live lining spot but the abundance of bluefish can be pesky at times. Casting along shorelines at dawn or late in the evening is also a good way to catch a couple of striped bass and downsizing to an ultra-light outfit and some small beetle spins or spinners is an excellent way to catch white perch.
Croaker fishing in the deeper areas during the day from Poplar Island south and channel edges towards dusk continues to be very good. Peeler crab, squid and shrimp have been good baits to use on bottom rigs. The spot fishing in the tidal rivers and bay points also is good for larger sized spot and bloodworms tend to be the preferred bait. Flounder fishing is about as good as it is going to get and many fishermen are finding themselves enjoying some of the best flounder fishing they’ve ever encountered in the bay. Most any hard bottomed point or channel edge is a good place to drift for flounder; Cooks Point, Taylor’s Island Flats, James Island Flats, the western edge of Poplar Island and Thomas Point are just a few of the places fishermen are catching flounder.
Recreational crabbers are doing fairly well this week in the middle bay region. We are in a new moon phase so most of the legal sized crabs being caught are heavy. There are still plenty of small crabs chewing up baits but that is not such a bad thing. Recent heavy rains will most likely push the crabs into slightly deeper water and perhaps a little farther towards the mouths of creeks but that should be short term if we don’t get anymore heavy rains.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
If you’ve ever thought about trying to catch some Spanish mackerel; now is the time to get out there for the best of the best this week. It will not last forever and in fact will probably be at its peak for only another couple of weeks. They are spread throughout the region but the western side of the shipping channel and above the Middle Grounds has been two of the best places to find them. Trolling small spoons such as Clarks and Drones behind planers and inline weights is one of the more popular and productive ways to catch them. The other option is to cast to them with metal as they chase bait fish on top of the water. Tami Wilkinson was out trolling with her husband when she caught this nice sized Spanish off of Drum Point.
Bluefish can be found just about everywhere; the smaller ones are up the tidal rivers and the larger ones out in the bay and especially around the Middle Grounds area. They can be caught by trolling small spoons or surge tube lures and be sure to watch out for the occasional striped bass and large red drum. Many fishermen are placing a couple of large spoons in their trolling array for some exciting catch and release fishing with the red drum. Bluefish are also mixing it up with the Spanish mackerel and striped bass in chasing schools of bay anchovies throughout the region.
Large croakers are being caught at the Middle Grounds at night and also behind Buoys 72 and 72A. Smaller croakers and a mix of large spot and small bluefish are being caught during the day in many of the deeper channel areas in the tidal rivers such as the Patuxent, Nanticoke, Potomac and Wicomico. In the Tangier and Pocomoke Sound area bottom fishing has been good for a mix of croakers, spot, flounder, sea trout and small bluefish. The flounder fishing has been exceptionally good along channel edges in Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. On the western shore the mouth of the Patuxent River, Cornfield Harbor and many of the points along the western shore have been providing some of the best flounder fishing that has been seen in years. Charlie Quick reported great flounder fishing in the Cornfield Harbor area and sent in two pictures. One was of a nice 19” flounder and the other of him hamming it up with what has to be one of the smallest flounder ever caught on hook and line.
Recreational crabbers are enjoying excellent crabbing in the eastern shore tidal rivers with either trot lines or collapsible crab traps. Good catches of heavy crabs are not uncommon. Crabbers on the western side of the bay are doing well also and heavy crabs should be in good supply until the next full moon.
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