Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 15, 2011

Fishermen in the upper region of the Chesapeake are catching striped bass by trolling along channel edges with Storms and spoons or chumming at traditional locations such as Love Point, Swan Point, Hickory Thicket and the Triple Buoys area. The best bite when chumming or trolling is usually early in the morning and when a good tide is running. Fishermen have been noting that some of the better sized fish have been taking baits left to sink to the bottom under their chum slick. Most fishermen that are trolling are using Storms; either in tandem or behind spreader bars or umbrella rigs close to the bottom. Spoons are also a good option and Ray Sandy who was trolling on a Rock Hall charter boat this past Saturday found out fishing can be full of surprises when this 75lb black drum grabbed a trolling spoon.

photo by Keith Lockwood

The Conowingo Dam is scheduling water releases now for power generation starting around mid-day. Water conditions in the upper bay are showing improvement as the freshwater runoff begins to become less of a burden and water clarity improves. Fishermen are finding white perch on most of the regions reefs and shoals and there are always plenty of channel catfish at the head of the bay.

Striped bass are being caught by fishermen trolling along channel edges at the mouth of Eastern Bay, the False Channel and the western edge of the shipping channel. Storms tend to be the favorite lure in tandem, or behind spreader bars and umbrella rigs. Diving crankbaits, spoons and of course medium sized bucktails are good trolling choices. Chumming is a good option for many fishermen and the Diamonds and the Hill have been good places to give it a try. Spot are becoming more common now in the shallows; so if you can collect some and get yourself out to a channel edge in about 35' of water there are striped bass ready to grab that spot for you.

Black drum fishing at Stone Rock has been a tough nut to crack this year but drum are being caught just not by every fishermen all the time. Their little cousins the croaker are ready and willing out in the bay areas along channel edges and deeper areas. The best croaker fishing has been occurring as darkness falls by fishermen using bottom rigs baited with peeler crab or wild shrimp. Be sure to not use the white shrimp which are farm raised; they don't seem to entice croaker or anything else one bit. Jigging a small jig head with a strip of squid along the bottom at dusk can often get you into the jumbo sized croaker that are coming out of the deep channel areas. White perch and spot can be part of the mix at times and with salinities still depressed in many areas channel catfish can also be part of the mix. Alistair James was visiting from Tanzania, Africa recently and caught this double header of channel catfish while croaker fishing off Castle Haven Point on the lower Choptank River.

photo by Keith Lockwood

In the lower bay region when it comes to striped bass, the Gas Docks tend to be the place to be this week. Trolling swim shads, medium sized bucktails and spoons along the 35' edge and close to the bottom. Small spot are becoming more available now and many fishermen are successfully live lining at the 35' edge outside of the Gas Docks. Chumming is certainly an option also outside of the Gas Docks and any other channel edge where striped bass can be found. Striped bass are also being caught along channel edges in Tangier Sound, the lower Potomac and along the western edge of the shipping channel up to Parker's Creek and the Radar Towers. Large red drum are moving into the lower bay above the Target Ship and have been surprising fishermen trolling spoons for striped bass. Bluefish are beginning to show up at the Middle Grounds and the Point Lookout area.

There is excellent croaker fishing to be found in Tangier Sound, the mouth of the Patuxent and channel edges near Buoy 72 and similar locations. The best action is right at dark but croaker can be caught during the day in deeper waters. Fishermen have been pleasantly surprised to see sea trout as part of the bottom fishing mix along with spot. Flounder are showing up in greater numbers; especially in Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds along channel edges and adjoining shoals.

Recreational crabbing has been very good in most areas south of Kent Island and it is picking up in the upper bay as well. In the upper bay commercial crabbers have been doing well in the deeper waters of the bay with pots; although they mention they are catching a lot of large light crabs. So hopefully those larger crabs will fatten up soon. Crabbers in the middle and lower bay have been doing very well on large crabs and despite throwing a percentage of light crabs back have been able to catch a bushel on most outings. Everyone mentions beware of the shallows and the hordes of small crabs so the 10' edges tend to have less small crabs. Angelina Watts was up early to go crabbing with her dad near Kent Island and holds on tight to two whoppers for the camera.

photo by Rich Watts

Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake have been focusing on fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass this week along with a mix of large yellow perch, walleye, chain pickerel and large bluegills. The largemouth bass and bluegills tend to be in the mouths of the coves and the smallmouth bass are holding outside the floating docks and rocky shores. Soft plastic jigs have been one of the favorite choices with crawfish resembling crankbaits a close second for smallmouth bass. Largemouth bass are holding near grass and are beginning to be found in the shade under floating docks. Plastic grubs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits are all good choices. Walleye and large yellow perch can be caught by drifting live minnows along deep grass edges.

Fisheries biologist John Mullican sent us this report from the upper Potomac. The upper Potomac is in great shape with water temperatures around 80F. Fishing for a variety of species remains good with early morning and late evening providing the best activity. Smallmouth bass are settling into typical summer patterns and can be found in fast water pockets and in front of and behind ledges waiting to dart out and grab an easy meal.

Fishermen who love their largemouth bass fishing are seeing the typical summer pattern of activity beginning to be more common place. Water temperatures are up to 80-degrees in many areas and the bass are sulking in the shade during the heat of the day under overhead structure such as docks, brush or deep sunken wood, steep channel edges and thick grass. During the night they are moving into the shallows to feed, so lures such as buzzbaits and frogs are good choices early in the morning or evening hours. Whacky rigged plastic worms, grubs, jig and craw baits, are excellent choices around sunken wood or deep structure. Jeff Poling holds a whopper of a largemouth for the camera before slipping it back into an upper eastern shore pond.

photo by Jeff Poling

The fishing scene in the Ocean City area has been experiencing an upswing in exciting fishing opportunities as warmer water temperatures usher in a summer mix of fish species inshore and offshore. Brett Scheideman caught and released this nice white marlin while fishing offshore.

photo by Brett Scheideman

The spring run of large striped bass in the surf is about over except for a few stragglers and a summer mix of kingfish, croakers, small black drum, croaker and flounder have been entertaining fishermen. Large inshore sharks are also providing some hefty pull for catch and release fishermen along with sting rays. In and around the inlet, fishermen are catching flounder during the day and are seeing the tautog fishing taper off with warmer water temperatures. At night when the tide is close to high flood, bluefish can be caught by casting Got-Cha lures and striped bass are being caught on various swim shad lures.

Flounder fishing has really picked up this week as warm and clear water have made for ideal fishing conditions. As usual there are a lot of sub-legal flounder out there but many fishermen are using large baits to cut down on the number of small flounder they are catching. White Gulp mullet baits on a jig head with a strip of squid and live spot are a front row ticket to catching a doormat. The channels from the Route 90 Bridge to the Airport in Sinepuxent Bay have been the places to fish.

The boats heading out to the wreck sites and reefs are finding the best sea bass fishing on the extended trips and fair to good fishing on the wrecks closer to shore. High hooks are usually in the double digits and there is often a mix of a few tautog and cod fish; especially on the extended trips.

The offshore fishing action really exploded this week and particularly in the Wilmington Canyon area when a warn finger of the Gulf Stream pushed westward. The blue marlin fishing has been outstanding with several over 500lbs caught and released. White marlin, large yellowfin tuna, dolphin and a few bigeye tuna have been rounding out the mix. Closer inshore along the 30-fathom line fishermen have been catching a lot of bluefin tuna, false albacore, dolphin, large bluefish and a mix of mako and dusky sharks.

No angler merely watches nature in a passive way. He enters into its very existence. -John Baily


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.