Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 13, 2011

We appologize for the delay, Keith Lockwood is on vacation. We anticipate posting a new report today.

Now that the fanfare of the July 4th holiday is over fishermen will find they are slipping through the mid-summer days tiptoeing around afternoon thunderstorms and oppressive mid-day heat. It is a time for scheduling family vacations but also time for quiet summer mornings and evenings with family and friends at local favorite spots. Enjoy it all and certainly take advantage of youngsters being out of school or older ones returning home from school, for summer will slip by like a breath of wind before you know it. Your author will be away for the next two weeks of vacation and you will be treated to a past fishing report author from year's ago; Marty Gary.

The July round of Diamond Jim is in gear this month and there is a striped bass swimming out there in the bay somewhere worth $20,000 to some lucky angler. The Maryland Fishing Challenge continues this month also; so be sure to check in any award winning fish; there is a lot of big prizes up for grabs at the September 10th event at Sandy Point State Park. Check the last couple of pages of the 2011 Maryland Fishing Guide for details or go to the website at Mitchell Hammond entered the Maryland Fishing Challenge with this 13-3/3" white perch.

Photo Courtesy Mitchell Hammond

When it comes to striped bass in the upper bay region most fishermen have been focused on chumming in the Love Point area because of the good success there. The action has been fairly consistent for this time of the year when hot weather makes fishing for striped bass challenging at best. The morning tide has been the best time to be on station and baits allowed to settle to the bottom often come up with the largest fish. Chum slicks have been thick with sub-legal striped bass lately so the throwback ratio can be high so fishermen need to use care and caution when releasing fish. Trolling the channel edges in the region from Baltimore south has also been a viable way to catch striped bass. Storm shads behind umbrella rigs have been a favorite trolled close to the bottom.

Spot are becoming more prevalent in the upper bay tidal rivers and live lining is becoming more of a viable option in the upper bay's sharp channel edges. The 30'edges at Love Point, Podickory Point and around Hart-Miller Island are all good places to try live spot. The bridge piers at the Bay Bridge have been holding a lot of nice striped bass lately and fishermen are catching some nice fish there. Many are jigging soft plastic jigs and bucktails near the bridge pier bases but chunking and live lining spot have become very popular lately. It can be perilous to anchor up tide of the bridge and back off until you are the right distance from the piers to drift baits back. The number of anchors claimed by snags and underwater cables attest to the tribute the site claims.

Fishing for white perch and channel catfish tend to round out the fishing opportunities in the upper bay region; both offer some fine eating. The white perch are holding on some of the oyster bar shoals out in the bay and they also can be found in the tidal rivers. Channel catfish can be found in the channels of the upper bay and tidal rivers; especially in the upper reaches of the bay. Recreational crabbers report fair to good catches of blue crabs in the upper bays tidal rivers and creeks. Some of the better catches have been made with fresh white perch baits and razor clams. Ralph Curry picked up this whopper of a channel catfish while fishing from shore at Havre de Grace.

Photo Courtesy Ralph Curry

Lately the False Channel and the north channel edge of the Hill off of Poplar Island has been the place to be when looking for striped bass and live spot are the ticket to the event. Spot of suitable size for live lining have become more numerous in Eastern Bay, the Choptank and western shore tidal rivers so most fishermen are switching to live lining. Fortunately the bluefish have not shown up in any appreciable numbers so a spot lowered to the bottom has a chance of surviving long enough to be found by a striped bass. The 30' edge is often where the striped bass are holding and certainly not the place any spot would want to find itself. The spot are usually found in shallow water, bloodworms and a #6 hook on a bottom rig is the way to stock up on baits. White perch can also be part of the mix at times. Croaker fishing has generally slipped into an evening bite due to warm water temperatures and some of the better catches have been occurring along channel edges with bottom rigs and jigs baited with squid, shrimp or peeler crab.

There are a lot of channel catfish being caught in the tidal rivers this summer; often in places fishermen have not seen them in the past. Shore bound fishermen have been enjoying good catches from the Bill Burton Fishing Pier on the Choptank and shallow water fishermen have been surprised more than once with a channel catfish striking a crankbait or spin jig. The shallow water fishery for striped bass and white perch is definitely a pre-dawn situation now that water temperatures are so warm.

Recreational crabbers continue to report good crabbing in most of the regions tidal rivers and creeks. The crabs are also traveling farther up the rivers and creeks now, often in the deep channels. Light crabs still make up a considerable proportion of local catches but despite the discards, most crabbers report no trouble putting together a bushel of heavy crabs in a short outing.

Lower bay region fishermen report all eyes and boat bows are pointed toward Cove Point and the 35' channel edge out in front of the Gas Docks. Spot have been plentiful in the Patuxent River and just about every tidal creek and river in the region and so far the bluefish have not invaded the waters of the western side of the lower bay. There have been reports of bluefish on the Middle Grounds and to a lesser extent in the general region of Tangier Sound. There are other channel edges where striped bass are holding such as next to Buoy 72, Hooper's Island Light and generally wherever they can be picked up on a depth finder; so a little exploring can really pay off. Trolling is certainly a good option; especially around the Middle Grounds and up north of the Target Ship and there is the added bonus of large red drum that can be caught and released. Medium sized spoons are often the best choice for this type of trolling when bluefish and red drum are around. Breaking fish are being encountered by fishermen throughout the region and it certainly pays to keep a vigil for slicks indicating below the surface activity.

Croaker fishing has been good with much of the best fishing occurring after dark as the fish leave the deeper waters and travel up to adjacent shoal areas. Day time fishing for croakers and spot has been good in the Tangier Sound area. The Patuxent River is a good place to fish for medium sized croaker, spot and white perch. Recreational crabbers report they are able to fill out a full bushel of heavy crabs per outing; despite the numbers of small crabs and light crabs that are eating up baits.

Freshwater fishermen are seeing most fish settling into a typical summer pattern of activity which is not all that different from what humans are doing; avoiding the heat during the height of the day. Trout in the western region and some selected waters in the central region are holding in cool shaded pools and enjoying the lazy life of feeding on emerging aquatic insects and terrestrial insects as well; mostly in the early morning and evening hours. Fisheries biologist Ken Wampler holds up a beautiful brown trout from the north branch of the Potomac before releasing it back into the river.

Photo Courtesy of Alan Klotz

Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are finding largemouth bass lurking under floating docks and downed trees by casting a variety of soft plastic and spinnerbaits underneath or close by. Smallmouth bass can be found out in deeper water often near edges of deep grass or over rocky bottom; soft plastic jigs and crankbaits that imitate crawfish are good choice there, as is drifting with live fathead minnows. Fisheries biologist John Mullican sent us this short report from the upper Potomac. The river is in good shape and bass fishing has been pretty good. Fish are firmly in their summer patterns and most folks have been doing the best during the early morning or late evening hours.

Largemouth bass are holding to a summer pattern of activity now in most regions of the state in tidal and non-tidal waters. That means getting up early and fishing shallow cover before the sun rises with topwater lures over grass or lily pads. As the bass seek cool shade from the rising sun; dropping weedless jigs down through thick grass or flipping soft plastics, spinnerbaits or small crankbaits under docks and fallen trees or similar sunken wood will often entice a strike. Ken Kenny caught this nice largemouth while working the grass in Mattawoman Creek in the early morning hours.

Photo Courtesy Ken Kenny

Bluegills can offer a lot of fun fishing this time of the year and channel catfish are plentiful in most of the states tidal rivers and some selected impoundments. Chain pickerel will be holding near grass or similar cover waiting to ambush a meal.

Fishermen in the Ocean City region are finding the summer fishing scene firmly set as summer species provide a wide variety of fishing opportunities for fishermen. Surf fishermen are catching a mix of croaker, spot, kingfish, flounder and the occasional bluefish and small black drum at times. The early mornings and late evenings tend to offer the best opportunities now as the mid-day heat bears down on fish and fishermen alike. Small strip baits of fish or squid or bloodworms have been working well for the smaller surf species. Those who are looking for a little more excitement have been catch and release fishing with stout gear; often stand up 6/0 gear and large circle hooks for inshore sharks. This whopper of a sand tiger shark was caught and released in the early hours of the morning by two visiting anglers enjoying their vacation time in Ocean City.

Photo Courtesy Rich Watts

In and around the Ocean City Inlet bluefish and striped bass are being caught by fishermen drifting live spot and casting Got-Cha plugs or swim shad lures during the night hours. A few tautog, sheepshead and triggerfish are being caught during the day along the south jetty, bulkheads and the Route 50 Bridge. Flounder are being caught in the area also and some of the larger ones are being caught on live spot.

Flounder are spread throughout the back bay areas with some of the traditional channels such as the Thorofare, East and West channels being very popular. There are a lot of throwbacks and pesky small sea bass, so many fishermen have been using larger baits and live spot to target only the larger flounder.

Outside of the inlet fishermen are finding sea bass and flounder on the wreck sites. Bluefin tuna are being found out along some of the 20-fathom line lumps; such as the Hambone and Hot Dog. Farther out in the canyon regions a mix of yellowfin tuna, dolphin as well as white and blue marlin are being caught

Izaak Walton, by demonstrating how watchfulness and awe may be taken within, from the natural world has much to tell us; that is, less about how to catch fish than about how to be thankful that we may catch fish. He tells us how to live. -Thomas McGuane


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.