Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 24, 2011

It sure looks like something is going to happen this weekend with Hurricane Irene; generally it looks like the weekend will be a washout in regards to rain and wind. A stirring up of the bays waters may be a good thing to help wring out the effects of a hot summer. Yesterday's earthquake certainly caused a stir with people in general; most of us have never experienced something like that on the east coast. It didn't affect the fishing at all, at least in the Choptank River. The cooler weather drew me out to try a little shallow water evening action for white perch and I was not disappointed. Not only did a nice mess of white perch wind up in the cooler but also a pair of striped bass that couldn't resist a small spinnerbait. Progressively cooler water temperatures are going to kick all manner of fishing in gear from the freshwater haunts of western Maryland to the ocean depths; so make some time to get out fishing.

Photo Courtest Keith Lockwood

Fishermen have less than two weeks to enter their fish that meet the minimum size criteria for the 2010-2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge. This year's contest ends on midnight September 5th. The awards ceremony will take place on September 10th at Sandy Point State Park; there are a lot of big prizes to be given out so this will be an event not to be missed.

Upper bay fishermen continue to find good fishing for striped bass by chumming and chunking at the Love Point area. Early mornings on a good tide offer the best opportunity to catch the largest fish close to the bottom. Smaller fish have been dominating the chum slicks as the day wears on and the sun gets higher in the sky. Fishermen are also having some success chunking and chumming near other channel edges such as around Hart/Miller Island and Podickory Point. Channel catfish are also picking up baits on the bottom in these areas. Trolling a mix of spoons, swim shads and bucktails has been productive around channel edges near the Triple Buoys and the mouth of the Magothy River at Sandy Point Light. At the bases of the Bay Bridge piers fishermen are catching a nice grade of striped bass by live lining spot, chunking or jigging.

Fishing for white perch in the upper bay region continues to be good in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and creeks as well as out in the bay on various oyster reefs. White perch can be found off of most any old pier in the region and casting small lures can be a fun way to catch them during the early morning and evening hours. Bottom fishing with bloodworms or grass shrimp or small jigs out on the oyster bottom in the deeper waters of the tidal rivers or out in the bay can be a good bet also. Large spot can also be part of the mix as well as channel catfish. Water temperatures are on a cooling trend now so fishing will only get better as the perch become more active.

The middle bay region has a lot of good fishing to offer in the form of a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel as well as white perch, large spot and croakers. The striped bass are still holding at the False Channel area and can be caught by live lining or chunking spot. The striped bass there tend to be stacked up and so are the boats trying to fish on them. If you fish there expect plenty of company right in your lap. It would seem that a larger grade of bluefish has moved into the region along with the arrival of Spanish mackerel. There is also some live lining and chunking action going on at the Hill area off of Poplar Island and certainly worth looking at if one is passing by that area. Breaking fish composed of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are being found out in the bay chasing bay anchovies. Casting small metal and retrieving fast can entice Spanish mackerel to strike and if one jigs deep under the surface fish larger striped bass can often be found lurking underneath. Trolling can be a worthwhile option along channel edges and near breaking fish. Small Drone spoons on #1 planers and bucktails and spoons with inline weights can serve up a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. This group of fishermen was fishing on a charter boat just below the Bay Bridge where they caught these nice fish trolling.

Photo Courtesy Richard Lewis

The lower bay region has seen a mix of larger bluefish and Spanish mackerel move into the area in good numbers this past week and fishermen are now finding them mixed in with breaking striped bass. Schools of bay anchovies have been the draw and when they boil to the surface the action can be fast as birds dive into the melee and Spanish mackerel flash through the action. Casting and quickly retrieving small metal will entice Spanish mackerel to strike and jigging underneath with metal will get you into bluefish and striped bass. Trolling near the action with small drone spoons with inline weights or planers is a good option for Spanish and bluefish as well as striped bass.

Live lining spot outside of the Gas Docks continues to be one of the best shows in town when it comes to fishing for striped bass in the lower bay region. There are plenty of medium-sized spot in the shallows of the Patuxent River and striped bass holding at the 30' channel edge outside the Gas Docks.

The lower bay region and the Tangier Sound area have plenty of large spot in the deeper waters as well as croakers and white perch. The best flounder fishing continues to be on the eastern side of the bay along channel edges. The marsh edges on the eastern side of the bay also continue to provide good fishing for speckled trout.

Recreational crabbing continues to be good in most locations in the bay's tidal rivers and creeks. In the upper bay region crabs are being caught from the Elk River south. Most crabbers are reporting good days and bad days out on the water; with tide and weather conditions playing a large part in success; middle bay region crabbers report steady catches but they do mention getting eaten up by small crabs and sooks. Crabbers in the tidal creeks and rivers of the lower portion of the bay are reporting good catches with a lot of sooks and small crabs eating up baits.

Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake report good fishing for largemouth bass along grass edges near coves with soft plastics, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Casting under or near floating docks and downed tree tops has also been productive places to fish. Smallmouth bass are being caught on deep diving crankbaits, jigs and live minnows near rocky shores and points. Large bluegills are also being seen near docks and grass edges.

The water levels in the upper Potomac River and western streams are still low and clear at this time and offer fun fishing by wading, floating and generally poking around with light tackle in the early morning and evening hours. Depending on how much rain we get from hurricane Irene that could all change very quickly this weekend. Stephanie Mcgee spent some time floating down the upper Potomac in a canoe recently catching smallmouth bass such as this one.

Photo Courtesy Stephanie Mcgee

Cooler nights are starting to have an effect on water temperatures in the states freshwater impoundments and tidal waters. Largemouth bass are still very much stuck in a summer mode of behavior but as water temperatures begin to creep downward, the morning bite will last a little longer and the evening start a little sooner. Surface lures in the shallow grass in the early morning and working edges with spinnerbaits and crankbaits continues to be a good choice. Dropping whacky rigged worms down through grass or near deep sunken wood works well as the sun gets higher in the sky.

Fishermen in the Ocean City area will most likely see rough sea and surf conditions this coming weekend as Irene moves up the coast. A good stir might be a good thing for offshore fishing prospects; only time will tell. In the meantime fishermen are catching small bluefish in the surf on finger mullet rigs and a mix of kingfish, croaker and spot on small cut bait. Large sharks and rays are being caught on larger offerings.

In and around the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area a larger grade of bluefish is being seen on evening/night tides along with a few striped bass. During the day flounder, snapper bluefish and croakers are being caught. The back bay fishing spots are yielding a few keeper flounder along with a lot of throwbacks. Croakers, snapper bluefish and small sea bass tend to round out the bottom fishing mix.

The boats headed out to the wreck and artificial reef sites are finding fair to good fishing for sea bass. Fishermen are also catching flounder and often on the way in are stopping to catch croakers in the slough areas off the beaches.

Offshore fishermen are finding a mix of white and blue marlin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and bigeye tuna in the Washington and Baltimore Canyons this week. This weekends storm could very well herald the beginnings of the traditional September marlin bite; time will tell.

A fish, which you can't see, deep down in the water, is a kind of symbol of peace on earth, good will to yourself. Fishing gives a man some time to think. It gives him some time to collect his thoughts and rearrange them kind of neat, in an orderly fashion. - Robert Ruark, The Old Man And The Boy


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.