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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | July 28, 2010

Chesapeake Bay

Fishermen in the upper bay region are finding good fishing for white perch on most of the hard-bottomed shoals and reefs scattered throughout the region. Most fishermen are using bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or grass shrimp at locations such as Belvedere, Man O War and Tea Kettle Shoals. Fishermen are also reporting catching a few croakers and spot at these same locations. Channel edges and structure in the tidal rivers has also been a great place to fish bottom rigs or small spinner blade jigs for white perch.

Water temperatures in the upper bay region are now in the mid to upper 80's and as we approach August, deeper waters are showing depressed dissolved oxygen conditions at times. Fishermen attempting to live line spot in waters deeper than 30' along channel edges have reported low oxygen levels in some of those deeper waters. Live lining spot and chumming has been a popular way to fish at the sewer pipe and the Bay Bridge piers for striped bass in the last couple of weeks. Boats have been anchoring up current of the pipe and piers and either drifting live spot or baits back to the deep structure. Jigging with soft plastic jigs has also been a productive way to catch striped bass up to 35" at times. The early morning and late evening hours during strong tides has been the best formula for this type of fishing.

Photo Courtesy Steve Stacharowski, click to enlarge.

The middle bay region offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities this week and most are occurring in the early morning and late evening hours due to the summer heat, bright sun and elevated water temperatures. Fishing for striped bass at the crack of dawn and late evening has been focused around trolling, live lining spot and jigging or casting to breaking fish. Most of the trolling is taking place along channel edges and outside of breaking fish; which tend to be a mix of striped bass and bluefish. Live lining spot on channel edges in front of the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant and other channel edges such as the mouth of Eastern Bay, False Channel and Buoy 83 have been good places to fish. Casting and jigging to breaking fish and shallow structure can offer good fishing and Poplar Island has been a good place to look for action for the last week or so. Be sure to check out Joe Evans July 27th Angler's Log entry about striped bass fishing at Poplar Island. Tom Stacharowski was fishing with his dad recently with his dad near Poplar Island when he caught this nice 34" striped bass.

Photo Courtesy Keith Lockwood, click to enlarge.

The best croaker fishing is occurring after dark along channel edges and shoals close to the deeper channels this week. Water temperatures are above the mid 80-degree mark and most croaker are holding deep during the day and not feeding. Shrimp, peeler crab, clams and squid have been popular baits to use. Spot and white perch are also part of the bottom fishing mix when fishing in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers. There is some good shallow water action to be found for striped bass in the early morning and late evening hours along the bay shores and lower sections of the tidal rivers. White perch can also be found in these areas by casting small spinners and spinner blade jigs such as beetle spins and Road Runners. Matt Mahoney holds up a nice white perch caught in the lower Choptank River on 1/16oz chartreuse Road Runner.

Fishing in the lower bay region for striped bass and bluefish has focused around the region of the lower Potomac, Cove Point and the area bordered by Buoy 72, the Target Ship and the Middle Grounds. Trolling, chumming, live lining spot and casting or jigging to breaking fish have been the principal ways of fishing for them. Some of the largest bluefish seen in the lower bay region are coming from the Middle grounds area. Trolling spoons and bucktails with inline weights or planers has been popular along channel edges and wherever concentrations of fish can be found. There are plenty of spot to be found in the tidal rivers so live lining along the western edge of the shipping channel in about 35' of water has been a good option. Out in front of the Gas Docks and prominent points such as Cedar Point and Point No Point have been good places to look for striped bass.

Croaker fishing has been the best in the evenings; especially for the largest croakers; fishermen are reporting that often the action does not get into gear until an hour after dark. Locations such as the shoals behind Buoys 72 and 72A and the Middle Grounds have been excellent places to fish on the western side of the region. In Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds a mix of croaker and spot are being caught during the day in some of the deeper waters but most fishermen agree the best fishing has been in the evening hours along channel edges and adjacent shoals. A mix of croaker, spot and white perch are being caught in the Honga River. Flounder fishing is steadily improving along channel edges and flats; especially on the eastern side of the bay. Shallow water fishing along bay shores has been good in the early morning and late evening hours for a mix of striped bass, bluefish and small puppy drum.

Recreational crabbers in the upper bay region are enjoying good crabbing in just about all of the tidal rivers within the region. Middle bay and lower bay region crabbers are experiencing good to excellent crabbing also. Small crabs continue to chew up baits and this week's full moon should cause an increase in the number of recently shed crabs.

Freshwater

Freshwater fishermen in the western region of the state are finding good trout fishing in the region's cool shaded trout waters. Deep Creek Lake fishermen are finding smallmouth and largemouth bass under the shade of floating docks and boats. Largemouth bass and chain pickerel are also being found in some of the back cove areas under thick grass. The upper Potomac water temperatures are in the high 80's now so catch and release fishermen need to use caution when catching smallmouth bass and walleyes. Muskies are especially susceptible to warm water stress and every effort should be made to avoid targeting them until water temperatures cool down in early fall.

Fishermen are looking to thick grass and any structure that provides shade in the freshwater and tidal waters of the state this week when targeting largemouth bass. The early morning and evening hours offer the best fishing opportunities. Grass edges, creek channels and sunken wood are good places to try a variety of soft plastics in a wide variety of rigged fashions; such as whacky, shaky, or drop shot rigged.

Photo Courtesy Keith Lockwood, click to enlarge.

This can be a great time of the year to find a shaded bank to try fishing for bluegills with a bobber and baits such as crickets or worms. Fly casting rubber-legged poppers for bluegills and small largemouth bass is a summer time tradition for many on a quiet evening near lily pads.

Ocean Side

Coastal fishermen in the Ocean City area continue to focus on traditional summer time flounder fishing in the back bay and inlet areas. Many are now using large baits to cut down on catching undersized flounder and Gulp baits in the form of shrimp or mullet have been very popular. Fishermen at the inlet area are catching flounder and triggerfish by day and bluefish and a few striped bass at night. Surf fishermen are finding the best fishing for a summer mix of croakers, spot, kingfish and small bluefish in the early morning or evening hours. Large sharks in the form of sand tigers, sandbar and spinners are entertaining catch and release fishermen at night. Sea bass fishing on the wreck sites has been fair to good on most days and croakers are starting to provide good fishing closer to the beaches. Offshore fishermen are catching a mix of yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dolphin and marlin from the 60-fathom line out to the canyons.

The Maryland Fishing Challenge Featuring Diamond Jim

The Maryland Fishing Challenge continues to receive entries as the summer rolls on and close to 2,000 anglers are now registered for what may be one of the largest fishing tournaments in the America. More than 60 species of fish are eligible for the Maryland Fishing Challenge including large and smallmouth bass, trout, walleye, musky and panfish in the freshwaters of Maryland; rockfish (striped bass), bluefish, drum, sea trout and perch in the Chesapeake Bay; and tuna, marlin, flounder, kingfish and sea bass caught in Maryland waters off the Atlantic Coast. Check out how to enter at the Fishing Challenge site. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp

The Fisheries Service biologists will be tagging striped bass tomorrow for the final round of Diamond Jim to run through the month of August. Youth anglers will be out in force to assist in catching the fish and biologists will be placing the green tags on the fish. Striped bass will be tagged and released from the upper bay to the lower bay regions.

"I never lost a little fish- Yes, I am free to say. It always was the biggest fish I caught, that got away."

-- Eugene Field 1850-1895.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

Keith Lockwood
-- Fisheries Biologist