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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 25, 2010

It seems hard to believe that kids are already back at school in many areas and family vacations are now going to be tougher to schedule and certainly shorter. Water temperatures are beginning to cool slightly and all types of fish are becoming more active. Two of the finest months for fishing in Maryland are just around the corner.

Maryland Fishing Challenge Featuring Diamond Jim

The final days of the Fishing Challenge and search for Diamond Jim are also approaching. Entries have been steadily coming in and this year's awards ceremony promises to be a really exciting and fun event. All qualifiers that are present for the September 11th festivities will receive a free Under Armour T-shirt and someone is leaving with a brand new boat, motor and trailer combo courtesy of Bass Pro Shops. This year's event will be in conjunction with the Maryland Seafood Festival so good eats will abound. Diamond Jim is still swimming out there in the bay somewhere and he sports a $25,000 tag until August 31st. Leo James Jr. of Annapolis caught a Diamond Jim tagged striped bass on August 17th near the Bay Bridge that had been had been tagged for the July portion of Diamond Jim and although he didn't win the big prize he did qualify for a $500 check.

Chesapeake Bay

Water temperatures in the upper bay region have dropped to 80-degrees in many areas and these lower water temperatures are more to the liking of fish such as striped bass and white perch. Fish are becoming more active for longer periods of time so fishing has been good. Striped bass are being caught by trolling bucktails and spoons along channel edges and deep structure. Small bluefish and good-sized Spanish mackerel are also part of the mix in the upper bay so most fishermen are making sure to have small spoons behind planers in their trolling spread. The striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are chasing schools of bay anchovies in the upper bay and when encountered can provide fast and furious action for light tackle fishermen casting lures. Got-Cha plugs, metal jigs and bucktails are usually what fishermen use. Most of the striped bass on the surface are 3-year old fish so most are a couple of inches shy of 18"; but often large striped bass can be found close to the bottom. Tying a small glass or epoxy fly about 24" behind the main lure often will entice strikes from Spanish mackerel that pass up the larger lure. All fishermen should be cautioned from using shiny snap swivels or any other shiny terminal gear when casting into a melee that contains bluefish; it is a sure way to get cut off.

Fishermen are also live lining spot with good success on steep channel edges or deep structure. Chumming continues to be good at traditional locations such as Swan Point and Love Point. Live lining spot and or chumming have also been productive at the Bay Bridge piers and sewer pipe. Jigging soft plastic jigs at the base of the bridge piers and rock piles also is a good way to tangle with some striped bass.

White perch are spread out through the entire region and can offer a variety of fishing situations and methods. Many anglers like to camp out over a reef or shoal out in the bay or at the mouth of a tidal river and fish with a bottom rig baited with grass shrimp or bloodworms. Others like to use a dropper fly above a jig for deeper fishing or casting to underwater structure such as rocks. Casting light crappie jigs and spinners towards shoreline structure such as old piers and breakwaters is also a fun way to catch a mess of white perch. Be sure to check out Allan Ellis's entry about white perch fishing in the lower Patapsco this week in the Angler's Log section.

Photo Courtesy Rich Watts, click to enlarge.

Fishermen in the middle and lower bay regions are enjoying some of the best Spanish mackerel action one could hope for this week The action has be here and there for the last couple of weeks and now there is no doubt that a large group of Spanish have moved into all three regions of the bay and are making life miserable for any bay anchovies they encounter. Spanish are real speedsters so trying to cast to a school of breaking fish can often be a lesson in frustration to the uninitiated. Casting metal jigs or Got-Cha lures with a small epoxy fly on a trailer is often a good bet. Fly fishing is also a lot of fun, matching the size and color of bay anchovies is the name of the game. Striped bass and bluefish are also part of the melee and often the larger striped bass are holding deep under the surface action. Trolling small spoons behind planers at a good clip is often one of more productive methods of targeting Spanish mackerel. Rich Watts sent in this picture from the mouth of Eastern Bay from Monday evening and one can see that Spanish mackerel have no qualms about spitting up dinner all over a nice clean boat.

Fishermen are finding plenty of bait size spot in the tidal rivers and are live lining them out in the bays various channel edges with good success despite marauding bluefish. The Hill area and False Channel as well as the western side of the shipping channel have been good places to fish; often in about 35" of water.

Croaker fishing continues to be good in the evenings at shoal areas next to deep channels or on channel edges. Fishing for white perch also has been good either in some of the deeper reefs in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and along shoreline structure. Water temperatures are cooling so the white perch are becoming more active in the shallower areas.

Lower bay region fishermen are generally fishing on a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Casting to breaking fish or trolling has been two of the more popular ways to fish for the mix. Those fishermen targeting Spanish mackerel and bluefish are trolling small spoons behind planers. Those fishermen targeting striped bass are live lining spot along channel edges such as out in front of the Gas Dock, jigging underneath breaking fish, trolling spoons and bucktails or chumming. Large red drum are being caught and released on the eastern side of the bay and near the Target Ship mostly by fishermen trolling and jigging.

Recreational crabbing continues to very good in all three regions of the bay. Crabbers are reporting catches averaging a bushel to a full bushel per trip. Collapsible traps and trotlines are working equally well. Cooler water temperatures have caused crabs to roam the shallower waters once again and small crabs are chewing up baits at a record pace.

Photo Courtesy Marty Haggerty, click to enlarge.

Freshwater

Freshwater fishermen are beginning to see all types of freshwater fish become more active as water temperatures begin to dip slightly. Fishermen out at Deep Creek Lake have been catching trout near the dam and many of them have been impressive in size. Marty Haggerty of Catonsville caught this nice one while fishing with nightcrawlers near the dam recently.

Fishing for largemouth bass still continues to be an early morning and late evening proposition; especially when fishing shallow water areas. Surface lures are best for this type of fishing and certainly are the most entertaining. The feeder creeks are still running a little cooler so they are a good place to fish as is shade under docks, brush and grass. Casting spinnerbaits and crankbaits near sunken wood is also a good bet.

Ocean

Oceanside fishermen are having some good days flounder fishing in the inlet and back bay areas of Ocean City. Many fishermen are now using large baits to target larger flounder. Bluefish continue to pour through the inlet on incoming tides at night and a few nice striped bass are also being caught at night on swim shads and live bait. Surf fishermen are catching a summer mix of kingfish, croaker, spot, small bluefish and flounder. There are still plenty of large inshore sharks being caught and released at night.

Sea bass and flounder are being caught out at the wreck and reef sites and croakers are holding off the beaches. Offshore fishermen are finding a lot of dolphin at places like the Rock pile and lobster pot buoys. A nice mix of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and white marlin is being found at the canyons. A few boats reported double digit white marlin releases on Monday.

"Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated. "

-- Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

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.