Water releases at the Conowingo Dam have been pretty sparse lately and so it goes that the striped bass fishing below the dam has been a bit sparse also. Water temperatures are rising in the river and for the fishing to improve; more cool water needs to come through the dam. A good water release always spurs the fishing on; especially in the evening or early morning hours when fishermen can cast swim shads, crankbaits or drift live eels in the current for striped bass.
Striped bass fishing in the channel areas around the Susquehanna Flats is very slow now and most fishermen in the area are fishing for white perch and channel catfish. The perch are abundant and can be often found holding near deep areas such as points. Small jigs such as shad darts tipped with a piece of nightcrawler or bloodworm or a high/low bottom rig are favorites. Channel catfish can be caught on the bottom with any kind of cut bait, chicken necks or nightcrawlers. There are also plenty of largemouth bass in the lower river and the flats area. The grass is getting thick in the shallows and that is just the kind of place big largemouth bass like to hang out. Bill Reiber shows us a big one that was just shy of 10-pounds before releasing it back into the waters near Perryville.
The areas around Pooles and Hart-Miller Islands are being explored by fishermen casting lures to structure in the early morning and late evening hours with some success. Others have been drifting live eels in some of the fast flowing currents that flow through the channels around the islands. The waterfront areas on Baltimore Harbor are also good places to cast lures to shoreline structure for striped bass during the low light hours of morning and evening. Jigging at the mouth of the Patapsco has been successful for some anglers when they can find fish holding to structure such as channel edges and shoals.
More boats are chumming now in the upper bay and often with good results. A good flowing tide is needed and boats have been setting up wherever they can mark fish. Swan Point, Love Point and the Triple Buoys have been popular this week and fishermen are relating that the best fish are coming from baits allowed to settle on the bottom. Also fresh menhaden is a real asset rather than frozen and for those thinking of entering the Rock Hall Tournament this weekend; a fresh fillet of menhaden, on the bottom at daybreak just might get you that winning fish.
The chumming at the Podickory Point, Sandy Point Light area has been slow but just might pick up this week if fish move into that area. Fishermen have been catching striped bass by trolling along channel edges and jigging near the Bay Bridge Piers. Bottom fishermen are finding good white perch fishing on Belvedere Shoals, the mouths of the tidal rivers and off of docks and piers in the tidal rivers and creeks. They are also finding a few spot now and then and even a few wayward croakers. Recreational crabbing continues to be rather slow in the tidal rivers of the upper bay region.
Middle Bay Region
This week fishermen have a number of options when it comes to fishing for striped bass in the middle bay region. A lot of fishermen are having good success with trolling a mix of Storm shads and sassy shads in tandem or behind umbrella rigs. Many are doing well trolling along the shipping channel edges in about 40’ of water by employing planer boards and flat lines at various depths. The striped bass being caught range from sub-legal to about 26” in size. Bluefish have moved into the lower bay region this week so it will soon be a perilous time for trolling expensive Storm shad type lures. Denny Seabright sent in this report and picture on trolling. Lil Zee fished the mid bay area the first week of June with mixed results, marked plenty of bait some times with no rock any where around. Most days limited with 18 to 21 inch common; 26" was biggest for the week, all were taken in 40-50 feet of water on the western side of ship channel or the eastern side by the bloody point light. White bucktails with red and white small 5" white shads were top producers; Sara Miller fishing on the Lil Zee holds up a nice rockfish taken June 3rd out in front of Bloody Point light house.
A lot of fishermen have begun to chum for their striped bass along channel edges, bar drop-offs and points. Results are not always consistent and many are attempting to mark fish on a depth finder before committing to starting a chum slick. Some of the traditional locations such as Hackett’s, the northern edge of the Hill, Clay Banks and Gum Thickets have been go to places to start looking for marks. Everyday spot are becoming easier to find in the mouths of some of the tidal rivers such as the West River and fishermen are taking their precious spot out to the deeper edges in about 30’ of water to live line for striped bass. Most fishermen are doing well with this type of fishing if the striped bass are there; it seems that it pretty hard for a striped bass to pass up on a spot. Thomas Point has been a popular place this week to live line as has the outside edge of Hackett’s and the Gum Thickets.
The shallow water fishery for striped bass is in full gear at a number of traditional locations where old rip rap walls now find themselves far out from shore and other areas such as stump fields, points and there is always the rocks outside of Poplar Island. This is traditionally an early morning or late evening fishery where low light conditions are a key element. Few types of fishing can be as relaxing, watching a sun rise or set; but yet exciting while casting surface lures into a rip and having a nice striped bass blow up under ones lure. Any striped bass fishermen can just imagine where the fish must be holding in this picture as a high ebb tide runs over an old submerged rock wall waiting for your lure; (they were).
More croakers are being caught each week although their progress in the tidal rivers seems to be a little slow perhaps due to depressed salinities from all the rain we’ve been getting. Channel edges in the bay of approximately 25’ or more have been good places to look for croakers during the day and shoal edges at dusk. Squid, clams and peeler crab tend to be the most popular baits. Spot are steadily becoming easier to catch in the shallows of the tidal rivers; which is good news for anyone wanting to live line for striped bass. This is a great time for white perch fishing and they can be found on oyster reefs in the lower tidal rivers or near deep water piers and docks. They can be caught on bait such as grass shrimp on a hook or small jig head or by casting spinners and beetle spins in the shallower waters near marsh edges and sunken wood.
Recreational crabbers are reporting fair to good catches of crabs this week but report that there are a lot of “light crabs” due to the recent full moon shed. More than one crabber reported that it was hard to throw a 7” crab back but it made no sense to keep them if they were light. Collapsible crab traps have been a good choice lately especially when baited with fresh razor clams; chicken necks are good but the razor clams definitely have an edge. Some trot liners have even gone to tying small bags of razor clams on their lines which involves a lot of labor.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
Perhaps the latest news this week in the lower bay region is the bona fide arrival of bluefish. Fishermen started catching them last week in earnest at the Middle Grounds and they are showing up sporadically throughout the two regions of the lower bay. Most of the blues caught at the Middle Grounds were in the 2lb to 3lb range and were caught by trolling spoons and surge tube lures and by chumming.
Striped bass fishing has been very good this week throughout most of the region with the area outside of the Gas Docks being one of the more popular and rewarding places to fish. Trolling remains a mainstay in the lower bay along the channel edges in 30’ to 40’ of water with umbrella rigs. Other fishermen are catching spot in the Patuxent River and transporting them out to the 30’ edge outside of the Gas Docks to live line. Chumming is another option and boats have been chumming at Buoy 72, 72A, the Middle Grounds, Target Ship, the rock piles above Point Lookout and channel edges at the mouth of the Potomac.
Croaker fishing has been very good this week in the lower Potomac near St. Georges Island and Piney Point as well as near Buoy 72A to 72 in the evenings and the Patuxent River. On the eastern side of the bay; the mouth of the Honga River in about 25’ of water has been good, the mouth of the Nanticoke and Manokin Rivers have also been good places to find croakers, spot and the occasional speckled trout. In Tangier Sound the fleet from Crisfield has been finding good catches of croakers and spot throughout the Pocomoke Sound area and up to Deal Island. Flounder fishing has been good along channel edges and shoals and white perch fishing in the tidal rivers and creeks remains excellent. Recreational crabbers report good catches of crabs; although there are an increased number of recently shed crabs showing up this week.
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