Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | May 18, 2011

Striped bass fishermen in the Chesapeake rounded a corner this past Monday, May 16th ; fishermen will now be able to keep two striped bass between 18" and 28" or one above 28" and one below. This opens up a whole new world of fishing opportunities in the main stem of the bay for fishermen trolling and light tackle fishing. Fishermen up at the Susquehanna Flats area will also now be able to keep one striped bass from 18" to 26". Bay water temperatures are now in the upper 60's so school-sized striped bass are moving into the shallower areas around the bay and can be targeted by light tackle fishermen casting lures from shore or small boats. A few charter boat captains in the southern region reported that they will begin chumming for striped bass starting this weekend for their patrons.

Large striped bass are still being caught by fishermen trolling the edges of the shipping channel and to a lesser degree the channel edges of the lower Potomac River near Saint George Island and Piney Point. The fish in the main stem of the bay are spread out from the Bay Bridge south and are being caught at what is being described as a slow pick. Jason Perron was out fishing with his dad near Bloody Point when he picked up this nice fish while trolling.

Photo Courtesy John Perron

Croaker fishing continues to improve each day as water temperatures rise and more fish move into Maryland waters. It is not uncommon now for fishermen in boats to catch a nice mess of large croakers from traditional channel edge locations throughout the bay up to the mouth of Eastern Bay. Some of the better places to fish recently have been the channel edges in Tangier Sound, Buoy 72, and the western edge of the shipping channel in front of Point No Point to Breezy Point and off Hooper's Island. The evening fishing has been the most productive and peeler crab has been the best bait; although Gulf shrimp, clam snouts and bloodworms will also catch fish.

Fishing for white perch remains good this week and the best fishing has been in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and creeks. Soon a portion of the white perch will move onto some of the oyster reefs in the bay such as the knolls and shoals off of Baltimore Harbor. White perch fishing has been very good in the lower Susquehanna River and American shad have shown up this week in welcomed numbers for catch and release fishermen. We are in a full moon cycle this week and May worms have begun to swarm and striped bass, white perch and croaker will be stuffing themselves. The full moon and warmer water have also triggered the first blue crab shed of the season and shedding houses have been getting an ample supply of peelers from the crabbers so there should be plenty of peelers available for bait. Recreational crabbers can expect good crabbing in most areas but may see a large number of recently shed white crabs. An observation this past weekend showed number one blue crabs measuring 5" on the retail market; but they were heavy, although mighty small picking for sure.

Freshwater fishermen in the western region of Maryland are enjoying some good fishing opportunities for trout in the regions trout management waters and a variety of fish at Deep Creek Lake. Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are catching a mix of largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill and chain pickerel. The smallmouth bass are finished spawning for the most part and largemouth bass are just beginning. Drifting minnows or casting lures such as soft plastics and crankbaits have been effective ways to fish. The upper Potomac River is unthinkable when it comes to fishing this week; heavy rains yesterday and today are causing high flood waters. Local streams and creeks in the higher elevations should fair much better.

Largemouth bass are generally finished spawning now except for the coldest waters of the western region. Excellent fishing can be found in small ponds, lakes and tidal rivers throughout Maryland. Casting surface baits such as Chatterbaits over grass or crankbaits and spinnerbaits near grass edges are a good choice; especially near transition areas between coves and deeper waters. Small local ponds can offer some real fun fishing without a lot of planning. Sierra Thomas holds up a nice largemouth bass she caught while fishing with family and friends recently.

Photo Courtesy Jim Thompson

Fishermen in the Ocean City area have been enjoying some exciting fishing action this week. The run of large striped bass along the beaches has been the talk of the town for the last two weeks and fresh menhaden has been disappearing from local bait shops faster than toilet paper and milk from grocery shelves before a snow storm. Menhaden baits on a bottom rig have been the preferred ticket for this event but clams and squid will also work. Those fishermen using clams have also been catching some black drum in the surf. Skates and dogfish have been pesky competitors for baits and now cow-nosed rays have joined in. Small bluefish are being caught in the surf as well; often on finger mullet or small menhaden chunks or squid.

The bluefish have also been moving in and out of the inlet and fishermen have been getting their licks in by casting Got-Cha plugs. Striped bass are being caught in the inlet at night on swim shads and live eels. Tautog continue to be caught at the inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area with some of the nicest catches coming from the south jetty; green crab pieces and frozen sand fleas are the baits of choice.

The flounder fishing continues to get better with time and higher water temperatures. Those fishermen that are using traditional squid and minnows are catching some nice ones but experiencing a lot of throwbacks. Flounder are one of those species where larger baits attract larger fish. Rich Watts left his hometown waters on the Chesapeake to try some flounder fishing this week in Ocean City and caught this nice one.

Photo Courtesy Rich Watts

Tautog fishing has been very good on the wreck sites off the coast of Ocean City lately with some real bruisers coming over the rails. Cod continue to show up now and then and are certainly a welcomed addition for fishermen. The sea bass season opens this coming Sunday May 22nd after a long wait by head boat captains and fishermen. The minimum size is 121/2-inches with a 25 fish limit and runs till October 31 with a pause before opening again on November 1st to December 31st. At least one bluefin tuna was reported at the docks last weekend coming from the canyons.

The word sacred comes to mind on rough days. It has a relevant anagram, you know: scared. When a wave is chasing your boat with a breaking crest that is higher than your transom, deep thoughts occur to you; there's death out there. -John Hersey, Blues


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.