Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | May 22, 2013

For some of us it seems hard to realize that we will be heralding in Memorial Day weekend this week and the start of what most consider the summer season. Some families will be on the move this week to vacation spots within Maryland or perhaps choosing to stay at home and enjoy more local fun. Whatever your choice may be, choose it to spend some times with family and friends and make a few casts for those who sacrificed so that we may have the freedom to do things such as fishing.

As one would expect the Hickory Shad action in the lower Susquehanna River and Deer Creek is winding down; fishermen do report this week of catching a few Hickory Shad late in the day during water releases from the Conowingo Dam. Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna are not at a loss for action though, as the river seems to be packed from bank to bank with White Perch which can be caught on shad darts and small jigs. In the Susquehanna Flats area, Striped Bass in the 22" size range are being caught by fishermen casting swim shads and soft plastic jigs. There are also plenty of hungry Channel Catfish in the area also and often they will chase down a soft plastic jig that is being worked close to the bottom.

Striped Bass action in the upper bay has slowed down quite a bit for fishermen trolling for the big ones this week. The majority of the large spawning fish have moved through the area for the most part but fishermen are finding a few fish over 28" in the area by trolling, jigging or chumming. Chumming or chunking at Podickory and Love Points are producing a few of the larger fish and there are also smaller Striped Bass. Jigging near traditional locations such as the sewer pipe on the northeast side of the Bay Bridge as well as the bridge piers and rock piles are producing some fish. Large Striped Bass such as this whopper held up by Brandon Clemens are going to be harder to find as June approaches.



Photo Courtesy of Brandon Clemens


Fishermen are reporting some good fishing for Striped Bass while chumming at Hackett's Bar below the Bay Bridge and trolling around Bloody Point Light, Thomas Point and down the east and west edges of the shipping channel; the area between Breezy Point and Cove Point is a "go to" place for the boats trolling this week. The most common size for Striped Bass over 28" is a size range from 29" to 32" right now as the trophy Striped Bass season begins to wind down. The smaller adult Striped Bass are usually the last to spawn and the spawning that was witnessed last Friday the 17th on the upper Choptank were most likely fish in this size range. The warm temperatures spurred these fish on and most likely this scene also occurred on the other spawning rivers and may be the last spawn we see for the 2013 season. Fishermen are mixing up their trolling spreads now to round out daily limits to include one fish less than 28" and there seems to be no shortage of those fish in the middle and lower bay regions as well as the lower Potomac River. Breaking fish are being reported from Breezy Point south to Cove Point, out in front of Taylor's Island and in the lower Potomac. The fish on the surface are being described as fish in the 15" to 17" size range which would be our 2010 year class but fish in the 20"+ size range are being caught underneath on jigs allowed to sink below the surface melee.

Light tackle fishermen are also having fun catching Striped Bass less than 28" in the shallower waters of the bay shores and Speckled Trout in the 20" to 29" size range and Red Drum falling in the slot size range of 18" to 29" are also being caught. Soft plastic jigs and swim shads have been the best choices for this kind of action. The Speckled Trout and red drum are being caught from Taylor's Island south on the eastern side of the bay with much of the best action being found in the Tangier/Pocomoke Sound areas.

Bottom fishermen have been catching a mix of Croakers and White Perch in the lower bay, Tangier Sound and lower Potomac River areas on bottom rigs and also small jigs worked close to the bottom. The White Perch have now moved into residence in the middle and lower sections of the tidal rivers and creeks of the bay and should provide good fishing throughout the summer months. The Osman family enjoyed a day of catching a mix of Croaker and White Perch near Cobb Island on the Potomac recently and shows off a nice double header of large White Perch.



Photo Courtesy of Leo Osman


Hopefully anyone planning on recreationally crabbing this weekend did not promise to provide a crab feast this Memorial Day. As it is with most Memorial Day weekends good crabs will be in fair supply at best. The creeks on the lower eastern shore have been providing some of the better catches in the last week but crabbers report a lot of undersized crabs and also recently shed crabs.

Freshwater fishermen at Deep Creek Lake report water temperatures have hit the 60-degree mark this week. Pre-spawn Largemouth Bass are staging in transition areas outside of the shallower coves and near floating docks. Fishermen casting tubes and soft plastic jigs have been catching a lot of smallmouth Bass in the 14" to 16" size range along the rocky bottom shorelines. Bluegills are in a pre-spawn mode this week and Northern Pike and Chain Pickerel are entertaining fishermen near cove areas.

Fishermen have seen flow conditions on the upper Potomac return to normal and catch and release fishing for Smallmouth Bass has been good in most areas of the river. John Mullican sent us this nice report about conditions.

Following the recent high water event, the upper Potomac River has returned to more normal levels and smallmouth fishing has really picked up. Just about any presentation will catch a few now, but spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and tubes have been the most productive.

Last weeks high water was ill timed as bass were observed on beds just prior. River flow generally is the most significant factor affecting year class strength with poorer year classes produced during high water years. Extremely high flows can cause the males to abandon nesting areas and can displace bass eggs/fry from the nest or cover them with sediment. Survival of fry is poor during muddy conditions as the fry must expend more energy in the swifter currents and cannot feed efficiently with poor visibility. As a result, many will starve. However, observations suggest that many of the bass had not yet spawned. Bass are resilient and determined; these fish are currently spawning now that river levels have returned to normal. We will be conducting our annual smallmouth year class assessment this summer throughout the upper Potomac - stay tuned.

Trout fishermen are enjoying good fishing this week and the weekend holds a lot of promise for the weekend as fisheries crews stock more trout this week in selected waters. Be sure to check the stocking schedules for updates this week. Fishermen continue to catch some impressive trout in many of the put and take areas. Kyle Logan was fishing in the Savage Mill area of the upper Patuxent River when he caught this whopper of a Rainbow Trout that weighed just shy of 10lbs. Kyle checked in his big trout at the WSSC Brighton Dam office so he can register for the Maryland Fishing Challenge and a chance for some of the prizes being offered at the September 7th awards ceremony at Sandy Point State Park. For details on registering your trophy catch be sure to check out the Fishing Challenge website.



Photo Courtesy of Klye Logan


In many areas of the central, southern and eastern regions of the state, Largemouth Bass are either still spawning or in a post-spawn phase of behavior for catch and release fishermen. The recent warm weather has done much to spur Largemouth Bass into feeding in the shallower areas of lakes, ponds and tidal waters. Cover such as grass, spatterdock fields and sunken wood are good places to target with small shallow running crankbaits' soft plastics and spinnerbaits retrieved just under the surface.

Fishermen on the upper Chicamuxen River which is on the tidal Potomac just below Mattawoman Creek may notice some orange and white buoys marking off an area where recreational fishermen are asked to not fish. Tidal Largemouth Bass biologist Joe Love and crew are studying spawning sites and fish behavior as part of their studies. Fishermen can learn more about these and other tidal Largemouth Bass studies by signing up for email updates from the program.

The warmer weather has Bluegills moving into shallower spawning areas now and beginning to spawn in many areas of the state. As many fishermen know not only do Bluegills provide young fishermen with some attention holding fishing but large Bluegills can be very entertaining for older fishermen. They offer some exciting fishing for light tackle or fly fishing with small surface poppers and sponge type bugs. Some other fishing opportunities that exist for freshwater fishermen are fishing for Striped Bass in Rocky Gorge and Piney Run Reservoirs and Smallmouth Bass fishing in Liberty and Prettyboy Reservoirs.

Ocean City fishermen have a lot of different fishing opportunities to look forward to this Memorial Day weekend. Surf water temperatures are hovering close to 60-degrees and the large post spawn Striped Bass moving up the coast will be passing by local beaches this weekend. Large baits of clam or Menhaden are the baits of choice for this type of fishing and dogfish, skates and large Bluefish also seem to find them tasty as well. Those fishing smaller baits most likely will find some Blowfish, small Bluefish and Kingfish willing to entertain.

Inside and around the inlet fishermen are catching flounder and a few Tautog during the day and Striped Bass and Bluefish at night on swim shads and Got-Cha plugs. The word is that the bulkhead between 2nd and 4th Streets has been repaired and opened to fishing once again. Fishermen are catching good numbers of flounder inside of the inlet and back bay areas and those using larger baits are catching some big ones. Rich Watts holds up a nice flounder caught in one of the channel areas.



Photo by Rich Watts


The boats heading out to the wreck sites this week will be looking for a mix of Tautog and Sea Bass this week now that the Sea Bass season opened on May 20th with a 20 fish/day limit at minimum of 12.5"; Tautog remain at 2 fish/day at 16" or better. The first reports of offshore action came in earlier this week with some Yellowfin and Bluefin Tuna being caught near the Baltimore Canyon as well as a couple of Mako Sharks. Large Bluefish are reported near the 30 fathom line.



"As the old fisherman remarked after explaining the various ways to attach a frog to a hook, it's all the same to the frog. " - Paul Schullery

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.



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