Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | June 29, 2011

Ready or not here comes the 4th of July Weekend; whether you're headed for the beaches, bay or a quiet fishing spot, be sure to enjoy some fishing time with family and friends. There are plenty of fishing opportunities out there this week for catch and release or contributing to a celebration feast. Recreational crabbers are reporting good catches of large crabs in the bays tidal rivers and creeks as far north as the Gunpowder River. Local corn can be seen at roadside stands and the weather looks very promising for the extended weekend. Enjoy family and friends, be safe on the highways and water and experience a good old Maryland July 4th.

Salinities in the bay and its tidal rivers continue to creep back up to normal levels in most areas. The NOAA Buoy at Point Lookout is posting a salinity of around 9p.p.t., the Gooses is 7 p.p.t. and Havre de Grace is .1 p.p.t. The small bluefish that frequent the bay usually by mid summer have yet to make their way into Maryland waters in any appreciable numbers and the same can be said for sea nettles. Both can be good things; swim shad lures get a break from the toothy jaws of bluefish and of course no stinging nettles are a good thing for anyone swimming in the bay.

Most of the attention for striped bass in the upper bay tends to focus this week around the Love Point area and chumming. A good running tide and early morning hours and fresh baits close to the bottom tend to up the odds for catching some nice sized striped bass. There are a lot of 11" to 17" fish in the chum slicks so the throwback ratio tends to be high. Trolling can be an option with Storm Shads being one of the more popular lures to troll behind spreader bars, umbrellas or in tandem along channel edges. Jigging with soft plastics or metal is a good option also when fish can be located over structure.

White perch can be found in the tidal creeks and rivers with spin jigs and spinners and out on oyster lumps in the bay with bottom rigs baited with bloodworms. There are a few spot and croaker being caught in the lower section of the upper bay near the Bay Bridge. Channel catfish are a popular option for bottom fishing; especially near the mouths of the Susquehanna and Elk Rivers. Recreational crabbers are finding good catches of crabs near the mouth of the C&D Canal and the tidal rivers north to the Gunpowder.

Fishermen are now live lining spot in many locations of the middle bay region as the little fish become more abundant in the tidal rivers. A steep channel edge in about 35' of water tends to be the place the striped bass are holding and there are quite a few traditional locations worth a look. The northern edge of the Hill, Buoy 84, Thomas Point, Breezy Point and the False Channel and the Gooses are popular ones to check. The False Channel and Gooses have been getting a lot of attention from fishermen this week and for a good reason; the striped bass are there and spot can be found close by on the south edge of the Sharps Island Flats.

Trolling is still a good option for fishermen looking for striped bass and so far the bluefish have not arrived so it is still safe to troll soft plastics out there. Channel edges and ballast stone piles are all good places to troll. Light tackle jigging with soft plastics and metal is a very good option when fish can be found holding over structure such as oyster lumps and channel edges. Large croakers can also be caught on smaller sized jigs tipped with squid in many of the same areas. Bottom rigs baited with peeler crab or shrimp have been a popular way to catch croakers along channel edges. Spot are being caught on bloodworms as well as white perch and channel catfish in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. Recreational crabbers report good catches in most of the regions tidal rivers and creeks.

Fishermen in the lower bay region are reporting the first signs of bluefish in the 5lb range at the Middle Grounds area. Salinities in the bay are starting to come back to normal levels so bluefish will begin to move into the region. Fishermen looking for striped bass have been focusing most of their efforts outside of the Gas Docks at the 35' edge of the channel and live lining spot. The spot have become fairly abundant in some of the tidal rivers and creeks now so an ample supply steers many fishermen to this mode of fishing. Trolling, chumming and light tackle jigging for striped bass will of course work also when fish can be found along channel edges and rock piles. For those fishermen who can get up and be out fishing the shallows before dawn there is good fishing for striped bass.

Fishing for croakers and large spot is reported to be very good this week in a wide variety of locations from Crisfield to the Potomac River. The Tangier Sound area has been experiencing good fishing for a mix of croakers, spot, sea trout and flounder. The flounder fishing in particular has been outstanding along channel edges there with some flounder measuring 23" or more. The mouth of the Patuxent River has been the place to go for croakers and spot and white perch are being caught in good numbers farther up the river. The Potomac and its tributaries are seeing a marked improvement in croaker and spot fishing as salinities return to normal levels. Recreational crabbers should have no trouble providing crabs for family and friends this weekend as crabbing has been good to excellent in most of the regions tidal rivers and creeks.

Freshwater fishermen will be out this weekend at Deep Creek Lake trying to dodge jet skis and power boats. Getting out early at dawn and off the water by mid-morning would be a good tactic for good fishing and sanity. Smallmouth bass can be found on some of the deeper rocky points and largemouth bass are camped out under fallen tree tops and floating docks. Trolling or drifting along deep grass edges with small crankbaits of minnows will account for a mix of smallmouth bass, large blue gills and some large yellow perch like the one this young lady is holding up.

The upper Potomac River is running clear and fishing for smallmouth bass has been good this week; casting root beer colored tubes into rocky shallows that are about 4' deep in the early morning and evening hours is the ticket. Trout fishing has been good; at times various streams and creeks can be cloudy from local thunderstorm runoff but generally water quality conditions have been good. The north branch of the Potomac has also been offering a fine place to fish lately for smallmouth bass and trout and the crowds are gone.

The many lakes, reservoirs, ponds and tidal rivers offer a lot of fishing opportunities for a variety of fish this week and of course largemouth bass are at the top of that list for most fishermen. A summer mode of activity is in place now for largemouth bass and that means early morning and late evening hours are the best times to fish. Grass cover, by far holds the most fish and flipping soft plastic crawfish baits near or through the grass is one of the most productive ways to go. As the sun climbs into the morning sky, largemouth bass will retreat to cool shaded cover under thick mats of grass, blown down tree tops or other sunken wood along shaded shorelines and of course they love to hang out under docks and moored boats. Skipping soft plastics under or near these areas will often entice a strike.

Bluegill sunfish can offer a lot of fun fishing in the evenings by casting foam spiders or poppers near lily pad and grass areas. Kids and bluegills naturally go together and the classic worm and bobber rig is hard to beat. Channel catfish can be found in good numbers in most tidal rivers and in some reservoirs and lakes and carp can offer some major pull for those fishing in the tidal rivers and creeks of the bay.

Ocean City area fishermen will have a lot of good choices for fishing over the 4th of July weekend. There is a nice summer mix of fish to be caught off the beaches, flounder fishing is good in the back bay areas and offshore fishing has been very good for a variety of fish species.

Surf fishermen are finding a mix of croakers, kingfish, spot, flounder and small bluefish off the beaches. Small cut baits of squid and fish along with bloodworms or artificial alternatives such as Fishbites or Gulp baits are the best for this type of fishing. For those looking for a lot more pull, catch and release fishing for inshore sharks and sting rays is in full swing. Large menhaden baits and stout tackle are in order and remember sharks must remain in the water when being released.

Striped bass and bluefish are being caught in and around the inlet at nigh by fishermen casting Mirro Lures, swim shads, bucktails, Bomber Plugs and of course live spot and eels. During the day flounder, tautog, sheepshead and triggerfish are being caught; especially near the South Jetty. In the back bay areas flounder fishing has been very good with some nice fish coming from such traditional locations as the Thorofare, Main East Channel and out in front of the airport.

Offshore wreck fishermen are finding a mix of seabass, tautog and codfish on the wreck sites and the fishing has been especially good on the long range trips to deeper waters. The boats venturing out to the canyons have been finding good fishing for yellowfin tuna; with some going 40lbs or more despite a percentage of small fish. There are plenty of dolphin from the Jackspot out to the canyons, bluefin tuna are being caught around the 20-fathom line and there is also a mix of skipjack tuna and false albacore. White marlin are being caught and released at the canyons and blue marlin are showing up here and there also.

The less skilled the fisherman, the more likely he is to share his thoughts about equipment, technique and promising hot spots. - Randy Voorhees


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.