Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 17, 2011

The lazy hazy days of August are starting to lose their grip; at least it has felt that way lately since slightly cooler weather has moved in. September is not very far away and soon water temperatures will begin to cool and all fisheries from Deep Creek Lake to the offshore canyons will begin a transformation. Be sure to take advantage of the unique opportunities present this time of the year for exploring scenic rivers such as those in western Maryland now that water levels are low and water is gin clear (an old term I used to hear as a kid from older fishermen). Rivers such as the upper Potomac are running low and clear and can offer some fun floating and fishing in a canoe with friends or kids. Everyone is trying to jam a little extra time in with kids before they head back to school; try this one with a friend so you can leave a vehicle at start and finish spots. Check out the maps on the Fisheries map site such as this one for the upper Potomac along Washington County for access spots. Pack a lunch, camera, some fishing gear, bathing suits, PFD's and enjoy a float down the upper Potomac.

Water temperatures in the Chesapeake have dipped a bit in the last week and are below 80-degrees in most areas. When it comes to fishing for striped bass and white perch in the upper bay region early morning is still the best time to be out on the water and late evening is a close second. Chumming or chunking for striped bass at the Love Point area is still on the top of the list for upper bay fishermen; but other channel edges such as Sandy Point Light and areas around Hart-Miller Island and approaches to Baltimore Harbor have been providing action also. A good early morning tide offers the best opportunities with baits close to the bottom; smaller fish tend to dominate the upper areas of a chum slick lately. Trolling deep along channel edges with bucktails or spoons is also a good option. Debra Dieter caught this nice striped bass while chumming early on an early morning tide.

Photo Courtesy of Debra Dieter

White perch fishing in the tidal creeks has been good for fishermen using light tackle and casting beetle-spins, spinners or using live bait such as grass shrimp or bloodworms. There are plenty of channel catfish in the tidal rivers, creeks and in the bay itself. Any kind of fresh cut bait or chicken livers on a bottom rig will often do the trick.

The bridge piers at the Bay Bridge continue to be a great place to look for striped bass that are holding near the pier bases. Fishermen have been jigging with soft plastic jigs and bucktails with good success. Anchoring up current of the bridge piers and drifting live spot or chunking to the pier bases is also a good option.

In the middle bay region, the False Channel area continues to be the shinning star for fishermen looking to live line or chunk spot to striped bass holding along the channel edge. There has been a large gathering of boats there on a daily basis and often the best spots go to the earliest arrivals. Jigging over suspended fish can also be very productive in the area or any place fish can be located on a depth finder. Trolling has been a viable option for fishermen that are trolling deep along channel edges and bottom structure.

Spot, white perch and croaker are spread throughout the region and some of the spot being caught at areas like Hackett's Bar, the mouth of the Choptank and Eastern Bay are large enough to fillet for the pan. White perch are mostly being found in the tidal creeks and rivers by light tackle fishermen casting lures or fishing bait. The best croaker fishing is occurring at dark along channel edges in the bay.

Lower bay fishermen also have their shining star spot for striped bass and that would be the area outside of the Gas Docks near Cove Point. Charter captains have been boasting that they feel they have the fish on a leash at times since it seems the fish are eager to gobble up any live spot sent their way. The fishing has been excellent there and early limits and crowded conditions are the norm. The Patuxent River is full of spot and many of them can be too large for live lining but just fine for pan frying. Fishermen are reporting good fishing for spot all the way up river to Benedict. Croaker fishing has picked up lately in traditional locations such as Buoy 72A, the Middle Grounds, the lower Potomac and Tangier Sound. The best action has been occurring late in the evening into dark. Large spot, flounder and small bluefish round out the mix in these areas for bottom fishermen. There have been a few reports of a Spanish mackerel caught at the S.W. Middle Grounds area. Fishermen have been finding speckled trout along the marsh edges of Tangier Sound and shallow water enthusiasts are picking away at striped bass throughout the lower bay region at dawn and late evening. Pete Cannavino and his fishing buddy hold up a trio of striped bass they caught at Cedar Point while casting topwater lures in the evening.

Photo Courtesy of Pete Cannavino

Freshwater fishermen might consider the middle of August as a rough time of the year to fish due to heat, warm water temperatures and low water in some of the state's rivers and streams. One of the things that lure fishermen to their favorite fishing holes is the natural attraction of cool water during the heat of summer. The upper Potomac River is a good example of being able to take advantage of low water conditions that only exist this time of the year. There are great opportunities now for wading and floating in small craft such as canoes or kayaks casting to deep holes and submerged ledges where smallmouth bass can be lurking mostly during the early morning or evening hours. Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are fishing for largemouth bass along grass beds and docks with whacky rigged worms or conventional lures such as spinnerbaits, chatterbaits during the early morning and late evening hours. Smallmouth bass are holding deep on rocky offshore lumps and bluegills near docks and sunken wood.

The reservoirs, lakes, ponds and tidal waters of the state offer good summertime fishing opportunities for largemouth bass as long as one is willing to get out there at the first hint of dawn or late in the evening. As most fishermen know most fish are sulking during most of the day looking for cool water and shade and do most of their feeding at night. Working the shallows at first light or the last fading light is a good tactic to find largemouth bass cruising the shallows for a meal. Finding those places where largemouth bass and other fish might be finding cool water and shade during the hot days can often pay off if approached patiently. Whacky rigged worms or Senkos tend to work well for largemouth bass hiding under docks, under thick grass or near deep sunken wood. This happy angler caught and released this nice largemouth bass by working a Senko in thick grass in a Columbia lake.

Photo Courtesy of Stephen Mac

The fishing scene in Ocean City is in full summer mode as the end of August looms on the horizon. Just about every summer migrant that is going to be here, is here and there are plenty to choose from. Surf fishermen are seeing the best fishing early in the morning or late in the evening for a mix of kingfish, croaker, large spot, flounder, small bluefish and the occasional small black drum. Most fishermen are using small pieces of cut bait of fish or squid and finger mullet for the bluefish. There are some large sharks and rays available for catch and release fishing at night.

In and around the inlet fishermen are seeing bluefish moving in and out of the inlet and are catching them by casting Got-Cha lures or metal mostly at night. A few striped bass are also being caught at night on live eels and spot. During the day some nice flounder are being caught on live spot and traditional rigs along with a few triggerfish along the rocks. In the back bay areas flounder reign supreme and there is a lot of action to be had; although most are undersized. Larger baits such as live spot up the odds of catching a doormat sized flounder. There is also a mix of croaker, large spot, small sea bass and occasional blowfish and sea robins.

Sea bass fishing on the wreck sites is being described as good by captains and big flounder are making more and more of the catch around the wreck sites. Croakers are becoming more common off the beaches and captains have been watching their depth finders on the way in when going over slough areas and occasionally fishermen can score big on a nice mess of croakers to top off their catch.

The White Marlin Open is but a memory now and although we didn't see a grander blue marlin this year there were some remarkable catches. One blue marlin met the minimum weight of 500lbs.; a nice one just shy of 700lbs caught by John Schindler of Severna Park.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Jones

Boats headed out to the canyons continue to catch a mix of white marlin, blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, wahoo and dolphin. The Poorman's, Baltimore and Washington Canyons have all been good places to fish. There has also been some action on some of the closer spots such as the Jackspot and Hambone for a mix of offshore species.

Scars are better than tattoos, they have better stories. -Seen on a T-shirt recently in Charleston, South Carolina


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.