The Conowingo Dam currently has been keeping to a pm release schedule and the releases are well within normal flow rates. The Susquehanna watershed was spared much of the wrath of this past weekends Northeaster in regards to heavy rainfall and flooding. Fishermen are catching a few American shad and the last of the hickory shad run below the dam. Fishing for white perch and channel catfish in the Susquehanna has been excellent this past week and should continue. Fishermen are using bottom rigs for the best fishing and are mostly using bloodworms for the white perch and chicken liver, nightcrawlers or cut bait for the channel catfish.
There should be some striped bass in the 18” to 26” size range in the lower Susquehanna River and flats area when the season opens on May 16th through the 31st. in the area defined as the Susquehanna Flats fishery. Fishermen will be able to keep one striped bass per day in the 18” to 26” size range during that time. The northern line that defines the spring fishery in the bay will also move from the Brewerton Channel to a line a little farther north defined as a line from the south point of Hart-Miller Island to Tolchester. Fishermen were still catching large striped bass north of the Bay bridge; mostly around the Dumping Grounds and channel edges by trolling until the 13th. A number of fishermen have been talking about chumming and no doubt will be giving it a try very soon. Fishermen can expect a lot of muddy water and debris to be coming out of the tidal rivers in the Baltimore/ upper eastern shore area this week due to heavy rains this past weekend. Dave Seaman was fishing out of Rock Hall when he caught this fine looking fish last week.
As of May 16th fishermen in the upper bay below the Tolchester/Hart-Miller Island line will be able to add a striped bass in the 18” to 28” size range to their catch or settle in for two fish less than 28”. These changes will certainly be welcomed by fishermen as we begin to settle into the traditional fishery that will last us until December.
Fishermen have been reporting that white perch are becoming more common in the bay proper in the upper bay and can be caught off of fishing piers, docks and prominent points. Bottom rigs baited with bloodworms has been the most common way to fish for them. Channel catfish will also be found at the mouths of several of the upper bay tidal rivers and creeks and in the Hart-Miller/ Pooles Island region.
Mid Bay Region:
Despite the weekend’s weather, fishermen did pretty good trolling and catching large striped bass in the mid-bay region. Fish were caught from just below the Bay Bridge to the boundaries of the lower bay region. The shipping channel edges that were the steepest such as from the Gum Thickets south to Buoy 83 and the edge below Chesapeake Beach on the western shore continued to produce fish as did the False Channel area at the mouth of the Choptank. Big fish will continue to become harder to find as May wears on but the good news is that there are plenty of fish in the 24” to 32” size range to fill in behind them. Brian Marzeski of Gambrills caught this nice 45” striped bass on a chartreuse umbrella rig just south of the Bay Bridge last week.
Most fishermen will continue to troll the shipping channel edges this weekend for larger striped bass but they will also start to employ smaller bucktails and swim shads to target fish less than 28”. Bay water temperatures are approaching the middle 60’s so it will not be too much longer before bluefish begin to appear and soft plastic sassy shads and such will be in dire danger from short biting bluefish. Breaking striped bass have been spotted here and there for the past week or so now and light tackle jigging will be a welcomed relief for many fishermen tried of using heavy tackle while trolling. A few fishermen will most likely start to think about chumming in the coming weeks and it will be interesting to see where the fish decide to take up residence this year.
Croakers are steadily making their way into the middle bay region but so far catches have been spotty. White perch have taken up residence in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and creeks and some of the hard-bottomed areas in the bay such as at the mouth of the Choptank, Hackett’s Bar and Eastern Bay. Recreational crabbers are starting to think about crabbing and a few will undoubtedly give it a try this weekend. Bruz Herbert decided to throw a couple of collapsible crab traps out while fishing in the Kent Narrows and came up with this 5” crab; his official first for the season.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
The lower bay region was a very happening place last week in regards to fishing; especially for striped bass. Captains and fishermen reported good catches before the big northeaster so when the striped bass season reopens on May 16th there are great expectations for the larger striped bass and also those under 28”. Trolling along the steeper edges of the shipping channel on the western shore and those edges near Hooper’s Island Light and Buoy 72 south to 70 or near the mouth of the Potomac will produce some of the larger fish. Fishermen will also put smaller offerings out in their spread looking for the smaller fish less than 28”. This happy group enjoyed a fun outing this past weekend and put some fish on the dinner table in the process.
Perhaps one of the more exciting bits of news in the lower bay region in the past week or so is the continued sighting of breaking striped bass in the 24” to 36” size range chasing bait. Most of the action has been centered from Point-No-Point to Cedar Point, in front of the Gas Docks and the lower Potomac River; but as most fishermen know it can occur wherever and whenever bait and predator happen to meet each other. Jigging with light spinning or bait casting tackle can be a welcomed relief to many fishermen who have had enough with trolling. Jay Fleming and a couple of his college buddies Robert and Garrett from St. Mary’s College reported that they had finished their last exams and decided to celebrate by going fishing. They found breaking striped bass in the Point-No-Point area and enjoyed non stop catch and release fishing all afternoon and into the evening till they were tired and sore. They of course each kept a fish to take home for dinner to keep up their strength for their next fishing trip.
Croakers continue to pour into the region as the season begins to develop and waters become warmer. The NOAA Buoy at the mouth of the Potomac is currently showing a water temperature in the 63-degree range. Fishermen continue to enjoy excellent catches of croaker at the mouth of the Wicomico River near Bushwood and locations farther down the Potomac River. Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds are seeing limited numbers of croaker and flounder moving into the region and fishermen have made some catches of both this past weekend along the channel areas. Fishermen are talking about a few red drum that were caught recently in the shallower areas and the prospects for black drum are on the horizon as they are now reported to be moving into the mouth of the Chesapeake.
It should not be long now before fishermen start to see bluefish moving into the lower bay region and it shall be interesting to see what range of sizes we see this year. The blues seem to be returning at larger sizes each year and we finished off last season with many in the 6 lb range. Chuck Lanner was out trolling this past weekend in the lower bay region when he pulled in this big bluefish while trolling for striped bass.