The Conowingo Dam power generation releases are following a typical summer pattern of afternoon water releases followed by a shut down in the late evening. The fishing in the lower Susuquehanna and flats area is also in a summer pattern now. The striped bass have thinned out with the rise in water temperatures but fishermen are still catching a few in the early morning and late evening hours by casting top water lures along the shallow edges of channels and in the river itself. There will also be that contingent of fishermen that live line small white perch and eels in the deeper pools below the dam and catch some of the nicer sized striped bass that hunker down in the deep cool waters of the river for the summer. Fishermen report that whether one is casting a topwater lure, small crankbaits or soft plastics one stands just as much chance of catching a largemouth bass or a channel catfish on any given cast. Fishing for white perch in the lower sections of the river remains good whether one is using small jigs or bait such as bloodworms. The fishing for channel catfish also continues to be excellent in the lower Susquehanna and Elk River.
The NOAA Buoy at the mouth of the Patapsco River is currently showing a water temperature of 77-degrees; surface dissolved oxygen values have ranged from a low of 3.6 to a high of 10 on Monday. The lower values are disturbing and do not spell good news for fish looking for a little oxygen to breath. These are of course surface values and don’t tell us what is going on below close to the bottom but chances are it is not good. Several fishermen reported trolling the channels at the mouth of the Patapsco and coming up empty, yet fishermen in the harbor area reported good fishing for white perch and small striped bass along old piers and shore debris. Good fishing for white perch has been reported out on some of the knolls and shoal areas in the upper bay.
Chumming off Swan Point and Love Point has had its ups and downs this past week. Several key factors always seem to separate catching fish and not; those include a good tide, fresh chum and bait, fishing early and allowing some baits to fish on the bottom. A number of fishermen also reported having success over on the western side of the bay on the channel edge from Baltimore Light south to Sandy Point Light while chumming. The best reports from this channel edge though came from fishermen who were live lining spot.
Fishermen are reporting breaking fish at times during the early morning and evening hours from the mouth of the Magothy River across to the mouth of the Chester, just above the Bay Bridge around the Sewer Pipe. Other fishermen have been finding striped bass holding to deep structure in the current at steep channel edges or at the base of the Bay Bridge pilings.
Recreational crabbers reported some crabs were caught this past weekend in the Patapsco River on trot lines and collapsible crab traps. One should take note that “some” doesn’t necessarily mean a full bushel of crabs; but anywhere from a couple dozen on up. This is a big difference from reports only a week ago and hopefully the crabbing reports will continue to improve. No word has come from the mouth of the C&D Canal where it enters the Elk River; this is usually a “go to place” this time of the year so it might be worth checking out by anyone close to that area.
Mid Bay Region:
Striped bass are on the move for any number of reasons one might suspect; last weeks high pressure has moved out so perhaps fishing will settle into a more predictable pattern. There is a lot of bait in the form of peanut menhaden showing up in the tidal rivers of the region, and water temperatures are rising. When the wind is slack these small schools of menhaden can be seen pushing water as they filter surface algae.
Fishermen continue to cast bucktails and soft plastic jigs at the base piers of the Bay Bridge will good luck at times as long as there is a good tide. A number of fishermen reported this week that they felt the action had slowed down a bit but still worth the effort. A number of fishermen have also mentioned that they’ve had good success drifting live spot back to the pier bases and a few reported success with chumming.
Chumming for striped bass continues to improve and boats seem to be having the best success at Hackett’s Bar, just north east of the Hill, Tilghman Point and some reported success at the Clay Banks. Captains will no doubt be exploring some of the traditional locations until they find where the striped bass are holding with some regularity.
A number of boats continue to troll over underwater structure such as ballast rock piles, hard channel edges, points and anywhere they can find fish. Many are still trolling sassy shad umbrella rigs with Storm lures as a trailer and this set up has been very effective. The bluefish situation has not been much a problem lately and most fishermen are reluctantly willing to sacrifice a lure or two for a days fishing success. Some fishermen have been trolling spoons and also having good luck. Fishermen who are looking for light tackle jigging action are finding it but it often tends to be a feast or famine situation. One can up the odds in their favor if they make sure there is a good strong tide and the early morning and evening hours are the best time to cruise while looking for bird activity or probing the depths for striped bass holding over deep structure. Those fishermen who are getting out early have also been casting to rocks such as Thomas Point or the breakwaters around Poplar Island for example or shallow shore lines that hold striped bass during those early morning or evening hours.
The black drum fishing has tapered off to near zip this past week but the black drums smaller cousin the croaker has moved into the region and fishing is generally good in most areas. Some of the better locations include Eastern Bay, the lower Choptank River and the shoal areas on the eastern side of the bay out in front of what’s left of James Island south to the Punch Island Bar and beyond. The deeper channel areas tend to be the best place to fish during day light hours and the shoals turn on at dusk as the croakers move into the shallower areas at dark. Fishermen who are bottom fishing in the Eastern Bay and Choptank areas are also catching a mix of spot, white perch and even some catfish with their croakers. I was out again late last week fishing for croakers again and it was a different story than my last visit. There was an incoming tide and the croakers were there in abundance but most were barely 9” and although we caught four dozen or more we only kept about a dozen that were over 12” in size. The spot caught were in the 6” to 8” size range and there was one bonus croaker that measured a good 17”. Fishermen casting from deep water docks and shore lines in the region have also been getting their licks in on the croakers. The Choptank Fishing Pier has been popular lately and the tackle shop is open once again so fishermen can purchase bait there. Greg Harris and Troy Washington drove from the western shore this past weekend and got into some of the croaker action at the Choptank Fishing Pier.
Fishermen have begun to live line spot in earnest at a number of locations in the mid-bay region with good success. A number of fishermen have returned to the False Channel area again but there are plenty of other good spots to explore. Most any steep channel edge, rocks, steep prominent points such as Thomas Point any place that is holding striped bass will work. Flounder are showing up on hard – bottomed shoal areas all the way up to Eastern Bay. Some of the better locations reported were the Taylor’s Island Flats, out in front of James Island and the area called the Sands which is just southeast of Black Walnut Point on Tilghman Island.
Recreational crabbers are doing well in the tidal creeks and rivers trot lining or running strings of collapsible crab traps. The Kent Island area has been good, the Wye River has not and most tidal rivers south such as the Miles and Choptank on the eastern side of the bay have been good. Good means most crabbers are catching a bushel or nearly so per outing. The tidal creeks of Dorchester continue to offer the very best crabbing in the region. The tidal rivers on the western shore are producing crabs but generally the catches are falling short of those on the eastern shore.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
The region has been offering some of the best fishing Maryland fishermen can find anywhere lately. Everything from striped bass and bluefish to croaker and flounder can be found in good numbers at various locations.
Boats have been chumming for striped bass at sites along the channel in the lower Potomac, the Middle Grounds and to a lesser extent the rock piles above Point Lookout and Buoys 72 and 72A with good results. Bluefish are part of the mix in the chum slicks and fishermen report that the blues tend to be more prevalent at the Southwest Middle Grounds and Buoys 72 and &2A. A mix of striped bass and bluefish are being encountered breaking water as they chase bait in a wide variety of locations. The best time to spot this kind of activity has been in the early morning and late evening hours. Fishermen have been noting that the fish on top tend to be smaller and the best sized striped bass are below and are being caught by jigging metal, bucktails or soft plastics.
Live lining spot is really coming into its own now; the spot are plentiful in the Patuxent River and the tidal creeks and rivers that flow into the lower Potomac. No chum is needed and it is a great way to save fuel vs. trolling. The Calvert Cliffs Power Plant, outside of the Gas Docks on the channel edge, Cedar Point, Hooper’s Island Light are just a few of the areas that hold good numbers of striped bass.
The croaker fishing in the lower bay has just about hit its zenith; fishermen are catching good numbers of croakers during the day and experiencing excellent fishing at night in the shoal areas. Fishermen have been reporting the croakers at the mouth of the Patuxent tend to be on the smaller size and are larger up river near Broome’s Island. The croaker fishing in the lower Potomac River also remains excellent. Out in the bay the evening fishing for large croakers at the Middle Grounds, and the Buoy 72 area has been excellent. The boats coming out of the Crisfield area have been finding excellent croaker fishing in Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds in the deeper waters during the day and shoal areas next to the channels at dusk. Fishermen are also catching a mix of spot, small sea trout, small bluefish and flounder.
Light tackle fishermen have been working the areas from Hooper’s Island south usually in the early morning and late evening hours for a mix of striped bass, bluefish, croaker, spot, flounder and speckled trout. Most fishermen are either casting jigs or a variety of other lures near cuts or drifting peeler crab baits. Recreational crabbers continue to enjoy excellent crabbing in the tidal creeks and rivers on both sides of the bay by either trot lining or running strings of collapsible crab traps.
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