The water releases at the Conowingo Dam are following the typical summer pattern of evening releases which is good news for fishermen looking for some fishing action after work. Casting crankbaits, surface lures or swim shads near the dam pool can pay off with a nice striped bass at times when the cool water is flowing through the gates. Out in the bay proper the fishing action for striped bass picks up at the Swan Point area where fishermen are chumming there and at Love Point. The chumming has been pretty good in these areas but captains stress that they are waiting to spot fish on their depth finders before starting a chum slick. Fresh bait is a real plus and some fishermen are even using live bait such as large bull minnows for bait and chum. A lot of the fish that are being attracted by the chum are small so be careful when unhooking fish. The father and son team of Nelson and Joe Crocken spent a couple of hours on the early morning of July 4th to catch a limit of striped bass by chumming at Love Point.
Fishermen are also finding some light tackle striped bass action near the 7’ and 9’ Shoal areas, Podickory Point and the bridge piers at the Bay Bridge. At times some lucky fishermen are encountering breaking fish and other times they are finding fish holding in the current near deep structure such as channel edges, piers and shoals. Most are jigging with metal and a dropper fly and catching either striped bass or white perch depending on time, location and luck.
Recreational crabbers are seeing their crabbing fortunes steadily gaining ground this month as more crabs move up the bay. Salinities will begin to climb due to the lack of rainfall.
Middle Bay Region
The striped bass fishery seems to be a repeat of last week and may very well be a pattern that takes striped bass fishermen in the middle bay region through most of the summer. For whatever reason the striped bass are holding to the western edge of the shipping channel from Thomas Point to Cedar Point; with Cove Point to Parkers creek being the center of most of the action. Fishermen are catching them by just pulling up to breaking fish and casting lures or by jigging over suspended fish. They are live lining spot on the 30’ to 40’ channel edge and some boats are chumming with good success. Trolling umbrella rigs, tandems and large crankbaits such as Stretch 25’s have also been good options along this edge. Chip Stewbridge sent in this report and a great picture of two brothers helping dad with the day’s catch. My son Josh and I had an excellent day of fishing on Sunday. We were trolling back and forth across the western edge of the shipping channel, just about ¼ mile south of the mouth of the South River. We caught 4 rock over about a 2 hour span, the largest of which is pictured here with my 2 sons Nate and Josh (only Josh fished with me but Nate had to hold the fish). This one was about 32” in length. The other 3 were smaller – one about 29”, one about 20”, and one much smaller. All were caught on 25’ deep-diving plugs. One of my deep divers in particular – bright blue & silver in color – has been my most productive rock fishing rig.
Finding plenty of spot for bait has become a much easier task now in the shallower areas of the regions tidal rivers and creeks. The croaker fishing has begun to really develop into the fishery we all look forward to during the summer. The effects of June’s heavy rainfall are diminishing and croakers are moving up the bay and into the regions tidal rivers. The croaker fishing in the lower Choptank has been good and fishermen are also catching good numbers of croaker, spot and white perch in the Eastern Bay area.
Les Simering at the Choptank Fishing Pier; which has recently been dedicated to long time outdoor writer Bill Burton, sent us a report on fishing activities at the pier. Some decent sized croakers and small bluefish finally returned to the Talbot side of the pier around light pole number 29 this weekend. There are still plenty of spot and perch around the old pilings under the bridge. If you don't find them on one piling try moving to another until you find them. The preferred bait for spot seems to be bloodworms or razor clams. For those willing to walk and fish from the shoreline, there are plenty of channel catfish and small perch. There was one person on the bridge with eight crab traps and he did manage a half of a bushel of crabs in four hours.
Recreational crabbers have been finding hit and miss type crabbing lately in the regions tidal creeks and rivers. The best crabbing reports came from Dorchester County this week but crabbers in the Miles, Choptank and Wye Rivers have been doing fairly well recently. The crabs that they did catch were full and the size classification of “number ones” has moved up a notch or two since last month. A full moon is upon us so many of the smaller and medium sized crabs will be shedding this week.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
A lot of the boats coming out of the western ports have been motoring up to the Cove Point to Parkers Creek area to find their striped bass. Most have been encountering breaking fish and it has not been an uncommon event for a charter boat to return to port with limit catches of striped bass without ever dunking the live spot they are carrying aboard. Other fishermen are finding fish holding deep and vertical jigging to catch their fish. Others are having good success trolling umbrella rigs, chartreuse Drone spoons and tandem bucktails. Then there are those who are live lining spot along the 35’ channel edge to catch their limits of striped bass and lastly some fishermen are finding chumming to be successful in the same areas. Dale Topper caught this nice fish while jigging south of the power plant.
Bluefish are certainly in the region and are either being caught by those light tackle jigging or casting, chumming and unfortunately an increasing number of spot are coming up cut short. The Crisfield fleet has been chumming at the Middle Grounds area with good success for a mix of bluefish and striped bass. Some fishermen have also been targeting bluefish in that area and above the Target Ship by trolling spoons and hoses. A few large red drum also continue to be part of the mix when trolling spoons.
The croaker fishing in the lower bay region continues to very good in most all of the regions tidal rivers including the Potomac and Patuxent. The croakers in the tidal rivers are running a little smaller than those encountered out in the bay but there is plenty of action and the tidal rivers tend to offer wind protection if it is blowing hard. Spot and white perch are part of the mix in the tidal rivers with an increasing number of flounder and small bluefish being part of the mix. Out on the shoal areas of the bay near traditional places such as Buoy 72 and the Middle Grounds; boats are catching large croaker at dusk. Flounder are being caught throughout the region and many of them are over 20” in size, most hard bottomed shoals and channel edges are holding flounder at this time.
The Crisfield fleet has been fishing relatively deep for their croakers during the day in areas like the Puppy Hole and south near Fox and Tangier Island. Limits are common and fishermen are being treated to a wonderful mix of flounder, spot, speckled trout and small bluefish while fishing for croakers.
Recreational crabbers are catching crabs in the tidal rivers and creeks throughout the Tangier Sound/Somerset County areas as well as tidal waters on the western side of the bay.
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