The Conowingo Dam continues to schedule power generation water releases from mid-day into the evening hours creating a surge of cool water in the dam pool and lower river. A few striped bass are being caught in the dam pool area by fishermen casting crankbaits and similar lures or drifting live eels. Most other fishermen are spending their time fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass during these water release times.
In the Rock Hall/Hart Miller Island area a mix of small bluefish and striped bass are being found by fishermen casting to breaking fish, chumming or jigging to fish holding over structure. Breaking fish are being encountered throughout the region whether small snapper blues are being found far up tidal creeks such as Curtis or Bear Creeks in the Patapsco River area or the larger blues out in the more open waters of the bay. Boats continue to chum for striped bass near Swan Point and Love Point areas and are catching a lot of small undersized striped bass and hungry bluefish. The bay water temperatures have now risen into the low 80’s and striped bass are beginning to lay low in deeper and cooler waters. Generally these fish are inactive during the heat of the day and if one is chumming, baits allowed to fall to the bottom offer the best chance of catching a legal sized striped bass.
Jigging on some of the bottom structure in the upper bay region such as the Bay Bridge piers, shoals and channel edges has been producing a mix of striped bass, bluefish and white perch. The best times to be fishing during these hot weather times are the early morning and evening hours with the morning hours often the best. Now that we have water temperatures in the low 80’s fish such as striped bass and croakers are more reluctant to move into warmer shallower waters in the evening hours.
A mix of spot and white perch are being found in the lower sections of some of the regions tidal rivers and creeks such as the Magothy and Chester. Bloodworms are the bait of choice for this type of fishing and because of warm water temperatures the deeper channel areas are usually the most productive places to fish. Recreational crabbers are reporting tough conditions for crabbing with summer heat. Most reports from the upper bay speak of a couple dozen to a ˝ bushel or more per outing with collapsible traps and trot lines.
Middle Bay Region
Fishing for striped bass is beginning to take a back seat to other summer migrant species as water temperatures climb into the low 80’s and striped bass are holding in deeper and cooler waters and go off feed. Fishermen are finding more activity in the early morning hours in the form of mixing it up with breaking bluefish or casting lures in the shallower waters along shorelines. Fishermen are still live lining spot along the shipping channel edge out in front of the Gas Docks, the Power Plant and channel edges near Bloody Point and Poplar Island but it is not the same game it was a month ago. Striped bass are not feeding as actively, hungry bluefish now dominate the scene and small spot are becoming harder to find. Striped bass are of course the back bone of fishing in the Chesapeake but anglers looking for fun fishing might want to think about making some adjustments in their more traditional fishing plans.
Trolling with a mix of spoons, bucktails and surge tube lures behind inline weights and planers are producing a mix of bluefish, striped bass and Spanish mackerel. Channel edges, ballast stone piles and shoals are all good places to troll. Putting out a couple of larger spoons in a trolling spread has been accounting for some exciting catch and release action from large red drum.
Setting up on a channel edge with live spot can account for some catches of striped bass but more often a live spot or cut spot will elicit the ravages of hungry bluefish. Bluefish aren’t so bad and will only be here for another two months, so accept their presence and enjoy the action. Bluefish hold a unique place in the marine world and because of their unabashed voraciousness offer a new tune to fishing play list. They are a great way to introduce kids or someone who has never fished before to fishing since the action is usually so exciting and non stop.
Bottom fishing has been a real bright spot in the fishing scene lately. There is good fishing for flounder on hard bottom all the way north to the Gum Thickets. Most any good bottom near a channel area seems to be holding flounder and many of them are above the 20” mark. Croaker fishing remains good in traditional areas such as Eastern Bay, the lower areas of the Choptank River and deeper areas out in the bay. The croakers seem to be reluctant to leave the cooler waters of the deeper channel areas in the evenings and often that traditional fishery is occurring a few hours later than it was a month ago. Evening croaker fishing in the Choptank River recently showed the best opportunities for medium to large croakers in deeper waters from 40’ to 50’ deep. Smaller croakers, spot and white perch seem to holding in shallower waters such as 25’ to 35’ of water.
Poking around shorelines of the bay, tidal rivers and tidal creeks casting small lures such as beetle spins, Mepps spinners and the like with an ultra-light spinning outfit can offer a lot of relaxing fun this time of the year. White perch can be found holding near structure such as sunken wood, piers and rocks. It is a simple kind of fishing from a kayak, small skiff or from shore and easily scheduled after work and dinner.
Recreational crabbing remains rather static this week as most crabbers are able to put a catch together of a ˝ bushel to a bushel per outing before the mid morning heat sets in. A recent full moon shed has introduced a lot of light crabs into of the mix and there are certainly plenty of small crabs to chew on baits.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
There certainly is a lot of summer fishing opportunities in the two lower bay regions but many of them may not focus on the traditional striped bass fishery that most fishermen are used to. The hot weather and warm water temperatures have striped bass holding in deep cool waters during the heat of the day and seem reluctant to move into feeding activity as the evening hours approach. The early morning hours; often at dawn has been a good time to find breaking fish lately or striped bass holding near structure that are susceptible to jigging or trolling.
The breaking fish that are being encountered are typically a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel and can be found throughout the regions. Most fishermen are casting surface lures with single hooks, spoons or metal jigs. The first reports of grey trout being caught by fishermen in the area of the Mud Leads and to a lesser extent in the Tangier Sound area have been coming in this week. The area of the Middle Grounds has been offering up the largest bluefish which can run into the 6lb category for those chumming and trolling. Large red drum are spread over a wide area from the Middle Grounds north to beyond Hooper’s Island Light. Most are being caught and released on large spoons and can offer quite a thrill to anglers such as this beauty.
Perhaps some of the most exciting fishing news in the lower bay region is the excellent flounder fishing that can be found in most areas. The flounder, which are often over 20” in size, can be found on most any hard bottomed area on both sides of the bay; such as the mouths of tidal rivers and creeks from the lower Potomac north up along the western side of the bay as well as the Tangier Sound area. Drifting live baits of minnows, spot or jigs with squid, strips of spot or even white mullet Gulp jigs have been accounting for a lot of nice flounder. Croaker are holding deep during the hot days and can still be intercepted in the late hours of dusk as they move into the shoal areas such as behind Buoys 72 and 72A. The croakers being caught in Tangier Sound tend to be in the medium size category along with a mix of spot, bluefish and grey trout. There are plenty of spot and medium croaker in the tidal rivers and usually are holding deep and are prone to move from day to day.
Recreational crabbing continues to be productive in most areas and may require some exploring and adjusting to find good crabbing. Light crabs, sooks, small crabs and hot weather are all part of the mix.
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