Croakers, trout abundant in warm bay waters

Fishing column

This time of the year no matter where you may be traveling on our highways, it is easy to see that America is on the move and in vacation mode and many are coming to Maryland to visit.

We are very fortunate to have the beautiful landscape and recreational opportunities from the mountains of western Maryland to the sandy beaches of the Ocean City.

It is not uncommon to see fishing rods strapped to roofs or against windows in the back of a vehicle, along with collections of vacation gear. Make sure to get out with family and friends and enjoy what many of us take for granted here in Maryland.

The Bay Bridge continues to be a good place to look for Striped Bass holding near the bases of the piers. Drifting live Spot back to the piers has been productive and chumming has also been producing some action.

Jigging soft plastics is often a good option to try when passing by the bridge but the recent arrival of Bluefish in the region has some fishermen switching to metal. Chumming at the eastern edge of Hackett’s Bar and Tolley’s Point in about 35 feet of water has been a good choice for fishermen who like to chum or live line Spot.

Spot can be found at the shallow ends of the Bay Bridge in 12 feet of water or less and also on the western side of Hackett’s Bar and most tidal rivers and creeks in the middle bay region. There are also a mix of croakers and White Perch being caught in these same locations.

Bloodworms tend to be the preferred bait when targeting Spot. A fair portion of the Spot being caught are too large for live baits and these are either being used for fresh chunk baits or winding up in a frying pan.

Boats have been setting up on the tight channel edge at R4, the south side of Bloody Point, Thomas Point, the Gas Buoy (83) or the Clay Banks. It may take some slow speed scouting but there are Striped Bass to be found at other locations.

Finding small Spot seems to be a bit of a problem for some when they catch mostly 9-inch Spot. If you can get on a concentration of fish making fresh cut baits from these Spot can work well at times and especially when Bluefish begin to dominate your fishing location.

Check your charts and explore other steep channel edges in the middle bay region along the shipping channel and channels exiting some of the major tidal rivers and if you don’t already have then punched into your GPS; you might stumble upon a ballast stone pile which often enough will hold some Striped Bass; after all that is why they are called rockfish.

Trolling a mix of spoons and bucktails in these areas can also pay dividends in Striped Bass and Bluefish.

Fishing for Croakers and White Perch has been good in the lower sections of the middle bay region’s tidal rivers and some of the Spot that are coming from these areas rival the size of the croakers.

Large Spot can make for some fine eating when they are filleting size and often are an important item for freezers at the end of the fishing season.

They are hard to beat when egg dipped and rolled in panko crumbs and allowed to set for an hour before frying.

Fishing for croakers has been good along channel edges in the lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers as well as Buoy 72, Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds and the major tidal rivers on the eastern side of the bay.

Recreational crabbers have been having a tough time coming up with a bushel of crabs per outing in most the middle and lower bay regions. Some of the better catches are coming from the lower Eastern Shore tidal rivers.

Crabbing has been a disappointment for most recreational crabbers in the upper bay so far this summer.

Summertime fishing in the Ocean City area is in full-summer mode this week. Surf fishermen are enjoying catching a mix of kingfish, croaker and small Bluefish.

Now that surf water temperatures are in the low 70s some of the better fishing is early in the morning and late evening. There are also inshore sharks and stingrays to provide catch and release fishing for those looking for more of a tug.

At the inlet a mix of Bluefish and Striped Bass are being caught at night by casting Got Cha lures and swim shads; most of the Striped Bass are undersized.

During the day flounder is king at the inlet and back bay areas and the larger ones are being caught on live Spot and large Gulp baits.

Squid and minnows are the old standby and are accounting for the bulk of the flounder caught in Assawoman and Sinepuxent Bays. There is also a mix of croaker, small Bluefish and small Black Sea Bass willing and ready to attack squid baits.

Outside of the inlet, Black Sea Bass, Triggerfish, Spadefish and flounder are being caught on the inshore wreck and reef sites.

The Triggerfish and Spadefish tend to be found closer to shore and the better Black Sea Bass fishing is being found in deeper waters.

The offshore fishing scene has had its ups and downs lately. Bigeye Tuna are being caught in the Washington Canyon and a typical mix of Yellowfin Tuna, Dolphin and White Marlin are being found in the Washington, Poorman’s and Baltimore Canyons.

At some of the 30 Fathom Line hotspots such as the Hot Dog and Hambone some nice Bluefin Tuna are being caught.

Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the Eastern Shore.

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