The official first day of summer arrived Saturday, but no one needed a date to know that summer is here as temperatures soar this week and humans and fish look for a bit of cool shade.
Many of our fisheries are moving to a summer pattern where often some of the best fishing opportunities occur during the early morning and late evening hours. As water temperatures increase bay and ocean fishermen will also begin to see many of our summer migrant species move into reach of Maryland anglers.
Many Chesapeake Bay and Ocean City area recreational anglers will be live lining spot in the coming months. Although Spot traps can be seen for sale in many tackle shops recreational fishermen need to remember they are illegal to use except by commercial fishermen holding a TFL license. All Spot caught by recreational anglers must be caught by hook and line, a legal size cast net, seine or minnow trap.
In the middle bay area Striped Bass are what is on most minds and there tends to be plenty of action; especially on the western shipping channel edge out in front of Chesapeake Beach. That is where most of the trolling action is taking place down to the Parkers Creek area. Medium sized bucktails, swim shads and spoons are catching some nice fish. Channel edges and rock piles around the region are also holding fish and it just takes a little exploring to find which ones are productive.
A lot of fishermen are switching over to chumming and doing well on Striped Bass at places like the 30′ outside edge of Hackett’s Bar, Thomas Point, the mouth of Eastern Bay and the Clay Banks area. Other traditional areas may also hold fish such as the Gas Buoy, Bloody Point, Gum Thickets, the Diamonds, etc; don’t be afraid to do some exploring with your depth finder.
Live lining Spot is becoming more of the way to go this week since there are plenty of Spot in the shallower waters of the tidal rivers and it tends to be a no mess, no fuss type of fishing. Another key point is the fact that the Bluefish have not showed up yet in any numbers so baits certainly last longer.
The shallow water fishery for Striped Bass and White Perch is in full swing and quickly becoming more of an early morning and late evening type of fishing as water temperatures climb into the higher 70s. Topwater lures are always a favorite for the Striped Bass but sometimes suspended jerkbaits, crankbaits and swim shads will work well if conditions are choppy. Prominent points and shoreline structure are favorite places to check out. White Perch can be caught on a variety of spinners and small jigs.
Croaker fishing is certainly worth mentioning in the middle bay region as they are being caught in the lower sections of the major tidal rivers and along channel edges out in the bay. The size and abundance so far has been a bit disappointing as compared to 5 or 6 years ago but most at least meet the legal minimum of 9″.
Shallow water light tackle fishing at prominent points and the eastern marshes has been good lately but as summer temperatures soar and water temperatures follow; this is becoming more of an early morning and late evening fishery for Striped Bass, Speckled Trout and Red Drum.
Fishing for Croakers has picked up at the mouth of the Wicomico River in the lower Potomac and in the Pocomoke Sound area north to Hooper’s Island. Peeler Crab and Shrimp tend to be the favorite baits and some of the better fishing has been occurring in the evening hours along channel edges.
Recreational crabbers are generally finding slim pickings in the upper bay tidal rivers this week. One location that may be worth checking is the mouth of the C&D Canal where it dumps into the Elk River; crabs can often be found there.
Middle bay region recreational crabbers are reporting fair catches in the regions tidal rivers and creeks with a good portion of the legal crabs being light. The eastern side of the lower bay region has been producing some of the better catches recently but crabbers there also report a lot of small crabs chewing up baits and a considerable portion of the legal crabs are light.
Water temperatures in the Ocean City surf and inlet areas is close to the 70 degree mark this week and warmer temperatures can be found in the back bay areas. The large Striped Bass are still passing by the Ocean City area beaches and are being caught on menhaden baits. There are also a lot of hungry inshore sharks and rays in the area chewing up baits so bring plenty of bait.
Many often find that the head of the menhaden takes more abuse and lasts longer. Those using smaller tackle are catching Kingfish in the surf on bloodworms or cut Spot and a mix of small Bluefish, flounder, croaker, small Black Drum and Northern Blowfish.
In and around the inlet/Route 50 Bridge area Sheepshead and Tautog are being caught on sand fleas around the rocks, bulkheads and bridge piers. A mix of flounder, small Black Sea Bass and blowfish make up the day time mix. At night Striped Bass are being caught on swim shads and small Bluefish are being caught on Got Cha lures.
Flounder are the main focus in the back bay channels but a few large sea trout and medium sized Black Drum are also being caught.
Outside of the inlet the boats heading out to the wreck and reef sites are finding Black Sea Bass for their anglers along with a few Tautog, flounder and ling. At the farther offshore areas a mix of Dolphin, Yellowfin Tuna and Bluefin Tuna are being caught at the canyon areas and some very nice long-fin Albacore and Bigeye Tuna have also been boated recently.
Perhaps some of the most exciting dockside chatter resulted in a White Marlin and a Blue Marlin being caught this past weekend at the Poorman’s Canyon.
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.