Shallow water, shorelines yielding striped bass, white perch

trolling

Summertime is upon us and warm weather and longer daylight hours seem to go hand in hand for some family fishing fun. Some of our young anglers are still in school making up for those liberal snow days last winter but they will soon gain their release. Whether you are just fooling around at a local fishing spot or on vacation somewhere don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the fun and excitement our young anglers can bring us.

The Conowingo Dam continues to be on a mid day power generation schedule and very low flows have been reported in the early morning hours. Striped bass are reported to be very active when flows increase and apparently bait such as gizzard shad are coming through the turbines. There have been some impressive flathead catfish being caught in the dam pool lately and farther down the river white perch and a mix of channel catfish and flathead catfish can be caught with the occasional striped bass. In the channel and shoreline areas from the mouth of the Susquehanna to Turkey Point there is some striped bass action in the early morning and late evening hours. Topwater lures are popular along shoreline structure and crankbaits and soft plastic swim baits have been a good choice in deeper areas.

The tidal rivers of the upper bay are providing some fishing action for a mix of striped bass, white perch and channel catfish. The white perch and striped bass are being found near structure such as old pier pilings, rocks, bridge piers and some of the reefs and knolls in the upper bay are providing white perch fishing. At Swan Point, Love Point and near Sandy Point Light chumming for striped bass has been very popular. A good tide is essential and some of the better action is being reported to be in the morning hours. Throwback ratios can be high as a large portion of the fish are 2011 year class striped bass and are falling an inch or so below the new mandated 20″ minimum. The use of circle hooks can go a long way to reduce the possibility of deep hooking by J style hooks. Trolling is a good option in the upper bay with medium sized bucktails or spoons along channel edges and lumps. Often trolling will account for a better grade of striped bass and certainly calls for less commitment than setting up a chum slick.

The Bay Bridge always attracts the attention of structure loving fish and this week striped bass can be found holding near the bases of the bridge piers. Boats have been setting up about a 1/3 of the way out on the east side of the bridge and allowing chum slicks to drift back to the piers in the hopes of pulling fish into the chum slick. Most are using fresh menhaden for bait and chunking with menhaden can also be effective. Jigging with bucktails or soft plastic jigs is a good option around the bridge piers and trolling can also be effective.

In the middle bay region chumming for striped bass has been one of the more popular options this week as boats anchor up on the outside edge of Hacketts Bar and the Hill. The Hill has been getting a lot of attention and the fleet can be rather large at times so finding a spot to set up without crowding someone can be tough. Past experience has shown that other channel edges such as between Wades and Tilghman Point and Hollicutts Noose in Eastern Bay are worth checking out with a depth finder for suspended fish. The Gum Thickets, Bloody Point and Thomas Point are a few other edges worth checking out to gain a little elbow room.

Trolling is of course a good option for striped bass and various steep channel edges along both sides of the shipping channel are good places to start. The area around Parkers Creek is often a good place to troll and many report good success around some of the ships anchored below the Bay Bridge. Ballast stone piles usually always hold some striped bass so if you don’t already have some coveted numbers watch your depth finder at areas off the Choptank River. Bottom bouncing is a time proven way to catch striped bass in the tidal rivers but it is not as popular as it used to be.

Shallow water fishing for striped bass has been good in the early morning and late evening hours this week. Water temperatures are still in the low 70°’s so the fish tend to be there longer and if it happens to be cloudy all the better. Topwater lures are a favorite due to the entertainment factor and also it is good to be above the grass. White perch are providing plenty of fun in the tidal rivers by those casting small lures on ultra light tackle. Good old bloodworms and grass shrimp are the ticket for those fishing with bottom rigs. Croakers are here and can be caught along channel edges with the best fishing occurring at dusk when the croakers move out of the deep channels to feed on nearby shoals

In the lower bay region striped bass are being caught by chumming, trolling, jigging or casting lures along shoreline structure. Boats can be seen chumming near the mouth of the Potomac, north of Point Lookout at the rock piles and over at Buoy 72 on the eastern side of the bay. Striped bass are being found off of Cove Point and similar channel edges and most are trolling a mix of umbrella rigs and tandem bucktails and swim shads. A few bluefish are showing up in the lower bay region so it will not be long before umbrella rigs and plastics will be replaced by bucktails and spoons. There continues to be some large red drum being caught and released north of the Target Ship and south around the Middle Grounds.

Croaker fishing is in full swing now and although they can be caught during the day in deep waters; the best opportunities are occurring at dusk along channel edges leading to shallower shoals. The lower Potomac River including the tributaries such as the Wicomico and St. Mary’s River has been excellent places to catch a mess of croakers and blue catfish. The lower Patuxent River and Tangier Sound and the Honga River to the east have also been providing good croaker fishing. Some eating size spot, white perch and speckled trout have been rounding out the bottom fishing mix.

Shallow water fishing along shorelines has been good for striped bass and white perch in the bay and tidal rivers. On the eastern side of the bay along marshes speckled trout are now being found by those casting Gulp Mullet baits in white or pearly white. Other are having good luck drifting pieces of soft crab in some of the fast moving waters coming out of tidal marsh creeks.

Recreational crabbing continues to favor those setting crab traps or trot lines on the eastern side of the middle and lower bay regions. The tidal creeks and rivers on the western side of the middle bay region have been offering little success.

The waters of Deep Creek Lake have been steadily warming up as summer progresses and have finally hit the 70° mark this week with warmer temperatures in the shallower coves. Largemouth bass are beginning to move to shoreline cover in the main lake such as floating docks and fallen tree tops. Smallmouth bass can also be found near some of the floating docks over deeper waters or rocky bottom areas. Chain pickerel and bluegills are abundant in the cove areas.

The upper Potomac River flows have been good this week due to recent rain. Smallmouth bass in the 12″ size range tend to dominate what is being caught but larger smallmouth bass are out there and can be caught on swimbaits, swimming plugs or crankbaits.

Trout fishing remains a fun option in the western region of the state and some selected waters in the central region. The catch and release and artificial bait areas often offer some of the best opportunities for classic cold water fishing this time of the year.

Largemouth bass are steadily slipping into their typical summer mode of behavior this week. Cooler temperatures last week put them in a bit of a funk and many reported beating the water silly with every lure in their tackle box with few strikes. That has changed this week and working shallow grass should provide good fishing in the early morning and evening hours. Northern snakeheads are either spawning now or protecting broods so look for them in some of the shallower grassy areas. Topwater lures are often the best option to get them to strike and noisy stuff like chatter or buzz baits tend to really put them in a bad and destructive mood. The tidal creeks of the Potomac and the upper areas of tidal waters on the Eastern Shore hold plenty of northern snakeheads. On the Eastern Shore, the Wicomico and Blackwater hold some of the heavier concentrations of northern snakeheads. When fishing grass or spatterdock in tidal waters noisy topwater lures cast back into those areas during a high tide is a good option. At low tide fish the outside edges with spinnerbaits or small crankbaits.

The Ocean City area fishing scene had to deal with overcast skies, wind and heavy surf last week which tended to make for tough fishing. Conditions have improved this week and the weekend promises to offer better fishing conditions. Along the beaches bluefish and striped bass are being caught on cut menhaden baits or finger mullet with the usual uninvited skates and inshore sharks coming to the dinner table. Those fishing bloodworms have been catching kingfish in the surf.

At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area bluefish and striped bass are being caught in the early morning or late evening hours. Swim shads have been a favorite choice for striped bass and Got Cha lures for the bluefish. Drifting fresh cut menhaden baits has been a viable option with some success for striped bass and bluefish. There are still some tautog around since water temperatures are still around 60° and flounder are being caught when water clarity is good.

In the back bay channels water clarity has really been an issue for the past week as windy conditions tend to stir the waters up and cause poor water visibility. Hopefully calmer conditions will make for some excellent flounder fishing this week and into the weekend. The flounder are there they just need to be able to see baits drifting by. White or pearly white Gulp mullet baits continue to be a good choice if larger flounder are your desire. Small sea bass are moving into the areas just inside the inlet and just love chewing up squid strip baits.

Outside the inlet at the offshore reef and wreck sites sea bass are being caught in fairly good numbers along with a mix of flounder and tautog. Farther out there is a mix of dolphin, yellowfin and bigeye tuna waiting for those trolling the canyons. Due to strong winds last week a limited number of boats were able to make the trip but those that did scored on a mix of fish. A few boats made the trek to the Norfolk and Washington Canyons and did well. Some nice bigeye tuna were brought to the dock along with a mix of dolphin and small to medium sized yellowfin tuna. Most boats are reporting that a fair portion of the yellowfin tuna are not reaching the minimum size of 27″ fork length and have to be released.

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