Fishing Report: Summer migrant species filling OC coolers

It seems that American families are on the road this week as there is short time before kids have to go back to school.

It is always fun to see a vehicle going by crammed with family and gear up to the windows with bicycles, coolers and fishing rods strapped to the roof. Enjoy and be sure to make fishing a part of your vacation if you are going to be near water.

The Maryland Fishing Challenge is rounding the bend of the last couple of weeks for anglers to catch a qualifying fish and be registered for all the prizes that are being offered during the Sunday, Sept. 13 awards event at Sandy Point State Park. The parking passes and information packets will be mailed soon to those who qualified.

Again, the event is on a Sunday — last year the event moved from Saturday to Sunday due to overcrowding and traffic concerns at the park.

The good striped bass fishing continues to be the best show in town in the upper bay from the Swan Point fishing grounds south to the Bay Bridge. The striped bass have been moving a bit as they will, since they do have fins and swim.

Traditional steep edges such as Swan Point, Triple Buoys, Love Point and Podickory Point will usually hold fish and the Dumping Grounds and the sewer pipe just above the Bay Bridge have been hot spots from time to time also. Most captains will slowly motor around a bit till they pick up fish on the depth recorder and then set up. Chumming and live lining spot are perhaps the most popular and effective methods of fishing. A good ebb tide usually offers the best fishing opportunities and the best chance at catching some of the 30-inch-plus striped bass that have been frequenting the upper bay fishing spots.

The best odds for catching the larger striped bass are to allow a fresh menhaden fillet or spot fillet to linger on the bottom in the back of the chum slick or to live line spot. A lot of folks are unhappy about the large size of the spot available this year but have faith that the striped bass can get them down; just give them a little longer to work them down before setting the hook or letting the line pull tight when using circle hooks.

In many areas of the east coast chunking for striped bass is a common practice and it will work here also if you find the spot are too large for the 20-inch to 28-inc striped bass. It is also a way to seek revenge on pesky bluefish and there are plenty of channel catfish that will pick up baits off the bottom.

Trolling has been a good option in the upper bay and spoons, bucktails and red surge tube lures (hoses) are good choices to tow behind planers or inline weights. The Bay Bridge piers are holding striped bass and this location offers light tackle fishing a chance with jigs worked around the piers and concrete abutments. The east side of the span tends to offer some of the better opportunities for striped bass.

Casting for striped bass along shoreline structure continues to be a great way to spend a quiet morning or evening casting topwater lures. Water temperatures are in the low 80s so the early morning fishery is usually over once the sun cracks the horizon. A good tide is always important and structure such as the rocks on the west side of Poplar Island is great places to target.

There are often plenty of white perch around structure also; rock jetties, breakwaters, fallen trees and piers are all good places to cast small lures.

The lower bay region has a welcomed infusion of fishing opportunities this week. Spanish mackerel have moved into the region in good numbers and it is not uncommon to catch a 10 fish limit by trolling spoons behind planers between Cedar Point and Cove Point. Some larger bluefish have also been reported at the Middle Grounds and the mouth of the Potomac River. Speckled trout are also becoming a more common part of the shallow water mix along the marsh shorelines on the eastern side of the bay.

Recreational crabbing continues to become more successful as the summer month’s progress and blue crabs have moved far up the tidal rivers in the last two weeks. There are a lot of crabs in the mix now and plenty to go around for those who know how the game is played.

Crabbers are reporting a lot of Jimmies that are about a ½” short of legal size in the shallows and one more molt and they will enter the legal fishery. They also report a lot of sooks in the shallower areas and anyone who has taken a walk on a pier lately can’t help but notice all the sooks trying to harden up before trekking towards the mouth of the bay, doublers are also common.

The absolute best bait to use right now are razor clams and of course that involves snoots, mesh bags and a lot of interference from cow-nosed rays and terrapins and the price of a bushel of razor clams are holding around $45 now.

Most feel it is worth it though when they are rewarded with extra large crabs when they set in about 20 feet of water. The basics are that there are a lot of small crabs and sooks that will eat up your baits in the shallower waters; the big guys are generally holding in deeper water.

Maryland’s many diverse ponds and larger impoundments hold a variety of freshwater fish with largemouth bass being one of the more popular targets for fishermen. It is pretty hard to beat the early morning and late evening hours for the best largemouth bass action and a variety of soft plastic and hard baits will work.

The Ocean City area is of course in full summer mode and fishing for summer migrant species of fish is in full swing. Along the beaches there is an early morning and late evening bite for a mix of kingfish, croaker, spot and small bluefish.

Bloodworms, small strip baits and artificial bloodworm baits are the ticket to this show on a simple bottom rig. When targeting bluefish finger mullet on a mullet rig works best.

At the inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area flounder are being caught from shore and boats in the channels. The Gulp white mullet bait continues to be the best option when trying to catch larger flounder.

Traditional squid and minnow baits are catching also but the throwback ratio is usually higher. Live lining spot is one of the best ways to target large flounder and sometimes you may also catch a striped bass. Most of the channels in the back bay area’s behind Ocean City and Assateague are holding a mix of flounder and croakers.

Outside the inlet there is good flounder fishing on many of the shoal areas such as the Bass Grounds. The flounder tend to be larger than inside the inlet on a whole and limits are not uncommon. The wreck and reef sites are also offering good flounder fishing along with fair fishing for sea bass.

Farther offshore the trolling fleet continues to work on a mix of yellowfin tuna, dolphin, white and blue marlin and the recent arrival of good numbers of wahoo. Those that stop for a little deep drop action on the edges of the canyons are bringing a mix of tilefish back to the docks.

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