Fishing Report: Varieties abundant in bay, ocean and rivers

Most of us are starting to realize that summer is not going to last forever as the month of August chugs along and we begin to see reminders such as “Back to School” sales and families trying to schedule a family vacation before the kids have to go back to school.

The 2013/2014 Maryland Fishing Challenge is nearing its end at midnight on Sept. 1.

To date there are 1,035 anglers registered into the contest with their award certificate qualifying fish(s) and 18 anglers have caught Diamond Jim tagged Striped Bass.

The awards ceremony will be held at Sandy Point State Park at the Maryland Seafood Festival on Sunday Sept. 7, so don’t miss out on entering the Maryland Fishing Challenge and attending the awards ceremony.

You could be one of the big winners; last year one young woman won the Diamond Jim cash prize of $25,000 plus another $6,000 in gifts from local tackle shops.

Steve Bosley holds up a nice Speckled Trout he caught near Bloodsworth Island.

Steve Bosley holds up a nice Speckled Trout he caught near Bloodsworth Island.

Angler’s in the Maryland Fishing Challenge Angler’s Award drawing won major prizes such as a boat, motor and trailer, donated by Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats, and a World Fishing Network sponsored fishing trip to the Bahamas.

The Bay Bridge piers continue to be a good place to check out for Striped Bass. The fish are usually suspended at some depth close to the piers and can be spotted on a depth finder.

Jigging, drifting back live Spot, setting up a chum slick or simply chunking with fresh Spot are all good tactics. White Perch, croakers and Spot can be caught near the shallower piers.

Fishing action for Striped Bass in the middle bay region continues to be good but anchoring up at the Hill and catching your Striped Bass within minutes on live Spot is not necessarily the case this week.

The Striped Bass have spread out to other channel edges within the region such as the eastern edge of Hackett’s Bar, Gum Thickets, Thomas Point, Bloody Point, Wade’s Point and R4 in Eastern Bay. The Striped Bass tend to be finicky at times and once located on a depth finder captains are using tricks such as chumming with cut Spot, ground Menhaden or Razor Clams. Bluefish are very much part of the scene so precious live Spot are at great risk and a lot of fishermen are using larger Spot for chunk baits with good success on Striped Bass and obtaining some amount of revenge on the Bluefish.

Most of the Bluefish being seen in the bay are about 14 inches, so they are good on the grill or in a smoker. These smaller sized Bluefish are mostly eating Bay Anchovies so they tend to not have as much of the oily nature of their larger brothers and sisters that focus on Menhaden.

Trolling bucktails, surge tube lures and spoons has become even more popular this week with the arrival of Spanish Mackerel. Most are using inline weights or planers in front on their lures and reaping a steady pick of Striped Bass, Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel.

The eastern and western edges of the shipping channel have been good places to try trolling. More and more breaking fish are being seen this week as schools of Bay Anchovies become more abundant.

Some of the better areas to watch for breaking fish are where strong currents sweep the bait schools along channel edges. Most of the surface action is composed of small Bluefish, Striped Bass and Spanish Mackerel but larger Striped Bass can often be found underneath.

Bottom fishing for a mix of croakers, large Spot and White Perch has been good in most of the tidal river channel edges and evening fishing for the croakers has been providing the best results.

Shallow water light tackle fishing for Striped Bass is a before the crack of dawn situation this week due to warm water temperatures and bright sun. The late evenings are a second choice and a lot more forgiving for those who need their sleep.

Small Bluefish are also part of the mix and it pays to have an ultra light rod set up with a small spinner for White Perch.

In the lower bay region there are a wide variety of fishing opportunities this week. Trolling for a mix of Striped Bass, Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel is perhaps at the top of the list for many. The eastern and western edges of the shipping channel where strong currents are sweeping schools of Bay Anchovies along have been a favorite area to troll.

Most boats are trolling a spread of spoons such as small Drones and Clarks behind planners or inline weights but also are adding surge tube lures and bucktails to the mix. Trolling larger spoons near the Target Ship can result in some heavy duty catch and release action with large Red Drum.

Breaking fish which consist of the marauding trio of small Striped Bass, Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel chasing Bay Anchovies can be encountered most anywhere in the lower bay but swift current areas along steep channel edges and points tend to be the most common place where this interaction is occurring. Casting to the surface fish with metal or bucktails is a lot of fun and allowing your lure to drop deep underneath the topwater action is often a good bet for larger Striped Bass.

Bottom fishing for a mix of croaker, Spot and small Bluefish has been very good in Tangier Sound area. Flounder are being caught for those who are looking for them along shoals near channels in the Tangier/Pocomoke Sound area and a few western shore locations such as Cornfield Harbor, the mouth of the Patuxent, Cedar Point and Point Lookout.

A few Red Drum and Speckled Trout are also being caught along the shores of the eastern side of the bay and near the Target Ship.

Recreational crabbing is improving in all regions of the bay this week. In the upper bay, catches average around a dozen or so per outing and generally averages around a bushel per outing in the middle and lower bay regions. As would be expected crabbers are seeing quite a few doublers, light crabs and small crabs.

Surf fishing this week tends to focus on a summer mix of small species such as croaker, Spot, small Bluefish, Kingfish and flounder. Water temperatures are near 79F so often the best fishing is early in the morning. In the evenings there is some catch and release action for a mix of inshore sharks and sting rays.

In and around the inlet and Route 50 Bridge a mix of flounder, croaker, small Bluefish and a few Sheepshead, Tautog and Triggerfish during the day; at night larger Bluefish and a few Striped Bass are being caught. The back bay areas are providing a mix of flounder, croaker and small Bluefish for those fishing the channel areas.

At the inshore wreck and reef sites out to the 30 fathom line there has been some excellent flounder fishing with a sprinkling of legal sized Black Sea Bass. The throwback ratio on the Black Sea Bass tends to be rather high as reported this week. At the offshore canyon areas the boats are returning to the docks this week with double digit catches of yellowfin tuna at times along with a mix of dolphin, wahoo and White and Blue Marlin releases.

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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