OC fishing in full gear; Tangier Sound mixed

For many this might be considered a half way mark for the summer; we’ve had a spell of hot and humid days and finally a little relief moved in last night.

The summer fishing is falling into line, striped bass fishing is good in the middle and upper bay, the bluefish have arrived and Spanish mackerel may be here by the weekend. Recreational crabbing is finally paying off for those willing to put in the time.

Freshwater fishing is in a typical summer mode and offers some very relaxing fishing at local ponds, lakes and rivers or creeks. The Ocean City area is in full swing with the typical summer mix of inshore and offshore species. Get out and enjoy with family and friends and especially the younger set.

Unfortunately I happened to witness an ominous sign last weekend, back to school displays at a discount department store, have they no mercy.

The middle bay region continues to hold a lot of striped bass prospects in an area generally above the Choptank River and Chesapeake Beach. Chumming and live lining spot continues to be popular at the Hill and nearby steep channel edges. Live lining spot is becoming more common although many complain about the spot being too large and that bluefish are up to their pesky business. If you have striped bass under the boat and bluefish are giving you a fit you might consider cutting up what is left of your destroyed spot and using cut spot. The bluefish are there anyway and striped bass will grab cut baits if they can get to it before the bluefish. Sometimes a heavy sinker will give you a better chance of getting your bait through the upper level of bluefish and to the striped bass below.

Trolling a mix of spoons such as Drones and red surge tube lures (hoses) behind planers and inline weights is a very productive way to cover a lot of water when looking for a mix of striped bass and bluefish this week. Channel edges where currents sweep through are a good choice as are structure such as ballast stone piles. Breaking fish are becoming a more common sight these days as a mix of striped bass and bluefish beat up on schools of juvenile menhaden and bay anchovies. Some bright news on the horizon is the fact that Spanish mackerel are being caught south of us in Virginia. At present the latest reports are coming from the York River area so they might start showing up in the middle bay region as soon as this weekend. If you are short on small Drone spoons and planers now is the time to stock up before you are staring at empty shelves at your local tackle shop.

Salinities in the middle bay region have bumped up a bit this week after we’ve gone a spell without heavy rains; water temperatures are about 86 degrees. The shallow water fishery for a mix of striped bass and white perch is an early morning and evening fishery during the summer months and casting topwater lures is an exciting way to catch striped bass. White perch offer plenty of fun also on light tackle and can be caught on a variety of lures around shoreline structure. Spinners in the quarter-ounce category are a favorite as are small spinnerbaits and beetle spin type lures for white perch.

Erik Zlokovitz is responsible for the artificial reef program in Maryland and sent us this report of a few recent reef material deployments. Greg’s Marine deployed approx 100 tons of donated concrete rubble from Dominion last week on the eastern side of the MARI Taylor’s reef site in 38-45 feet of water, near some previously deployed concrete and a sunken barge from older reef projects. MARI also deployed about 70 tons of donated playground concrete from the Benedictine school in Ridgely on Tilghman Fish Reef, on July 7. That deployment was accomplished with the help of the Maryland DNR Construction Unit based out of Cambridge. The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative or MARI is involved with creating fish habitat in the Chesapeake Bay and in the Atlantic Ocean off Ocean City.

The lower bay region continues to offer a wide variety of fishing opportunities this week with the promise of Spanish mackerel arriving shortly. There are bluefish of various sizes throughout the entire region. The largest bluefish tend to be around the area of the Middle Grounds and smaller ones spread from Tangier Sound to the lower Potomac River and north. Boats are chumming at the mouth of the Potomac River, the Rock Piles above Point Lookout and near Buoy 72. They are mostly looking for striped bass and are catching some but bluefish tend to take over the chum slick action at times. Many are trolling a mix of red surgical tube lures and spoons behind planers and inline weights for a mix of bluefish and striped bass. The best striped bass action has been occurring in the lower Patuxent and Potomac Rivers along channel edges with chumming, trolling and either casting to breaking fish or jigging underneath accounting for some nice fish. The bluefish are making life tough for the bay anchovies and small menhaden in the region and the striped bass are joining in and will soon be accompanied by Spanish mackerel.

There are mixed bottom fishing reports from the Tangier Sound area; some are having a hard time finding good croaker and spot fishing at traditional locations. Speckled trout seem to be off the list this year for those who love to fish the eastern marsh areas. There has been some small sub-legal sea trout (gray trout, yellow tail or weakfish, depending on where you fish on the east coast) caught in the deeper waters of the sound along with large spot and bluefish. There continues to be spotty catch and release action for large red drum in the Mud Leads area above the Target Ship.

Recreational crabbers are finally starting to make some decent catches for all their effort in most areas of the bay. The action tends to be slow in the upper bay and far up the bay’s tidal rivers and creeks most likely due to depressed salinities. In the middle and lower bay regions most are doing fairly well with half-bushel to full bushel catches per outing for those who work at it. The crabs tend to be shallow in many areas; doublers are becoming common as are sooks. Fresh bait tends to win out over old and razor clams reign supreme with crabs and cow-nosed rays.

It is summer time in Ocean City and fishing for a variety of summer species is in full gear. Water temperatures near the inlet are up to 78 degrees now and the best surf fishing is occurring in the early morning and late evening hours. Kingfish and croakers are two of the species being targeted with small strip baits or bloodworms. There are also some small bluefish in the surf at times. Those wishing for a little more tug are catching a mix of inshore sharks and sting rays toward dusk. Anyone targeting inshore sharks should remember if you catch a protected species such as a sand tiger shark, dusky or a sandbar it is illegal to haul it up on the beach for a picture, it must remain in the water while being unhooked.

At the inlet/ Route 50 Bridge area bluefish are being caught on Got-Cha plugs and a few striped bass are being caught on swim shads or by those drifting live spot or eels. Most of this action is taking place towards dark. A few nice sheepshead are being caught along the South Jetty and there are always flounder moving through the inlet area.

In the back bay channels flounder are being caught and the throwback ratio is high for those using squid or minnows for bait. The 5″ white or pearl Gulp Mullet bait helps weed out the smaller flounder. Croakers are in the back bay areas now as well as small bluefish which help round out a day’s catch.

Outside the inlet there have been some nice flounder catches on some of the shoal areas such as Little Gull shoal and the Bass Grounds. Flounder are also making up a nice portion of the mix for those fishing for sea bass at the wreck and reef sites. Small or chicken dolphin are being attracted to the shade of the head boats and offer some exciting action for those willing to drift bait to them.

At the tradition fishing locations along the 30 fathom curve yellowfin tuna are being caught by trolling ballyhoo baits or by chunking. Farther offshore at the canyon areas a mix of yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dolphin, bigeye tuna along with white and blue marlin releases are being reported. Those that fill out their trips with some deep drop fishing are loading up on tilefish and sea bass.

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