Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Keith Lockwood, Maryland Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist.
Click Before You Cast is written by Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham.
The summer-like weather is bringing families out to enjoy the outdoors. What could be better than being out on a fishing adventure with mom, especially if you catch a strange-looking fish like a northern snakehead!
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers two more license-free fishing days on June 13 and July 4 — a free option to explore Maryland’s diverse and unique fishing experiences without needing a fishing license, trout stamp, or registration.
As we all start spending more time on the water, a reminder that our biologists have instituted several volunteer angler surveys to help them understand and better manage some of the important fish species to anglers as well as blue crabs and horseshoe crabs.Forecast Summary: June 10-16:
Warm, sunny days continue as we approach the longest daylight hours of the year. Main bay water temperatures warmed considerably to the mid 70s and will continue rise the next week. Some of the deeper waters from Swan Point to Bloody Point are starting to show unsuitable oxygen conditions for bay fish. For information on oxygen conditions, see our latest hypoxia report.
With rivers reaching the mid-70’s, striped bass still remaining in the spawning rivers to feed near channel edges and points will begin to move to cooler river mouths or main bay structure. Keep in mind that surface waters are about 4 degrees warmer than bottom waters. White perch are done spawning and have moved out to tidal creek mouths on mud, sand or clay bottoms near structure in waters less than 20 feet deep. Adult spot continue moving towards upper Chesapeake Bay mainstem and tributaries in areas with salinities greater than 5 ppt (currently south of the Bay Bridge). Spot will be found on oyster bars, sand, and mud bottom feeding on benthic worms and small clams.
Expect reduced water clarity from algal blooms on the mainstem Bay from Middle River down to the Bay Bridge. The poorest water clarity will be found on the Susquehanna Flats and the mouth of the Chester River, and on the western shore from the mouth of the Patuxent River to the mouth of the Potomac River. In addition, expect poorer than normal water clarity from Cobb Island down to Coles Point.
Expect normal flows all week from most of Maryland’s rivers and streams, however there may be elevated flows in some streams due the predicted thunderstorms for the upcoming week. There will be above average tidal currents as a result of the June 6 full moon.
For more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the bay, be sure to check out Click Before You Cast. Get regular updates on Maryland’s waters sent to your inbox with our Eyes on the Bay newsletter. Sign up online.
Upper Chesapeake Bay
The Conowingo Dam is on a daily power generation schedule this week and anglers are casting into the dam pool for striped bass in the early morning hours. Most are casting a variety of topwater lures, swimshads, paddletails, and soft plastic jigs. Reports are that a fair portion of the striped bass are undersized but still plenty of fun. Others are casting fresh cut baits into the dam pool with heavy spinning tackle and catching a mix of catfish species.
A little farther down the Susquehanna River, a mix of catfish are being caught on cut baits of fresh fish, clam snouts, and chicken liver and other parts. Clam snouts have always been a durable bait and can be purchased at minimal cost. They come from soft clams that are processed by packing houses in preparation for frying.
There has been some fun early morning and evening fishing for striped bass along the edges of the Susquehanna Flats. Casting topwater lures has been effective and there have been some large northern snakeheads being caught in the same areas. Casting and jigging with soft plastic jigs along the channel edges has also been productive for striped bass. Others have had good luck live-lining small white perch in the river along channel edges. Anglers using live bait or cut bait are reminded that they must use non-offset circle hooks at all times.
Striped bass fishing farther down the bay has been slow for those trolling, chumming, and jigging. Trolling tends to offer the best opportunities along channel edges in about 25 feet of water. Umbrella rigs have been very popular with bucktails dressed with curly-tail plastics as a trailer. Boats can be seen anchored up at the Podickory Point channel edge and the Bay Bridge chumming for striped bass; success has been slow and catfish are usually part of the mix. Jigging at Love Point rocks and the Bay Bridge piers has been fairly good, with some nice striped bass being caught on skirted soft plastic jigs in pearl or chartreuse and white combinations.
Fishing for white perch has been good in the upper bay’s tidal rivers and creeks. They offer simple fun fishing from shore access points and small boats. Casting small spinners, spinnerbaits, and jigs near shoreline structure in the early morning or evening hours is a relaxing way to fish. Fishing with pieces of bloodworm or grass shrimp on a bottom rig in deeper waters is also just as relaxing. Rigging grass shrimp or small minnows under a bobber and casting near shoreline structure also works well.
The water temperature in the middle bay is holding at about 72 degrees and still offers comfortable conditions for striped bass. Salinity values are a bit low this week due to recent rain. On June 17, we will begin reporting our Striped Bass Summer Fishing Advisory Forecast, aimed at reducing striped bass mortality during the summer fishing season. A color-coded recommendation system will advise of fishing conditions, allowing anglers to plan their striped bass fishing trips up to seven days in advance. As bay water temperatures climb into the 80s and deeper waters may be impacted by plankton bloom die-offs, this information will be very important to anglers wishing to conserve our striped bass resource in Maryland.
Trolling along the shipping channel edges at the 30-foot depth level has been popular this week for a mix of sub-legal and legal sized striped bass. Umbrella rigs pulled behind inline weights with medium-sized bucktails dressed with sassy shads or curly tails are among the best choices. There have been some large red drum reported near Sharps Island and Stone Rock, so placing a large silver spoon in a trolling spread may produce some catch-and-release excitement.
There has been some chumming action near the outside channel edge at Hacketts and Thomas Point. Catches have been a mix of striped bass above and below the 19-inch minimum. Catfish and cownose rays are also being attracted to the chum slicks. Spot are beginning to become available in the middle bay so live-lining spot or white perch is a viable option.
Jigging along favorite channel edges in the region continues to attract light tackle anglers. The steep edges of Hollicutts Noose, R2A, and R4 in Eastern Bay are holding striped bass. Bloody Point and Thomas Point are also good places to look for suspended fish. Anglers are beginning to see sub-legal striped bass on top this week and most know to jig deep underneath them to look for larger fish. One should keep a lookout for slicks that indicate recent feeding activity; depth finders will help confirm the presence of fish.
The shallow-water fishery for striped bass offers some fun early morning and evening fishing fun for light spinning tackle or fly rods. Topwater lures, whether they are popping plugs or skipping bugs, offer the most exciting and explosive surface strikes. Prominent points, stump fields, or old submerged rocks offer great places for striped bass in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and areas along the bay shores. These same areas usually hold white perch also and speckled trout are becoming more common.
Summer would not be complete without white perch and they are holding near most deep water docks and piers for anglers of all ages. They are plentiful, fun to catch, and when of decent size offer some fine fillets destined for a frying pan. Fishing with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm on a simple bottom rig near dock piers is a time proven tactic. Casting small spinners, spinnerbaits, or plastic jigs with ultra-light spinning tackle near shoreline structure on a summer evening is hard to beat.
Striped bass fishing in the lower bay is being described as a bit slow, as legal-sized fish are tough to find. There has been some trolling success along the steep channel edge between Piney Point and St. Georges Island for those trolling umbrella rigs. Use bucktails dressed with curly tails or sassy shads in white and chartreuse as trailers.
Anglers have been working shallow structure areas such as Cedar Point Light, the targets and shoreline areas in the lower Patuxent, and the Point Lookout area with topwater, paddle tails, and soft plastic jigs in the morning and evening hours. On the eastern side of the bay, the cuts through Hoopers Island have been good places to jig. A fair portion of the striped bass come up short of the minimum size but there are plenty of legal fish to catch.
Perhaps the biggest news on the eastern side of the bay is the good fishing for speckled trout in about 5 feet of water along the marshes and islands of Tangier and Pocomoke sounds. Casting paddle tails, Gulps, MirrOlures, and Zara Spooks in the shallows is producing some nice catches of speckled trout. A few striped bass are also in the mix. There are black drum and red drum in the region and they can be caught on soft or peeler crab baits, if you can keep those baits from the hordes of cownose rays in the region.
White perch can be found in all of the region’s tidal rivers and creeks. Casting small spinnerbaits, spinners, and small curly-tail jigs all offer a fun way to catch them on light tackle near shoreline structure. Fishing with grass shrimp under a bobber or on a simple bottom rig also works well.
In the western region, ardent trout anglers always anticipate the annual green drake Mayfly hatch, happening now in many of the most productive trout streams. The Youghiogheny and Bear Creek are just a couple of these locations, according to DNR fisheries biologist Kenny Wampler. There is also a large variety of other hatches going on at dusk this week. A simple dry fly with a dropper is a proven offering that trout will go after during these times.
At Deep Creek Lake, jet skis and general summer boating traffic is getting busier but anglers are still finding room to fish with good success. Walleye and large yellow perch are being caught along deep grass edges on minnows and trout along the dam face in deep water. Bluegills are spawning and can be found in the shallower areas, making them easier to target. Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be found holding tight to floating docks.
Largemouth bass are beginning to slip into a summer mode of feeding and lounging. Water temperatures are still cool enough that early morning feeding activity in the shallower areas can last until noon or later, and pick up again early in the evening. Bass are lurking around grass and lily pads, or anything that can harbor prey – a long list including small minnows, sunfish, crayfish, tadpoles, even small snakes and frogs. Working plastic frogs, hula poppers, and floating worms are good items to work in shallow grass, lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits around the edges of the grass is a good tactic. In tidal areas, dropping stick worms down through the grass works well at high tide, and working the edges is a good tactic at low tide.
Loch Raven, Liberty and Prettyboy reservoirs offer wonderful fishing opportunities for a variety of fish species, but largemouth bass are usually at the top of the list for anglers. There is no permit needed to fish from the shorelines but a boating permit is needed if you fish from a boat. Baltimore City issues the permits; the application and regulations can be viewed on the city’s website.
Northern snakeheads can now be found back in thick grass where they are spawning. A buzzbait or other topwater lure can catch their attention and entice a strike. Fishing for northern snakeheads will generally slow down for a while.
Bluegill sunfish are spawning now in many areas of Maryland and offer fun fishing in the shallower areas of farm ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. They will go after a multitude of items, including worms, rubber-legged popping bugs, and a variety of small flies and lures. Crappie are holding near structure such as brush and fallen treetops in nontidal waters, and in sunken wood and marina docks and piers in tidal waters. Small minnows or crappie jigs under a bobber work well to entice them to bite.
There are plenty of blue catfish to be caught in many of the Chesapeake’s tidal rivers. The tidal Potomac, Patuxent, and Nanticoke rivers offer some of the highest concentrations. In the tidal Potomac, the stretch from the Wilson Bridge down past the Route 301 Bridge offers the best places to fish. The Benedict area of the Patuxent and the area near Sharpstown on the Nanticoke are the center of blue catfish activity. Fresh cut baits of gizzard shad, bluegill sunfish, or white perch make excellent baits.
Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays
Surf casters are enjoying good fishing for kingfish when using bloodworms. Those fishing with squid are catching a few flounder and northern blowfish. To catch the bluefish that are in the region, finger mullet tends to be the best choice for bait. Others are soaking cut menhaden for a chance to catch a striped bass.
At the inlet those casting bucktails, Got-Cha plugs, swimshads, or plastic jigs are catching bluefish and striped bass. Most of the striped bass are falling short of 28 inches but plenty of fun. Flounder can be found at the inlet and traditional squid and minnow baits are catching them as well as Gulp baits.
In the back bay channels flounder are being caught on squid and minnows, but large Gulp baits in white or pink tend to catch the largest flounder.
Sea bass fishing continues to be extremely good. Limits of sea bass around the rails are a common event and causing early trips back to the dock. Space is very limited on the party boats calling Ocean City their port, so you may have to call weeks ahead to make a reservation.
The boats venturing out to the offshore canyons are finding a few yellowfin tuna and dolphin, while quite a few white marlin are also being caught and released.
A quick note about our use of the word “dolphin” in this Fishing Report: In the past few years, some have been calling this delicious-eating fish by its Hawaiian name, mahi-mahi, to avoid having the general public think offshore anglers are eating the marine mammal dolphin. Others have used the term mahi, but that’s technically incorrect, since the Hawaiian word “mahi” refers to a farm or plantation.
“….the fisherman fishes. It is at once an act of humility and a small rebellion. And it is something more. To him his fishing is an island in a world of dream and shadow.” — Robert Traver, 1960