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.
A recent trip to the fishing tackle section of a large discount store showed a lot of empty space on the shelves. Everyone is excited about getting out and enjoying the outdoors safely and fishing seems to be at the top of the list. Children are perhaps the most anxious to get outside, and taking them fishing is a wonderful thing to share together.
DNR is now offering appointments at most licensing and registration centers. Appointments can be scheduled online.
Also, our striped bass fishing advisory forecast begins this week, providing a seven-day outlook to help anglers reduce striped bass mortality during the summer fishing season.
Forecast Summary: June 17-23:
Expect warm, partly cloudy days with chances of daily thunderstorms. Main Chesapeake Bay surface water temperatures have dropped slightly to the low 70s but will rise the next week. Some of the deeper waters from Swan Point to Bloody Point are starting to show unsuitable oxygen conditions for fish. For information on Maryland’s main bay oxygen conditions, see the latest hypoxia report on the department’s website.
With rivers approaching the mid-70s, any striped bass remaining in the spawning rivers will begin to move to cooler river mouths orthe main bay. Surface waters are about 4 degrees warmer than bottom waters. White perch have moved out to tidal creek mouths on mud, sand or clay bottoms near structure in water less than 20 feet deep. Adult spot continue moving towards the upper 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 western shore from Back River down to Parker’s Creek. Other algal-related reductions in water clarity can be found in the mouth of the Chester River, the upper Patuxent, and the mouth of Eastern Bay. In addition, expect poorer-than-normal water clarity from Cobb Island down to Coles Point. To see the latest water clarity conditions on NOAA satellite maps, check our Eyes on the Bay satellite maps.
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 all week as a result of the new moon June 21.
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
Fishing for striped bass has been good at the Conowingo Dam pool, the lower Susquehanna River, and the areas around the Susquehanna Flats. Casting topwater lures in these areas is one of the best ways to target striped bass in the morning at first light. As the day wears on, most anglers are switching to soft plastic jigs and working channel edges or live-lining small white perch with good success.
A little farther down the bay, striped bass are being caught at the Francis Scott Key Bridge piers. Live-lining white perch, spot, or eels are a very effective way to fish. Some anglers are chumming with success but catfish have been a large part of what is attracted to the chum slicks. Jigging near the bridge piers with soft plastics is another effective way to target striped bass.
The Love Point Rocks and the Podickory Point channel edge are getting some attention from those chumming, jigging, or live-lining. There has been some success with spot in the shallower areas at the mouth of the Magothy River while others are using small white perch. Those chumming have been picking away at striped bass and pulling up a lot of catfish.
Trolling has been a good option in the upper bay, the edges of the shipping channel, and the edges of Swan Point. Umbrella rigs pulled behind inline weights are popular with small to medium bucktails dressed with sassy shads, twister tails, or small spoons.
The Bay Bridge piers are attracting anglers that are using a variety of fishing methods. Some boats are anchoring up and chumming or live-lining spot and small white perch. Others are jigging near the piers with skirted soft plastic jigs in white, pearl sparkle, and chartreuse combinations. The fish are typically holding close to the pier bases and a good running tide is extremely important.
White perch can be found near the Bay Bridge pier bases that are in shallower water, and most are using bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm to catch them. The Francis Scott Key Bridge and old piers in the mouth of the Baltimore Harbor are other good places to fish for white perch. Casting small lures near shoreline structure in the early morning and evening hours is a wonderful and productive pastime in the tidal rivers and creeks of the upper bay.
Surface water temperatures in the middle bay are holding around 73 degrees. Striped bass are spread in a wide range of water depths and habitats as they are able to move freely through the water column. Trolling has been one of the most popular ways to fish. The shipping channel edges have been productive places to troll where striped bass are suspended at depths of 25 feet to 30 feet. Umbrella rigs with heavy inline weights are a common way to get down to the fish, which can be a mix of striped bass and bluefish. Drone spoons with chartreuse color combinations as well as bucktails with white sassy shads or twister tails tend to be the best lures to use as trailers.
Spot are becoming more abundant and many anglers are opting for live-lining at 30-foot edges at Hacketts, Thomas Point, and similar channel edges. Spot can be found over hard bottom behind Hacketts, Poplar Island, and the area called the Sands on the southeast side of Black Walnut Point in the mouth of the Choptank.
Chumming is a productive way to fish by anchoring up in about 25 feet of water at many popular locations — Thomas Point, Hacketts, and the Hill to name a few. Anglers using live bait or cut bait are reminded that they must use non-offset circle hooks at all times. When striped bass can be spotted suspended on depth finders, jigging can be an effective way to fish. Two locations in Eastern Bay off Tilghman Point and the south end of Kent Island at Hollicutts Noose have been productive recently.
Those that can get out early in the morning or late evening are finding fun shallow-water action for striped bass and a speckled trout now and then. Casting topwater lures near shoreline structure, stump fields, and submerged rocks is always fun. Poppers and Zara Spooks are good lures to use with spinning tackle and skipping bugs with fly fishing gear. Casting swim shads, paddle tails, and jerkbaits will work well also in deeper waters with less grass such as piers and bulkheads.
White perch can offer plenty of exciting action along shoreline structure areas during the morning and evening hours. Fallen treetops, piers, and rocks are great places to target with a variety of small spinnerbaits, spinners, and beetle spins. Fishing a simple bottom rig baited with pieces of bloodworm or grass shrimp close to piers and docks in waters 10 feet or more is always fun.
Trolling for striped bass in the lower Potomac along the channel edge from Piney Point south to Cornfield Harbor has been productive. Umbrella rigs behind inline weights with white bucktails dressed with white sassy shads or twister tails have offered a favorite trailer, as do Drone spoons in chartreuse and gold color combinations. Bluefish are becoming more common in the mix. Anglers are reminded that the creel limit for bluefish has changed this year. The daily creel limit is now 3 per day if fishing from shore or a private boat and 5 per day if fishing on a charter boat. The minimum size is 8 inches.
Some of the most exciting fishing action this week is on the eastern side of the bay from Hoopers Island south through Tangier and Pocomoke sounds. Anglers are catching a mix of striped bass and speckled trout in the shallower grassy areas along marsh edges in about 5 feet of water. Casting poppers and Zara Spooks offers fun in the morning and evening hours. Casting a variety of 4-inch to 5-inch soft plastics on white or pearl and chartreuse sparkle combinations has been very productive.
Large red drum continue to show up for some fun catch-and-release action for those trolling large spoons near the Middle Grounds and up to the Target Ship. Jigging can also be a very effective way to catch them when spotted on depth finders or under slicks. Cobia are becoming more common in Virginia this week but a few have crossed the Maryland line and are being caught by those sight-casting live eels or large soft plastic jigs.
Small spot are being caught on hard bottom areas at the mouth of the Patuxent River and in the Tangier Sound area. White perch can be caught in the same areas on the same bloodworm baits. A mix of channel and blue catfish can also be found in the same areas and caught on clam snouts or cut bait. White perch are in the many tidal creeks of the lower bay and can provide lots of fun light-tackle action.
Recreational crabbing is steadily picking up this week. As one might expect, the best crabbing is occurring in the lower bay, especially the eastern side. A full bushel of good crabs is fairly common per outing there. In the middle bay, one can catch a full bushel if they work at it and once again the eastern side of the bay tends to offer the best success. Razor clams continue to be the most productive bait with chicken necks working just fine most of the time.
Those who enjoy their fly fishing for trout are experiencing some of the best opportunities right now. Hatches of Mayflies, white millers, and caddis are occurring in most of the premier trout management waters of the central and western regions. Predicted rain at the end of the week may cause high flows in some waters so keep an eye on conditions.
Anglers at Deep Creek Lake are enjoying good fishing for walleye and large yellow perch by drifting minnows along deep grass lines. Smallmouth bass can be found along deep rocky points and near floating docks. Largemouth bass are holding in the coves near grass or sunken wood and under floating docks and fallen treetops.
The upper Potomac is running clear and at good levels but that may change quickly with several days of rain in the forecast. Casting topwater lures such as Zara Spooks and poppers in shallower areas is a good bet in the morning and evening hours. Small grubs, green pumpkin-colored tubes, and crankbaits are good choices to be worked slowly along the bottom in deeper areas.
Water temperatures in small ponds, reservoirs, and tidal waters are slowly rising and largemouth bass are beginning to slip into a typical summer mode of behavior — feeding at night and loafing in cooler waters during the day. At this point grass is the key to fishing success. The shallower grass areas are the hunting ground for largemouth bass, and deeper grass provides a place to find cover and sit out the day. Topwater lures, lipless crankbaits, and soft plastic baits are good items to work the shallow areas during early morning and evening hours. Weighted soft plastics, stick worms, and jigs are good baits to drop down through the thick deep water grass. Sunken wood should not be overlooked in tidal waters, while feeder creeks also can hold bass.
Northern snakeheads are near the end of their spawning and will offer slightly better fishing opportunities. Look for them back in thick grass where topwater frogs and buzzbaits will be a good choice.
Fishing for blue catfish is very good this week in the tidal waters of the Potomac from the Wilson Bridge down to below the Route 301 Bridge. The Patuxent and Nanticoke rivers hold a lot of blue catfish and they are quickly becoming more abundant in the lower Susquehanna River and tidal rivers throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Channel catfish inhabit every tidal river in the bay and offer plenty of fun fishing. Clam snouts, cut fish bait, and chicken livers all make good baits.
Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays
The action in the surf is slowly slipping into a typical summer fishery. Kingfish are at the top of the list this week and plenty are being caught on bottom rigs baited with bloodworms. Those fishing squid are catching small bluefish, blowfish, and a few flounder. Small to medium-sized black drum can be caught on sand fleas and if targeting bluefish, a finger mullet rig works best. Soaking cut menhaden baits may give you a chance at a striped bass or bluefish or a cownose ray.
At the inlet, casting swimshads, bucktails, and metal is a good way to target the bluefish that are moving in and out of the inlet each day. Some are also drifting fresh cut bait for bluefish and striped bass with good success. Most of the striped bass fail to meet the 28-inch minimum but larger ones are being caught every day.
Flounder fishing has been good in the inlet area and the back bay channels as long as water clarity remains good. Strong winds have stirred things up a bit but conditions will settle down if it is not too windy this weekend. White and pink Gulp baits are catching the largest flounder this week.
Fishing for sea bass at the offshore wreck and reef sites remains good with limit catches around the rails being common. Charter and party boats are now allowed to expand capacity so more opportunities exist to get out and enjoy this excellent fishing for sea bass.
The boats heading out to the canyons are finding yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna. Limit catches of yellowfin are fairly common this week and some of the bigeye tuna being brought back to the docks are 200 pounds or more. Wind and weather will take command over fishing opportunities this coming weekend.
“There comes a time in every man’s life when he is either going to go fishing or do something worse.” — Havilah Babcock, 1947