Even if it’s not official yet, summertime is here and families are enjoying time fishing together. Bluegill sunfish, white perch, and catfish are some simple species that are easy for our younger anglers to catch and feel the excitement that fishing can provide.
Forecast Summary: June 8 – June 14:
For the second week of June, expect perfect conditions for enjoying fishing in Maryland’s Bay waters with continued sunny, warm, and calm weather. Chesapeake Bay surface water temperatures have increased to the upper 70s and will likely continue to rise all week. If you are seeking the warmest waters, fish the surface later in the day as well as downwind areas. If you are seeking areas with cooler waters, fish the surface early in the day, and deeper waters or upwind areas later. Maryland rivers are currently running in the mid to upper 70s.
There is plenty of oxygen for fish from surface to bottom in most areas of the Bay. However, in the mainstem from the Bay Bridge down to Point No Point, adequate oxygen can be down to about 45 feet.
Expect average flows for most Maryland rivers and streams all week. There will be above average tidal currents from Saturday through the rest of the week as a result of the upcoming full moon on June 14.
There will be average water clarity for most of the main Bay as well as many rivers and streams. Expect reduced water clarity from algal blooms in the Tolchester area of the main Bay as well as the Back, Patapsco, Elk, and Bohemia rivers, along with the middle Potomac River near Colonial Beach.
To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website.
As always, best fishing areas could be further refined by intersecting them with underwater points, hard bottom, drop-offs, and large schools of baitfish.
For more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the Bay, be sure to check out Eyes on the Bay’s Click Before You Cast.
Upper Chesapeake Bay
The upper reaches of the Bay have been open to striped bass fishing for more than a week now, and reports from the lower Susquehanna River and flats are that the fishery has been slow. There was much hope for the locals who were chomping at the bit to finally enjoy casting at the Conowingo Dam pool and along the edges of the flats in the morning and evening hours. Hopefully fishing success will improve in the near future.
In the meantime there are plenty of large flathead and blue catfish in the dam pool and lower Susquehanna River. It is almost impossible not to catch them if you drop a piece of cut bait on the bottom. Cut baits of menhaden, gizzard shad or white perch are working well, but clam snouts, nightcrawlers, and chicken breast, liver, and gizzards are favored by some. A simple bottom rig of a sliding sinker and a circle hook are quickly gaining favor over the traditional static bottom rig.
A little farther down the upper Bay, the striped bass fortunes change dramatically. Trolling the edges of the shipping channel at various locations has been very good. The steep channel edge at Podickory Point, the Triple Buoys, and Swan Point have been standouts. Jigging is also an effective way to fish for striped bass at channel edges, shoals, and in particular the Love Point rocks. Soft plastic jigs, either skirted or unskirted, are working well.
One positive step for the upper Bay striped bass fishery is that spot have moved into areas off Sandy Point State Park, Podickory Point Marina, and the mouth of the Magothy River. Live-lining spot has taken off like a fighter jet hitting the afterburners along channel edges, the Key Bridge piers, and the Bay Bridge piers. This type of fishing is preferred by many over chumming, yielding less bycatch of hungry catfish and less mess of ground up menhaden.
Fishing for white perch in the tidal rivers and creeks of the upper Bay has settled into a traditional summer fishery. The white perch can be found holding near old piers, docks, and deep structure. In the morning and evening hours, they can often be found in shallower waters near shoreline structure or where the current sweeps off of shallow grassy areas. Small spinners, jigs, and spinnerbaits work well for them when casting. In deeper waters, bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworms work the best.
Northern snakeheads are being caught in the tidal creeks and rivers of the upper Bay this week. Many are very large and are feeding aggressively as they prepare for spawning later this month. Blue catfish and channel catfish are spread throughout all of the upper Bay tidal rivers and creeks. The lower Susquehanna and Chester rivers have some of the largest populations of blue catfish.
An angler who was fishing for bass in the Susquehanna Flats recently caught a new state record for common carp, beating the old record that stood since 1978. Logan Kuhrmann of Essex caught the 49-pound carp June 4 using spinning tackle with a plastic worm. He thought at first he’d hooked either a flathead or blue catfish before hauling in the enormous carp!
It is shaping up to be a great week for striped bass in the middle Bay. Trolling has been very popular, with most boats pulling a spread of medium-sized bucktails dressed with sassy shads behind umbrella rigs or in tandem. The 35-foot shipping channel edges tend to be the sweet spot in front of Hacketts Bar, the Gum Thickets to the Brick House Bar south to Buoy 83, and the western side of the shipping channel near Breezy Point.
Boats have been hovering up-current of the multi-leg bridge piers on the eastern side of the Bay Bridge, drifting live spot or soft crab baits, or jigging with soft plastic jigs near the pier bases. A very nice grade of striped bass up to 30 inches are being caught. Live-lining spot is also popular wherever striped bass can be spotted on depth finders suspended near channel edges.
Spot started to become available late last week and the word spread quickly; tanks in all shapes and sizes were set up in a flash so anglers can enjoy this very efficient form of striped bass fishing. The spot are being found on hard bottom in a number of locations – the area in Whitehall Bay behind green buoy #3, in front of Chesapeake Beach, and the Tilghman Island Sands on the southeast side of Black Walnut Point. Pieces of bloodworm and a #4 or #6 hook on a bottom rig is the ticket to catching small spot.
A few anglers are also setting up chum slicks at the 35-foot shipping channel edges and are having good luck catching striped bass, but that method of fishing comes with catfish and cownose rays when baits drift close to the bottom of the slick.
The shallow-water striped bass fishery that light-tackle anglers love so much could hardly be better. Moderate water temperatures have the striped bass lingering longer in the morning hours and moving into the shallower waters earlier in the evenings. Casting poppers offers the most fun as striped bass create surface explosions in their efforts to attack the lure. Topwater lures also have the advantage of being above shallow water grass beds. Paddletails and jerkbaits can offer an alternative in slightly deeper waters. The shores of the Bay and the shorelines near the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers offer the finest fishing opportunities.
White perch are providing plenty of fun fishing action in the region’s tidal creeks and rivers. The perch can be found near deep structure such as oyster bars, piers, and docks, and are caught on bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm. In the morning and evening hours the white perch can be found in shallower waters near shoreline structure. Casting small spinners, roadrunner lures, or small plastic jigs is a good way to target them.
Fishing for blue catfish in the Choptank River is good from the Dover Bridge area to Denton. Fishing with cut bait is an excellent way to catch them, and also channel catfish. Northern snakeheads can also be found in the tidal waters of the Choptank and western shore tidal rivers.
There are several good striped bass fishing options in the lower Bay right now. Trolling along steep channel edges, jigging, chumming, live-lining spot, and casting lures near shoreline structure are all great ways to fish this week.
Anglers are having good luck trolling along steep channel edges at 30-foot to 40-foot depths, such as the shipping channel in the Bay or in the lower Potomac River from St. Georges Island to Piney Point, as well as off Smith Point. Most are pulling umbrella rigs behind inline weights to reach the depths and pulling medium-sized bucktails dressed with sassy shads in white or chartreuse.
Jigging along channel edges where striped bass can be marked on depth finders is another good option for those wishing to use lighter tackle than trolling gear. Soft plastic jigs in white, chartreuse or pearl with sparkles are good choices. Cast them near structure and work them in currents like the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant discharge or the cuts through Hoopers Island.
Some anglers are chumming in the lower Potomac at the mouth of the river and Smith Point, as well as channel edges. They are attracting good numbers of striped bass to their chum slicks but unfortunately cownose rays are also mooching in on the chum and cut bait drifting back in the chum slick.
Spot are being found in the lower Bay at the mouth of the Patuxent, the Cornfield Harbor area, and Tangier Sound. Most are the right size for live lining, and many anglers are working channel edges where striped bass can be located suspended off the bottom with depth finders. Drifting spot near the bases of the bridge piers of the Solomons Bridge is a great tactic for striped bass.
Casting poppers and other topwater lures such as spooks over shallow grass is a fun way to fish for striped bass, and on the eastern side of the Bay speckled trout can be a large part of the mix. In slightly deeper waters casting paddletails, soft plastic jigs, jerkbaits, and crankbaits can be good choices. The Cedar Point rocks, the St. Marys and Lower Patuxent rivers, and the marsh edges of Tangier Sound are all popular fishing areas this week.
Fishing for speckled trout in the Tangier Sound area is very good. Anglers are catching them by casting paddletails and topwater lures in stump fields, marsh edges, and creek mouths. Others are drifting soft crab baits or cut spot on ebbing tides at the mouths of the larger marsh creeks.
Out in the deeper waters of Tangier Sound, the Middle Grounds, and near the Target Ship, large red drum are being caught and released by those fishing with soft crab baits over schools of drum. Trolling large spoons is another option, as is jigging with large soft plastics.
The tidal creeks and rivers of lower Dorchester and Somerset counties are providing good snakehead fishing. The snakeheads are in a pre-spawn feeding behavior but it will not last long; once they spawn they will be tucked back in thick grass tending their broods until the fry can fend for themselves. During this time it can be tough to catch them, but they will attack lures that seem to threaten their broods.
Fishing for blue catfish could hardly be better in the tidal Nanticoke, Patuxent, and Potomac rivers this week. There are hordes of them and despite angler’s efforts to reduce their populations, they seem to be getting more plentiful. There is no doubt they are destroying our valuable fisheries; their only plus is that they are good to eat. Most any kind of fresh cut bait will get their attention, as will other creative offerings on a simple bottom rig.
In the tidal creeks and rivers, white perch are entertaining anglers of all ages. There are few fish that account for so many children’s first introduction to fishing. Simply dropping a simple small sinker and a #4 or #6 hook tied in with a grass shrimp or piece of bloodworm straight down off a dock near its piers works every time. Those looking for a little more sport will find casting small spinners, roadrunner lures, or small soft plastic jigs near shoreline structure during the morning and evening hours provides plenty of fun.
Anglers are searching the put-and-take and delayed harvest trout management waters for holdover trout that have evaded the notion to eat Powerbait. Casting small spinners, gold spoons, and tiny jerkbaits is a great way to cover a lot of water looking for trout that are a bit persnickety about what they eat. The catch-and-release trout management waters that also have tackle limitations in the western and central regions will provide good trout fishing all summer long.
The upper Potomac River is in good shape this week, running clear and a bit low with water temperatures approaching a summer norm. Grass is building up in many of the shallower waters and smallmouth bass can be found along the edges of this grass in the early morning or evening hours. Casting topwater lures is a fun way to target them. Working swim jigs and tubes along current breaks, boulders and submerged ledges can pave the road to success.
The largemouth bass in the tidal Potomac are in a post spawn mode of feeding behavior and focused on clean grass, feeder creek mouths, fallen treetops, sunken wood and at times drop-offs. Wacky-rigged stick worms are hard to beat when working deeper grass. Buzzbaits and soft plastic frogs are always a good choice over grass, and watch out for snakeheads. Jigs and crankbaits are a good way to target deep sunken wood or drop-offs. The same tactics basically hold when fishing the large central region reservoirs and even smaller ponds.
Crappie are holding to deep structure this week. Sunken brush, fallen treetops, marina docks and bridge piers are all good places to look for crappie. The spoils area on the northeast side of the Wilson Bridge and the marina docks at National Harbor and Fort Washington are excellent places to fish for crappie in the tidal Potomac. Fishing small minnows under a slip bobber is the most popular way to try and catch them. The fishing bridge that crosses Liberty Reservoir next to the Nicodemus Bridge is also an excellent place to fish for crappie around the bridge piers.
Summer and bluegills seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. They can be just the ticket for an experienced light-tackle angler, they are forgiving to a beginning fly caster, and they are suckers for a worm under a bobber tended by a small child.
Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays
There is still hope of catching a trophy-sized striped bass or red drum in the surf this week; this is mostly a catch-and-release fishery since most are larger than the maximum 35 inches for striped bass and 27 inches for red drum. Cut bait of menhaden or spot have been the most popular attractants and the head of either tends to last longer against skates and dogfish. Bluefish are being caught on the same cut bait or on finger mullet, and some of the bluefish are six pounds or better and filled out, which is not always the case in the spring. Kingfish, blowfish, and flounder are part of the mix for those using smaller baits and tackle.
Inside the inlet and near the Route 50 Bridge some large and medium-sized bluefish are being caught along with striped bass that are mostly under the 28-inch minimum. Flounder are certainly in play and a few sea trout are being caught. Flounder fishing dominates the fishing scene in the back Bay channels, and catches are good as long as the water stays clear.
Offshore, the boats headed out to the wreck and reef sites continue to provide good sea bass fishing for the anglers onboard. Limit catches of beautiful, large sea bass are not uncommon. Boats heading a little farther offshore are finding large bluefish at some of the 30-fathom lumps; the Jackspot is one of them. A few boats have been making the long run south to the Norfolk Canyon where they are finding a mix of yellowfin, bluefin, and bigeye tuna. Other boats are heading out to familiar canyons and in the absence of tuna are deep-dropping for a mix of blueline and golden tilefish.
“Unencumbered by the knowledge that women didn’t fish, it was obvious to me, at the age of five or six, that it was better to be a fisherman than a rower.” – Joan Wulff