Spanish mackerel and cobia take center stage in the lower bay. Spanish mackerel can be found in good numbers in a variety of places along the canals, hunting schools of bay anchovies. It is an exciting sight to see gulls diving into a melee of surface bait and a mix of Spanish mackerel, sabers, small blue fish and sometimes small striped bass charging through the schools of bait.
The ticket to catching Spanish mackerel is to position yourself carefully ahead of the action, then throw in small to medium soft plastic jigs or metal jigs and retrieve them as quickly as possible. Slower recovery allows the bluefish to take your lure. It is useful to keep an eye out for sounders as there may be times when larger striped bass, a large red drum, or even a cobia will stand near the bottom under the action near the surface. It can be very beneficial to have a solid rod rigged with a large flexible plastic jig for this purpose.
Trolling is a popular option and a great way to cover a lot of water. Most drag teaspoons of drones and Clark No.1 and No.2 pulled behind planers or line weights at speeds of around 8 knots. The edges of the Maritime Canal and similar canals in the Strait of Tangier are good places for trolling.
The Cobia are caught by those setting up chum slabs near the target ship, Middle Grounds, and Smith Point. Most are hammering and dropping chopped bait or a live eel on the back of the chum sheet. Many report being swamped with cownose rays and even a few small sharks taking bait. The price is there though, and very respectable cobias are caught every day.
Shallow water fishing for a mix of striped bass and speckled trout continues to keep anglers entertained at dawn or late evening. Casting surface lures and paddletails near the shore structure is a fun way to fish with light equipment. Many striped bass are less than 20 inches tall, but there are larger ones. The action of the speckled trout in the sounds of Tangier and Pocomoke has been very good, and despite warmer weather it is hoped that it will continue this week. Anglers are reminded that the main course of the Potomac River is closed to striped bass fishing and will resume on August 21. The waters of Virginia Bay remain closed to striped bass fishing until October 4.
Recreational crab fishing can be classified as quality rather than quantity. It’s always a tough job to collect half a bushel of crabs per outing, but everyone notices the size of the crabs they catch. Opinions are split between shallow and deep water, but most agree that waters between 10 and 12 feet offer the best catches. Salinity values are higher in tidal rivers due to lack of rain, and good catches are made in the upper parts of streams and tidal rivers. There are reports of a number of small crabs in the middle of the bay and rather sparse reports in the lower and upper parts of the bay.
Fishing families vacationing at Deep Creek Lake enjoy fishing a mix of species. Northern pike are found in coves and largemouth bass along the shoreline structure, floating docks and seagrass beds in shallower coves. Smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and walleye can be found along the edges of deep grass using deep dive bait or by drifting live minnows. Bluegill is ready for anyone who drops a worm or mealworm off docks and grass edges. Trout can be found deep along the face of the dam.
Fly fishing in the streams and rivers of the western and central region is a bit of a stealth game, with low water flows that often require long casts and light leaders. Terrestrials such as beetles, ants, and larvae tend to be good choices in low water conditions. During high water events, working nymphs can be a good bet.
The many ponds and reservoirs dotted around the Maryland landscape provide plenty of fly fishing opportunities for bluegill. Using a lightweight fly rod and small rubber-legged poppers, ants and similar surface flies are good choices for a morning or evening of fun. Bluegills offers a lot of fishing fun for our young anglers by watching a float rigged with a worm.
Largemouth bass fishing during the summer months often involves the early hours of the morning or late evening in shallower areas where they feed overnight. This type of fishing is always exciting with explosions on surface frogs or chatter. As the morning hours progress, fishing in the transition areas of slightly deeper water often near grass or heavy structure is equally satisfying, although the presentations are different. Lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and a variety of soft plastics are all popular offerings. Wacky rigged stick worms and larvae tend to be good choices for fishing in thick grass or deep structure.
The Department of Natural Resources is still hard at work raising various fish at the Joseph Manning Hatchery in southern Maryland. Staff have raised largemouth bass fry to supplement the wild populations and recently stocked 2,500 juveniles in Piscataway Creek and 19,500 in the Mallows Bay and Nanjemoy Creek area. Hatchery staff also reared golden minnow fry and placed them in a hatchery pond that was introduced with juvenile bigmouths. The small largemouth bass fed on the golden minnow to become what are known as advanced fry, which will have a significant head start in bolstering the largemouth bass populations in the tidal zone of the Potomac River. About 10,400 of these advanced fry were stocked at Indian Head on the Potomac River and Piscataway Creek.
Northern snakehead fishing is definitely making a comeback after spawning, and the special attention adults pay to frying balls is over. Throwing baits, frogs, and other surface lures into, over, and near grass and similar vegetation provides plenty of action. Throwing weed-free rigged white paddletails through or near the grass is also a good tactic.
The White Marlin Open is now in the history books with another year of record wins. Additionally, on the final day of the tournament, Jake Bertonazzi broke the nearly two-week state swordfish record for the Atlantic Division with a 318.5-pound catch about 60 miles off Poor Man’s Canyon.
Many of the visiting boats are still moored in Ocean City pending the upcoming Poor Girls Open and MidAtlantic tournaments. All of these deep-sea fishing activities help to give everyone an idea of the type of fishing opportunities that exist offshore.
Wave fishing along the beaches of Ocean City and Assateague Island is primarily focused on small summer species. Kingfish, spot and small bluefish are caught in the waves, and due to the warm weather the best fishing success has been in the early morning hours. There is a report that at least a few pompanos have been caught, so it would pay off to rig a surf rod with a sand flea as bait.
At the entrance, striped bass are fished near the south pier and the Highway 50 bridge. Most are undersized, but provide plenty of fun fishing and relaunching with the occasional striped bass. which measures over 28 inches. Throwing bucktails and soft plastic jigs is the most popular way to fish. Plaice is also part of the mix when entering on traditional squid baits, Gulp soft plastics, or by spot of live liner, mullet or menhaden.
Plaice fishing in the back bay channels continues to be good, as long as the water clarity is good. Due to the traffic from boats leading to the cove, many fishermen choose to fish in front of the airport and nearby canal areas with success.
There are some exciting developments outside the Inlet near some areas of coastal shoal this week. Spanish mackerels are captured by those dragging Clark and Drone teaspoons behind weights and line planers. Large flounder are also caught on these shoals.
At the wreck and reef sites, bass are caught and it is not uncommon to see a few limited catches on each party boat. Plaice are also captured around the same wreck and reef sites by those targeting them.
Anglers preying on Lumps along the 30 Fathom Line catch yellowfin. Further offshore, the boats that ply the canyons capture a mixture of yellowfin, white marlin, dolphin and sometimes blue marlin. Many charters are down deep to put some variety in the fish box with blueline and golden tilefish.
“We have reached the moment in the life of the planet and the demands of humanity on it, when every fisherman will have to be a river guardian, a steward of the shallows, a guardian of the high seas.” – Thomas mcguane
Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Keith Lockwood, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries biologist.
Click Before You Cast is written by Tom Parham, Director of Ecosystem Assessment at Tidewater.
This report is now available on your Amazon Echo device – just ask Alexa to “open Maryland Fishing Report”.