Maryland Fishing Report – July 28


Lower bay

Marty Zupancic caught a Spanish mackerel limit up to 20 inches around Point Lookout and Cornfield Harbor, trolling with a # 2 planer and size 0 Drone and Clark spoons and throwing metal spoons at light material. Photo by Marty Zupancic

Cobias are still reported in the lower part of the bay. Scooping up and drifting live eels in the chum slick is a proven method of catching one of these large fish. Prepare to see lots of cownose stingrays hitting the baits while chumming. Trolling surgical tubing or hoses is also productive. Sight fishing with a raised platform has become an increasingly popular method of fishing in recent years. After spotting a cobia, throwing a live eel, large soft plastic, or large bucktail is a good way to target them. Smith Point, the Middle Grounds, the Target Ship, and Virginia Waters are great places to find cobia.

There is puppy drumming in the shallows all the way to the South River and the mouth of the Choptank. Small paddle tails work very well for these fish. The largest male redfish are beginning to appear in the waters of southern Maryland.

Spanish mackerel numbers are increasing in the lower bay and they are expected to continue moving north with the hot, dry weather in August. Dragging Drone and Clark teaspoons behind in-line weights and planers at a speed of 6-8 knots is the best method. Throwing and retrieving small metal decoys at high speed around Spanish mackerel is another effective technique.

The blue fish travels up the bay and has been found around Cedar Point, all the way to Breezy Point and the mouth of the Choptank River.

The rocks of Cedar Point, the areas of watertight bulkheads, the cuts across Hoopers Island and the marsh edges of the lower east coast are all good places to fish for spotted sea trout. Another good place for the cast in recent years is around the foundation structure of the Sharp’s Island Lighthouse. A few speckled trout have been found as far north as Eastern Bay.

Bottom fishing in the lower Patuxent River, the Solomon Islands, the Strait of Tangier and the St. Mary’s River is expected to be stable during the first weeks of August. Some plaice are caught in the Tangier and Pocomoke Straits along the edges of the channel and adjacent hard shoals, as well as around Point Lookout and Cornfield Harbor. Croaker have been rare with only a few pups reported, mainly in Virginia waters.

A reminder that the main course of the Potomac River will remain closed to striped bass fishing until August 20. Tidal rivers on the Maryland side will remain closed until August 1.

Recreational crab has been difficult for most crabbers this year, with some large up to 9 inches caught in the upper bay. Some success has been reported in the Severn River and Annapolis areas. Recreational crabbers can catch from a few dozen good crabs up to half a bushel or more with trotline equipment. Typically, the catches in the Lower Bay lagged behind the Mid and Upper Bay areas, with decent action between Deale and the West and Rhode Rivers last week. In recent years, most savvy crabbers have found that using knives will produce better catches, while others are relying on old chicken necks.

Freshwater fishing
Photo of a man in a small boat holding a smallmouth bass

Angler Wade Elwood caught this 4lb 9oz Potomac River Smallmouth Bass. Photo by Josh Henesy

Our inland fisheries biologist and resident muskellunge expert Josh Henesey reports that the headwaters of the Potomac River continue to flow low and clear. Anglers continue to experience excellent fishing throughout the river for smallmouth bass; especially in the morning and evening. As flows continue to decline, smallmouth bass will concentrate more in slightly deeper pockets of water.

A harmful algae species has made a comeback since last week’s report. It is suspected that the warmer weather over the past week has lowered water temperatures into the optimal growth range reported for this species.

Freshwater biologists conducted the annual seine survey for the recruitment of juvenile smallmouth bass. Preliminary observations suggested an excellent hatching; however, so far the survey has shown lower than average numbers. There appear to be fish health issues that particularly affect smallmouth juveniles – staff are currently collecting samples from these fish to identify the cause. A detailed summary will be available after the conclusion of this investigation.

As we reported last week, channel and flathead catfish species are found in large numbers and provide recreational opportunities throughout the river. These species tend to seek deeper water during daylight hours with abundant woody debris. At night, which is the most common time for angling, the larger fish move to the shallows for food. River catfish can be caught on a variety of dead baits, including chicken liver and cut fish, while flathead fish tend to be more selective and finicky, and prefer live bait.

The invasive snakehead continues to strike plastic frogs, spinners, buzzbaits, paddletails, and chatterbaits in the usual places, including the tidal rivers north of Baltimore and the Blackwater area on the east coast.

Atlantic Ocean and coastal bays
Photo of a man and a woman holding a large mahi-mahi or dolphinfish.

Angler Tracy Dunaway with an impressive 41.5 inch fork length Mahi-Mahi which is a nice catch for a coastal party boat. Photo by Monty Hawkins

Recent reports from the Atlantic coast have indicated continued improvement in water clarity in waves. Fishermen catch jacks, small croakers and spots on pieces of bloodworms or fish bites. Those who fish with cut strips catch small blue fish and plaice. There was also a projection of a big red drum in the waves.

At the entrance and behind the bays there have been a decent number of mostly sub-legal striped bass. Most work with white soft plastic jigs or bucktails dressed in a curled tail, and the “Roy Rig” lure near the south pier and near the Highway 50 bridge. Small and medium sized blue fish enter. and exit the entrance areas and the rear bay.

In the back bay areas, the summer fishery continues to focus on plaice and is found in the usual channel areas of Assawoman and Sinepuxent bays, the “Thoroughfare” near the Highway 50 bridge and back. from Assateague Island near the Verrazano Bridge. Drifting with traditional squid or minnow thong baits is popular, and large soft plastic jigs and Gulp baits in white or pink work well for larger flounder.

Wreck sites and artificial reefs continue to provide excellent black bass fishing. Plaice have also been captured around the artificial reef and wreck sites on the edges of the structure. Mahi-Mahi – known as the dolphinfish – has also shown up near the coast, creating some excitement for boat anglers.

Much of the offshore action focused on yellowfin tuna and deep release with dead bait for swordfish. Reports have indicated success with yellowfin trolling in the Washington Canyon, but it has slowed in recent days. Fishermen also reported that several hooked yellowfin tuna were bitten by hammerhead sharks. Trolling in the canyons produces a mix of yellowfin, dolphin, and sometimes white and blue marlin.

Highly migratory species are captured off the coast of Maryland. The Ministry of Natural Resources reminds fishermen that a capture card must be completed and exchanged for a tag to land bluefin tuna, swordfish, billfish or sharks in Maryland. Details and forms for the capture card census are available on the MNR website.

“Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion in it.” -Harry Middleton

This week’s Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Erik Zlokovitz, Maryland Department of Natural Resources recreational fishing specialist. Fisheries biologist Josh Henesey contributed to the freshwater fishery report.

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”.


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