DNR Fishing Report: Trout and snakehead action in Dorchester

Submitted photo/DNR, Alexis Young
Alexis Young caught this 31-inch snakehead in Blackwater Refuge on July 20.

ANNAPOLIS — In the middle Chesapeake Bay, bottom fishing action for both spot and perch can be found at Hacketts and Thomas points on shell bottom and bars, as well as around Eastern Bay, Poplar Island, and the Severn and Choptank rivers. Small bluefish and Spanish mackerel should be moving into the area soon, with the combination of hot and dry weather and salinities being relatively high. Anglers are hoping for a repeat of last year’s hot action on Spanish mackerel which extended all the way to the upper bay.

Speckled trout action continues from the Choptank River south along the Dorchester County shorelines, and down into the Crisfield area marsh shorelines and cuts. Grass beds in 3-5 feet of water and stump fields are excellent places to cast topwater lures and swim shads. Zara Spooks, Gulp plastics, and soft plastics in pearl or white with sparkles are popular. The structure around Sharps Island lighthouse is a popular spot.

Fishing for white perch in the shallower shoreline areas should be steady from now into September. Shoreline structure such as bulkheads, submerged rocks, fallen trees, and riprap are good areas to cast small spinners, spinnerbaits, and jigs. White perch and spot can also be caught off of docks and piers in 5-10 feet of water with a simple one-hook or two-hook bottom rig baited with pieces of soft crab, bloodworm, or grass shrimp. Synthetic bloodworm-flavored fishbites also work well.
A mix of blue and channel catfish should continue to provide steady action anglers fishing with cut bait, chicken livers, soft peeler crabs, and other baits in most of the tidal rivers within the region. Channel catfish can be found in every tidal river, and blue catfish are found mostly in the Choptank and Nanticoke rivers.

Freshwater
With hot and dry conditions forecast for the next week or two, we expect trout streams in western Maryland to continue running low and clear. As usual, this will require finesse fly fishing techniques with long casts and light tippets. Small terrestrial fly patterns such as ants, beetles, and hoppers are good choices.
The upper Potomac River will continue running low and warm until weather patterns change. Target fast moving and deeper waters for smallmouth bass and cast grubs, small crankbaits, and tubes. There is also some topwater fishing along grass edges and shallows with buzzbaits and poppers at dawn and dusk.

Anglers should use caution when targeting, catching, and handling muskies. As water temperatures in the river rise, the resident muskies will be stressed by warm water temperatures and will be resting in slightly cooler waters in feeder creeks. In these conditions muskies cannot survive catch-and-release stress and should not be targeted.
Carp should provide steady summer fun in the upper Potomac, C&O Canal, and various ponds with the traditional baits of scented dough ball baits or corn. Fly casters can catch carp with purple flies that resemble mulberries in areas where the berries fall into the water from overhanging branches.

Farm ponds, reservoirs, rivers, and impoundments offer fun fishing for largemouth bass. Ponds and small lakes can be fished from shore with a variety of weedless soft plastics, including plastic worms, flukes, and lizards in grass, lily pads, or near sunken wood structure.
For anglers targeting northern snakeheads, bass lures such as buzzbaits and frogs are excellent baits to cast over thick grass. Chatterbaits and paddle tails will also produce snakeheads. The tributaries of the tidal Potomac, Patuxent, Patapsco, and other tidal rivers around the Chesapeake have expanding populations of northern snakeheads. For anglers targeting snakehead in central Maryland, try Little Seneca Lake at Blackhills Regional Park. Department biologists first documented a snakehead population in the lake in May 2019 after receiving reports of sightings by anglers.

Snakeheads have been observed close to the bank even during the heat of the day. On the Eastern Shore, the Dorchester County tidal backwaters — tributaries to the Nanticoke and Wicomico — are consistent hotspots.
Blue catfish are always a good bet for anglers using cut bait in the Fort Washington area of the Potomac. Good places for blue catfish in the Patuxent River are along steep channel edges above Jacksons Landing, Jug Bay, and the mouth of Western Branch.

Ocean
The big story this week is the chunk bite on yellowfin tuna at inshore lumps such as the Hot Dog and the Rockpile. Marlin and dolphinfish are being caught at the canyons, such as Washington, Norfolk, and Poormans.
Effective Aug. 17, NOAA Fisheries requires private recreational tilefish vessels in the Mid-Atlantic to get permits and file catch reports.

Effective Aug. 17, NOAA Fisheries requires private recreational tilefish vessels in the Mid-Atlantic to get permits and file catch reports. This action is being taken to better characterize and monitor the recreational fisheries for both blueline tilefish and golden tilefish. Get your federal private recreational tilefish vessel permit through the NOAA Fisheries website. Call 978-282-8438 for questions about the permitting process. Private recreational tilefish anglers must also fill out and submit an electronic vessel trip report within 24 hours of returning to port for trips where tilefish were targeted or retained.

This week’s Maryland Fishing Report was written and compiled by Erik Zlokovitz, Maryland Department of Natural Resources recreational fisheries specialist. Read the full article online at dnr.maryland.gov.