DNR reports stripers, perch, spot are biting

Submitted photo/Sarah Jane Brainer
Young Ian Brainer admires his mom Sarah’s catch, a northern snakehead.

ANNAPOLIS — Warm, sunny days continue as we approach the longest daylight hours of the year. Main bay water temperatures warmed considerably to the mid 70s and will continue rise the next week.
Some of the deeper waters from Swan Point to Bloody Point are starting to show unsuitable oxygen conditions for bay fish.

With rivers reaching the mid-70’s, striped bass still remaining in the spawning rivers to feed near channel edges and points will begin to move to cooler river mouths or main bay structure. Keep in mind that surface waters are about 4 degrees warmer than bottom waters.
White perch are done spawning and have moved out to tidal creek mouths on mud, sand or clay bottoms near structure in waters less than 20 feet deep. Adult spot continue moving towards upper Chesapeake 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 mainstem Bay from Middle River down to the Bay Bridge. The poorest water clarity will be found on the Susquehanna Flats and the mouth of the Chester River, and on the western shore from the mouth of the Patuxent River to the mouth of the Potomac River. In addition, expect poorer than normal water clarity from Cobb Island down to Coles Point.

Middle Bay
The water temperature in the middle bay is holding at about 72 degrees and still offers comfortable conditions for striped bass. Salinity values are a bit low due to recent rain.
On June 17, the DNR will begin reporting its Striped Bass Summer Fishing Advisory Forecast, aimed at reducing striped bass mortality during the summer fishing season. A color-coded recommendation system will advise of fishing conditions, allowing anglers to plan their striped bass fishing trips up to seven days in advance.
As bay water temperatures climb into the 80s and deeper waters may be impacted by plankton bloom die-offs, this information will be very important to anglers wishing to conserve our striped bass resource in Maryland.

Trolling along the shipping channel edges at the 30-foot depth level has been popular this week for a mix of sub-legal and legal sized striped bass. Umbrella rigs pulled behind inline weights with medium-sized bucktails dressed with sassy shads or curly tails are among the best choices. There have been some large red drum reported near Sharps Island and Stone Rock, so placing a large silver spoon in a trolling spread may produce some catch-and-release excitement.

There has been some chumming action near the outside channel edge at Hacketts and Thomas Point. Catches have been a mix of striped bass above and below the 19-inch minimum. Catfish and cownose rays are also being attracted to the chum slicks. Spot are beginning to become available in the middle bay so live-lining spot or white perch is a viable option.
Jigging along favorite channel edges in the region continues to attract light tackle anglers. The steep edges of Hollicutts Noose, R2A, and R4 in Eastern Bay are holding striped bass.

Bloody Point and Thomas Point are also good places to look for suspended fish. Anglers are beginning to see sub-legal striped bass on top this week and most know to jig deep underneath them to look for larger fish. One should keep a lookout for slicks that indicate recent feeding activity; depth finders will help confirm the presence of fish.
The shallow-water fishery for striped bass offers some fun early morning and evening fishing fun for light spinning tackle or fly rods. Topwater lures, whether they are popping plugs or skipping bugs, offer the most exciting and explosive surface strikes.
Prominent points, stump fields, or old submerged rocks offer great places for striped bass in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and areas along the bay shores. These same areas usually hold white perch also and speckled trout are becoming more common.

Summer would not be complete without white perch and they are holding near most deep water docks and piers for anglers of all ages. They are plentiful, fun to catch, and when of decent size offer some fine fillets destined for a frying pan.
Fishing with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm on a simple bottom rig near dock piers is a time proven tactic. Casting small spinners, spinnerbaits, or plastic jigs with ultra-light spinning tackle near shoreline structure on a summer evening is hard to beat.

In other DNR news:
• The Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers a license-free fishing days on July 4 — a free option to explore Maryland’s diverse and unique fishing experiences without needing a fishing license, trout stamp, or registration.
• Biologists have instituted several volunteer angler surveys to help them understand and better manage some of the important fish species to anglers as well as blue crabs and horseshoe crabs.