Fishing report: Plenty of species to catch and enjoy in Md.

Submitted photo/DNR, Rich Watts
Todd Clark went crabbing near Kent Island and was all smiles with his catch.

ANNAPOLIS — This is a marvelous time of year to enjoy Maryland’s outdoors, and recreational crabbing is just one way to get onto the quiet tidal creeks and rivers of the Chesapeake Bay.

Fishing the Chesapeake Bay is a time-honored tradition. While anglers often set their sights on striped bass there are several other species which provide just as much if not more excitement. Join the Maryland Department of Natural Resources July 9 at noon for a virtual discussion on summertime fishing — including alternative fish species, how to plan fishing trips at the most appropriate times, how to properly catch and release, and how to fish with circle hooks.

Our Maryland Fishing Report team – recreational fisheries staff Keith Lockwood and Erik Zlokovitz, with Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham — will discuss how to reduce striped bass mortality during the summer.
You can join the discussion through Google meets or by phone at 1-443-671-4706, and use the PIN: ‪674 636 739.
Don’t forget that throughout Maryland’s warmest months, the department’s online striped bass fishing advisory forecast provides a seven-day outlook to help anglers reduce striped bass mortality during the summer fishing season.

Gamefish are remaining on cooler river mouths or main bay structure but moving to slightly shallower depths in the coolest water available. Recent DNR water monitoring indicates that the coolest oxygenated water is found in the deeper waters of the Gooses Reef down to the Virginia state line.
The other way to find cooler water is to fish the shallows at first light when surface water temperatures can be several degrees cooler. As always, the best fishing areas could be further refined by intersecting these cool, oxygenated areas with underwater points, hard bottom, drop-offs, and large schools of baitfish.

White perch can be found on tidal creek mouths on mud, sand, or clay bottoms near structure in waters less than 20 feet deep. Adult spot can be found up to the upper Chesapeake Bay mainstem and tributaries in areas with salinities greater than 5ppt on oyster bars, sand, and mud bottom, feeding on benthic worms and small clams.
To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps. For more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the bay, be sure to check out Click Before You Cast.

Middle Bay
The striped bass tend to be spread out over a wider area in the middle bay. There are striped bass holding along the 15-foot to 25-foot channel edges at Hacketts, Bloody Point, and Thomas Point. These areas have been very popular with those live-lining spot, and a few who are chumming. With warmer air temperatures and water temperatures, care must be taken when handling fish and anglers using live bait or cut bait are reminded that they must use non-offset circle hooks at all times.
Striped bass can also be found in Eastern Bay, the Buoy 83 edge, and the waters off Chesapeake Beach for those trolling or setting up on suspended fish. Those who are trolling are using umbrella rigs with white bucktail or swim shad trailers. A few bluefish will be part of the mix when trolling.

There is some early morning and late evening striped bass action near structure such as the rocks at Poplar Island and prominent points with submerged rocks. Water temperatures are getting warm enough now that this fishery usually shuts down when the sun clears the horizon. These are areas where anglers are casting a variety of topwater lures. Speckled trout can be part of the mix at times, especially below the Choptank River in the Taylors Island area. Stump fields are one of the best places to cast Zara Spooks and similar lures when targeting speckled trout.
White perch fishing is in a summertime swing this week for all ages and abilities of anglers. Those that know their stuff often target them in the mornings or evening along shoreline structure like old submerged wood, rocks, jetties, or breakwaters. Casting small spinners (such as a Panther Martin) or jigs on a quiet summer morning or evening is a relaxing and productive way to catch some nice large white perch. They are a real treat when filleted, and battered with your favorite coating and pan fried.
White perch are special for younger anglers because they are often the first fish kids get to catch. There are few better ways to introduce a young child to fishing than taking out a theme-related fishing outfit they picked themselves, and fishing off a dock or pier with a simple bottom rig baited with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm. The fishing is straight down so no casting is needed.

Fishing for a mix of channel and blue catfish offers a productive and fun fishing experience. There are channel catfish to be found in the tidal rivers of the region, and they are relatively easy to catch using a bottom rig and fresh cut bait, nightcrawlers, clam snouts, or chicken livers. The blue catfish seem to have moved up the Choptank River from the Dover Bridge area to the mouth of the Tuckahoe Creek and the Denton area.

Freshwater
Fisheries biologists and hatchery crews have been busy bolstering trout populations in several western region trout waters with rainbow trout juveniles. The Youghiogheny River catch-and-return trout fishing area was stocked with 10,000 — 19 fish per pound — from the Mettiki Hatchery, plus another 15,000 — 42 fish per pound — from Albert Powell Hatchery. The North Branch Potomac River zero creel limit trout fishing area was stocked with 15,000 rainbow trout juveniles, also from the Powell hatchery.
The Savage River has two trophy trout management areas – one area is restricted to fly fishing only while the other allows the use of spinning gear using single hook artificial lures. Both management areas support a high density wild brown trout with lesser numbers of brook trout and a few rainbow trout. Terrestrial patterns, mayflies, small hair nymphs, and wet flies can all be good choices to lure them. Most western region trout streams are low and clear this week, which gives the advantage to the trout, so casting long and staying out of sight are important.

The fishing scene at Deep Creek Lake and similar western region reservoirs has transitioned into a typical summer pattern of fish behavior. Trout can be found deep along the dam face; walleye and yellow perch are deep along grass edges; and smallmouth and largemouth bass are holding under or near floating docks and moored boats, seeking cool shade. Fishing for smallmouth bass in the upper Potomac River is fair as water temperatures rise. Grubs, small crankbaits, and tubes rigged without weight are good choices for working underwater ledges and deeper parts of the river. In the early morning hours casting buzzbaits near the shallower areas can result in explosive strikes from smallmouth bass.

Largemouth bass are now locked into a typical summertime mode of behavior which translates to feeding in the shallower areas at night and seeking cool shade during the hot daytime hours. In the early morning and late evening hours, casting a variety of topwater lures near shallow grass is a good choice. Soft frog baits and floating worms rigged Texas-style are good choices when fishing thick grass. When fishing these soft baits it is important not to set the hook until you feel the weight of the fish. They often grab and hold onto a soft bait before inhaling it into their mouth.
When fishing for largemouth bass in tidal waters, the thick grass beds are often the key to successful bass fishing. Weedless soft frogs and floating worms are excellent choices. Buzzbaits are also a good choice and if open patches can be found lipless crankbaits work well. Small feeder creeks are good places to cover as well as fallen treetops and spatterdock fields. At high tide the grass beds and spatterdock fields will often hold largemouth bass and northern snakeheads deep into the cover. At low tide working the edges of these grass beds or spatterdock fields with lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits is a good choice.

Northern snakeheads are now finished spawning and will often be found in deep grass protecting their broods. They will strike anything they perceive as a threat to their young — buzzbaits can be a good choice. Northern snakeheads are spread throughout all of the tidal rivers in Maryland. The greatest concentrations at this time tend to be the Potomac, Patuxent, and Nanticoke rivers, and the tidal creeks of Dorchester County.

Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Keith Lockwood, Maryland Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist.