Related: CNB Hunting/Fishing
Graduations and school dismissals are setting our younger anglers free to spend more time outdoors. Be sure to carve out time for some fishing adventures in Maryland’s varied waters.
Maryland will host the second of three license-free fishing days June 10. During a free fishing day, a person may catch and possess finfish in the tidal and nontidal waters of Maryland for recreational purposes without an angler’s license, Chesapeake Bay sportfishing license, or any fishing stamp normally required by the Department of Natural Resources. All other fishing laws and regulations will apply on those days. Maryland’s free fishing days are the first two Saturdays in June and the Fourth of July. Ask a neighbor or friend who doesn’t fish to join you and pick up this great pastime.
Forecast Summary: June 7 – June 13:
It will be a beautiful week ahead with continued warm weather and low winds. These conditions will keep water temperatures rising for game fish in Maryland waters. Main Bay surface water temperatures have risen since last week to the low 70s. Warmest Bay waters will be found near the surface as well as near river mouths.
Bay salinity is still above average. Some areas of very low oxygen are present in the bottom waters from Swan Point down to Bloody Point, as well as in the Potomac River near Colonial Beach. Avoid fishing below 20 feet in these areas. However, there are still plenty of cool, well oxygenated areas in the Bay to pursue gamefish.
Expect below average flows all week. There will be above average tidal currents through Thursday as a result of the June 4 full moon. Expect average water clarity in Maryland’s waters. To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps.
As always, the best fishing areas could be further refined by intersecting them with underwater points, hard bottom, drop-offs, and large schools of baitfish.
For more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the Bay, be sure to check out Eyes on the Bay’s Click Before You Cast.
Now that all areas of the upper Bay and its tidal rivers are open to striped bass fishing, anglers are out exploring many traditional locations. From the Conowingo Dam pool and the lower Susquehanna River out to the Susquehanna Flats, anglers are finding good fishing for striped bass. Success is found by casting soft plastic jigs, crankbaits and jerkbaits in about 10 feet to 15 feet of water in the river and along the edges of the flats. There is some striped bass action at the Love Point rocks for those working soft plastic jigs along the bottom. The tidal rivers are offering good striped bass fishing during the morning and evening hours. The Patapsco River near Hart-Miller Island and the Key Bridge is a bit of a standout this week. Soft plastic jigs are a very popular lure to use, as are lipless crankbaits in about 15 feet to 20 feet of water. Others are having success with live-lining spot.
At the Bay Bridge, the east side piers are a popular place to drift to the bases of the piers with soft crab and fresh cut baits, and also with live spot or white perch. During the morning hours, jigging soft plastic jigs near the pier bases is a productive tactic.
Spot are beginning to show up with some regularity near Sandy Point State Park, the shallower end of the west side of the Bay Bridge, and the mouth of the Magothy River in about 15 feet of water. Anglers first started to catch them while fishing for white perch, and now the spot are the target.
Fishing for white perch is very good in most every tributary to the upper Bay, from the lower Susquehanna down to the Bay Bridge. The white perch are being found in most of their traditional summer locations. Anglers are using pieces of bloodworm on a simple bottom rig in areas with 12 feet or more of water. Shallower waters near shoreline structure are great places to fish in the evenings with small spinners, jigs, and spinnerbaits.
A mix of channel and blue catfish can be found in every tidal river and most areas of the upper Bay this week. Most are being caught on cut bait but it is not uncommon for catfish to chase down a soft plastic jig or crankbait.
Striped bass fishing in the main portion of the middle Bay is still slow this week. Anglers are trolling the shipping channel edges without much luck, and others report having a tough time finding fish on depth finders to set up for jigging. Soft plastic jigs are the most popular lures, and shades of chartreuse and lime tend to be a favorite. The breakwater at the west side of Poplar Island is producing some striped bass for those casting topwater lures and paddletails early in the morning. There is some good news from the tidal rivers where there is good shallow water fishing.
Thomas Point is often a stop for anglers but we’re not hearing a whole lot of success there. A few striped bass are being picked up by the persistent. A few people have tried setting up on the outside edge and either chumming or chunking, using spot for live-lining. Spot are beginning to show up at the entrance to Whitehall Bay, out in front of Chesapeake Beach, and inside Black Walnut Point. If you can put some spot in a live well and can locate suspended striped bass along a channel edge, this is one of the best options for catching them.
Anglers are finding white perch mixed in with the spot but also finding good numbers of spot in the tidal rivers and creeks. Oyster reefs, deepwater docks, and piers are good places to find them; grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig or small jig head work well. In the evenings, the white perch will venture into shallower waters near prominent points and submerged breakwaters. Casting small spinners, spinnerbaits, and jigs is a fun way to catch them on light tackle.
Striped bass are being caught in a variety of ways in the lower Bay. Anglers are trolling, jigging, live-lining, and fishing with soft crab baits. Trolling tandem rigged bucktails dressed with shads or curly-tails, umbrella rigs and small spoons all work. Striped bass are being found suspended close to the bottom in deep water along the channel edges and heavy inline weights will be needed to reach them. Small spoons usually can be pulled behind planers. Those trolling are finding striped bass spread out over wide areas of the shipping channel.
When striped bass can be spotted on depth finders, jigging with soft plastic jigs can be very effective. Jig heads in the ¾-ounce to 1-ounce size range and soft plastics in the 6-inch to 8-inch range are working well; shades of chartreuse are a favorite.
Spot are becoming more abundant and a great way to catch striped bass is by live-lining spot along channel edges, often in about 30 feet of water. Spot can be found at the mouth of the Patuxent, Cornfield Harbor, and at the mouth of the Honga River. Cove Point, Cedar Point, Point No Point, and the channel edge on the eastern side of the bay from Buoy 76 south to Buoy 72 are all good locations to explore.
There is good shallow-water fishing on both sides of the Bay and in the lower Potomac River. Casting topwater lures and paddletails along shorelines with structure in the morning and evening hours is an exciting fishing opportunity this week. The prominent points such as Cedar Point, the cuts through Hoopers Island, and the marsh edges, stump fields, and grass beds on the eastern side of the Bay all offer light-tackle fun for a mix of striped bass, speckled trout, and the occasional puppy drum.
This mix can also be caught by drifting soft crab baits on a falling tide at the mouths of the creeks flowing out of the Eastern Shore marshes. Others are out in the open waters of Tangier Sound, the Middle Grounds, and the Mud Leads near the Target Ship, watching depth finders for schools of large red and black drum. To catch them, rapidly lower soft crab baits to the fish. Anglers have learned not to leave their bait down there for too long because it will be grabbed by cownose rays, which are a big problem in the lower and middle Bay right now. These rays will target any bait in the water and are being snagged by those trolling and jigging.
The lower Potomac River is a big draw for striped bass anglers this week because the tidal Potomac has a creel limit of two striped bass per day at a 20-inch minimum, and there seem to be plenty of legal-sized fish around. The steep channel edge from St. Georges Island to Piney Point is a favorite spot to troll, jig, or live-line spot.
There are plenty of blue catfish to entertain anglers in the tidal Potomac, Patuxent, Nanticoke, and Wicomico rivers this week. Most any kind of fresh cut bait, chicken liver, wild shrimp, or a variety of scented baits will work well. Northern snakeheads are beginning to enter their spawning phase and are showing little interest in lures at times.
Bluefish are being caught in the lower Bay this week as an incidental catch when trolling live-lining, jigging, or drifting soft crab baits. As June rolls along we will see more of them. Large red drum are filtering in this week on the eastern side of the Bay from the Middle Grounds past the Target Ship. Black drum can also be found in the same areas.
Recreational crabbers are finding better opportunities this week in the middle and lower Bay. The best crabbing tends to be farther up the creeks and rivers, perhaps due to the lack of rain; salinity values are elevated in the tidal creeks and rivers. Most crabbers are catching a half-bushel or more per outing and they also report razor clams are outperforming chicken necks on trotlines and collapsible crab traps. Catches are somewhat lower in the upper Bay tidal creeks and rivers.
Summer has arrived at Deep Creek Lake and there is plenty of fun fishing for vacationers. A simple worm under a slip bobber will keep our younger anglers busy. Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be found near floating docks, and flipping wacky rigged stick worms or soft plastics under or near them is a great way to have some fun.
The upper Potomac River continues to experience very low flows this week, which makes for some fun wading and kayaking opportunities. Long casts with light lines will help up the odds of enticing a smallmouth bass to strike a topwater lure or a variety of tubes and spinnerbaits. The early morning hours offer the best chances for productive smallmouth bass fishing.
Maryland had a new state record fallfish caught by youth angler Crosby Abe in the North Branch of the Potomac River near Cumberland.
Seneca Landing Park in Poolesville has some new boat ramp improvements for loading and unloading of motorized boats. The boat ramp is located on Seneca Creek and provides quick access to the Potomac River.
Trout anglers are enjoying good catch-and-release fishing in several waters that cater to flyfishing. There are many hatches going on each week, and we are entering the time of the summer when terrestrials become a very good choice of flies. If you are a fly caster and happen to know where a mulberry tree overhangs a body of water holding carp, you can find some fun action. Mulberry trees are bearing fruit this week. Carp will often gather under a mulberry tree and feed on the berries as they fall on the water. Fly-tyers can use their imagination to construct a purple fuzzy rendition of a mulberry. There are several of these trees overhanging the waters of the C&O Canal in Washington and Allegany counties.
Put-and-take anglers can still find holdover trout in many areas, especially in the western part of the state.
Fishing for largemouth bass is excellent this week in the ponds, reservoirs, and tidal waters throughout Maryland. The largemouth bass are beginning to shift to their typical summer mode of feeding from early evening to late morning, and these hours will constrict as water temperature and daylight hours increase. Targeting the shallower waters with topwater lures in the early morning and late evening will offer a lot of exciting topwater action with poppers, frogs, and buzzbaits. As the sun rises in the sky, largemouth bass will seek shade under thick mats of grass, overhanging brush, deep shaded structure, lily pad, and spatterdock fields. Wacky rigged stick worms are a great bait to use in these situations.
Fishing for northern snakeheads is beginning to slow down in some areas as the snakeheads begin their spawning phase. It can be tough to get them to strike a lure during this time, which will last much of June. Blue catfish are also spawning but they seem to keep their appetite and are providing plenty of good fishing in the tidal rivers throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The Ocean City area has been hampered by strong northeast winds creating some difficult fishing conditions offshore, along the beaches, and in the coastal bays. Kingfish have arrived along the beaches and can be caught on bloodworms or artificial bloodworm baits. A mix of striped bass and bluefish are being caught on large cut baits along the beaches of Assateague Island. Inshore sharks are also being caught and anglers are reminded that sharks need to be released in the water and should not be dragged up on the beach for pictures. Remember, if you don’t know, let it go. To learn more about shark identification there is an awesome shark ID guide on the NOAA Fisheries website. Maryland regulations require in-water release of any shark that is not being kept; corrodible circle hooks are required except when fishing with artificial flies or lures, and you must possess at least one device capable of quickly cutting either the leader or the hook.
At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, a mix of striped bass and bluefish are being caught by anglers casting soft plastic jigs or Got-Cha type lures along the jetty rocks, bulkheads, and bridge piers. Drifting cut baits is also a viable option for anglers. The throwback ratio on striped bass is high but most anglers can catch one striped bass in the 28-inch to 31-inch size range.
Due to strong winds, clear water has been tough to find in the back bay areas. Good flounder fishing depends on good water clarity, since they are ambush predators. Flounder are being caught in the channels near the inlet on traditional minnow and squid baits, as well as Gulp baits in white and pink.
Fishing for black sea bass is generally good this week; trips out to the wreck and reef sites have been hampered by rough seas, but the sea bass are there waiting for anglers. Farther offshore at the canyons, yellowfin tuna have arrived and catches should be good this week. Bigeye tuna and dolphin are also being caught by the boats out trolling. A mix of golden and blueline tilefish are available near the edges of the canyons.
“No one ever owns a river like this. It cannot be bought or sold. We can only fish it or borrow it, use it, or spend much of our lives on it, and in the process perhaps become something more than we once were.” – Lani Waller
Click Before You Cast is written by Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham.