Water temperatures in the Maryland Chesapeake Bay are in the middle seventies (70’s) in most locations. That means its Striped Bass chumming, living lining and breaking fish time. The fish did not let us down over the last week and fell for exactly those methods. Anglers have been live lining around the power plant (or rips as Tidal Fishers call them), with breaking fish showing up from time to time in the middle bay area. Chumming is almost in full swing around the Love Point/Rock Hall area with anglers having good success with rigs fished on the bottom in 20-30 feet of water. Chumming is starting on the Hill this week as well.
Breaking fish have appeared on a somewhat regular basis in the lower and middle bay areas. Bluefish showed up this past week as well, making it challenging for light tackle anglers who now need to switch from fishing plastics to fishing jigs.
I got out on the 4th of July to be awakened by a stiff wind. We fished Eastern Bay and Popular Island area with three dinks to our credit caught on the fly. It looks like the winds are going to die down over the next few days, but the heat is going to crank up, at least they are calling for low humidity.
I am always referencing the large Sturgeon population and spectacular fishery we used to have for them in the Chesapeake Bay, that is until we, or should I say kindly, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources “managed” them right into extinction. Well, about a week ago biologists in Maryland were surprised when a waterman reported that a 7-foot, 170-pound Atlantic sturgeon turned up in his pound net off Tilghman Island.
No one had seen such a large fish in decades, despite a reward program that pays watermen $50 when live Sturgeon are reported.
Biologists were excited when, after taking the fish to the lab, it turned out to be a female. And they became thrilled when it turned out the fish was getting ready to spawn.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Brian Richardson, of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fisheries Service. “In 10 years of this reward program, we have not seen a single ‘ripe’ female.”
This is great news and I only hope that the excitement that we all feel reminds us of the fact that we caused these fish to be gone from the bay for many years. I hope we treat it as a lesson to manage the current species that we have left in the Maryland Chesapeake Bay.
Next week, let’s talk about Maryland Flounder fishing, or rather the non-existent founder fishery in Maryland.
Weekend/Upcoming Fishing Events
Check the Tidal Fish Offshore Message Board for details on the 1st ANNUAL TIDALFISH.COM OFFSHORE WACHOPREGUE FISHING TOURNAMENT being held on July 21, 2007.
Upper Bay Region
White white can be found on hard bottomed shoals and reefs in the bay and can be caught on tandem jigs or bait. Locations such as Snake Reef, Man-O-War Shoals, Belvedere Shoals are good places to check that have been producing good catches. Striped Bass have also been lurking these areas; jigs and jigging spoons are your best bet if not using bait.
Fishermen at the Pooles Island area have been talking about live lining small white perch and eels with some success for striped bass. The best reports of striped bass catches though are coming from the chumming fleets at locations such as Swan Point, Love Point, Triple Buoys, the Mud Flats, the Dumping Grounds, the Sewer Pipe and the channel edge from Podickory Point to Baltimore Light. As I mentioned, chumming has been very productive for most fishermen on a good tide this past week. Other fishermen have been trolling for their striped bass in the same general areas using umbrella rigs loaded with sassy shads and trailing a Storm or Tsunami shad with limited success. Some Tidal Fishers reported this week they started trolling, but when that was not working too well, they dropped the chum over in 20-30ft of water and started catching right away. The trick with chumming has been to get your rig on the bottom and lift it just off the bottom, as soon as you lift it about a foot the fish have been biting.
Mid Bay Region
The Bay Bridge has been a hot area for a lot of jigging Tidal Fishers for nice sized white perch and some larger striped bass. It could be that we are back to the epic Bay Bridge fishing days I hear about from the old-timers. If that is the case we are in for some good fishing. Check the rock piles as well as they have been producing early and in the evenings with top water poppers.
Light tackle anglers also reported this week the arrival of breaking Striped Bass with Bleufish mixed in in the Eastern Bay, Popular Island, Stone Rock, Choptank River area. They have been breaking on both tides. Some Tidal Fishers have been able to pick off some nice fish by throwing poppers (top water plugs) around the edges of the breaking fish. Catches as big as 36 inch striped bass have been reported.
The trolling anglers are still at it looking and finding striped bass along channel edges on both sides of the shipping channel. Most fishermen are pulling umbrella rigs loaded with sassy shads and trailing a 6” Storm shad.. Some of the better spots to troll have been the Bloody Point area south to Buoy 73, Thomas Point south to Parkers Creek and Breezy Point. Most fishermen are putting a little inline lead on to get the rigs down to 20’ or so.
Chumming for striped bass has been good at the Clay Banks and from Buoys 78 to 83. Fishermen have also been finding pods of striped bass at other locations where captains are dropping chum on the fish and setting up on them and anchoring. Bluefish are part of the middle bay mix whether one is chumming or trolling; most of the bluefish are in the 1-1/2 to 2 lb size category.
Croaker fishing continues to pick up steam. The croakers seem to be spread out over the entire region and holding along the edges of channels and holes during the day and moving up the edges of the channels towards evening. Most fishermen are using peeler crabs or shrimp for bait but some are using squid or artificial flavored baits. The throwback ratio tends to be about 50/50 for those looking for croakers big enough to fillet.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region
Captains and fishermen in the lower bay region report plenty of fish in the region but few boats out fishing. This might seem like an ideal situation for fishermen used to bumping gunwales with other boats over a school of fish but it can make it tough when one is trying to find out what is going on out there. A number of charter boats and private boats have been chumming for striped bass on the Virginia side of the channel at the mouth of the Potomac. They also report that striped bass can be found now and then on the rock piles above Point Lookout. Boats have been chumming at the Middle Grounds and report catching all the bluefish anyone would ever want. Most of the bluefish are in the 2 lb category with some topping 3 lbs. Other fishermen have been successfully trolling for striped bass along the edges of the shipping channel from Point Lookout to above the Gas Docks. Most are trolling umbrella rigs festooned with sassy shads and trailing 6” Storm typed shads or medium sized bucktails. Justin Deckelbaum has a little assistance from his dad to hold up his first ever striped bass that he caught near the Gas Docks.
Shallow water light tackle fishermen are seeing the fishery on the eastern side of the bays marsh fronts and islands begin to come into its own. Fishermen are finding good fishing in the early morning and evening hours for striped bass, small bluefish and speckled trout. Most fishermen are working marsh points, guts and river mouths with soft plastic jigs and some are even fishing baits.
Bottom fishing for a mix of croakers, spot, white perch, flounder and a few sea trout is happening throughout most of the lower bay/Tangier Sound region. The croakers are spread out in the deeper channels and holes during the day and can often be found moving up the channel edges towards evening to roams the shallower shoal areas. Peeler crab tends to be the number one bait at this time but squid, shrimp and artificially flavored baits can work also. Flounder are being found along the channel edges and flats from Hooper’s Island south through the Tangier Sound region and on the western side of the bay near the mouth of the Patuxent, Point Lookout and Cornfield Harbor.
Ocean City Fishing Report
Ocean City Fishing Center reports that strong winds arrived just in time for the 4th of July fireworks and only a few boats fished. Yellowfins are still being caught near the Washington and the Bluefins are growing in size as well as in numbers. Capt. Luke Blume on the “Press Time” released 4 Bluefins and kept one. They also caught 4 Yellowfins and one Dolphin. Capt. JW Hocker of the “Miss Caroline” came in with 7 Yellowfins and one Dolphin. Capt. Mark Sampson of the “Fish Finder” released 1 Sandbar and 1 Spinner shark while fishing inshore. No boats fished on the 5th of July due to the high winds and seas.
I hope everyone has a great week and I look forward to reading everyone’s reports if you make it out on the Maryland Tidal Fish Chesapeake or the Tidal Fish Mid Atlantic Offshore Message Board.
You can read more fishing reports and articles at: http://www.TidalFish.com
Until next week, good times and good fishing!
Chief Angler, TidalFish.com
* I use a variety of sources to compile these reports and would like to give credit to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Weekly Fishing Report Staff as well all the local tackle shops, charter captains and guides in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Waters