Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report- June 29, 2023

Sea bass and flounder bite around wrecks and reefs, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are caught on the troll around ocean inlets, and stripers, drum and speckled trout entertain anglers in the bay.

Maryland DNR Fishing Report

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

Expect partly cloudy with continued warm weather and a chance of rain later in the week. Main Bay surface water temperatures are holding in the upper 70s. Bay salinity is still above average. Some areas of low oxygen are present in bottom waters from Middle River 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, including the main Bay from Tolchester north to the Susquehanna Flats, and the area from Gooses Reef south to the Virginia line.

Upper Chesapeake Bay

Anglers are witnessing typical power generation at the Conowingo Dam, which refreshes the lower Susquehanna with some cooler water. Anglers might expect some of the better striped bass fishing to occur during the evening hours in the river. Anglers are fishing the dam pool in the early morning and evening hours and catching striped bass and snakeheads by casting topwater lures and paddletails.

(Photo by Travis Long)

The lower Susquehanna River and much of the upper Bay and its tidal rivers provide plenty of fishing action for a mix of blue and channel catfish. Drop any form of cut bait or a variety of other baits on the bottom and most likely you will soon have a catfish on your line.
 
The best striped bass fishing is once again occurring at the mouth of the Patapsco River and near Hart-Miller Island. Most anglers are using spot for live lining in the channel at the mouth of the river with very good results. Boats are coming from the lower and middle Bay to fish in the area as well. The fish being caught are reported to be in the 20-inch and larger category and anglers are limiting out.

There are also good jigging and trolling opportunities in the Patapsco River near the Key Bridge and the mouth of the river. Jigging or trolling along the channel edges, or jigging near the bridge piers, provide good options for anglers. There are reports of striped bass action near the Love Point Rocks and Swan Point.

There are plenty of spot to be found this week to use for live-lining in the upper Bay – at the mouth of the Magothy River, and near the shores of Podickory Point, and the shallower west end of the Bay Bridge. Anglers are also finding a mix of white perch and small croakers in the same areas.

Anglers who are not targeting striped bass are enjoying good fishing for white perch in the tidal rivers and creeks of the upper Bay. Grass shrimp and pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig work well in deeper waters near structure. Casting small spinnerbaits, jigs, and spinners are a fun way to catch white perch along shorelines.

There are plenty of blue catfish and northern snakeheads to catch in the lower Susquehanna River area and south along the Bay shore and tidal rivers. The Middle River area has been offering excellent fishing for snakeheads in the grassy areas.

Middle Bay

Striped bass anglers are finding some action on the east side of the Bay Bridge at the 35-foot drop-off by jigging or drifting back to the bridge pier bases with live spot or soft crab baits. The best action occurs during the early morning hours on a good running tide. The same can be said for exploring Thomas Point and the rocks at Poplar Island; the morning hours offer the best opportunities for those casting soft plastic jigs, paddletails, or topwater lures. Many striped bass anglers are making the run up to the mouth of the Patapsco River.

The lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers hold the best option for light-tackle anglers. The early morning and late evening hours offer good shallow-water fishing for striped bass. Casting poppers with spinning gear or skipping bugs with fly fishing tackle over grass beds is always an exciting way to fish for striped bass. A percentage of the striped bass are falling a little short of 19 inches but offer plenty of fun. Casting paddletails and jerkbaits in slightly deeper waters near docks, bulkheads, and breakwaters can also be a good option. Trolling a couple of flatlines with bucktails dressed with curly tails along the deeper edges of the shorelines can also be a great option.

A mix of white perch, spot, and small croakers are offering good fishing this week at the lower areas of the tidal rivers and out in the Bay behind Hacketts Point, Kent Narrows, Eastern Bay, and the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers. White perch can also be found around docks and piers and caught on small jigs and bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm. White perch can be found along shorelines with sunken structure such as wood, breakwaters, and prominent points. Casting small spinnerbaits, spinners and soft plastic swimbaits can offer summer fun during the morning and evening hours.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources fish hatcheries have been raising and stocking young of the year hickory shad and American shad for many years, working to restore anadromous adult populations to suitable rivers in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Recently they stocked about 500,000 young of the year American shad into the upper Choptank River. The department hopes that in 3 to 5 years of living on the continental shelf of the Atlantic Ocean they will return to the Choptank River as adults to spawn and complete the life cycle naturally. They can also provide some fun catch-and-release fishing.

Young of the year shad. (Photos by Keith Lockwood)

Lower Bay

The best striped bass fishing in the lower Bay  has been occurring in the tidal rivers, Bay shorelines, and tidal marsh edges of the Eastern Shore. The lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers and the Hoopers Island area are good places to fish for striped bass this week. Most anglers are either using spot for live-lining or jigging with soft plastics along the 20-foot channel edges.

The shallow water fishery for striped bass, speckled trout, and slot-size red drum is an option during the early morning and late evening hours. Grass beds, stump fields, and structure in the form of bridge piers, docks, breakwaters, and prominent points are all good places to target with spinnerbaits, paddletails, crankbaits, and topwater lures. Others are having good luck by drifting soft crab baits near creek mouths on a falling tide.

Angler Ilean Meibaum caught a 24-inch spotted seatrout in the Chesapeake Bay. (Photo by Mali Belcamino)

There are plenty of white perch holding in traditional summer habitat this week, docks, oyster beds and bridge piers are great places to find them in deeper waters with bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm. Shallower waters along shorelines are fun places to cast small lures for white perch.

Anyone fishing the Chesapeake Bay knows there are cownose rays in large numbers. The departments of Environment and Natural Resources are receiving increasing reports from concerned citizens about illegal dumping of cownose ray carcasses at boat ramps and roadsides. This practice is a health hazard, a terrible sight for the public, and considered littering by law enforcement. Once dead, a cownose ray is a lot of stinky stuff to dispose of – please urge anyone you see dealing with them to be responsible when disposing of them.

Recreational crabbers are reporting fair to good catches of blue crabs from the upper Bay tidal rivers south to the lower Bay. Some of the best catches tend to come from water depths ranging from 8 feet  to 12 feet. The crabs that shed in early June are filling out nicely and large and extra-large crabs are rounding out catches.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays

Surf conditions have not been ideal, but this week looks promising with calmer winds in the forecast. Kingfish and spot should entertain those fishing with bloodworms or imitation baits. Small bluefish will be looking for cut mullet, and unfortunately so will cownose rays.

At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area anglers are enjoying good fishing for a mix of striped bass and large bluefish by casting soft-plastic jigs and Got-Cha lures near the South Jetty and the bulkheads and dock piers in the area. Those fishing from the Route 50 Bridge are having luck drifting cut baits.

Robert English holds up a huge sheepshead he caught recently. (Photo courtesy of Robert English)

The channels leading from the inlet and many of the back bay channels are the place to be if you’re fishing for flounder. The Thorofare and East Channel are always popular, but hold the risk of large boats creating troublesome wakes behind them. Generally less boat traffic and good flounder fishing is found in front of the Ocean City Airport and Sinepuxent Bay. Many anglers are using live bait such as small menhaden and spot to target the larger flounder with good success. Gulp baits are another method for targeting the larger flounder. A variety of summer fish are beginning to show up in the Ocean City area.

Outside the inlet, anglers are catching Spanish mackerel and bluefish by trolling Clark spoons behind inline weights. Flounder are also being caught on some of the shoal locations.

Farther offshore at the wreck and reef sites, black sea bass and large flounder are entertaining anglers. Some of the flounder are impressive and limit catches are not uncommon. At the Wilmington and Poorman’s canyons, the anglers who are trolling are catching some large bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, and dolphin.

Freshwater Opportunities

Flow rates in the western and central region trout waters are low this week, which is typical during the summer. Trout anglers will be tested for their stealth and presentation in these skinny water conditions. Terrestrials will be popular; ants and hoppers are popular choices and one can never go wrong with nymphs and streamers.

The upper Potomac River received a slight bump in water levels earlier this week but is leveling off once again to very low flow conditions, which are ideal for wading and fishing for smallmouth bass. This type of fishing was made just for the summer. The early morning and late evening hours offer the best fishing opportunities.

Deep Creek Lake is approaching the height of the summer vacation season on the coming holiday weekend. There is plenty of good fishing out on the lake but just be careful of recreational boat traffic; it is often best to be off the lake by 8 am. Smallmouth bass and yellow perch are holding deep along grass lines, northern pike at the mouths of coves, and largemouth bass near floating docks and sunken wood. Bluegills can be found along shorelines and floating docks.

Cooper Senter holds up a nice largemouth bass he caught recently. (Photo by Justin Senter)

Fishing for largemouth bass is very good this week across Maryland in farm ponds, reservoirs, and tidal waters. The largemouth bass are moving into their typical summer mode of behavior, so the best shallow-water fishing occurs during the morning and evening hours. Topwater lures are always fun and casting frogs and buzzbaits near shallow grass can elicit exciting strikes. Northern snakeheads are a big part of the equation when fishing shallow grass this time of the year; they can be found in every tidal river and creek.

Casting spinnerbaits and jerkbaits around the edges of grass beds, spatterdock fields and lily pads are a proven tactic. Grubs, wacky rigged worms, and crankbaits are good choices to fish deep cover like sunken wood, drop-offs, and bridge piers. As the day wears on, largemouths will look for shade in deeper water under old docks, overhanging brush, or under thick mats of floating grass. Wacky rigged worms dropped through the grass with heavy weight or flipped near shade and allowed to work slowly is a good tactic for loafing largemouths.

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

Angler’s Sport Center Fishing Report – Annapolis, MD

The Angler’s Sport Center fishing report is compiled and written by Anglers Team Member, A.J. Lewis.

Upper and Middle Bay

Spot are being caught all around the western part of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in large numbers. Areas around the mouth and just outside of the Magothy River are also proving to be excellent for catching spot. Live spot make an great bait when it comes to catching striped bass, and anglers are taking full advantage of it. A simple bottom rig or a Chesapeake sabiki rig tipped with either lugworms or bloodworms proves to be an easy but effective way to catch your fill!

Anglers are reporting a lot of success live-lining spot around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for striped bass. Anglers are also reporting success jigging with paddletails for striped bass around areas like the Key Bridge and the Patapsco River. Starting July 16th, all areas of the Chesapeake Bay will be closed to striped bass fishing so make sure to get your fill before then!

The white perch bite is hot around the western part of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Anglers are finding success in jigging with a bottom rig tipped with bloodworms or lugworms. They can also be found all along the tidal rivers, using spinners around structure in shallow water or jigging with bottom rigs around channel edges for deeper water perch.

Anglers report a good mix of channel catfish, blue catfish, and snakehead at the Conowingo Dam pool. Most anglers are finding success using anything from lures to cut bait for catfish. Casting and retrieving paddletails will net you any of these 3 fish.

South Bay

The striped bass bite in the south bay is best in the early morning hours. Smaller paddletails or topwater lures in shallow waters are proving to be an extremely successful way to get on some good sized striped bass. Some hot spots are the mouth of the Potomac, Pocomoke and the Wicomico river.

Anglers are catching good sized black and red drum around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Many reported that the preferred baits are either soft crab or bunker.

Blue cats are continuing to be found in larger numbers in the Wicomico River. Blue cats are also in large numbers around the mouth of the Potomac, all the way to Fletcher’s Boat house.

White perch are being found all around structure, whether it’s shallow or deeper water. The key is to target structure like oyster beds, ends of docks, and channel edges! Anglers are using spinners like the Bert’s Perch Hounder for shallow water, and bottom rigs tipped with bloodworms or lugworms in deeper water.

Additional Info.

Starting July 16th, all areas of the bay will be closed to striped bass fishing, so make sure to get your fill before then!

The Angler’s Sport Center fishing report is compiled and written by Anglers Team Member, A.J. Lewis.

Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report – Annapolis, MD

The Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report is written and compiled by writer and media professional, James Houck. Find the full report here, at reelchesapeake.com.

Weather windows have been the name of the game for the past, oh say…ten days or so. It feels like it’s been raining forever and a day in the Chesapeake Bay region, especially in and around the Washington-Annapolis-Baltimore corridor. So, getting on the water has been more difficult than getting on the fish. 

With temperatures finally hitting summer highs in the upper 80s and “real feels” approaching mid-90s, the rain has been somewhat relieving (and has kept surface water temps in the high-70s.) But when the blow-through storms brought high winds, lightning, some hail, and inch-plus downpours, the risk of boating in the open Bay kept many anglers off the water. Those that have been fishing hard through poor conditions have been rewarded with some quality catches. 

Daily storms and mucky weather have created narrow windows for fishing this past week, but good catches have rewarded anglers who’ve tried. (@reelchesapeake)

We still see charters playing in the middle and lower Patapsco River. It’s simply been the place to be for guides and captains like Tom Weaver (Fish With Weaver) to target topwater action early in the morning and later in the evening for schooling stripers. He’s been putting clients on fish using large spooks and poppers. Sunrise mornings have offered the best weather windows the last several days, so it’s nice to see fish hitting on top. Most have been in the high-20s range. Jigging during mid-day has also produced fish, but with the near-100 percent cloud cover persisting, the topwater and subsurface bite has been in play well beyond normal, pattern periods. That will change as the sun begins hitting us hard over the weekend and into next week. 

Targeting structure, especially the rockpiles at Thomas Point and Poplar Island, and the Bay Bridge pilings, are always options for stripers in the 17–25” range, although we haven’t heard of much action there in recent days (probably because of fewer anglers on the water). Try 3/4 to 2oz jigheads tipped with 4–6” paddletails or BKDS and letting them drop in as close to the gnarl as possible without getting snagged for a shot at pulling up a fish. Color combos of white/chartreuse, white/red, blue/white have been producing so far this summer. Live lining spot is another tried-n-true tactic.

If wind becomes an issue in the open Bay, try running into the rivers on either side. The middle Chesapeake tributaries are holding lots of schoolies up to the mid-20s in size. If you can position a drift along a line of deep water docks, there’s a good chance that you’ll find fish by pitching and swim-jigging similar lure combos (but lighter in 1/4 to 1/2oz weights) around the ends of them. Go even lighter and smaller with beetle-spins, perch pounders, kastmasters, and microplastics if you want to target the plentiful white perch. Next week’s stable weather (fingers crossed) should help a fair-to-good sunrise topwater bite for schoolies develop on the sandbar points adjacent the rivers’ feeder creeks that are loaded with baitfish (we see this in the Severn River).

Further south, reports continue to filter in of a solid speckled trout bite at Point Lookout on the western side and Tangier Sound on the eastern. Bright and fun 3–4” paddletails (electric chicken) on 1/4oz heads have produced. We’re also anticipating more bluefish in the mix around the lower-80 buoys as the fish push into the Bay. (Spanish macks on their heels?)

With the Fourth of July holiday and a decent forecast coming next week, boating traffic will heavily increase. Please keep your wits about you when on the water. Good luck! 

View the full Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report, written and compiled by writer and media professional James Houck, at reelchesapeake.com.

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