Much of the fishing action in the lower Bay region focuses on Spanish mackerel, bluefish, speckled trout, and catch-and-release fishing for large red drum. Fishing for striped bass is taking a backseat as Virginia waters are closed to striped bass fishing until October 4 and the tidal Potomac River is closed to striped bass fishing until August 22. There is some striped bass action in the Patuxent River and scattered locations on the western shore of the Bay.
Spanish mackerel are steadily filling in and providing plenty of action for anglers trolling for or casting towards breaking fish. Trolling small Clark spoons and Drone spoons of various gold, chrome, and color combinations behind No. 1 and No. 2 planers of heavy inline weights at about 8 knots is a good way to fish the mackerel. Anglers are finding mackerel along channel edges at Cove Point, the HS Buoy, and Buoy 72. Trolling near breaking fish is another option.
Small bluefish and Spanish mackerel can be found breaking the water’s surface when chasing anchovies. Anglers are targeting them by casting small metal jigs. Speed-reeling a lure after allowing it to sink is a good way to target Spanish mackerel, while a slower retrieve will catch bluefish.
Fishing for large red drum is providing a lot of exciting action. The fish are enormous and fight hard. Many are being caught by casting and jigging 8-inch or larger soft plastic jigs in a variety of colors to concentrations of red drum. They can be spotted by troubled water, slicks, breaking fish, or by picking them up on a depth finder. Dropping cut spot or soft crab baits down to schools of red drum is another popular option, and trolling large spoons and hose lures is another. They are being found near the Target Ship, the Middle Grounds, Cedar Point, and Tangier Sound.
Speckled trout are being caught in Tangier Sound, Pocomoke Sound, the Hoopers Island area, and the lower Potomac River. Casting 4-inch plastics and topwater lures in the early morning and late evening hours near grass beds, stump fields, marsh edges, and Bay shoreline is the ticket to this show.
Anglers and boaters in the vicinity of Barren Island, located off Hoopers Island, should be aware that the Army Corps is on schedule to begin rock, sill, and jetty placement at Barren Island in September. This will be like the Hart-Miller and Poplar Island projects.
Cobia fishing has been a bit slow lately, but they are being caught by anglers sight-fishing or chumming near Smith Point and Point Lookout. Casting large soft plastics or live eels to cobia when they can be spotted on the surface is an exciting way to fish. Chumming is another option, as is drifting a live eel to the back of the chum slick. However, anglers do tell of bluefish nipping off eel tails. Drifting a few pieces of cut spot with a hook can help pass the time and put some bluefish in the ice chest.
Fishing for spot in the lower Patuxent and Potomac rivers as well as Tangier Sound has been very good. Bloodworms are the most popular bait for spot and the few kingfish that show up now and then. Peeler crab is a good bait for white perch, which can often be found mixed in with the spot. White perch are also being caught in the tidal creeks and rivers on oyster beds or near docks and piers.
Recreational crabbing is good. Crabbers can catch a full bushel of large crabs in the tidal rivers of the middle and lower Bay regions. In the upper Bay, crabbers are doing almost as well in rivers such as the Gunpowder and the Elk River near the entrance of the C&D Canal. The 10- to 12-foot edges are reported to be some of the best waters to set trotlines or collapsible crab traps. Chicken necks work, but razor clams are more productive. A lot of female crabs and small crabs are showing up on trotlines and in collapsible traps.