Many anglers are finding a lot of small perch in some areas but a few big fish can be culled from the school. The usual small spinners and 1/16 to 1/8-ounce lead heads with Mr. Twister grubs on light spinning tackle will produce results. Pieces of bloodworm, grass shrimp, wild seafood shrimp, and small minnows are all good baits. Medium-sized minnows fished under a bobber around shoreline structure will often catch a large grade of perch.
The usual bottom fishing areas for saltwater panfish — spot, perch and croaker — should be productive the next few weeks. Spot and white perch can be found on hard bottom areas or shoals off Sandy Point State Park beach, the mouth of the Magothy, and the shallow ends of the Bay Bridge. White perch can also be found at the Snake Reef, Belvidere Shoal, and the 7-foot and 9-foot knolls. A few small croaker have been caught in the Severn River, South River, and other areas, but most are sub-legal.
Cobia fishing has been good this summer at the Middle Grounds, the Target Ship, the Mud Leads, and Point Lookout. Trolling spoons and hoses (surgical tube lures) will produce both cobia and large drum around the Target ship area, with bluefish in the mix.
Small bluefish are moving into the region; they are running about 1 pound, which is fun for the kids and a perfect eating size, whether fresh or smoked. A reminder that the daily limit for 2020 is 3 bluefish per day for anglers fishing from private boats or shore, and 5 bluefish per day when fishing from a charter boat. Spanish mackerel should keep moving into the lower bay and are being caught by fast trolling — about 7 knots is the target speed — with small Drone or Clark spoons.
Spot and white perch should provide steady bottom fishing action in the hard bottom areas of the lower Patuxent River, Honga River, and off Hoopers Island. Pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig is the best bait for spot.
Recreational crabbing should improve as we get into late July and early August, with more crabs growing to legal size. The middle and lower bay offers the best opportunity to catch a bushel of crabs per outing. Trotlining at dawn is the best method, and razor clams tend to be the most popular bait in recent seasons.
The upper Potomac River will continue running low and warm until weather patterns change. Target fast moving and deeper waters for smallmouth bass and cast grubs, small crankbaits, and tubes. There is also some topwater fishing along grass edges and shallows with buzzbaits and poppers at dawn and dusk.
For anglers targeting northern snakeheads, bass lures such as buzzbaits and frogs are excellent baits to cast over thick grass. Chatterbaits and paddle tails will also produce snakeheads. The tributaries of the tidal Potomac, Patuxent, Patapsco, and other tidal rivers around the Chesapeake have expanding populations of northern snakeheads.
Blue catfish are always a good bet for anglers using cut bait in the Fort Washington area of the Potomac. Good places for blue catfish in the Patuxent River are along steep channel edges above Jacksons Landing, Jug Bay, and the mouth of Western Branch.