Once the storm passed through the region last week and the floodwaters began to dissipate, fishing in the lower bay region began to come back in a big way. Perhaps one of the most exciting reports is the surge of Spanish mackerel that entered the region over the weekend. Trolling a mix of various spoons behind planers and heavy inline weights has been the ticket for good catches of Spanish mackerel and ¾ pound bluefish. The eastern side of the shipping channel from the general area of Buoy 72B past 72A and south to Buoy 70 has been a real hot spot in the past few days.
A mix of Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and small striped bass are chasing schools of bay anchovies in the same general region near the Middle Grounds. Casting into the surface action has been accounting for some fun fishing for the bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Lying beneath, large red drum have been the real prize. They far exceed the upper end of the legal slot size but offer exciting catch-and-release action for those jigging deep with large plastics or metal spoons.
Fishing for striped bass in the lower Potomac River continues to be closed until Aug. 20 in the mainstem of the river. The Maryland tributaries are open at this time but will close on Aug. 16 until Aug. 31, as will Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake.
Striped bass are being caught in the lower bay this week, mostly around the shipping channel edges and at times they are being caught early in the morning in the shallower areas mixed in with speckled trout.
Cobia are being caught around the Target Ship and Mud Leads and below the Middle Grounds. Sight casting on calm days remains one of the most productive ways to catch them when pitching live eels or large soft plastics to them. Chumming is another option but cow-nosed rays and bluefish are being attracted to chum slicks so drifting a live eel back in a chum slick is courting disaster. Most are settling for chunk baits of menhaden and having a live eel ready in case a cobia comes up behind the boat.
At the mouth of the Patuxent, it seems the river bottom must be paved with spot and white perch at times. Most of the spot tend to be small but can be fried with the head and guts removed; one just has to take their time picking through them. With patience and a small flexible fillet knife, some can be filleted along with the white perch. Small croakers, most undersized, have also been part of the mix when bottom fishing. Tangier and Pocomoke sounds are also stacked with spot, white perch, and small croakers. Pieces of bloodworm, peeler crab, or wild shrimp all make good baits.
Increasing numbers of flounder are also being caught in the Tangier and Pocomoke sounds this week. The edges of channels and drop offs along flats are good places to drift baits. Strip baits from the spot make a good bait on a bucktail, jighead, or bottom rig. It is hard to beat a white or pink Gulp bait for the largest flounder.
Recreational crabbing is hitting new heights for crabbers this week. Catches are still a bit sparse in the upper bay but catches of a full bushel of good crabs in the middle and lower bay regions are common. Some of the largest crabs are coming from oyster bars in 12 to 15 feet of water. The shallower areas also hold good crabs but tend to harbor a lot of small crabs that are chewing up baits.