Thursday, August 11, 2022

Fishing Report

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.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Fishing Report

Some of the best striped bass fishing to be found in the lower Bay is along the deeper shorelines that have structure. Docks, piers, rock jetties, and seawalls are all good places to cast a mix of paddletails and soft plastic jigs for a mix of striped bass and speckled trout. The best striped bass fishing is on the western side of the Bay, and the speckled trout tend to be more plentiful on the eastern side. An early start before dawn is best and the action tends to shut down by mid-morning. A good tide is always important and the late evening hours also offer some success. 

Small bluefish are spread throughout the lower Bay this week and Spanish mackerel are becoming more common. The bluefish are in the 14-inch to 16-inch size range and are chasing bay anchovies, which often presents the opportunity to cast into breaking fish. Casting a small metal or plastic jig, letting it sink a bit and then speed-reeling is the best way to target the Spanish mackerel.

Trolling small Drone and Clark spoons behind inline weights or No. 2 and No. 3 planers is the best way to target the bluefish and Spanish mackerel. A slower trolling speed of about 5 knots will allow the bluefish to catch up to lures, while 7-9 knots is the best speed to target Spanish mackerel.

Catch-and-release fishing for large red drum is good for those who take the time to target them. They can be targeted by looking for slicks or cloudy water conditions, or by picking them up on a depth finder. The area around Buoy 72A and the Target Ship are good places to look for them. Red drum have a large and thick air bladder, so they often show up on a depth finder like submarines. Casting and jigging into likely looking waters are a favorite way to fish with heavy spinning outfits. Others choose to drop a large piece of soft crab on a circle hook into the mass of fish. Trolling large silver or gold spoons behind heavy inline weights is another way to target red drum and a good way to cover a lot of water during the search.

Fishing for spot has been excellent at the mouth of the Patuxent River and in Tangier Sound. Most anglers have no problem catching a good mess of them, they tend to be medium in size but are very tasty. Fishing for white perch is good this week in the tidal rivers, most are using bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm near deep-water piers or oyster bottom out in the rivers. 

Fishing for a mix of channel and blue catfish in the tidal rivers offers some fun and productive outdoor experience. The channel catfish can be found in every river and creek within the region; blue catfish concentrations are at their greatest in the Potomac, Patuxent, and Nanticoke rivers. The edges of the channels tend to be the best place to fish for them during the summer months.

Recreational crabbing continues to be worth the effort. In many areas the 10-foot edge seems to be the sweet spot for trotlines and collapsible traps. Both razor clams and chicken necks are working well. You will have to work for your crabs but most who stick it out can catch a full bushel of large crabs per outing in the middle and lower Bay. Upper Bay crabbers are averaging a half-bushel per outing. Be advised that female crabs, light crabs, and small crabs – all of which are thrown back – are reported to be hogging up trotline baits.

Northern snakehead fishing is best during the morning and evening hours, and anglers are catching plenty of them this week in the tidal Potomac and Patuxent. Casting buzzbaits or frogs over grass is an exciting way to fish for them; casting white paddletails probably accounts for more snakeheads than any other lure. If rigged weedless it can be worked through thin grass and spatterdock fields.

Fishing Report

Much of the fishing action in the lower Bay region focuses on Spanish mackerel, bluefish, speckled trout, and catch-and-release fishing for ...