If you’re looking for striped bass it is pretty hard to top the action in the lower Potomac River right now. The steep channel edge between St. Georges Island and Piney Point is the place to be. Many are trolling umbrella rigs behind heavy inline weights with bucktails dressed with sassy shads as trailers. The striped bass are suspended at about 35 feet along the channel edge. The channel edge is also a great place for live-lining spot.
Anglers are reporting a high percentage of sub-legal striped bass being caught this week, whether they are trolling, jigging, or casting along the shorelines. Anglers are urged to practice responsible catch and release methods when releasing undersized fish and to always use non-offset circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with bait.
The lower Patuxent River is another great place to look for striped bass by trolling with umbrella rigs, jigging, or live-lining spot along the channel edges. Anglers are also enjoying some striped bass action along the edges of the shipping channel by trolling along the 35-foot edge. Cove Point, the HS Buoy, and other steep edges are good places to look.
Spot can be readily found in the lower and middle sections of the Patuxent River this week as well as in Cornfield Harbor, Tangier Sound, and near the mouth of the Honga River. Most are suitable for live-lining, and it will take a couple of months for them to achieve pan frying size. White perch are holding in the many tidal rivers and creeks of the lower Bay and can be caught on pieces of bloodworm, peeler crab, and grass shrimp, or by casting small plastic jigs, spinnerbaits, roadrunner type lures, and spinners along the shorelines of the rivers and creeks.
Cobia season is now open and these fish have been in our waters for a couple of weeks. Anglers will be anchored up and tending chum slicks and fishing cut baits, live spot or live eels in the back of their chum slicks. Cownose rays will be a significant problem but hopefully some cobia will be caught. The daily limit is two cobia per boat if two or more anglers are aboard, or one per person per day. Minimum length for cobia is 40 inches.
Large red drum are being caught and released In Tangier Sound, the Middle Grounds, and the Target Ship areas this week. Trolling large spoons behind inline weights is a popular way to fish for them, along with jigging or fishing with soft crab baits when schools can be spotted on depth finders.
Casting paddletails and poppers along the shorelines of the Bay and tidal rivers is a good and fun way to fish with light tackle during the morning and evening hours. Speckled trout are mixing in with striped bass on the eastern side of the Bay along marsh edges and tidal creeks. Drifting soft crab baits on an ebbing tide is a fun and productive way to fish for speckled trout and red drum in the marsh creeks of the Eastern Shore.
Fishing for blue catfish in the tidal Potomac, Patuxent, and Nanticoke rivers is as good as it ever gets. Fresh cut bait of menhaden, gizzard shad, white perch, or bluegills will certainly draw their attention, and setting up a chum slick will have them lined up behind your boat. There are also many shoreline spots to fish for blue catfish and a forked stick to hold your rod. A comfortable chair and some snacks and drinks round out the experience.
Northern snakeheads are providing a lot of fishing action in the backwaters of Dorchester County and in the tidal Potomac, Patuxent, Nanticoke, and Wicomico rivers. They seem to be moving around a lot – perhaps they are looking for a mate or that perfect spawning area. They are aggressively attacking white paddletails or buzzbaits and frogs over grass.
Recreational crabbing is starting to pick up a little speed, and crab fortunes are becoming more bountiful this week. Crabbers are able to catch up to a full bushel per outing, although ore commonly about a half-bushel in the lower Bay. As is typical this time of the year, some of the better catches are coming from the Eastern Shore tidal rivers, with the western shore a close second. In the middle Bay catches range from a few dozen crabs to a half bushel per outing.
Crabbers reported a lot of recently shed large crabs a week or so ago and now those crabs are filling out to become a nice heavy crab measuring 6 inches or better. Due to the high price of razor clams, many are using chicken necks on trotlines and some are having good luck with menhaden baits in their collapsible crab traps.