The lazy days of summer
These are the lazy days of summer.
If you want to be a successful summertime angler, you can’t afford to dawdle in the morning and still catch big fish, unless you’re a night owl and want to do your fishing under the cover of darkness. Getting to your favorite fishing spot before the sun is high in the sky is key this time of year. The fish are everywhere in Southern Maryland, so set your alarm nice and early and go fishing.
Southern Maryland lakes and ponds — Anthony Hancock, assistant manager of Gilbert Run Park in Dentsville, said the bass are biting aggressively early and later in the day on topwater lures. During the daytime, the bass are holding on drop-offs in 5 to 10 feet of water. Shallow diving crankbaits, swim-jigs, spinnerbaits and finesse worms are all catching bass. The water is stained, so soft plastics should be dark colors like redbug, junebug, green pumpkin and blue fleck. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits with a little chartreuse are also working well.
Bluegill are biting strong. The bigger bluegill are holding close to the bottom in water around 10 feet deep. Smaller bluegill are cruising the shallows particularly early in the morning and late in the day looking for their next meal. When the sun is high it is wise to fish under low, overhanging tree limbs. The bluegill will be there waiting patiently for whatever falls to the surface.
Patuxent River — Ken Lamb from the Tackle Box in Lexington Park (301-863-8151) reports plentiful hardhead all over Southern Maryland. Croaker will bite on overcast days, but they go deep and are unresponsive in bright sun until dark. Seek them out during a moving tide. At night you will find them in shallow water where they are searching for a crab and grass shrimp dinner.
The white perch are big and are hitting tiny spinners and Mepps style lures. You will find them in clean, moving water absent of sea nettles at high tide. Bottom fishermen can catch them on bloodworms, squid and shrimp in the deeper rivers.
Hawk’s Nest in the mouth of Cuckold Creek in the Patuxent has perch and croaker almost every day. Trollers on deep water on the oyster beds are finding rockfish over the 20-inch minimum using spoons and bucktails. Trolling gear with braid line, in-line weights (5 to 6 ounces) and 10 feet of fluorocarbon leader is the ticket. Helen’s Bar north to Sheridan Point and all the areas in between are holding good-sized fish.
Potomac River — Life Outdoors Unlimited guides reported that commercial fishermen have been haul-seining spawning area grassbeds in Broad, Chickamuxen, Mattawoman and Piscataway creeks. These tributaries are vital nurseries for bass, and a healthy black bass population can’t be cultivated when grass beds are ruined and young of the year are killed.
LOU guide Capt. Kenny Penrod (240-478-9055) reports a good week on the tidal Potomac. The Washington, D.C., section of the river has been producing not only bass but a variety of other fish species. A War Eagle Finesse spinnerbait has been very effective thrown right against the Kennedy Center wall.
The Washington Channel holds bass and poppers very early in the morning and worms when the sun is high are good choices. In the Belle Haven area, try the Woodrow Wilson Bridge pilings with a dropshot on outgoing tides. The grass is excellent in the Aquia area of the river and Penrod recommends throwing frogs at lower tides. Catfish are part of the mix.
Striped bass fishing is reported to be fair to good in the Charles County sector of the Potomac River, according to Capt. Dennis Fleming from Fishamajig Guide Service (240-538-1260). Anglers who choose to fish shallow water structure early in the morning or late in the evening can scratch out enough keepers to keep it interesting. Fleming suggests throwing jerkbaits with smashed down barbs to release undersized fish unharmed.
Aqualand Marina (301-2592222) reports a strong catfish bite with anglers putting up good numbers of the whiskered fish using cut bait and shrimp. There are some decent white perch at Lower Cedar Point over the oyster bar as well. Croakers continue to be hit or miss. Juniata and Susquehanna rivers (Pa.) — LOU guide John Snygler (717-368-3802) has been fishing his low water spots with success. Morning and evening are the best times for a good bite. He recommends Snagler buzzbatis in natural or gold colors.
LOU guide Jason Shay (717507-4377) reports spinnerbaits in sexy shad and swimbaits in smoke blue have been working in areas with good current flow. The fish are on current edges in the morning and holding on the front of ledges during the day. The water temperatures are warm, so take care to get any fish you catch back in the water as quickly as possible. Deep Creek Lake — LOU guide Bret Winegardner (301-6169889) said the lake is busy with vacationers, so the smart anglers will be hitting their favorite fishing spots in the early morning hours or quite late. Midday fishing in coves where there are no jet skiers and recreational boaters can extend the fishing hours. Topwater lures near rocky points and shores are catching smallmouth. When the sun is high, the bass can be found in grass beds and near floating docks.
Lake Anna (Va.) — Jim Hemby of Lake Anna Striper Guide Service (540-967-3313) reports that anglers are catching good numbers of stripers on live bait. His guides have been using blueback herring rigged on downlines after locating a school. The action is fast and furious, often having several fish hooked up at once.
Hemby recommends concentrating your efforts two miles on either side of the Route 208 bridge. Bass are in their summer patterns and the main lake has been producing good catches. Although most anglers look for structure in 10 to 20 feet of water, he’s been catching numerous bass in much deeper water. Crappie are on every bridge on the lake, holding in the shade at depths of 15 to 35 feet. Chesapeake Bay — Lamb reports that bluefish have arrived in the lower bay in the 5- to 6-pound range. The big blues were breaking on the Middle Grounds east of Buoy 72 and just east of the Target Ship.
The toothy bluefish took cast lures such as bucktails, spoons and sassy shads. Wire leaders are a must as their razor sharp teeth and powerful jaws can wreak havoc on monofilament and fingers. The big ones can be found on the eastern edges from the Kedges Straights to the mouth of the Honga. Two- to 3-pound blues are in the 10 to 12 foot edges from Parker’s Creek to Chesapeake Beach.
Rockfish are schooled up in huge quantities from Chesapeake Beach to the Bay Bridge. These fish are big, some measuring up to 30 inches and weighing 12 to 15 pounds.
Atlantic Ocean — Bob Foster at Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City (410-524-3433) reports that although flounder fishing was off to a slow start, it gets a little better day by day. The best bite has been from the inlet to the Frontiertown campground and around the south jetty. There have also been reports of some nice keeper flatties caught from the 9th Street Pier and the bulkhead.
The U.S. 50 bridge has been good for small bluefish and short stripers at night and a few flounder during the day. The offshore reefs and wrecks are producing decent catches of flounder and sea bass.
Tip of the week
Bass are in their summer mode now. During the heat of the day they seek cool shade, usually near deep water and are lethargic most of the day. Find moving water and you might find some bass. When the water heats up and holds less dissolved oxygen, the fish like to hang out near currents to stay oxygenated. In the evening and early morning hours, you’ll find them in the shallows feeding. This is a good time to break out the topwater lures such as buzzbaits, chatterbaits, creature baits and poppers.