The weather this spring has had many upper bay fishermen wondering where the rockfish went, as cool, wet conditions kept water temperatures unseasonably low and larger fish off the bite.
With daytime temperatures regularly in the 80s now, rockfish action is heating up from the Susquehanna River to the Bay Bridge. In the Susquehanna, some of the best action has been on poppers or live-lined perch. But in the bay proper, it has been hard to beat chumming for the past week or so.
Earlier this spring, while the post-spawn runs of rockfish were heavy out of the rivers on the lower Eastern Shore, DNR biologists reported that the upper bay stripers had yet to spawn in great numbers.
Now DNR is reporting good movement of rockfish from Pooles Island to the Bay Bridge.
Fisheries biologist Martin L. Gary, who monitors fresh and saltwater fishing around the state weekly, reports fishing in the upper bay has "turned around 180 degrees for the better, with excellent catches of striped bass . . . from Pooles Island to the Bay Bridges."
Love Point, Belvedere Shoals and Hickory Thickett have been prime areas for chummers.
In the Susquehanna, the stretch of river between the old bridge piers above Port Deposit to the railroad bridge at Garrett Island has been a good choice for rockfish and white perch.
Elsewhere in the bay, the best rockfish action has been from Solomons to the Maryland-Virginia line. In the recent Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association spring tournament, organizers reported that 70 percent of the fish checked in came from waters south of Solomons.
Bluefish to 4 pounds are taken occasionally in striper chum lines.
Flounder action at the mouth of the Potomac, Tangier Sound, Hopper Island Straits and Drum Point; croaker in Tangier Sound, Kedges Straits, Honga River, Crab Point, Hooper Island Light and in the mouth of the Patuxent River, inside Cedar Point Rip.
In the middle bay, black drum action continues to be spotty at the Stone Rock, but trollers have been doing well for rockfish in 30- to 45-foot depths off Bloody Point to the Gas Docks. Chummers in the area have been attracting mainly undersized rockfish.
Flounder catches reported from Eastern Bay and deep edges west of Poplar Island.
Croaker have been hit or miss at Sharps Island Light, lower Choptank and into Eastern Bay.
White perch and occasional keeper rockfish at Tolley Point, Hacketts and the Bay Bridge. Perch action has been good in the lower Severn, South and Magothy rivers.
Ocean City update
Run of summer flounder continues to be excellent from the channel behind the Convention Center to behind Assateague. Squid and minnows best bait. . . . Bluefish still cruising the back bays, where casters do well. . . . Small blues and sea trout in the surf, with some kingfish starting to move in. . . . Offshore, lots of action for blue sharks and increasing numbers of makos. . . . Head boats doing well on sea bass and tautog.
At Liberty Reservoir, striped bass fishing good over rocky points with drifted or trolled shiners. Bass in the shallows, walleye deep and crappie and bluegills near beaver huts and brush piles. . . . Piney Run, crappie and yellow perch scattered in 12 foot depths. . . . Loch Raven has decent bass action in the shallows, but pickerel are often first to the bait or lure. . . . Guide Ken Penrod reports that much of the upper Potomac River remains difficult to fish because of high water levels. . . . Deep Creek Lake is turning on, with good smallmouth and largemouth bass action. Good smallmouth action along rocky shorelines from state park to the dam.