While Florida governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency to deal with the prolonged “red tide” that’s affecting marine life in the Gulf of Mexico, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has just released the late July hypoxia report for the Chesapeake Bay, and the results are the best that have ever been reported for this time of year.
All the rain recently helped mix up the oxygen in the water, but only time will tell what the impact of all the run-off will be for the overall health of our bay and rivers, not to mention the fragile aquatic grasses that have been improving lately and the ever-so-tenuous blue crab population. It would seem logical that the rain would flush out pollution from our rivers, but just the opposite is true. The Conowingo Dam is no longer capable of holding back excess nutrients and sediment, and record rainfall delivered a major influx of pollution instead.
I’ll keep you posted when the August report comes out.
Southern Maryland lakes and ponds — Anthony Hancock, manager of Gilbert Run Park, notes that redear sunfish and decent-sized bluegill sunfish can be found in shallow water, even on hot, sunny days. These panfish are eager to eat small pieces of nightcrawler or earthworm fished under a bobber. They aren’t particularly picky, and crickets will work well too. These two panfish are a great way to introduce youngsters to fishing.
Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers (Pa.) — More rain is making the water rise with flooding in many regions, when normally August is the driest month of the year. Life Outdoors Unlimited (LOU) guide Matt Greene (717-576-3735) says the Juniata will be the place to be this weekend in spite of the constantly changing water color. Greene recommends using chatterbaits and spinnerbaits.
Patuxent River — Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box (301-863-8151) says anglers are catching the trifecta of croaker, perch, and spot on all sorts of bait this week. Bloodworms, shrimp, squid, and crab will all do the trick. Stripers will hit trolled or cast lures at dusk and dawn.
Potomac River — Reel Bass Adventures guide Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509) advises anglers to find areas with clearer water and use a variety of baits on cover to catch bass up to 5 pounds. The usual early morning or low light topwater bite remains strong. Use poppers or frogs over and around grasses. Plastic worms on both sides of the size spectrum, either very large or very small, will produce bass from grass cover or hard cover. Spinnerbaits worked through openings along grass edges draw hard strikes. In the DC vicinity, bridge pilings have bass that like small, deep-diving crankbaits.
Resident goose season is coming up, and the LOU guides are offering “Cast & Blast” outings where you fish a while for smallmouth and hunt a bit for Canada geese on the same trip. You’d better hurry and book a spot if you’re interested. Call Ken Penrod at 240-447-2206.
Chesapeake Bay — According to Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box (301-863-8151), anglers still have to go south to find cobia, as just a few stray fish have made it up into the Target Ship area this summer. The main hub is below Windmill Point in Virginia and southeast to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Most are chumming and either drifting fresh cut baits to the back of the chum slick or allowing live eels to hold there. A word of caution: a significant amount of cobia aren’t measuring up to the 40-inch minimum size.
Lake Anna (Va.) — Carlos at High Point Marina (540-895-5249) reports that the lake has cooled a bit so the early morning topwater bite has been good. Pop Rs and Chug Bugs around docks and points are hooking up bass. Switch to big worms like Berkley 10-inch power worms or Zoom’s 9-inch Mag II worms later in the day to target fish holding in deeper water near points and drop-offs. Those who seek stripers are getting the most success trolling early in the morning around Pigeon Creek and Rose Valley in about 25- to 35-feet of water.
Atlantic Ocean — The White Marlin Open ended last weekend, and the event was just as dramatic as you’d expect from a tournament that’s drummed up a lot of controversy over the past years about winners and payouts. This year, 382 boats entered, and per rules, boats can fish three out of five days of the tournament. By the end of the third fishing day, only one white marlin met the 70-pound minimum weight to get on the leaderboard. The next day, Bill Haugland’s 75-pound white marlin was bested by Gregory Giron’s 83-pound fish. But the excitement wasn’t over. On the very last day of the tournament, another 83-pound white marlin was brought to the scales by Pascual Jimenez. How, you might wonder, is the winner decided when there’s a tie? Toss a coin? Just divide the money? While tournament rules allow a fish to be gaffed, in the event of a tie, the fish that wasn’t gaffed gets first place. Jimenez was declared the winner and went home 2.6 million dollars richer. Giron and Haugland took home a little less —$129,784 and $85,804 respectively.
If offshore fishing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of opportunities for catching fish a little closer to land. You don’t have to go far at all to fish from the Oceanic Pier in Ocean City. Anglers are hooking up spot, croaker, flounder, sea bass, small rockfish, and tautog. A little further out, anglers on headboats are catching sea bass over wrecks and reefs. And the flounder fishing has been excellent, with Monty Hawkins on the Morning Star reporting he had some limits around the rail earlier this week. According to Larry Jock of the Coastal Fisherman, cobia are on the move to Ocean City. He recommends tossing them a live eel, live bunker, or bucktail tipped with Gulp.
Tip of the week
Sharks are on my mind this week. You may have already seen a photo of an 8.6-foot long bull shark waterman Larry “Boo” Powley caught in a pound net near the Pax River Naval Air Station. Bull sharks frequent the Chesapeake Bay and have been known to venture into the local rivers. Luckily there’s never been a report of a shark bite in the Chesapeake Bay, but it’s not uncommon to have a fish bit in half by a shark as it’s reeled in.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers these tips for anglers who find a shark on the end of their line. Know what species are legal and illegal, and if you don’t know, let it go.
Don’t use a gaff on a shark that’s going to be released.
Use a dehooker or cut the line of deep hooked sharks as close to the mouth as possible.
Don’t place hands in gills.
Keep the shark in the water if possible.
Don’t drag a shark onto the beach.
Don’t sit on sharks or hold their mouths open for photographs.