Since my last report I have only been out a few times with varied results. We usually plan our trips days in advance and forecasts can change quickly. We have found ourselves fishing in less than favorable conditions on several trips. We caught fish jigging on every trip and kept a few for the table each trip except one. One trip, with Mark Muzzelman in his 25′ C-Hawk cabin boat, the Bay was especially rough. The 20 mph south wind against the outgoing tide had the waves stacked up. Twice we stuffed the nose of the boat in a wave heading home! Glad to be in the big boat today! Earlier his friend Marsha said she had never caught a fish on a jig… we changed that despite the sporty conditions. I think she is hooked on light tackle fishing now!
While fishing with Dan Kilroy we had a frustrating day as all the better fish we caught jigging were covered in sores. The lesions are probably from Mycobacteriosis a disease that afflicts many Rockfish. We caught smaller fish all day but the healthy, larger fish evaded us. The number of marks on the fish finder were much less than in previous trips. I feel like the fish are being “Squeezed” between the search for cooler, deeper water and the lack of oxygen in those deeper depths. Generally the schools of fish we marked are shallower by 10 ft. this week. Last week thirty foot depths were best this week, it is closer to twenty.While searching for Bluefish, Dan and I witnessed a massive stretch of “Red Water”. I believe this is a red algae bloom staining the water. We saw no signs of life in the red water for a number of miles. It stretched from Eastern Bay to the bottom of Tilghman Island. We put the boat back on the trailer and went elsewhere. A few days later I fished with my son Joseph and his family. We had a great day jigging Spot and White Perch out of Deale, Md. in Joe’s 22′ Finish Line skiff. We drifted over “Live Bottom” areas like Oyster bars in 6′ to 10′ of water and put the “Family Style Smack Down” on the panfish. The girls were catching fast up front while Joe and I tried to keep up!
Jigging Spoons and dropper flies caught the Perch as fast as Bloodworms on bottom rigs. The Spot wanted the Bloods. I kept 20 Perch, Joe and family kept 42 Spot and 50 Perch.
On the following Thursday I spent the morning hours fishing with Dean Bowman on the western shore of the mid-bay… the better fish were once again a challenge to locate and catch on the jig. We found enough for dinner and had smaller fish most of the day.
On this trip the “Thumper Jigs” caught better than “snap jigging” this follows the same pattern as last year. Sometime towards the end of July last year the Rockfish showed a preference for the “Thumper Jigs” fished higher in the water column. This held true into late fall with some very nice fish taken on these lures. The Thumper jig is shown below…
For the Rockfish in the mid-bay area they are feeling the “Squeeze” from several factors. The Red Tide creeps north on every incoming flow pushed by a south wind. The number of Dolphins above the bay bridge is unprecedented. I cannot remember seeing so many this far north, ever! As the deeper water loses it’s ability to hold oxygen the Rockfish are forced to use the shallower waters to feed and rest. The last few years I have noticed a trend of the Stripers moving north in the bay as summer progresses and every year we get a showing of Rockfish in the Susquehanna River in September. I believe these fish that are now in the upper end of the mid bay are the same fish we will see in the Susky this fall. Last season, we were able to follow those fish all the way up to Conowingo Dam. This year, we first located this mass of fish in the mouth of Eastern Bay. They moved north along Kent island to Love Point, then to Rock Hall area and above. As the Stripers react to the “Summer Squeeze” I look for them to push north rather quickly chasing the schools of bait fish there and avoiding the threats to the south. If this holds true there should be great fishing in August and September in the Upper Bay. While I choose to catch my fish jigging with light tackle… it is not the only way to catch them. Anglers who are trolling spoons and hoses, live lining and chumming are also doing well. A few more crabs are showing on the Elk and Bohemia rivers and Razor clams are catching best. The Eastern Shore rivers to our south have seen the best catches, again on Razor Clam. This late summer season is shaping up nicely and the stage is set to be able to catch your Crabs and Rockfish too! This is truly the “Land of Pleasant Living”. I hope to see you on the water… or in the shop! Happy Casting!