Rock & Croaker Coming on Strong

June 2, 2016 | The first of June has brought us to the summer season of rockfishing (striped bass).


All Maryland waters are now open to catch rockfish (Potomac River, too). The bag limit is two per person per day, 20 inch minimum, and only one over 28 inches. This is the regulation until December 15, 2016 for Maryland; the Potomac season continues until December 31, 2016.

The spring migration of stripers in the trophy size is just about over. The big spawning fish in excess of 40 inches have mostly returned to the Atlantic with just a few stragglers left. They will return in the fall beginning in late October.​

Trollers have switched to six inch lures trolled in tandems, small umbrellas, and individual bucktails, sassy shads, surgical eels and spoons. 

The upper Bay is loaded with schools of stripers in the 20 to 30 inch range. These are domestic fish that will be here all season with a smattering of out-sized rockfish up to 38 inches. The most consistent location is from Parker’s Creek north to the Bay Bridge on both the east and western shores. The baitfish are thick in that area. 

There are rockfish in the lower Bay as well in the mouth of the Patuxent, Cedar Point, the Targets, Hooper’s Island Light, Point Lookout, and in the Potomac. We should find breaking fish all over the main stem of the Bay for jiggers, lure casters, and bottom fishermen.

The Patuxent opened on June 1st, and we should get some reports soon from this rockfish rich stretch of water.

The Town Creek Pier in the mouth of the Patuxent has opened back up. Memorial Day was the first time anyone has fished there in decades, and nighttime anglers found bucketfuls of croakers, white perch and a few rockfish. The facility has been completely refurbished and has lots of lights that attract rockfish and other species. The end of the pier is in about 20 feet of water and casters with good equipment can reach the 50 foot edge. This will be a gold mine for rockfish, perch, croaker, spot, and seatrout. The pier is scheduled to be open Thursday through Sunday and is a private enterprise charging $10.00 per fisherman. 

Croaker have moved into all our waters now. Captain Adam Moose on charter boat “Meals on Reels” landed a big string of croaker in the mouth of the Patuxent drifting from Point Patience to the Solomons bridge. This was in the rain on Memorial Day when most folks stayed home. Just as many as those that went into the cooler were returned as too small (even though they were big enough to keep at 9 inches), and dozens of small perch were put back too.

Croaker are being caught in the evening and at night along the shoreline on the NAS at Cedar Point.

The speckled trout hunters are finding them in the salt islands around the Honga River. One regular fisherman has already landed 13 "specks" this year of really good size (20 inches) and expects them to pick up as the water clears and warms. His catch so far is already 13 more than all of last year, and hopes that this season will be better than 2013 when daily catches of speckled trout averaged 6 or 7. The last two summers did not produce trout.

The catfish are plentiful in the upper Potomac and Patuxent where fresh alewife baits will bring them running.

Steve Helmrich with lovely speckled trout between 18 and 22 inches.
Heather Hewitt with a 12 inch perch from Town Creek Pier in the Patuxent.
Eva Wells with croaker from Cedar Point.
Amanda and Heather Hedum, and Cynthia Williams with croaker caught during charter fishing.
The winner of the May's Big Croaker Contest at The Tackle Box.
A cooler full of croaker and rockfish from Town Creek Pier last Sunday night.