Small striped bass have moved into the channel areas leading into the Susquehanna River this week as water temperatures cool. Current water temperatures in the region are approaching the 70-degree mark. Fishermen are reporting they are happy for the action although most of the striped bass are below 18” in size. Fishermen have been casting surface lures, soft bodied jigs and swim shads with very good results. Michael Smith of Abingdon sent in this report from the lower Susquehanna River. I launched my kayak at the Lapidum boat launch on Saturday and fished just north of the I-95 Bridge on the lower Susquehanna. There were huge schools of stripers in the river mostly in the 15 inch range. I caught about half a dozen on rat-l-traps the biggest was 16.5" but often there were about 20 chasing the lure to the boat. It was the middle of the afternoon and I can't help but think there had to be a few keepers in there somewhere?
As water temperatures cool fishermen have begun to drift live eels in the channel areas around Pooles Island in search of striped bass. Other fishermen are using peeler crab and bloodworms to catch white perch around Pooles Island and other areas of the upper bay and its tidal rivers. Fishermen have been checking various shoal areas in the upper bay for schooling white perch and striped bass and are finding some of the best fishing for striped bass in the channel areas by trolling and jigging and white perch holding in some of the deeper edges and holes.
There are small bluefish throughout the upper bay from Pooles Island south and they are mixing it up with small striped bass. Fishermen are encountering diving birds throughout the region and usually the mix of small striped bass and bluefish are what is pushing the bait to the surface. Jigging underneath the surface action close to the bottom usually offers the best chance of finding larger striped bass.
The channel areas leading out of the Patapsco have been a good place to look for larger striped bass lately. Fishermen have been either locating schools of fish holding close to structure such as sharp channel edges or trolling deep along the edges of the channel.
The Bay Bridge piers have been a great place to jig for striped bass recently as more and more striped bass are becoming active due to cooler water temperatures. Most fishermen are finding the best action about 1/3 out from shore and are jigging with bucktails or soft bodied jigs at the base of the piers. At times it can be a little dicey trying to keep the boat in position depending on wind and tide but fishermen can take turns at the helm to keep the boat in position. Mark Nichols holds up a real nice one caught on a 5-1/2” soft plastic jig late last week.
Recreational crabbers are reporting good to fair crabbing this week for heavy and large late season crabs. Crabbers in the Elk, Bush, Gunpowder and Patapsco reported good crabbing this week; other crabbers on the lower Bohemia and Chester reported only fair catches.
Middle Bay Region
As water temperatures cool, the fisheries in the middle bay region continue to change from a mix of summer species to a classic early fall fishery of striped bass and bluefish. Breaking fish are now composed of a mix of striped bass and bluefish; although fishermen may see a Spanish mackerel now and then. The top part of the action is usually small striped bass as small as 12” mixing it up with the bluefish and the larger striped bass are below. This is the time of the year to break out the metal jigs; there are plenty of different types, everyone has their favorites and 2oz is the most popular weight depending on current and wind drift conditions. Schools of bait such as bay anchovies are moving out of the tidal rivers and creeks and will be swept by strong currents along the edges of channels.
Fishermen have been spending a lot of time trying to catch up the last of the small spot in the region for live lining. The spot have schooled up and are moving out of the shallows and finding these pockets of spot can be difficult at times. One thing is for certain; as time goes on it will not get any easier, so fishermen will be shifting their efforts from live lining to jigging and trolling.
Trolling bucktails and spoons along the edges of the shallower areas of the bay and tidal rivers in the early morning and evening hours has been paying off for small boat fishermen with striped bass and bluefish. Diving crankbaits are also another good option for small boat fishermen trolling in the tidal rivers and bay. Farther out in the bay trolling along channel edges with bucktails and spoons is catching a mix of bluefish and striped bass. Fishermen who want to load up on bluefish have been trolling surge tube lures in their spread. The western side of the shipping channel in the area of Breezy Point and Parkers Creek, Thomas Point, the Hill and the Diamonds has been good places to troll for striped bass and bluefish recently.
Fishing from shoreline docks, breakwaters and other types of shoreline structure is a good choice for shore bound fishermen this time of the year. Striped bass are very active and can often be found holding near structure where the current is sweeping past. Fly casting with skipping bugs or flies such as chartreuse Clousers and Deceivers can offer some fine fishing in the evenings and early morning hours. Casting crankbaits and swimming shad type lures is a good option for fishermen fishing with spinning tackle.
White perch are beginning to school up and moving out of the tidal creeks and often these same prominent shoreline structures on points will hold white perch. Soon they will be schooling up out in the lower sections of the tidal rivers near oyster bars and eventually the deeper areas as fall progresses.
Recreational crabbers in the region are reporting tough crabbing at times in the tidal creeks and rivers. Crabs are beginning to move down the tidal creeks and moving into the rivers. Some of the better catches of heavy crabs have been in the deeper parts of the creeks and collapsible crab traps have been a good way to catch them.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
The fishing scene in the lower bay region is switching to pursuing a mix of striped bass and bluefish. Fishermen are either encountering breaking fish and jigging with metal or trolling along the shipping channel edges, prominent point edges, ballast stone piles and the channel areas leading out of tidal rivers. Medium to small bucktails, spoons and surge tube lures have been working well for a mix of bluefish and striped bass. The striped bass are generally holding deep and the bluefish are spread out throughout the water column. Planers or 8 to 10 oz inline weights are what most fishermen are using to get their lures down. Rivka Abelow spent the day trolling with her dad and proudly holds up two of the bluefish that they caught together on the western side of the lower bay region.
A mix of small striped bass and bluefish have been chasing small baitfish such as bay anchovies throughout both regions and attracting the attention of birds and fishermen. Most fishermen have been figuring out that the larger striped bass are holding deep underneath the surface fracas. Metal jigs such as Crippled Herrings or Sting Silvers in a weight around 2oz have been very popular with fishermen. Cooler water temperatures have caused striped bass to become more active and they are roaming freely in some of the shallower areas on both sides of the bay. Casting topwater lures to the shoreline structures such as rocky points, marsh edges and tidal creeks in the early mornings or late evenings is a wonderful and peaceful way to fish for striped bass with light tackle.
Bottom fishing for a mix of croakers and spot continues to be good at lower Tangier/Pocomoke Sounds the Target Ship/ Middle Grounds area and the lower Potomac and most likely these areas will provide the last hurrah for fishermen. Water temperatures will dictate how long the last of the croakers and spot will be available in Maryland waters; but what is clear is that these fish are leaving. Fishermen often report catching wayward fish this time of the year such as grunts, sea robins or lizard fish while bottom fishing. Marc Rogers sent in this picture of a kingfish that he caught near the mouth of the Honga River recently.
Fishing for white perch is picking up in the regions tidal rivers and creeks as they begin to school up in the lower sections of the regions rivers and creeks. The eastern shore rivers such as the Nanticoke, Wicomico and Pocomoke hold excellent populations as does the Patuxent and Potomac on the western shore. Peeler crab on a bottom rig or small jigs are a good way to target white perch that will be holding in some of the deeper areas.
Recreational crabbers are reporting that their trotlines are being covered up with sooks and small crabs but also on there are some of the heaviest and largest male crabs of the season. Crabs are fattening up for the long winter sleep and offer the perfect opportunity to put up some crab cakes for those cold winter days.
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