Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 21, 2011

Life begins to return to some resemblance of normal after the deluge. Most would agree that about covers it. Crews have been busy repairing washed out roads, cutting up fallen trees, shoreline debris and fishermen are out enjoying the beautiful September weather and fishing. Most reservoirs, lakes and rivers are clearing up quickly and the terrible plug of discolored water is slowly moving through the Chesapeake. Cooler water temperatures have freshwater and saltwater fish in a very active mood for chowing down on some vittles; so make hay while you can and enjoy all September has to offer before it slips away.

Presently, water conditions in the lower Susquehanna River are beginning to improve as the water begins to clear up. Flows from the Conowingo Dam are returning to a normal level and water temperatures are in the high 60's. Striped bass are once again being caught directly below the dam during generation water releases. Farther down the bay the area of discolored water and floating debris continues to be a problem for fishermen. Some relief is being found in the tidal rivers; especially on the eastern side of the bay but fishermen report incoming tides have distributed floating debris into the tidal rivers as well as the bay. Lower water temperatures have striped bass and white perch in a much more active mode and they are distributed in shallower areas and offering light tackle fishing opportunities. Fishing for channel catfish continues to a very viable option in the upper bay despite cloudy water conditions. At the Bay Bridge fishermen are jigging and drifting live spot or chunks to the bases of the bridge piers. The fishing should improve as cloudy waters clear up. Recreational crabbers are reporting sparse catches in the regions tidal rivers anywhere from a dozen to partial bushels per outing.

Middle bay region fishermen are finding low salinity, cloudy water and water temperatures around 70-degrees. Floating debris in the region continues to be a problem this week. Fishermen are reporting finding breaking fish out in the bay made up of a mix of striped bass and small bluefish. Many of the striped bass on the surface are less than 18" in size but often larger fish can be found underneath by jigging. A few Spanish mackerel are still being caught here and there but it would seem that the bulk of the Spanish have moved south. Trolling will become more effective as water clarity improves and floating debris moves out of the areas open waters. Cooler water temperatures have caused striped bass to move more freely into the tidal river and bay shallows where fishermen are enjoying excellent fishing with topwater lures. Ted Kolobo holds up a nice striped bass he caught while fishing the morning hours in Eastern Bay.

Photo Courtesy Rich Watts

Cooler water temperatures have caused the striped bass that were holding at the False Channel to disperse so jigging and trolling will now move to the forefront. Croakers are hard to come by now that waters have cooled and salinities are down but large spot and white perch are being caught in the lower sections of the tidal rivers by bait fishermen fishing oyster bars as well as by casting lures in the shallows. Recreational crabbers report good catches of heavy crabs in the regions tidal rivers and creeks; they do note though a large number of small crabs and sooks eating up baits.

The lower bay region continues to offer some of the clearer water conditions in Maryland waters and although salinities are depressed fishing remains good. A mix of striped bass, Spanish mackerel and bluefish are chasing schools of bay anchovies throughout the region often accompanied by diving birds. Casting into the surface action, jigging underneath or trolling nearby are all good options to get in on the action. Many fishermen are still live lining spot outside of the Gas Docks and enjoying excellent fishing for striped bass with a few medium sized bluefish in the mix. Spot are still readily available in the shallows of the Patuxent River and white perch and large spot are also being caught in deeper waters of the river as well as the Tangier Sound area. Small sea trout and speckled trout are also part of the mix on the eastern side of the bay; especially near the mouth of the Honga River.

Shallow water fishing for striped bass in the morning and evening hours has been excellent this week along bay shores and the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers. Bluefish and speckled trout can also be part of the mix for fishermen casting topwater lures in the shallows. Recreational crabbers are finding good crabbing opportunities for heavy crabs and large numbers of sooks and small crabs are reported to be tough on baits.

Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are now finding less crowded conditions out on the lake's waters as they fish. Largemouth bass are the big draw for fishermen casting crankbaits and spinnerbaits near grass edges; there are still some floating docks deployed and casting stick baits and soft plastics near them can bring a strike from largemouth and smallmouth bass. Crappie are beginning to show signs of schooling up near bridge piers and bluegills are active near grass edges. Fisheries biologist Alan Klotz sent us this notice about a water release on the Savage River. There will be a whitewater release from the Savage River Reservoir on Sunday 9/25/11. This event usually flows at 1000 cubic feet per second from 9 am until 3 pm, with some ramping before and after those hours.

Fisheries biologist John Mullican sent in this short report from the upper Potomac. The Potomac is still a little above normal flows for this time of year and cloudy. Water temperatures over the weekend were in the mid-60s. Fishing, however, has been pretty good. Fishermen are catching nice smallmouth now on a variety of lures including crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and tubes. Michael Peters sent in this photo of a nice walleye he caught on the upper Potomac.

Photo Courtesy Michael Peters

Discolored water conditions are improving in most reservoirs, lakes and tidal rivers throughout Maryland this week. Water temperatures are generally in the high 70's in most areas and freshwater fish are very active. Largemouth bass are on the prowl to begin to fatten up for the long winter months and can often be found near shallow grass beds and emergent vegetation such as spatterdock. Buzzbaits over grass is a good bet in the morning and evening hours and a variety of lures such as spinnerbaits, soft plastics and crankbaits near grass edges and sunken wood are good choices during the day. Fisheries biologist Mary Groves sent in a short note today; regarding some sampling they did this week on the Northeast River for largemouth bass. She mentioned that the electro-fishing crew found exceptional numbers of 3lb to 4lb largemouth bass holding near the remaining grass in the area and that the water clarity was good.

Ocean City area fishermen are starting to see ocean conditions calming down after last weekend's northeasterly winds. Bluefish in a mix of sizes are being caught in the surf on finger mullet. A few striped bass are also being caught in the surf on cut bait and the season's first large red drum are being caught and released. Fishermen using heavy tackle and larger baits are also catching a variety of inshore sharks; the annual run of red drum should peak this week. Fishermen casting smaller baits are finding a mix of kingfish, large spot and snapper bluefish.

At the inlet, flounder and tautog are being caught near the jetties, Route 50 Bridge and the bulkhead between 2nd and 4th Streets. Water temperatures in the inlet area are around 72-degrees so the tautog fishing is only beginning and will gain momentum as temperatures dip into the 60's. Sand fleas have been the preferred bait and once and a while fishermen are catching sheepshead. Bay waters were stirred up a bit from the weekend's northeaster but have cleared up quickly and flounder fishing is on again. As water temperatures cool the flounder in the back bay areas are going to feel the urge to begin heading towards the inlet.

The boats heading out to the wreck and artificial reef sites are finding good fishing for sea bass with most fishermen heading home with 15 to 20 keepers per trip. Flounder seem to be scarce around the wreck and reef sites but croakers are being encountered close to the beaches at times. The boats fishing the offshore canyons stayed at the dock over the weekend but those that went out early this week found white marlin in the Washington Canyon and a mix of triggerfish and dolphin along weed lines.

An undisturbed river is as perfect as we will ever know, every refractive slide of cold water a glimpse of eternity. -Thomas McGuane


Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.