Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | October 09, 2013
A good old northeaster is on the march today and conditions will be a little rough for the next couple of days. This weather event should do much to spur some fisheries into a higher gear and change the face of others as summer migrants get the hint that it is the time to head south. The annual fall trout stocking is on the horizon for put and take fishermen and most every trout fishermen will enjoy the fact that there will be 24,000 new trout out there to entertain them.
Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna River and the upper bay continue to see scores of Striped Bass in the 15" size category chasing bait throughout the region. These fish are the 2011 year class that was one of the strongest on record so they tend to be very prevalent this time of the year as they chase schools of bait. Some fishermen tend to scorn these small fish due to the fact that they often travel in mass and tend to be cookie cutter size and of course a couple inches shy of the legal length of 18". We should rejoice about the strength of this outstanding year class and this time next year they will be reaching legal size and should offer us good fishing opportunities for many years, so be careful when unhooking them and treat them as the future resource that they are.
Early fall tends to be a wonderful time to fish surface lures such as poppers in the tidal rivers and bay but jigging over structure, casting metal to breaking fish, chumming, live lining Spot and of course trolling are all productive methods to fish this week. Linda Welsh was fishing near the mouth of the Bush River when she caught this beautiful 35" Striped Bass at sunset recently.
Photo Courtesy of Linda Welsh
Small Bluefish are still part of the mix in the upper bay and most of them are in the 15" size range and they along with the small Striped Bass are making life miserable for Bay Anchovies that are exiting the tidal rivers and moving down the bay along the edges of the shipping channel. White Perch are schooling up in some of the deeper waters of the bay and jigging heavy metal with a dropper fly tends to be standard fair. The Bay Bridge piers continue to get a lot of attention from fishermen as long as they keep producing Striped Bass. Most fishermen are either live lining Spot or jigging, often with good results. Those fishermen jigging near the rock piles report those 15" Striped Bass are all over any jig that comes their way.
Middle bay region fishermen have a bountiful mix of Striped Bass and Bluefish spread throughout the region. There are still folks live lining Spot at favorite places such as the Hill but most any good channel edges or structure should be holding some fish. Bluefish tend to be pesky competitors for any live Spot sent down to a 30' channel edge. Trolling has been a good option and spoons behind planers or inline weights are the tools of the trade. Keep those Storm Shads and bucktails safely stored in tackle boxes until the Bluefish leave us.
The shallow water fishery in the middle bay is providing some fun and exciting topwater action for fishermen who can catch a high tide during the morning or evening hours. Topwater lures such as poppers are the best way to go for this type of fishing since crankbaits and swim shads tend to get fouled in grass and topwater strikes are a lot more fun. Red Drum, Bluefish and Speckled Trout are in the mix and a welcomed addition. This nice Choptank River Striped Bass couldn't resist a topwater popper.
Photo by Keith Lockwood
White Perch are holding deep in the lower sections of the tidal rivers over oyster bottom or near structure. Jigging with a jig and dropper fly is the most common way of fishing for them but a bottom rig baited with peeler crab or bloodworm will also do the trick. When fishing with bait there is also the chance of picking up some of the last croakers or large Spot that are on their way south.
The lower Bay region continues to perhaps hold the widest variety of fish this week. The shallows are holding Striped Bass, Speckled Trout and Red Drum and fishermen are enjoying excellent fishing from boats casting lures or by fishing from shore with bait. The eastern shore marshes and the shore lines near the mouth of the Patuxent River have been very good places to fish lately.
Out in the bay a mix of Bluefish, Striped Bass and the occasional Red Drum are being caught by trolling spoons behind planers and inline weights at traditional locations such as St. Georges Island on the lower Potomac, Buoy 72 and 72A along the eastern edge of the shipping channel and the Middle Grounds up past the Target Ship. Breaking fish are popping up all over the lower bay region and casting to the surface fish or jigging underneath can provide good action. There are small Striped Bass on top but sometime larger ones are underneath. Chumming at the mouth of the Potomac and Buoys 72 and 72A as well as the Middle Grounds is producing some hot and heavy Bluefish action with some going 5lbs or better.
Fishermen are still catching large Spot, White Perch and some croakers in the lower section of the Patuxent River, the mouth of the Honga River and near Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. Small Bluefish and a mix of Red Drum and Speckled Trout can add to the mix for those fishing peeler crab baits.
Freshwater fishermen in the western region of the state continue to see local water temperatures drop; trout fishing in many of the management waters has been good. Most waters in all regions of the state will begin to receive the 23,000 Rainbow Trout and 1,000 Brown Trout in about a week. Stockings will be posted as they occur on the fisheries trout stocking website. Alan Klotz sent in this picture of a beautiful Rainbow Trout being released back into the catch and release section of the North Branch of the Potomac.
Photo Courtesy of Alan Klotz
Fishermen report slow fishing for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass in Deep Creek Lake this week but mention that Northern Pike and Chain Pickerel are very active. Smallmouth Bass fishing in the upper Potomac has been good for bass in the 14" size range. Grass has made fishing a little difficult but recent rains have bolstered the rivers flow a little this week and more rain is predicted later on this week. The predicted weather will also surely bring down a lot of leaves that will be the bane of fishermen in the western region for the next week or so.
Fishermen are reporting that generally speaking the Largemouth Bass bite has been poor in the tidal areas of the Potomac and its tributaries. Most everyone is targeting grass, transition areas and shallow structure. It is possible that the recent hot weather and lack of rain may have stalled activity; cooler temperatures and more rain this week may spur things into gear later on this week. Fishing for Crappie has been good near bridge piers and deep water docks in the tidal Potomac and the Baltimore Reservoirs. Bluegills are ready to take on any fisherman that will drop a small fly, lure or live bait in front of them. Channel Catfish in many of the Chesapeake's tidal rivers are very active as are Blue Catfish in the tidal Potomac.
Coastal fishermen in the Ocean City area are seeing changes in their fisheries this week as water temperatures dip below 70-degrees. The northeaster predicted for the next couple of days will most likely accelerate this process. Surf fishermen are limited to the Assateague State Park and Ocean City beaches as the shutdown of the Assateague National Seashore continues. Fishermen are reporting plenty of small Bluefish in the surf, a few Red Drum and Striped Bass being caught on finger mullet. Fishermen using small baits are catching Kingfish, Spot and flounder. At the Inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area, Triggerfish, Tautog and Sheepshead are being caught by fishermen flipping sand fleas near jetty rocks and bridge piers. Flounder are moving through the inlet on their fall migration to their offshore wintering grounds and fishermen are taking advantage of the situation. Channels leading to the inlet and the inlet are good places to work Gulp baits or live Spot and Mullet for the larger flounder. Bluefish have been moving in and out of the inlet during the evening hours till early morning and although most are small there are some whoppers. Kevin Weber holds up a huge 23.5 lb Bluefish that he caught at the inlet which tied the current state record caught by Lillian Morris in the Assateague surf in October of 1974.
Photo Courtesy of Kevin Weber
The back bay areas are still providing good flounder fishing especially in the channels leading towards the inlet. There are also Red Drum in the back bays areas providing some exciting fishing and small Bluefish.
Fishermen who have been venturing out to the wreck and reef sites off Ocean City are reporting that Sea Bass fishing is showing an improvement this past week. We are in for a hard blow out of the northeast for the next couple of days and this event could be what the Sea Bass fishery needs to give it a shot in the arm. Flounder fishing at the wreck and reef sites continues to be good and should continue for at least another couple of weeks.
There will be some big changes no doubt offshore and this multi-day blow we are in for but earlier this week boat crews were finding some Yellowfin Tuna chunking action at the Washington Canyon. Fishermen are reporting that the action is less than it was a week ago. The tuna tend to be leader shy and 20lb fluorocarbon leaders are what are needed to get the job done. Small Dolphin are being encountered here and there and boats trolling also reported a few White Marlin releases and some Longfin Tuna.
"Only when one has walked the flat places and heard the wind in the grasses, explored the sloughs and side channels, watched the tides and faced the storms, does a river mouth take on character and substance and reveal its dramatic power." - Roderick Haig-Brown, Fisherman's Fall