Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | October 26, 2011

The Conowingo Dam continues to release large amounts of water this week causing high and cloudy water conditions in the lower Susquehanna River and upper most areas of the bay. There are, however opportunities to catch trophy sized smallmouth and largemouth bass in the swift waters of the river this week. A little farther down the bay in the area from approximately Rock Hall south, fishermen have been catching striped bass by trolling a mix of swim shads and crankbaits over lumps and channel edges. They are also finding striped bass in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers working on schools of bait that are moving out of the rivers. Water temperatures are running as low as 55-degrees at the mouth of the Susquehanna to 60-degrees in the Baltimore/Rock Hall area. Fishermen are reporting scant results for their fishing efforts at the Bay Bridge piers lately; most likely the fish are on the move intercepting bait schools coming out of the tidal rivers. This time of the year it often pays to check likely places where bait is swept by strong currents near structure such as sharp channel edges or near lumps, rock piles and old wrecks where striped bass can hold in the current. This happy group of fishermen found their striped bass by trolling near the mouth of the Patapsco River; be sure to check out their anglers log under Trolling Success.

Photo Courtesy of Seth McCauley

White perch are schooled up near deep water oyster lumps in the bay and can be caught by jigging or by using bloodworms on bottom rigs. The rock piles at the Bay Bridge are always a good place to find large white perch holding in about 25' of water close to the rocks. Jigging with metal and a dropper fly is the ticket to this party.

Shore based fishermen have been getting their licks in on a mix of yellow perch, channel catfish and striped bass this week. Cool water temperatures have invited striped bass into the shallower areas near prominent points and channel areas in the tidal rivers. Bloodworms are hard to beat for the striped bass and channel catfish, yellow perch like small minnows on a drop shot rig.

Fishermen in the middle bay region are finding striped bass chasing schools of bait in the tidal rivers and out in the bay. As water temperatures approach the 60-degree mark schools of bait in the form of small river herring, bay anchovies and small menhaden are moving down the rivers and out into the bay. Schools of striped bass are intercepting them all along the route. Breaking fish are being found throughout the region with Eastern Bay and the Choptank River being particularly good. Most of the striped bass being seen in the tidal rivers are 4 and 5-year old fish in the 18" to 24" size range and vertical jigging with metal or soft plastic jigs is the way to score. Out in the bay some of the rock piles, wrecks, sharp channel edges and other structure are holding a larger grade of striped bass often in the 30" size range. Larger soft plastics such as the 8" or larger BKD's will often entice these larger fish to strike. Striped bass are moving freely throughout all levels of the water column this time of the year so it pays to be flexible and check out various structure locations in your inventory.

Although light tackle jigging is the most popular method of fishing for striped bass this time of the year; trolling and even chunking with razor clams can pay off. There are still some bluefish in the middle bay region so swim shads and sassy shad tails are in harms way until the last of the bluefish leave. Try umbrella rigs with bucktails, spoons and surge tube lures and try a few sassy shads on the bucktails and see if you're getting bit off by blues.

White perch are holding deep over oyster reefs and similar structure. Shallow water fishermen are still catching striped bass and a few speckled trout in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and bay shores. J.D. Baker recently caught this nice 20" speckled trout in the lower Choptank River.

Photo Courtesy of Donald Webster

Lower bay fishermen are reporting a mix of bluefish and striped bass chasing bait throughout much of the region. The lower bay region continues to have the larger bluefish some as large as 5lbs. As bait moves out of the tidal rivers and down the bay the striped bass and bluefish are waiting and this is where one can witness nature at it's rawest, as fish thrash the surface chasing bait and birds dive into the melee for their own piece of the pie. The lower Potomac around St. Clements Island and Piney Point has been a good place to get in on the action lately for striped bass. The Middle Grounds has been the place to troll, jig and chum for a mix of bluefish and striped bass. Breaking fishing can be encountered most anywhere in the region but areas where swift currents hit structure such as steep channel edges and shoals are good places to start.

White perch are holding in the deeper areas in the lower regions of the tidal rivers. Most fishermen are using bloodworms on bottom rigs and fishing over oyster bars. The white perch fishing has been very good lately in the lower Patuxent and Honga River.

The shallow water action is still on for fishermen casting topwater lures and soft plastics for a mix of striped bass, bluefish and speckled trout. A couple of good spots to try are the mouth of the Patuxent River and the Honga River. David Williams caught this nice striped bass in the Fishing Bay area.

Photo Courtesy of David Williams

Recreational crabbers are seeing their season winding down as cold water is forcing crabs into deeper waters in the lower sections of the bay's tidal rivers. There are still some fair to good crabbing opportunities from Kent Island south; so if you still need one more batch of crabs, get on it soon. Just as a note the commercial trot liners are about done and the crab potters out in the bay have been doing well.

Freshwater fishermen are enjoying the beautiful fall weather this week and the great fishing that comes with cooling water temperatures. Trout fishermen have been enjoying the fall stocking of trout that has been on going this month. Most areas have been stocked by now; for a complete listing of stockings be sure to check out the trout fishing link on the left margin of the Fishing Report page.

Fishermen at Deep Creek lake report that the walleye are beginning to school up and often when a school is located vertical jigging with spoons can be effective. Smallmouth bass are very active now and crankbaits or tubes that resemble crawfish are a good bet. Crappie are also beginning to school up in deeper waters near the bridge piers at the lake. Fishermen on the upper Potomac River are also enjoying good fishing for smallmouth bass by using tubes and crankbaits. Make sure to check out fisheries biologist John Mullican's angler's log entry about recent smallmouth bass survey work on the upper Potomac.

Fishermen are finding exciting fishing opportunities for largemouth bass in the state's many reservoirs, lakes, ponds and tidal waters. The bass are aggressively feeding near grass beds and sunken structure such as wood and channel edges. Michael Peters holds up a nice largemouth he caught on a swim bait at Liberty Reservoir.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Peters

The Ocean City surf is still loaded with snapper bluefish that are doing just that; snapping up any kind of bait in their path. Fishermen have been down sizing their hook size and bait size and enjoying the action. Pieces of finger mullet on a standard surf bottom rig will do just fine. Those trying to fish larger baits are catching the usual skates but also a few striped bass and small black drum. Surf water temperature is now around 63-degrees.

In and around the inlet fishermen are seeing a marked improvement in the tautog fishing with the very best fishing occurring at the south jetty. Pieces of green crab and sand fleas have been the baits of choice. Flounder are in the channel approaches to the inlet and snapper bluefish fillets or live finger mullet have been catching the larger flounder. Small bluefish are in the inlet and adjacent back bay areas and Got-Cha plugs have been a favorite way to catch them. A few striped bass are being caught in the inlet area at night.

There is good tautog fishing on the wreck sites but many fishermen and captains are waiting for the sea bass season to reopen on November 1st.Some fishermen have been enjoying the nice weather and trying some deep drop fishing out near the canyons. Chris Mizurak sent us this photo of Mike Russ holding up a nice 20lb golden tilefish on a recent party boat deep drop trip at the Baltimore Canyon. Fishermen trolling the canyon areas have been coming home with a mix of yellowfin tuna and gaffer size dolphin.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Mizurak

The wilderness and adventure that are fishing still recommend it to me. - Henry David Thoreau


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.