Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 09, 2011

Fishermen are witnessing the transition from early fall to the approach of winter swing into high gear this week as cold night time air temperatures are pushing water temperatures to drop. Morning fog has been evident in low lying areas near water the last couple of days; evidence that the water is hesitant to give up its summer warmth easily. School sized striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and largemouth bass in the freshwater areas are beginning to hold deep where water temperatures are a bit warmer. The first large fall migrant striped bass are moving down the coast from up north and fishermen got in their first licks this week in the surf and the shipping channel in the lower bay region.

Water flows at the Conowingo Dam have settled down to normal power generation releases and water temperatures have dipped to below the 50-degree mark. Fishermen are reporting catching a few striped bass in the area as well as channel catfish and yellow perch. In the lower Susquehanna fishermen are also catching large smallmouth bass. Farther down the bay fishermen are reporting catching striped bass by trolling close to the bottom with spoons, swim shads and bucktails; bottom bouncing with bucktails has also been productive. Fishermen are also reporting catching striped bass by fishing bloodworms on the bottom around Pooles Island. Fishing from the shoreline of the upper bay at prominent points with bloodworms and cut bait is a good way to catch channel catfish and striped bass.

At the Bay Bridge area fishermen have been finding striped bass chasing bait, often marked by diving birds. Most of the fish being seen are 15' to 17' fish but occasionally larger fish can be found underneath the surface action, jigging or trolling have been the best way to get on them. At the Bay Bridge piers the fishing has been slow at the pier bases but the rock piles are producing good fishing for large white perch that are holding in about 20' of water close to the rocks.

Middle bay region fishermen are reporting fickle conditions this week in regard to finding good fishing for striped bass. Water temperatures are in the low 50's now and being able to find schooled up striped bass chasing bait is not always a sure thing. Many fishermen are checking out multiple locations that traditionally produce good results with no action. Current plays a big role this time of the year and also bait leaving the tidal rivers and being swept down the bay. Deep structure such as sharp edges of channels is a good place to check when birds and breaking fish can not be found. Trolling a variety of spoons, bucktails, swim shads either in tandem or behind umbrella rigs close to the bottom is a good option, especially when searching for fish along channel edges.

The big news in the lower bay region this week is the first large fall migrant striped bass showed up over the weekend along the edges of the shipping channel. It was not a blitz but big fish where caught, many over 40' in size by trolling deep with large bucktails and parachutes.

School sized resident striped bass are spread throughout the region and fishermen are catching them by a variety of methods. Chumming at the Middle Grounds and the mouth of the Potomac is producing a mix of bluefish and striped bass. Jigging to suspended fish near channel edges or wherever they can be found holding deep by watching depth finders is a favorite with fishermen. The edges of the shipping channel and the mouth of the Patuxent have been particularly good places to look. Breaking fish are being encountered wherever swift currents are sweeping bait schools along; casting metal has been popular since bluefish are still in the area. Peter Cannavino went fishing near Cedar Point with a couple of his fishing buddies and sent in this picture of a nice striped bass they caught there.

Photo Courtesy of Peter Cannavino

White perch fishing is good in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers. The white perch are holding deep now and a bottom rig baited with bloodworms has been the best way to get them this week. The lower Patuxent River has been a standout but the Nanticoke and Honga have also been good places to fish this week.

Freshwater fishermen in the western region of the state report excellent fishing at Deep Creek Lake for a mix of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, walleyes and chain pickerel. The best fishing tends to be along steep rocky shoreline edges and points; a variety of small crankbaits and minnows have been good choices for bait. Trout fishermen in the western region are enjoying excellent fishing opportunities this week in all trout waters within the region. Fishing for smallmouth bass in the upper Potomac is at its zenith and the walleye action is steadily picking up.

Fishermen in the other regions of the state are still enjoying the bounty of the October trout stockings that took place in many Put and Take areas. Smallmouth bass fishing has been very good at Prettyboy and Liberty Reservoirs and largemouth bass fishing continues to be in high gear throughout the state. Largemouth bass are feeding aggressively in every pond, lake and tidal water putting on fat for the long winter ahead. Most fishermen are working the drop-off edges where largemouth bass are holding to deep structure. Crankbaits and grubs have been popular baits to use for this type of fishing. There is still some grass in some areas and fishermen report whacky rigged worms and spinnerbaits are good choices to fish in the grass or along the edges. Lisa Hopps holds up a nice largemouth bass she caught on a crankbait in the lower Susquehanna River.

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Hopps

Ocean water temperatures in and around the Ocean City Inlet are hovering around the 56-degree mark this week. Fishermen were plagued with rough ocean and surf conditions last weekend and things have finally calmed down. The first large fall migrant striped bass have been caught this week and the fishing will only improve as the week goes on. Fishermen are using heavy surf gear and bottom rigs baited with fresh cut menhaden. Smooth and spiny dogfish have been chewing up baits so the durable head of a menhaden is the longest lasting bait. There are still some small bluefish around the surf and in the inlet area, bottom rigs baited with finger mullet pieces or casting Got-Cha plugs in the inlet are what fishermen are using with good success. Fishermen are also catching striped bass in the inlet in the evenings on bucktails, swim shads and live eels. The biggest thing going on at the inlet though is the excellent tautog fishing at the jetties, bulkheads and the Route 50 Bridge. Sand fleas and pieces of green crab are the baits and the south jetty is the best place to fish if you have a boat.

As soon as the rough seas of the weekend subsided captains headed out to the wreck sites in search of sea bass; they found them but so far not in the numbers they would like for their patrons. High hooks were in the double digits and it is hoped that the trips planned later on this week will produce limits for some of the fishermen on board. Tautog fishing on the inshore reefs and wrecks continues to be good.

"Mainly the reason I like November best is that it reminds me of me". He stopped and struck another match to his pipe. "Look at me," he went on. "Here you see a monument to use. I'm too old to fall in love, but I an't old enough to die. I'm too old to run, but I can outwalk you because I know how to pace myself. I know when to work and when to rest. I know what to eat and what sits heavy in my stomach. I know there an't any point to drink all the licker in the world, because they'll keep making it. I know I'll never be rich, but I'll never be stone-poor neither and there an't much I can buy with money that I an't already got. A man don't start to learn until he's forty; and when he hits fifty, he's learned all he's going to learn. That's why I like November. November is a man past fifty who reckons he'll live to be seventy or so, which is old enough for anybody- which means he'll make it through November and December, with a better than average chance of seeing New Years". - The Old Man And The Boy, Robert Ruark


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.