Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 20, 2012
Most folks use this time of the year to reflect on things in their lives to be thankful for such as family, friends and the good life we have. The Thanksgiving holiday of course has its roots in the Pilgrims being thankful for the Native Americans that helped them survive in a new land where they basically had no idea how to grow food and catch fish. Long before that it may be hard to believe that the Chesapeake Bay was once a river canyon and much of Maryland was cold and resembled tundra many thousands of years ago. The earliest Americans fished for char and hunted bison and elk over much of Maryland with their fish weirs and atlatls. This coming weekend Marylanders will keep the tradition going whether they are fishing or heralding in opening day of the firearms deer season; enjoy and be safe.
Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna River up to the Conowingo Dam report that they are still catching striped bass on swim shads and soft plastic jigs. Walleye are also becoming more common as cooler water temperatures cause them to be active. Channel catfish are very active in the Susquehanna and Elk Rivers and fishermen have also been reporting incidental catches of yellow perch in the area.
Farther down the bay fishermen are finding striped bass scattered throughout the upper bay along channel edges, the mouths of major tidal rivers and the Baltimore Harbor area. Many fishermen are jigging with soft plastics and metal when they spot surface action or mark suspended fish holding close to structure. The second most popular method of fishing is trolling with umbrella rigs or tandem rigs with swim shads or bucktails dressed with sassy shads. Bay anchovies have been the most predominant baitfish that small and medium sized striped bass have been feeding on in the upper bay and steep and deep channel edges are a good place to look for striped bass to be waiting for the baitfish to be swept along by strong currents. The channel edges at the rock piles at the center of the Bay Bridge continue to be a "go to" place to jig for large white perch and striped bass. This lovable character known as "Big Vinnie" to friends holds up a nice striped bass he caught near the rock piles recently.
Photo courtesy of Rich Watts
Middle Bay region fishermen are finding a lot of small sub-legal striped bass chasing bait on the surface and deep near the mouths of the major tidal rivers such as Eastern Bay and the Choptank. At times fishermen are able to be directed to fish by birds and surface action but more often they are finding the fish holding near channel edges. Vertical jigging with soft plastics and metal are a proven tactic and some nice fish are being caught. Trolling with umbrella rigs with swim shads or bucktails has been very popular; especially now that large fall migrant striped bass are in the region. Most fishermen who are trolling are running a mix of large parachutes or bucktails for the big fish and medium sized lures for striped bass less than 28" in length. The edges of the shipping channel from the Gas Buoy up to Bloody Point and the western edge from Breezy Point south have been popular places to troll lately.
In the lower bay region most fishermen that are fishing in boats are dreaming of whopper sized striped bass that have been moving into the region for the last week. The boats have been working the shipping channel edges from Smith Point north trolling a mix of large parachutes, bucktails for the whoppers and medium sized offerings for striped bass less than 28". The mouth of the Potomac River is also a favorite place to look for these big fish as well as the 18" to 28" fish; especially off of St.George's Island where the deep channel has very steep edges. Fishermen are still finding good fishing opportunities in the lower Patuxent River for striped bass from 15" to 28" by jigging and trolling.
Freshwater fishermen continue to enjoy the bounty of the October trout stocking in all regions of the state. In the central and southern regions many of the stockings were done in ponds because of low flows in the local streams and creeks and this has resulted in some fun fishing opportunities for adults and children. Kids always seem to love bank fishing and accessible local public ponds help make a parent's job a lot easier when it comes to entertaining young anglers. John Tucker who is 4-1/2 years old was fishing with his dad at Gilbert Run Park in Charles County when he caught this whopper of a rainbow trout all by himself.
Photo courtesy of John Tucker, Sr.
Fishermen looking for largemouth bass action have been finding it in transition zones in about 12' of water leading from the shallows to deep channels. Grubs and jigs that resemble crawfish have been the lures of choice lately whether one is fishing a lake or tidal river. Smallmouth bass and walleye have been active in the upper Potomac River and fishermen there are mostly using small jigs and swim baits close to the bottom in the channel areas. Crappie are schooling in deeper water near bridge piers, and docks and can be caught on minnows or small tubes under a bobber. Channel catfish are active in the tidal rivers, some lakes and reservoirs and blue catfish are active in the tidal Potomac.
In the Ocean City area fishermen have been having a hard time fishing the surf or outside the inlet due to persistent northeast winds. The forecast is for the wind to switch to northwest on Saturday so better conditions may prevail. One good thing with the northeast wind chop is that the sand bars may begin to reform to a pre-Sandy shape and the deep troughs may fill in some making for better surf fishing. At present those who have been using nothing short of a cement block to hold bottom have been catching a few striped bass and puppy drum in the surf and plenty of skates and dogfish.
In and around the inlet is where the best fishing has been lately and the prize is tautog. They are being caught near the inlet jetties, bulkheads, the Route 50 Bridge and out in front of the commercial harbor; pieces of green crab or frozen sand fleas on an outgoing tide seems to be the ticket for some tasty tog. Striped bass were being caught on the shoals areas off the beaches before the northeast winds; so as soon as that calms down fishermen will be out in force trolling with umbrella rigs, and Stretch lures.
"Hunting and fishing are the second and third oldest professions, yet bonefishing is the only sport that I know off, except perhaps swordfishing that combines hunting and fishing." - Stanley M. Babson