Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | December 05, 2012

Maryland fishermen received an early Christmas present of warmer weather this week and Chesapeake Bay fishermen also received a gift of a pulse of large striped bass that arrived over the weekend. Those fishermen hardy and lucky enough to get out lately have been enjoying catching some whopper sized striped bass such as this beauty held up by Mark Nadler this past Sunday.


Photo courtesy of Mark Nadler

The lower Susquehanna River up to the Conowingo Dam Pool continues to provide some striped bass action for fishermen casting from shore or fishing in small boats. Most fishermen are jigging soft plastics along channel edges with good results and also finding a bonus of large walleye, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. Fishermen are also finding striped bass holding to structure such as steep channel edges and deep bars at the mouths of the upper bays tidal rivers such as the Elk, Sassafras, Chester and Baltimore Harbor. Most fishermen are reporting that it may take some snooping around and a good depth finder to find fish holding close to the bottom. Jigging with soft plastics tends to be the favorite method of fishing although slow trolling with umbrella rigs or small crankbaits also works well at times.

The beautiful weather brought fishermen out onto the bay's waters earlier this week and boats could be seen underneath the Bay Bridge working the bridge piers and rock piles for a mix striped bass and large white perch. Jigging down deep, often 50' or more with heavy weight is the ticket to get to these fish. Surface water temperatures in the bay now are below 50-degrees on the surface and as warm as 65-degrees on the bottom. These warmer bottom temperatures also mean a lot to the large fall migrant striped bass that are moving into the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake; the bait that they are looking for is holding in the warmer water.

Boats are trolling an array of large and medium sized baits along the shipping channel from the Bay Bridge south to the Virginia Line. The best fishing tends to start around Bloody Point and most everyone is reporting to "go deep". Lines run off of planer boards have been catching the lion's share of the fish being caught, lots of inline weight is being used and many are reporting allowing the "way way back" line to be trailing into the next county to be effective. Umbrella rigs have been a favorite as are tandem rigged bucktails, parachutes and swim shads.

Fishermen and boat captains are reporting that a surge of large striped bass moved into the Maryland portion of the bay over the weekend and catches went up to three or four large fish per boat. Maryland captains are going as far south as Buoy 60 and Buoy 68, but most are working the western edge of the shipping channel from Breezy Point to the Power Plant, the eastern edge around Buoy 72, Tangier Sound, the mouth of the Potomac and from the mouth of the Choptank to Bloody Point. Getting lures down to the 40' to 50' depth has been very important. James Lewis Jr. hoists up a nice striped bass he caught recently in Tangier Sound while trolling with friends.


Photo courtesy of James Lewis Jr.

There are still plenty of striped bass less than 28" to be caught along channel edges near the mouths of many of the tidal rivers in the middle and lower bay regions. The fish can often be found holding deep near oyster bars and steep channel edges. Jigging has been the most popular to fish for them and the lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers have been holding a lot of fish lately.

White perch can also be found deep in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers often in 50' of water or more. It will take plenty of lead to get down depending on the tide but fishermen can put together a nice mess of perch in short order with a bottom rig and some bloodworms. Fishermen looking for some action farther up the tidal rivers should not forget about the channel catfish that reside there. Fishing for channel catfish is usually good this time of the year and can offer a pleasurable shoreline fishing or small boat fishing experience.

Freshwater fishermen in the western region are enjoying good fishing for a mix of smallmouth bass and walleye in Deep Creek Lake and the upper Potomac River. Small jigs and swim shads worked close to the bottom are usually a typical method to fish this time of the year. Trout fishing remains good in the trout management areas and crowds are definitely not a problem this time of the year.

Colder water temperatures are pushing largemouth bass to find warmth and refuge in deeper waters now and fishermen who know the drill have been using blade baits such as Silver Buddies and grub jigs to entice them to strike. Channel edges, deep sunken wood and rocks are always good places to look for some big largemouth bass hunkered down in deep water. Colder water is just to the liking of chain pickerel and most lakes, reservoirs and tidal rivers in Maryland have good populations of these toothy characters who love a good fight. Ken Kopro sent in this picture of a chain pickerel he caught and released at Loch Raven Reservoir.


Photo courtesy of Ken Kopro

Many freshwater fishermen are switching their focus to crappie fishing this time of the year as the fish congregate and school up near deep structure such as marina docks and bridge piers. Many of the Baltimore County Reservoirs have good populations of crappie and the tidal Potomac is famous for large numbers of crappie. 1/16th to 1/8th oz jigs under a bobber or just cast and retrieved slowly are good ways to target crappie. Minnows under a bobber are of course a good bet also.

Ocean City surf fishermen continue to struggle with beach structure and sand bar conditions after Sandy did a bit of rearranging. There are some puppy drum being caught and a few striped bass along the Ocean City and Assateague beaches. Tautog and sea bass fishing remain closed. Outside the inlet tends to be where the most exciting fishing action is occurring in the Ocean City area. Fishermen are catching large striped bass within 3-miles of the beaches by trolling Stretch lures and umbrella rigs or tandem rigged parachutes, bucktails or swim shads. Some fishermen are also drifting live eels and jigging when concentrations of fish can be found. The shoal areas such as the Bass Grounds, Gull Shoals and Isle of Wight Shoals are traditional places to begin to fish.

"'Things', the Old Man said, 'certainly ain't like they used to be. It's the penalty we pay for getting wise. About the time a man decides what he likes or don't like, either he can't find it, afford it, or can't handle it. I can sum it all up with the diamondback terrapin.'" - Robert Ruark, The Old Man and The Boy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.



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