Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | December 14, 2011

Jing-a-ling there has been a lot of that going on lately as the holiday season approaches and hopefully some of that jingling is coming from terminal tackle as fishermen try to get out just one more time before the 2011 striped bass season comes to a close tomorrow. Fishermen will still be trying for some of the striped bass moving down the coast along the Ocean City area beaches and freshwater fishermen can still find good fishing for a variety of freshwater species. Lot's of fishermen will be hoping Santa puts a new fishing reel under the Christmas tree or perhaps there will be a long rod like object wrapped and standing in the corner behind the tree. All of us at the Maryland Fisheries Service wish everyone all the warmth and peace that the holiday season brings.

Water temperatures in the upper bay are frigid 43-degrees this week at the head of the bay; striped bass and white perch are hunkered down along deep channel edges, lumps in deep holes and similar types of submarine structure. Cruising slowly with a good depth finder and a watchful eye can put you on a school of fish holding deep. Jigging is about the only way to get to them and if the current is stiff it might take some weight to effectively get into the slot where the fish are holding. There is only one day left of course to be able to keep a couple of striped bass but white perch are always an option and yellow perch are beginning to move into the lower Susquehanna River. River channels that intersect with deep water out in the bay are always good places to check for white perch or striped bass and tidal rivers such as the Elk, Bohemia, Chester, Patapsco and Magothy are all worth checking out.

December is traditionally the month to fish the rock piles and bridge piers at the Bay Bridge and fishermen have been doing just that in recent weeks, No doubt there is a contingent out there today and tomorrow many fishermen will usher out the 2011 striped bass season at the rock piles trying to jig up a couple of striped bass. Rich Watts was there on Monday for his last striped bass trip of the year and sent us this picture of his last catch for 2011.

Photo Courtesy of Rich Watts

Many fishermen when the last fish of the season comes to mind can't help but think of the bounty of large fall migrant striped bass that are still available to those hardy souls trolling arrays of large bucktails, parachutes and spoons along the edges of the shipping channel. Some impressive fish have been caught recently near traditional locations such as Bloody Point, Buoy 83 and the western edge of the shipping channel south of Breezy Point. The weather looks very promising tomorrow with temperatures predicted to be 60-degrees. Good luck to all who will be making the effort to fish "just one more time".

Lower bay fishermen tend to have one thing on their mind right now in the lower bay/Tangier Sound areas and that is the large fall migrant striped bass. This fall season has turned out to be a good one with the quality and numbers of large striped bass being caught in the lower bay areas. Charter boats are always a popular way to gain access to these fish since the boats are comfortable and forgiving in inhospitable fishing conditions and the captains really know how to put their clients on fish. The main shipping channel on both the western and eastern edges have been very productive as well as traditional hot spots like Hooper's Island Light, Cove Point Buoy 72, Tangier sound and the mouth of the Potomac.

Freshwater fishermen out in the western regions of the state are starting to see substantial ice in the coves of Deep Creek Lake and other bodies of water in the region. Walleye and yellow perch are schooled up in the lake and they can be found with a good depth finder. Jigging has been very effective on these schools but trolling deep diving Rapalas or drifting minnows deep are also effective ways to fish. Trout fishing in the regions streams and rivers remains good and will continue through the winter months. Smallmouth bass and walleye fishing in the upper Potomac River can be a lot of fun this time of the year if you pick days with nice weather and the river conditions are right. Tubes and jigs worked slowly and close to the bottom are effective ways to fish. Justin Rousey caught this beautiful smallmouth bass recently in Liberty Reservoir.

Photo Courtesy of Justin Rousey

Freshwater fishing in the other regions of the state boils down to fishing the deeper areas of lakes, tidal rivers and ponds with lures that work close to the bottom. Silver buddies and blade type lures are always a good choice this time of the year for largemouth bass holding close to the bottom along steep drop-offs. Small jigs and tubes are good choices for a variety of pan fish such as bluegills, yellow perch and crappie if worked slowly in deeper waters.

Fishermen in the Ocean City area are finally seeing more striped bass moving along the beaches this week. Bottom rigs baited with fresh menhaden, stout tackle, a sand spike, good friends and warm clothes make for some fun fishing. David Kasey recently caught this whopping 52lb striped bass in the surf at Assateague.

Photo Courtesy of David Kasey

Fishermen are also catching striped bass in and around the Ocean City Inlet by casting swim shad lures, bucktails and crankbaits. Drifting live eels and spot are also very effective. The best fishing is being reported to be on the ebbing tide, often on the tail end of the tide. Striped bass are being caught outside of the inlet by fishermen in boats either by jigging or using live eels when concentrations of fish can be found. Trolling large parachutes, bucktails and Storm Stretch diving plugs are also a good way to catch some of these migrating striped bass moving through our area. The Fenwick and Little Gull Shoals have been popular places to fish this week.

The bottom fishing focus is on sea bass this week and the party boats are running out to the inshore wrecks on a fairly regular basis. Captains are reporting their patrons walking off the boats with double digit catches and many catching close to their limits of sea bass. Large bluefish are showing up at the wreck sites also and often a welcomed addition.

The Old Man used to say that most people looked but never saw anything. "Most people go through life," he told me once, "stone-blind with their eyes wide open. Anything from a cinch bug to a clam is interesting if you really look at it and think about it". - 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.