Thursday, October 11, 2012

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | October 10, 2012


By: Keith Lockwood

As many of you have figured out by now I was off for the last few fishing reports on vacation and enjoying some fishing adventures of my own in Hawaii. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Joe Evans for filling in and to keeping you updated on fishing in Maryland. It is good to be back home again and I was excited to be greeted by a hint of fall colors in the trees and the first arrival of our northern guests; the Canada geese. As I listened to them dropping down from high above they seemed as excited as I was to arrive home after a long journey. My friends were quick to fill me in on all the exciting fishing that has been developing in the last couple of weeks. This truly is the best of times and seasons for Maryland outdoorsman; it is all right there for us to enjoy this month. Everything from trout fishing, smallmouth and largemouth bass to striped bass and bluefish in the bay to red drum and offshore species in the ocean; kind of makes a guy confused as to what to fish for first.
Cooling water temperatures are creating some exciting fishing opportunities near the Conowingo Dam and lower Susquehanna River for a mix of striped bass, walleye and smallmouth bass. Fishermen are having good success catching striped bass by casting surface poppers from shore and small boats. Smallmouth bass and walleye are being caught on crankbaits, tubes and jigs. Anyone wishing to launch at the Lapidum boat ramp should take notice that the ramp will be closed from October 9th through December 1st for sediment removal from the launch area and construction of a sediment barrier. Anyone who has tried to use the ramp at low tide knows about the silt that was deposited there by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
Many fishermen in the upper bay region use this time of the year to stock up on the plentiful white perch that can be found in the region. White perch are beginning to school up on shoal areas found in the deeper parts of the tidal rivers and bay. Often the larger white perch can be found in slightly deeper areas than their smaller brothers and bottom rigs baited with bloodworms are the first choice by fishermen.
Fishermen are finding plenty of striped bass action in the upper bay this week in the form of roving schools of sub-legal fish with just enough legal sized fish to keep it interesting. The smaller fish are spread out throughout the region and are providing a lot of fun for light tackle fishermen casting surface poppers and other topwater lures. As one gets closer to the Bay Bridge the odds of finding larger fish increase either on the surface or underneath the surface action. Most savvy striped bass fishermen know that working a jig deep underneath a school of breaking small fish is worth a try. If it doesn't work out one can always look for another school to work and so it goes when striped bass are in a fall pattern of chewing up bait schools headed out of the tidal rivers. The bridge piers of the Bay Bridge are always a good place to check since they are a favorite place for striped bass to hold in the current waiting for bait to be swept by.

Photo by Rich Watts
Fishermen are now seeing water temperatures in the upper 60's in most areas of the bay including tidal rivers, so fish such as striped bass feel comfortable going anywhere they wish in the water column. In the middle bay region many have moved into the tidal rivers to get closer to their source of food that is exiting the rivers. Shallow water fishermen are enjoying wonderful fishing with spinning and fly tackle casting topwater lures in the mornings and evenings for a nice grade of striped bass in the 17" to 26" size range.
The fall season and jigging are two words that seem to go together when fishing out in the bay or lower regions of the tidal rivers as hungry striped bass and bluefish ball up bait schools such as bay anchovies and small menhaden. Since there are quite a few bluefish around in the middle bay region most fishermen are using metal jigs. In another week or so it will become a bit safer to start using soft plastic jigs. Many of the bluefish being encountered by fishermen are in the 3lb to 5lb size range with rumors of 8-pounders roaming the region bent on mayhem and destruction. Live lining is still very popular at locations such as the Hill, Stone Rock and the False Channel area. Spot are plentiful in the tidal rivers and striped bass are being found holding along 35' channel edges. At times though the bluefish tend to move in like a ravenous pack of wolves and leave spot heads in their wake. When this occurs chunking with fresh spot is often a better bet and one would hope that once and a while a bait drops down through the horde of bluefish that often can be seen rising to baits.
Some fishermen prefer to troll and this form of fishing can be very effective this time of the year. A spread of small spoons, red surge tube lures and bucktails are often the choice and working channel edges and the edges of breaking fish the strategy. Flat lines with or without inline weights and a couple of planners help cover all levels of the water column and one can adjust to whatever seems to be working best on any given day.
Fishing for white perch in the tidal rivers of the middle bay region continues to draw the attention of many fishermen interested in stocking up on filleting size perch. They can still be caught in the lower sections of the regions tidal creeks on small lures but many educated fishermen are now focusing their attention to oyster shoals in 35' to 50' of water in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. Peeler crab or bloodworms are the baits of choice on a two hook bottom rig. Large spot can also be found in the tidal rivers and although the live lining size are being caught in 10' of water or less; the large spot tend to hold in slightly deeper water. There are still some nice speckled trout showing up now and them on plastic jigs and peeler crab baits in the middle bay region. Check out this grey trout that Rich Watts caught in Eastern Bay while jigging; unfortunately we see too few of these; but hope prevails that we'll see a comeback of this species soon.

Photo by Rich Watts
Lower bay region fishermen have a wide variety of fishing opportunities this week and for those roaming the open waters of the bay striped bass and bluefish are at the top of the list. The larger bluefish which are in the 3lb to 5lb size range with a few even larger than that are being found out in the bay at locations such as the Middle Grounds, the shipping channel edges and the mouth of the Potomac. Smaller bluefish in the 3/4lb size range tend to be nearer the shores and lower tidal rivers. Captain Sonney Forrest from Solomons, reports that there are still a few large Spanish mackerel being caught in the lower bay region and the large spot that everyone has been enjoying catching in the Patuxent River are leaving.
Striped bass are being found chasing bait out in the bay and light tackle fishermen and those trolling are finding a mix of sizes above and below 18" along traditional channel edges. Live lining is still a worthwhile endeavor along channel edges but bluefish tend to extract a terrible toll on live baits. The shallow water fishing for striped bass in the mornings and evenings with topwater lures continues to be a lot of fun. Not all the fish are of legal size but there is plenty of action and entertainment.
Speckled trout are still being caught on the eastern side of the bay and Tangier Sound; mostly on peeler crab baits and Gulp mullet swim shads. Large spot, white perch, a few flounder and small sea bass are also being caught by fishermen fishing on the bottom with bait. Herb Floyd holds up a nice speckled trout he caught while fishing in the Tangier Sound area.

Photo courtesy of Herb Floyd
If there was ever a time to make time to go recreationally crabbing; now is that time. Crabs are moving from the upper sections of the tidal rivers and creeks in the upper, middle and lower bay regions towards the bay and crabbing could hardly be any better. Crabbers are reporting excellent catches in all regions of the bay and water depths from as shallow as 3' to depths of 12'. There seems to be a lot of light crabs and sooks but most crabbers report that they can easily cull out a full bushel of 7" heavy crabs in a relatively short period of time. Make time, this is where those winter crab cakes and meat for that Christmas crab dip come from.
Freshwater fishermen are reporting this week that this is the best of times when it comes to freshwater fishing. Cooling water temperatures have triggered an aggressive feeding mode in all species of freshwater fish as they build up fat stores for the long winter months ahead. Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake report smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and walleye roaming the edges of the shallower grass beds looking for bait. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, tubes and swim shads are all good choices as bait begins to head to deeper water as grass beds diminish and water temperatures drop.
John Mullican sent us this report from the upper Potomac. I was out on the river briefly as the cold front came through and it got very windy. The river is very low and clear with a lot of floating vegetation that is making fishing and navigation tough. Bass have been taking Texas rigged weightless flukes and stick worms are about the only presentation that can be fished around the heavy SAV beds. Ledges and boulders are holding some of the larger bass and tubes have been the most effective presentation in these areas.
The fall trout stocking in trout management waters is currently underway and the generous stockings by fisheries crews are providing wonderful fishing opportunities with lots of elbow room. That is something that is seldom seen during the traditional spring trout stockings. To catch up on current stocking of trout; be sure to check the trout stocking page or sign up for our Non-tidal Recreational Fisheries email list.
Largemouth bass fishermen are enjoying plenty of good fishing this week as the fish are aggressively feeding in and outside of shallow water grass. Whether you are fishing a small farm pond or some of the large Baltimore City Reservoirs; where the food can be found is key to finding largemouth bass this time of the year. Popper and buzzbaits over grass and spinnerbaits and chatterbaits along the edges are one of the more popular ways to fish this time of the year. If you are fishing tidal waters try and schedule your fishing time on the lower end of an ebb tide. That is when largemouth bass will be cruising the outside edges of grass and spatterdock. Fisheries biologist Mark Toms holds up a nice largemouth bass from Cunningham Falls Reservoir that is out there swimming and waiting for some lucky fisherman.

Photo courtesy of Mark Toms
Fishing for crappie will begin to improve in many of the lakes where they are found as they school up. Often crappie school up near bridge piers such as at Deep Creek Lake, Loch Raven Reservoir or the tidal Potomac and can be caught on small tubes or minnows under a bobber. Fishing for channel catfish will is in an upswing as they become more active with cooler water temperatures. The added fact that blue crabs are leaving the upper reaches of the tidal rivers and leaving baits alone to the catfish helps also.
Ocean City surf fishermen continue to enjoy what maybe the last of the run of large red drum along Ocean City and Assateague beaches. Stout tackle and large baits of cut bait such as kingfish, spot or menhaden are the ticket to this catch and release show. A good pair of hip boots or waders helps when meeting the fish in the suds to facilitate the best release. Surf fishermen are also seeing small bluefish and also some kingfish, spot and pompano. Large inshore sharks tend to fill the night with some action for those fishing large baits.
In and around the inlet flounder are moving through the inlet and the largest ones are being caught on large baits such as live spot. There has been a lot of good sheepshead action at the inlet; especially at the south jetty and tog are also being caught now.
Offshore the boats heading to the wreck sites are finding fair to good fishing for a mix of sea bass and flounder. Farther offshore in the canyons fishermen are finding wahoo and a mix of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and white marlin.


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