Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | October 17, 2012


By: Keith Lockwood

Fall is definitely in the air as the latest cold front brings more change to the waters and landscapes of Maryland. Our first hard frost has many plants turning brown; waters can be seen steaming in the early morning hours as warm waters give off heat in the chilling morning air. The landscape is becoming a painter's palette of colors as leaves delight us with radiant array of fall colors. Mark Hoekzema was enjoying some trout fishing on the North Branch of the Potomac and sent us this beautiful picture of the fall colors there.

Photo courtesy of Mark Hoekzema
Fishermen are enjoying some excellent fishing this week in the lower Susquehanna River and channel areas around the Susquehanna Flats for striped bass. Most fishermen are using topwater lures and catching striped bass up to 26". Jigging with soft plastics is also effective and there is always the promise of a trophy sized smallmouth bass that the lower Susquehanna is noted for. Up at the dam pool fishermen are wading to get closer to the action and casting with surf fishing outfits and heavily weighted swim shads for large flathead catfish and striped bass. Others are just focusing on striped bass with topwater lures and crankbaits with good results.
Fishermen in the upper bay are finding striped bass spread from the very upper reaches of the bay down to the Bay Bridge and most of the regions tidal rivers. A large portion of the striped bass being encountered are sub-legal in size but there are enough fish in the 18" to 26" size range to provide fish that can be taken home. Most fishermen are using topwater lures for the entertainment value but soft plastic jigs, metal jigs, trolling and chumming are also effective. The lower sections of the regions tidal rivers are a good bet as striped bass move in for a closer shot at the baitfish coming down the rivers. There are also some bluefish north of the bridge to be caught; mostly by those trolling small spoons and surge tube lures. An added bonus to fishermen jigging with metal are large white perch in the deeper water areas of the tidal rivers and bay. Larry Gredlein holds up a nice striped bass taken while fishing a topwater plug near Sandy Point.

Photo by Rich Watts
Bay water temperatures in the middle bay region are about 65-degrees now on the surface and bottom and much the same in the tidal rivers. Bait in the form of bay anchovies, silversides and juvenile menhaden are moving out of the tidal rivers and schools of striped bass and bluefish are moving into the rivers to get closer to the head of the buffet line. Shallow water light tackle fishermen are enjoying some great fishing for striped bass with poppers and skipping bugs. Those holding over deeper water are finding bait balls and striped along channel edges or on the surface and catching striped bass and a few bluefish on metal jigs or soft plastics. As fall progresses, vertical jigging becomes the standard practice for fishermen and if you've never tried braided line you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Braided line has less resistance to current and is very sensitive due to the fact it does not stretch and because if is a thinner diameter you can cast a country mile. It comes with a few drawbacks though; it cuts through fingers like a knife and is sometimes too strong when one is hooked up to a piece of real estate on the bottom. Many fishermen will use a tippet of mono with lesser tensile strength for breaking off; when hung up.
There are still quite a few spot around this week although they are showing signs of beginning their exodus from the shallower waters of the middle bay region. Many fishermen are still live lining spot with good success at locations such as the Hill, Clay Banks, the outside edges of Stone Rock and the False Channel on the eastern side of the bay. The 30' edges of the shipping channel on the western side of the bay such as Thomas Point and below Breezy Point are also holding fish. Bluefish are beginning to thin out this week in many areas but they are still part of the mix when live lining and extract a price that is paid with chomped off spot.
White perch have now left their shallower haunts in the tidal rivers and creeks where they have spent much of the summer months and are now schooling up in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers. Jigging with metal jigs rigged with teaser flies or using baits such as peeler crab and bloodworms are good ways to target them. The schools can be found by watching depth finders and slowly motoring over deep oyster shoals or similar hard bottom. Some of the better locations to find white perch this week in the middle bay region include Eastern bay, Tolley's Point, the lower Choptank River and Severn Rivers as well as herring Bay. This is a good time to add some white perch fillets to your freezer.

Photo by Keith Lockwood
Fishermen in the lower bay region are finding a mix of striped bass and bluefish spread throughout the region but the striped bass tend to be just that; spread out. Fishermen report they are finding it difficult to find concentrations of striped bass at traditional locations such as the outside edge of the Gas Docks for live lining. Light tackle fishermen have been finding striped bass in all areas of the lower bay from Tangier Sound to the Wilson Bridge on the Potomac River. There has been plenty of shallow water action along the banks of the bay and tidal rivers for fishermen using topwater lures such as poppers. Other fishermen are finding bluefish and striped bass chasing bait on the surface or holding deep.
The bluefish in the lower bay can be found in most areas of the bay and tidal rivers. The largest bluefish tend to be out in the main part of the bay at locations such as the edges of the shipping channel and the Middle Grounds. Smaller bluefish tend to be the norm in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. Casting to surface action, chumming and trolling with small spoons and surge tube lures are effective ways to catch bluefish before they depart our waters in the next week or so.
Speckled trout and small red drum continue to be a big part of the fishing opportunities in the lower bay region. Fishermen are mostly catching the speckled trout by casting scented soft plastics such as Gulp swim shads or by fishing bait such as peeler crab. The red drum are being caught mostly on peeler crab baits and although almost all are under the slot limit size; a few fishermen have actually been able to boast of catching a few exceeding the 18" minimum size. Large spot are still being caught in Tangier Sound and at the mouths of tidal rivers such as the Patuxent but they are on the move and will be gone soon. Herb Floyd trailered his boat down to lower Hooper's Island and spent some time fishing the Tangier Sound region and shows off a nice speckled trout he caught recently.

Photo courtesy of Herb Floyd
The excellent fall crabbing that recreational crabbers have been enjoying continues this week as crabs flow out of the bay's tidal rivers and creeks. All areas of the upper, middle and lower bay are producing catches of nice crabs. Most successful crabbers are focusing their efforts on the lower sections of tidal creeks and rivers. Just like last week, they report finding that depths from as shallow as 3' to depths of 12' are holding crabs and again as last week - light crabs, sooks and small crabs are a big part of the crabs being caught but most recreational crabbers are reporting there is no trouble culling out a full bushel of heavy 7" crabs in a relatively short outing.
Freshwater fishermen are enjoying plenty of great fishing this week for a wide variety of fishing opportunities. Fishermen in the western region of the state are enjoying good fishing for a mix of walleye, smallmouth and largemouth bass in Deep Creek Lake. The water is cool enough now that the walleye and smallmouth bass are being caught along the steeper edges of the lake shore on a variety of crankbaits, swim shads, tubes and live minnows. Fishermen in the upper Potomac are also experiencing good fishing for smallmouth bass near deep water ledges by using tubes.
Trout fishermen are enjoying the generous stocking of trout by fisheries crews in many of the states waters this week. Many of the fall trout stockings depend on good water levels that are not seen in many of the smaller creeks and streams in the fall so often ponds and lakes are targeted for the October stockings. The trout stocking will continue through this month and stockings will be posted as they occur on the trout stocking link.
Largemouth bass are in overtime feeding aggressively to pack on some weight for a long winter. Fishermen are catching them over grass with topwater lures and around the edges with lures such as spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Deeper structure provides opportunities for using craw type baits, crankbaits and grubs for largemouth bass holding there. Low tide continues to be the best time to target the outside edges of grass and spatterdock fields. Jim Gronaw holds up an impressive pair of largemouth bass he caught and released recently at a central region farm pond.

Photo courtesy of Jim Gronaw
Ocean City fishermen report a wide variety of fishing opportunities this week ranging from casting from shore to trolling the offshore canyon areas. Surf fishermen are catching a mix of small bluefish, spot, kingfish, small red drum and even a few pompano. Those using larger gear and baits are catching some inshore sharks, a lot of skates, the last of the large red drum run and the first of the fall migration of striped bass.
In and around the inlet tautog and sheepshead are being caught around the jetties along with flounder that are moving through the inlet for offshore waters. At night small bluefish and an increasing numbers of striped bass are being caught by casting Got-Cha plugs and swim shads.
The boats headed out to the wreck sites are finding excellent flounder fishing for their patrons on most trips sprinkled with some tautog. Sea bass are off limits until November 1st. Fishermen headed out to the canyon regions are finding some large yellowfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin and white marlin. Deep drop fishermen continue to come into the docks with tilefish and snowy grouper.


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