Saturday, November 3, 2012

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | October 31, 2012

By: Keith Lockwood
Although Maryland received a big blow and a lot of rain we were very lucky to be on the south end of Hurricane Sandy. Our northerly neighbors in New Jersey and New York did not fair as well. It is still snowing out in Garrett County and the forecast is for a mix of snow and rain through the weekend. Low lying bay areas such as Somerset and Dorchester Counties were flooded with storm surge and Ocean City beaches took a beating from pounding surf. There is a lot of runoff in the bay so water clarity will be an issue for the best part of a week. As of this morning fishermen have already begun to poke around their favorite fishing haunts and fishing will get back to normal soon.
Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna River should see water clarity conditions improve towards the end of the week as water releases from the Conowingo Dam taper off following Tuesday's spike. Before Hurricane Sandy fishermen were enjoying good fishing for a mix of striped bass and smallmouth bass in the lower river. The lower Susquehanna River is one of the best places in Maryland to target large smallmouth bass in the fall. Tubes, crankbaits and soft plastic jigs are good choices for lures that are fished close to the bottom.
Farther down the bay fishermen should continue to find striped bass near the mouths of the regions tidal rivers and prominent channel edges and points. Most fishermen are jigging with soft plastics, metal and bucktails under breaking fish or over suspended fish. White perch are holding deep and if you can spot them on a depth finder; there is good fishing to be had with bottom rigs and blood worms. The piers of the Bay Bridge are a go to place to look for striped bass and jigging or chunking is a good way to target them. Large white perch should also begin to take up residence at the rock piles in the center of the bridge and jigging with a dropper fly will often get you in the game.
Middle bay fishermen will no doubt be lamenting the exodus of their precious spot that were hard to find before the storm and now may be just about impossible. Before the storm they were being found in about 35' of water; it will certainly be worth checking out. In the absence of live spot fishermen will most likely find jigging over suspended fish or under breaking fish to be the best show in town. Trolling and perhaps some chumming may also be a good alternative. Water temperatures are dropping and bait is flowing out of the tidal rivers and headed south so classic fall action should begin.
White perch are now holding deep and bottom rigs baited with peeler crab or bloodworms is about the only way to catch them. Cooler water temperatures will be causing them to school up in traditional deep holes and hold tight.
Lower bay fishermen will be targeting a mix of striped bass and speckled trout on the eastern side of the bay along channel edges, prominent points and shoreline structure. Most fishermen are casting swim shad and similar type baits with good success. Some fishermen are also using peeler crab baits for the speckled trout. The last of the bluefish are moving through the lower bay region and can still be caught by trolling and jigging. Striped bass are spread out along the western side of the bay and up the Potomac River near channel edges. Most fishermen are casting jigs and crankbaits in shallower waters or targeting suspended fish in deeper waters. Daniel Stewart holds up a nice speckled trout caught on a Bass Assassin near Cedar Island.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Stewart
Recreational crabbers will be out this week and should find crabs in deeper waters at the mouths of tidal creeks and rivers. The freshwater coming down the rivers and creeks should push the crabs to the lower sections of the rivers and creeks and waters 6' to 12' will certainly be worth checking out.
Freshwater fishermen in the western region of the state certainly got a surprise with their first snow fall and the weather man predicts snow and rain showers through the rest of the week. If the weather would calm down there are walleyes and smallmouth bass to be caught in Deep Creek Lake and plenty of trout in the region's trout waters.
Freshwater fishermen may see localized water clarity problems in some areas due to runoff this week but most areas should clear up fairly quickly. Colder temperatures this week should trigger the fall migration of crawfish from the shallower grass beds to deeper waters. This annual event offers a great opportunity for largemouth and smallmouth bass fishermen to target transition areas with crawfish imitations such as tubes, jigs, crankbaits that resemble crawfish. Grass beds are breaking up and receding now so another good option is to work spinnerbaits and crankbaits around the outside edges. Largemouth bass are patrolling outside of these diminishing grass beds waiting for crawfish and small bait fish to make a mad dash for the safety of deeper waters.
Fishermen are also reporting better fishing for channel catfish as waters cool in many of the states tidal rivers. Yellow perch, bluegill and crappie are also being caught as cooler waters spur them into a more active mode to build up fat stores before winter sets in. Angelina Watts holds up a crappie she caught at the Wye Mills spillway on a small shad dart.

Photo by Rich Watts
Ocean City fishermen will be shaking off the effects of Hurricane Sandy this week and there were reports of at least one charter boat and several small boats going out the inlet this morning. The Ocean City Fishing Pier took a bad hit and a section at the end was destroyed. Water clarity is understandably poor and it will take the rest of the week for the bay, inlet and surf areas to clear up. The good tautog fishing in and around the inlet will pick up in the next couple of days and as soon as surf conditions level out surf fishing will resume. It would be a good idea to check the Maryland State Park and the Federal Park for vehicle closures before making the trip.
Most everyone by now has heard the bad news about the sea bass season being closed for the rest of the year; a very unfortunate situation for Maryland fishermen and party boat captains. At least Maryland fishermen can fish for tautog and there are still some good flounder to be found out by the wreck and reef sites as well as a few near the Ocean City Inlet.
The fall migration of striped bass is underway and as soon as things calm down fishermen should begin to see more striped bass in the surf, at the inlet and offshore at the shoal areas.

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