Thursday, November 8, 2012

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 07, 2012


By: Keith Lockwood

Fishermen were relieved to see water quality conditions to be flavorful throughout the bay regions and most freshwater areas this past week. Water temperatures are taking a nose dive due to chilly weather conditions and fish are adjusting by preparing for a long winter of hunkering down in most areas. In the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean areas the last of our summer migrants got the nudge by Sandy and are headed for more southern and warmer waters. There is still a lot of good fishing to be had this month as many resident species put on the feed bag in preparation for winter so take advantage of the good fishing that November provides.
Some critters have trouble figuring out which way to go and the recent influx of pelicans at the Bay Bridge areas has to make some folks wonder. It is possible that they have arrived to forage on bay anchovies but this gang at the Bay Bridge seemed more intent on trying to steal a small striped bass upon release back into the bay.

Photo by Rich Watts
Fishermen are finding water releases from the Conowingo Dam consistent with normal mid-day power generation releases and water clarity is generally good. Cooler water temperatures have striped bass and smallmouth bass in a very active mode from the dam pool, down the river and out into the bay. Most fishermen are jigging with swim shads and similar soft plastic jigs along channels and structure with good results. Channel catfish are also in play and can be caught on cut bait or chicken liver in most areas of the lower Susquehanna and Elk Rivers.
In the upper bay fishermen are finding schools of small striped bass spread throughout the region in tidal rivers and along channel edges in the bay. Bay anchovies tend to be "what's for dinner". Often the larger striped bass are being found in as deep as 65' of water feeding on the bay anchovies. Trolling umbrella rigs with swim shads or bucktails as trailers with heavy inline weights seems to be the ticket to get down to where the fish are holding. Jigging of course is a favorite method to fish for suspended striped bass in the fall and with water temperatures on the bottom 10-degrees or more warmer than the surface, fishermen may find they will have to go deep this week. Rich Watts reported that he did well jigging 65' down near the Bay Bridge piers and rock piles for a nice grade of striped bass and white perch and holds up a nice one destined for the dinner table.

Photo courtesy of Rich Watts
Fishermen in the middle bay region are finding plenty of small striped bass action in the lower sections of the region's tidal rivers and steep channel edges where bait is being swept by. Bay anchovies are the predominant bait that the striped bass are foraging on so metal jigs are a very good choice when light tackle jigging. The bluefish have departed for more southerly and warmer waters thanks to Sandy so soft plastics can now be used without too much fear of being cut. Current water temperatures in the region are around 51-degrees on the surface and 65-degrees down deep so look for bait down deep and of course where the food is, is where you will find the striped bass.
As water temperatures take a nose dive talk around the docks has begun concerning the possible arrival of the large fall migrant striped bass. More than a few captains have loaded their planer board and large parachutes and bucktails onboard in anticipation. As of today there have not been any reports of big fish yet but hopefully they will occur soon.
White perch are still in play for middle bay region fishermen who can find them holding in deep water on their depth finders. This time of the year it can be tough at times to figure out whom is who down there with small striped bass and gizzard shad moving into the same areas. Usually a bottom rig baited with peeler crab or bloodworms will offer positive feedback.
Lower bay region fishermen are reporting a lot of small striped bass spread throughout the region with schools of them chasing bait in the lower sections of the tidal rivers, along channel edges in the bay, the Middle Grounds area and lower Potomac River. When the smaller striped bass are seen on top, jigging deep underneath them can produce larger striped bass at times. Bay anchovies are the most common bait fish being seen in the region that the school-sized striped bass are feeding on. There are also menhaden in the region and if the large fall migrant striped bass show up; this is what they will be after.
Vertical jigging with metal and soft plastic jigs is the most popular tactic for fishermen this time of the year and steep channel edges and similar structure are good places to look for bait balls and striped bass as currents usually increase in these areas causing baitfish to be swept along. Trolling can be an effective way to fish this time of the year and also a sheltered cabin can be a welcoming refuge from the cold. Most captains are trolling umbrella rigs with bucktails or swim shads as trailers or in tandem with inline weights to get them down.
Some recreational crabbers were out after last weeks blow and reports came in from middle and lower bay regions of good crabbing in 12' to 20' of water with trotlines and collapsible crab traps. There are a lot of female and barely legal sized male crabs but crabbers are reporting some full bushels of large and heavy crabs.
Freshwater fishermen have been faced with some chilly conditions this week and cooling water temperatures. There was not a lot of fishing action in the western most regions of the state due to the big snow dump that occurred as Hurricane Sandy morphed into a snow storm but areas like the upper Potomac are fine. State Biologist John Mullican reported that he and his fishing buddy experienced good fishing for smallmouth bass with a lot of fish in the 11" to 14" size range and some larger to 16". John mentioned that although the upper Potomac was very high after sandy moved through the region the river returned to normal flows and cleared up rather quickly.
Fishermen in the tidal portion of the Potomac are reporting discolored water this week with some debris but most feeder creeks are running clear. The water temperature is near 50-degrees now and the grass beds are receding quickly and with that baitfish and crawfish are departing for deeper structure for security and warmth. The transition areas should be good places to fish for largemouth bass with small crankbaits, jigs, crawfish imitations and spinnerbaits. This same scenario can be played out in lakes, reservoirs and even small ponds throughout the state's freshwater areas.
Crappie are schooling up in deeper water often near structure such as bridge piers and using small tubes and jigs or minnows under a bobber is a good way to target them. Channel catfish are active in the state's many tidal rivers and some lakes and blue catfish are being caught in the tidal Potomac. Larry Jarboe holds a blue catfish he caught in the tidal Potomac recently.

Photo courtesy of Larry Jarboe
Trout fishermen are enjoying the results of the October stocking of trout in many of the state's trout management waters. Flows in most creeks and streams have been good and cool water temperatures have the trout in a very active feeding mode.
Surf fishermen in the Ocean City area have been having fun with a very good run of puppy drum along the beaches. Most of the puppy drum are under the minimum size of 18" but there are some in the 18" to 27" slot being caught on a regular basis. Cut mullet tends to be the favorite bait on a bottom rig. News is that the north beach and OSV 8-4 areas are open at Assateague. The annual fall run of southbound striped bass is expected very soon; perhaps in the next day or so.
In and around the inlet fishermen are reporting good fishing for tautog around the jetties, the Route 50 Bridge and bulkheads. The popular bulkhead from 2nd to 4th Streets is reported to be closed due to storm damage.
There are not too many reports from offshore due to the closure of the sea bass season but there is some tautog holding on the wreck sites. A few fishermen have begun to poke around the shoal areas looking for striped bass; hopefully they will show up soon.


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