Thursday, September 19, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 18, 2013


Fishermen and outdoorsmen can't help but feel a stirring inside as cooler weather has moved into our region; this coming Sunday will officially herald in the first day of autumn. That same stirring will begin to occur in fish and other wild creatures as everyone begins to get the signal that summer is coming to an end and autumn is just around the corner.
Fishing for Striped Bass in the area of the lower Susquehanna River and Susquehanna Flats continues to be productive for fishermen casting topwater lures, jerkbaits and a variety of other lures, including flies such as Deceivers and Clousers. Water temperatures in the bay are steadily declining and are approaching the 70-degree mark. A fair portion of the Striped Bass are less than 18" but there are plenty of fish up to 30" in length. Fishing in the river tends to be best on water releases from the dam and they usually occur late in the day for power generating. The fishing on the Susquehanna Flats is often governed by tide and sun light intensity. A high flood or high ebb tide tends to be favored and lately evening fishing has been the most productive. Fishermen may also have Largemouth Bass and Channel Catfish show interest in their lure presentations as well.
Farther down the upper bay region fishermen are finding a mix of small Striped Bass and Bluefish mixing it up with bait schools in areas of swift current in tidal rivers and in the bay. Many fishermen are casting to the surface action or jigging deeper underneath in hopes of finding larger fish. Light tackle casting near shoreline structure and prominent points has been productive for a mix of Striped Bass and White Perch. Fishermen using bait from shore have been also getting in on the action with a mix of Channel Catfish, White Perch and Striped Bass.
The traditional fishing areas around Swan, Love and Podickory Points continue to attract live lining and chumming fishermen but as water temperature decline; Striped Bass are beginning to move more freely throughout the region. Casting to breaking fish, jigging and trolling are becoming more popular with increased success. Small Bluefish and Striped Bass are chasing bait and often but not always fishermen can spot the action by diving gulls. Trolling has been good with small spoons and planers along channel edges and jigging over suspended fish has also been good. Boats continue to back down close to the Bay Bridge piers and fishermen are either jigging near the pier bases or drifting live spot back to the piers or chumming and chunking. No matter which method you choose; it always pays to keep a lookout for breaking fish that can pop up at any time.
One would suspect that as long as small Spot are available fishermen will continue to live line at popular locations such as the Hill. Cooler water temperatures have caused Striped Bass to move freely throughout the region so many fishermen are live lining along other productive channel edges, often with good results and less boat traffic. Live lining Spot along channel edges leading up to shoals or flats areas has been paying an added bonus of some nice Red Drum that are within the slot margin of 18" to 27". The Sharp's Island and the James Island Flats are two locations that have been holding some nice Red Drum along with Striped Bass and of course did we mention Bluefish.
Fishermen are encountering breaking fish throughout the region this week and as water temperatures steadily decline they will become more common. A mix of Striped Bass and Bluefish with a few Spanish Mackerel have been chewing up schools of Bay Anchovies and the action will only intensify as bait begins to exit the regions tidal rivers and creeks. Jigging under the surface action will often provide a larger grade of Striped Bass and speed reeling small spoons along the surface may elicit a strike from a Spanish Mackerel. Trolling spoons behind planers along channel edges has also been a productive way to put this mix of fish in the boat. Mark Hadra was trolling a deep running crankbait when he caught this nice Spanish Mackerel in Eastern Bay.

Photos by Mark Hadra

Fishing for a mix of large Spot, medium sized Croakers and White Perch continues to offer excellent fishing opportunities for fishermen looking to put some fish in the freezer for the winter months ahead. The Spot can hardly get much larger before they start to head south so this is a good time to take advantage of the fishery. Bloodworms or the Fishbites version are a proven winner on a two hook bottom rig. Channel edges in the lower regions of the tidal rivers or shoal areas in the bay are a good place to begin looking.
Shallow water light tackle fishermen are seeing their fishery improve with cooler water temperatures as fish such as Striped Bass move more freely. Casting a variety of lures in the early morning and evening hours is a wonderfully peaceful type of fishing that is only interrupted by explosive surface strikes by a mix of Striped Bass, Red Drum, Speckled Trout and Bluefish. Topwater lures are by far the most fun but Gulp swim shads and shrimp work great as do spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Spinners and small jigs and tubes work well for White Perch.
Lower bay region fishermen are reporting breaking fish made up of Striped Bass, Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel becoming more common place throughout the region. Fishermen have been trolling small spoons behind planers with good success and those going to large spoons and planers have been catch and releasing some huge Red Drum. There have been reports of very good trolling for Striped Bass in the lower Potomac near St. George's Island this week. Live lining Spot outside of the Gas Docks and Cedar Point has been productive for fishermen looking for Striped Bass. Chumming for Bluefish has been very good at the mouth of the Potomac and Middle Grounds. This fisherman has his hands full trying to hold this big boy up for a photo before releasing it back into the bay.

Courtesy of Gary Smith

The shallow water fishery in the lower bay region continues to be very good and it is especially good on the eastern side of the bay. Fishermen are catching a mix of Striped Bass, Speckled Trout and Red Drum on a variety of lures but Gulp Mullets and Shrimps seem to be a standout with fishermen.
Bottom fishermen are enjoying some of the season's best fishing opportunities for a mix of large Spot, croaker and White Perch in tidal rivers such as the Patuxent and places like Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. Fishermen in the lower Potomac are also catching a lot of medium sized Blue Catfish in the mix.
Recreational crabbers continue with fair success in most areas of the bay. The only thing that has changed is the quality of the crabs as they put on meat as the season begins to progress towards fall.
Cooler weather means cooler water temperatures for freshwater fishermen and fish respond favorably as they become more active. In the western region trout are becoming more active and can provide some fun fishing in many of the trout management areas. Fishermen report that fish such as Walleyes are still holding deep but Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Bluegills are moving into shallower water. Chain Pickerel and Northern Pike are always ready to mix it up at Deep Creek Lake and Michael Peters shows off a beautiful 40" Northern Pike he caught and released recently.

Courtesy of Michael Peters

Fishing for Smallmouth Bass in the upper Potomac has been good this week and will only get better as water temperatures cool. Fishermen are casting tubes, crankbaits and swim shads to ledges and large rocks with good success. They also report lots of thick grass that is so far holding tight. The grass breakup in the fall often makes for a lot of fouled lines and lures as does the leaf drop.
Largemouth Bass fishermen will be welcoming cooler water temperatures as cooler nights that are predicted for this week help lower water temperatures. Largemouth Bass and other species should start to become more active as they begin to feel the urge to feed. Plastic frogs, buzzbaits have been working well over grass and stick baits in the grass. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits around the outside edges of grass and spatterdock fields as well as near sunken wood are a good strategy as the mornings wear on.
Bluegills are certainly active this time of the year and provide plenty of action for young fishermen as well as older ones. A bobber and bait is hard to beat for anyone but small poppers and flies can be a real treat for fly fishermen. Fishing for Channel Catfish is a great option for this time of the year; the days are much cooler and make it a lot more pleasant when sitting in a small boat or river bank waiting for Mr. Catfish to come along.
Coastal fishermen continue to see a nice summer mix of small species in the area surf. Fishermen are catching large Spot, Croakers, small Bluefish, some Kingfish and blowfish. There are also plenty of sting rays and inshore sharks in the evenings for those wishing for more pull. At the inlet the same list of species is available during the day with Red Drum, flounder and Sheepshead tossed in. In the back bay areas flounder fishing has been good and fishermen are also catching some nice Red Drum. Brandon Morton holds up a nice 22" Red Drum that is typical of what is being caught in and around Ocean City.

Courtesy of Brandon Morton

Outside the inlet; the boats heading out to the wreck and reef sites are reporting limit catches of large flounder and very few Sea Bass being caught. Farther offshore fishermen are bringing in double digit catches of Yellowfin Tuna and Skipjack Tuna. Skipjack are often overlooked when Yellowfin, Longfin or Bigeye are available but they make fine canned tuna if you have a large pressure cooker. Skipjack is what you will find in the canned tuna at the grocery store and home canned tuna will make that stuff taste like wood chips. White Marlin and a few Dolphin are rounding out the offshore mix and fishermen have been also chunking up Yellowfin on overnight trips.


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