Thursday, October 31, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | October 30, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

Many areas of the central, southern and eastern regions of the state experienced multiple frosts last week and the trend will certainly continue as colder weather begins to knock on our door like some persistent salesman. All of our fisheries are undergoing changes and those changes offer some exciting fishing for Maryland fishermen. The month of November will soon be upon us and fishing for fish species such as Striped Bass will hit its Zenith as will coldwater freshwater species such as Walleye, Smallmouth Bass and trout. November also marks the time for enjoying Chesapeake Bay oysters or as they say on the eastern shore "austers" and a farewell to Blue Crabs. Rich Watts sent in this picture of a whopper of a crab he caught in the Miles River recently while trying to gather up one last crab dinner. The picture of that big crab seems to convey the thought of "one last look" at the summer season of 2013.

Photo by Rich Watts

The water releases at the Conowingo Dam have been on a twice daily schedule lately and fishermen are adjusting their fishing times accordingly. Fishermen at the dam pool are using medium surf fishing outfits to cast topwater lures, swim shads and crankbaits as far into the dam pool as possible. Striped Bass over 18" are the target and the dam pool is the best place to find them on the lower Susquehanna. Farther down the river and out into the channels leading to the Susquehanna, Northeast and Elk Rivers fishermen are finding mostly sub-legal Striped Bass but do catch some keepers on most outings. There are also plenty of Channel Catfish and White Perch in the area for fishermen and now that water temperatures are cooling down fishermen are also catching some Walleye and Smallmouth Bass in the lower Susquehanna.

In the upper bay region fishermen are trolling a mix of bucktails, spoons and sassy shads in tandem or behind umbrella rigs along channel edges with good success on a nice grade of Striped Bass. Most fishermen are using planers or inline weights to get lures down to where fish are holding. Traditional steep channel edges where swift currents are present have been some of the better places to troll or to vertical jig with metal or soft plastics over suspended fish. Breaking fish can be found along these same channel edges and fishermen are finding that most of the fish on top tend to be sub-legal sized Striped Bass but have been jigging up larger fish from underneath. Fishermen are also enjoying casting along shoreline and channel edges in many of the tidal rivers and bay fronts throughout the upper bay region. Jordan Zimmerman got to go out fishing with his grandfather recently on the lower Sassafras River and managed to land this 45" Striped Bass on light tackle.

Photo by Frank Zimmerman

The Bay Bridge piers continue to attract fishermen to the Striped Bass that are holding at the bases of the piers. Fishermen are jigging or drifting cut bait or live Spot back towards the piers. Fishermen are still able to find Spot in the shallower portions of Hackett's Bar and in the tidal rivers. Water temperatures are dropping fast and have dipped below 60-degrees for the first time. There are still some Bluefish around but they are steadily heading south.
The outside channel edge near the Hill at the mouth of Eastern Bay continues to be a productive place to live line Spot as is Stone Rock, Thomas Point and the False Channel. As water temperatures drop it is an unsure proposition how much longer fishermen will be able to find live Spot in the shallower areas. A large portion of fishermen are opting to troll for their Striped Bass along channel edges. Bucktails and spoons tend to be the most popular offerings in a trolling spread since Bluefish are still in the region. Planers are being used for tandem rigged bucktails and spoons, inline weights for umbrella rigs. Bait in the form of juvenile Menhaden and Bay Anchovies that have left the tidal rivers are being swept along in the swift currents of the shipping channel where Striped Bass are holding along channel edges to intercept them. Fishermen are enjoying jigging to suspended fish or casting to breaking fish on the surface in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and out in the bay channel areas.
White perch continue to offer good fishing opportunities in the deeper sections of the lower tidal rivers often over oyster reefs or similar bottom structure. Fishermen are either using a metal jig with a dropper fly and jigging or employing two hook bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm.
There are always a few die-hard recreational crabbers who will make the effort to give it one more try before storing their gear away for the season and those who have made the effort have been rewarded with some impressive crabs. Blue crabs are at their fullest this time of the year and if you can find them in a 10' to 18' channel area in the lower sections of the bays tidal rivers you might find yourself looking at some of the heaviest and largest crabs of the season. Rich Watts caught this fine looking partial bushel of crabs in the lower section of the Miles River recently.

Photo by Rich Watts

Fishermen in the lower bay region are finding excellent trolling and jigging opportunities for Striped Bass all along the western side of the shipping channel and around St. Clements Bay, Tall Timbers and Piney Point on the lower Potomac River. Most fishermen that are trolling are using spoons and bucktails in tandem behind planers. Those jigging are using metal since there are still Bluefish in the region. There are still Spot to be found in some of the tidal rivers and creeks and fishermen continue to use them for live lining along channel edges. The western channel edge of the shipping channel from the Gas Docks to the Targets has been an excellent place recently to find Striped Bass. Chumming is still a viable option for catching a mix of Bluefish and Striped Bass in the lower Potomac and locations in the bay such as Buoy 72 and the Middle Grounds.
The tidal rivers on both sides of the bay continue to still offer some bottom fishing for White Perch, Spot, Sea Trout, Red Drum and Striped Bass. Most fishermen are using bloodworms and soft crab baits on a two hook bottom rig. Fishermen are also using fresh cut Spot to fish for Red Drum, Bluefish and Striped Bass from shore and boats.
The last of the fall trout stocking was completed this week and the last piece of water to be stocked was the delayed harvest section of the North Branch of the Potomac. Stocking crews have released approximately 24,000 Rainbow and Brown Trout into trout management waters throughout the state. The entire list of stocking sites and trout released can be viewed on our Trout Fishing page. Ethan Fike was trout fishing in the western region and holds up two nice rainbow trout he caught.

Photo Courtesy of Ethan Fike

The upper Potomac River is fishing well this week as water levels and water clarity are good. Cooler water temperatures have Smallmouth Bass in an active feeding mode and targeting rock ledges, piles and grass edges with crankbaits, tubes and jigs should offer good fishing. Recent electro-fishing surveys on Antietam Creek downstream of Devils Backbone revealed some outstanding Smallmouth Bass populations. Biologists noted quite a few Smallmouth Bass over 18" and are pleased with the recovery of Smallmouth Bass in the Monocacy River.
Largemouth Bass fishermen are finding bass in a very active feeding mode in the many lakes, reservoirs and ponds that dot the Maryland landscape this week. Cooler water temperatures have Largemouth Bass feeding heavily on a variety of baitfish and crawfish. The tidal rivers of the eastern shore have been offering some excellent fishing for Largemouth Bass this fall as fishermen target spatterdock fields and sunken wood with a variety of baits. Fisheries crews recently stocked 1,200 Largemouth Bass fingerlings in Wye Mills Lake and 400 into the Choptank River above Denton to bolster populations.
Fishermen are also finding good fishing for crappie around deep structure this week such as bridge piers, brush and marina docks. The marinas around the Fort Washington area and the Spoils area on the northeast side of the Wilson Bridge are excellent places to find crappie. The bridge piers of the Dulanie Valley Road Bridge where it passes over Liberty Reservoir has always been another good place to target schooling crappie. Small minnows or tubes under a bobber are a good way to fish for them. Bluegill Sunfish are eager to take on small lures or bait offered by fishermen along grass or lily pad edges and Channel Catfish are very active this time of the year.
Ocean City fishermen are enjoying a nice mix of fish species along the beaches this week as Red Drum that fall within the legal slot size entertain fishermen as well as Striped Bass, small Bluefish, flounder and Kingfish. Water temperatures in and around the inlet have dipped below the 60-degree mark this week and mark a very clear changing of the fisheries. Fishermen are experiencing the best flounder fishing of the season as flounder pour out of the back bay areas and head through the inlet for offshore waters. The channels leading to the inlet are the place to fish with white Gulp baits for the largest flounder. Tautog fishing has been very good this week also around the inlet jetties, bulkheads and the Route 50 Bridge piers.
Outside of the inlet tautog fishing has been good on the inshore wreck and reef sites and fishermen are anticipating good Sea Bass fishing for the November 1st opening of Sea Bass season. Large Bluefish are being caught on some of the shoal areas and farther out to the 30-fathom line and the last boats out to the canyons found long-fin albacore and a few large Dolphin. Bluefin Tuna are due to arrive soon and boats will be on the lookout out for passing schools.


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