Friday, November 8, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 06, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

As we roll into the month of November one can notice rather quickly that the dress code for all fishermen has changed rather dramatically from the beginning of last month. A wet foot that was shrugged off a month ago is now a problem and clothing in general is now composed of layers. The fishermen out in the bay in small boats have broken out the camo duck hunting coats, foul weather gear and knee boots and freshwater fishermen have made similar adjustments. We all want to be comfortable so we can stay out fishing for a longer period of time and we also want to be safe; so when wearing all that heavy clothing on open waters some kind of PFD is a very good idea.
Fishermen in the uppermost parts of the bay, the lower Susquehanna River and channels on the outside edges of the Flats continue to catch mostly sub-legal Striped Bass. Keeper size Striped Bass tend to be about one in four but there are significantly larger fish and more of them at the Conowingo Dam pool. Fishermen are casting a mix of topwater lures and small crankbaits and soft plastic jigs with moderate success. Added bonuses are the incidental catches of Largemouth Bass around the flats channels and Smallmouth Bass in the lower Susquehanna. Billy Wright got to go fishing with his dad recently on the lower Susquehanna and shows off two beautiful Smallmouth Bass before releasing them back into the river.

Photo Courtesy of Bill Wright

In the upper bay fishermen are finding plenty of nice sized Striped Bass in the lower sections of most tidal rivers and the traditional channel edges in the bay down to the Bay Bridge. Most fishermen are trolling a mix of bucktails, shads and spoons behind planers or inline weights. Some of the more productive areas have been the lower Patapsco, Magothy and Chester Rivers as well as the channel edge near Love Point and Podickory Point. A few charter boats are still chumming at Swan and Love Points on the weekends but more and more are switching to trolling for a better grade of fish. The 2011 Striped Bass year class is very prevalent in the upper bay and can be seen chasing bait or holding in chum slicks.
The Bay Bridge piers and the Sewer Pipe continue to provide good fishing for Striped Bass. Fishermen are drifting live Spot back towards the bases of the piers with good success; others are casting jigs and working on the fish that are suspended there or at the rock piles. Trolling along the Sewer Pipe has also been a good option. There are white Perch holding at the rock piles and jigging with heavy metal jigs and dropper flies is the way to target them. Unfortunately often the same zone the White Perch are holding at often is also holding lots of 2011 year class Striped Bass.
In the middle bay region most fishermen have switched to trolling; a better grade of fish tends to be the reward and also the fish seem to be spread thin over a lot of territory. A lot of boats have been trolling along the shipping channel edges and places like the mouth of Eastern Bay and the False Channel with mixed success. Based on reports, it seems to be harder this week to find breaking fish to cast to or jig underneath. Surface water temperatures in the bay have dipped to the high 50’s this week so the shallow water fishery is about done and most Striped Bass are going to be found in deeper water. Fishermen are still finding some live Spot in the tidal rivers and live lining them along 30’ channel edges at places like Stone Rock, the False Channel or Thomas Point usually will pay off with Striped Bass over 18” in size.
White Perch have also headed for deeper and warmer waters and fishermen who know where to look can find them on their depth finders and catch them on jigs with dropper flies. Deep structure such a hard oyster bottom found towards the mouths of the tidal rivers and creeks are good places to look. They can also be caught on two hook bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm. Nathan Williams strains to hold up a double header of nice White Perch he caught from shore on bloodworms recently.

Photo Courtesy of Nathan Williams
Lower Bay region fishermen have been enjoying very good fishing for Striped Bass in the lower Potomac River near the channel edges out in front of St. Clements Island and Piney Point. Most fishermen are trolling about 15' to 20' deep with bucktails, shads or spoons behind planers and inline weights. Jigging over concentrations of fish holding over deep structure has also been productive. The western edge of the shipping channel out in front of the Gas Docks and Cedar Point have been a good place to troll or live line Spot. There are still Bluefish in the region but with water temperatures dipping to below 60-degrees they are leaving fast.
So far there has been little evidence of large fall migrant Striped Bass showing up in Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake. Fishermen have seen some large Striped Bass over 30" in all three regions of the bay but most have all turned out to be resident male fish that tend to find a cool place to hunker down for the summer months. Fishermen are ever hopeful the large migrants will find their way into our portion of the bay soon and are placing large parachutes and bucktails in their trolling spreads.
Fishermen are still finding Spot in the lower Patuxent this week along with good concentrations of White Perch. The Perch can be caught by jigging or by using bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm. The same kind of action can be found on the eastern side of the bay in the lower Honga, Nanticoke or Pocomoke Rivers.
Freshwater fishermen continue to enjoy the efforts of the fall trout stocking program that was completed last month. The stocking crews placed approximately 24,000 trout throughout a wide variety of trout management waters and the good fishing should last for quite some time whether they are put and take areas, catch and release or delayed harvest. Many of the western trout management waters that are catch and release or delayed harvest will provide excellent trout fishing through the winter and early spring months to come. Ethan Fike was able to do some trout fishing after school and shows of a nice stringer of trout destined for the dinner table if he can get past his cats.

Photo Courtesy of Ethan Fike
Cooler water temperatures have spurred the smallmouth Bass fishery in the upper Potomac River and fishermen are also seeing better fishing for Walleye as well. Water levels and clarity have been good and except for floating leaves fouling lures the fishing could hardly be better. Fishing at Deep Creek Lake is in transition as water temperatures drop to the 50-degree mark. Fishermen have been having good success catching and releasing Northern Pike by trolling large spinnerbaits along transition zones or by casting lures. Chain Pickerel are very active outside of grass beds and Smallmouth Bass fishing is improving.
Largemouth Bass fishermen are targeting transition areas outside of shallow grass beds as small baitfish and crawfish begin to exit the shallow areas and migrate towards deeper cover. Fishermen are using small crankbaits that resemble crawfish, spinnerbaits and soft plastic jigs in the transition areas between shallow and deeper waters with good success. Crappie are schooling up near deep structure such as marina docks, sunken wood and bridge piers. Small minnows or tube lures under a bobber can put a lot of crappie in the ice chest in short order.
Fishing for Channel catfish has been very good this week in many of the impoundments and tidal rivers throughout the state. The Potomac River, the lower Susquehanna, Elk, Chester, Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers are just a few areas that offer very good fishing for Channel catfish. Cut fish baits, nightcrawlers or chicken livers make very good baits to use whether fishing from a small boat or from the shorelines. Carp are plentiful in many of our tidal rivers and can offer plenty of action for fishermen willing to figure out simple baits and techniques to catch them.
Ocean City area fishermen are seeing water temperatures dip to the 60-degree mark this week close to shore. Surf fishermen are still catching a few slot size Red Drum, sub-legal Striped Bass and flounder in the surf. Flounder continue to pour through the Ocean City Inlet as they leave the back bay areas and head offshore. There is a consensus of opinion among locals that the run is showing signs of tapering off but fishermen are still catching limits of flounder in the channels leading to the inlet this week. Tautog fishing has been very good this week and some nice fish are being caught on sand fleas and pieces of Green Crab. At night some large Striped Bass are being caught by drifting live eels in the Route 50/ Inlet area.
Outside of the inlet most of the recent attention by fishermen was the reopening of the Sea Bass season and it began with a bang as fishermen hauled limits of Sea Bass over the rails. Jigging tended to the most popular method of fishing and fishermen also found some Atlantic Bonito and medium sized Bluefish over the Wreck sites. Tautog fishing has also been good on the near shore wreck and reef sites. Richard Wright sent in this picture of his days catch from the weekend while on a party boat out of Ocean City.

Photo Courtesy of Richard Wright


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