Friday, November 15, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 13, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

The ranks of fishermen from the waters off of Ocean City to the western most trout streams in Garrett County are thinning fast as colder air and water temperatures make it a little more uncomfortable to be playing around water. For those who are prepared, this time of the year offers many exciting fishing opportunities from deep water Sea Bass to freshwater Smallmouth Bass and everything in between. Pick your days and don't be too hasty to pack that fishing gear away for the season.
Fishing in the lower Susquehanna River and surrounding areas are undergoing changes this week as water temperatures approach the 50-degree mark. Fishermen are finding a few Striped Bass in the Conowingo Dam pool but most fishermen are enjoying the good fishing for Smallmouth Bass and Walleye that has been spurred on by colder water temperatures. In the channel areas leading to the Susquehanna and Elk Rivers fishermen are finding 2011 year class Striped Bass that continue to come up short of the 18" minimum size but larger fish are in the region and offer the opportunity to take a fish or two home. Don Goff is all smiles with this nice Striped Bass he caught recently in the Conowingo Dam pool.

Photo Courtesy of Don Goff

The tidal rivers and channels of the upper bay are offering good fishing for Striped Bass in a wide range of areas on both shores of the bay. Water temperatures are around 55-degrees now and some of the best fishing is occurring in deeper waters along channel edges although breaking fish can be encountered at most any time. The bulk of the breaking fish continue to be the 2011 year class but often as most fishermen know; jigging underneath the surface action can result in larger fish. A large number of fishermen are trolling in the upper bay looking for a better grade of fish that seem to be spread thin over large areas of the upper bay. Most are trolling deep with umbrella rigs and tandem rigged bucktails, swim shads and single spoons.
White Perch can offer some fine fishing this time of the year in the upper bay. Fishermen are locating them with depth finders on deep shoal areas or in channels and either fishing bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or jigging with metal and dropper flies. Channel Catfish also offer excellent fishing in the channels in the very upper bay and also in the tidal rivers. Cut bait, nightcrawlers or chicken livers on a simple bottom rig can be the ticket for plenty of action and some good eating.
The Bay Bridge piers and the near by sewer pipe continue to offer good Striped Bass fishing this week. Jigging near the bridge piers or drifting live bait such as eels, Spot or cut bait back to the piers is a productive way to fish as is chumming. Trolling close to the bottom along the sewer pipe is a good tactic and everyone is always keeping an eye out for breaking fish. As is in most areas of the bay the breaking fish most encountered are sub-legal Striped Bass but larger fish can often be found underneath by jigging.
In the middle bay region most fishermen are now trolling for their Striped Bass along the shipping channel edges and similar channel edges in the tidal rivers. Most fishermen are covering all depths but the deeper presentations seem to be producing the best results on Striped Bass. Fishermen are beginning to put their planer boards out to provide a greater array of lure presentations including large parachutes and bucktails in hope of attracting the attention of a large fall migrant Striped Bass. Don Webster sent in this picture of his fishing buddy Bill Harvey with a beautiful 32" Striped Bass he caught in the lower Choptank River.

Photo by Donald Webster
There have been rumors on fishing forums and around the docks but for the most part the large fish being caught are male Striped Bass who have been in the bay all along. Present reports from New Jersey and the mouth of the Delaware Bay have the northern migrants headed our way and it is possible that the vanguard of the migration is in the lower bay this week. The large Menhaden are here and even the Gannets so someone may connect soon. Last year it was early December and usually it is around Thanksgiving before we start to see the big fish, time will tell.
Fishermen in the middle and lower bay are on the constant lookout for diving sea gulls and breaking fish and it can happen at most any time and usually near steep channel edges and prominent points where swift currents pull schools of bait along. Fishermen are either casting to the surface action, jigging underneath or trolling close by for their Striped Bass. Watching for slicks and keeping an eye on depth finders is also a sure way to find Striped Bass holding over deep structure. Traditional steep shipping channel edge locations, the False Channel, the area around the Target Ship, Tangier Sound and the Middle Grounds have all been good locations to find Striped Bass and the last of the bluefish lately. The tidal rivers are also good places to fish and the lower Potomac River is at the top of the list. The channel edges around Tall Timbers and Piney Point have been the place to be lately for finding the best fishing for Striped Bass. The channel edges in the lower Patuxent have also been very good.
Fishing for White Perch continues to be very good in many of the tidal rivers such as the Choptank, the West River, Patuxent and lower eastern shore rivers. The perch are holding over deep shoal areas and can be caught on bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or by jigging.
Freshwater fishermen in the western region of the state have many fishing options this week. Trout fishing remains excellent in many of the trout management areas whether they are put and take, delayed harvest or catch and release. Floating leaves are becoming less of a problem now and water flows have been a little low but certainly acceptable. The upper Potomac River has been running low due to the lack of rain in the watershed and John Mullican sent us a report. The vegetation is breaking up and, along with leaves, presents some challenges. The river is as low and clear as it has been all year and the fishing has been very tough. Stabilizing weather and/or a warming trend can improve fishing. Many of the boat ramps are difficult to use as they are mostly out of the water and drop off abruptly at the end.
Colder water temperatures has aquatic vegetation breaking up in tidal rivers, ponds and lakes throughout Maryland this week and this offers some unique fishing opportunities for Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass fishermen. Baitfish and particular the crayfish are losing their shallow water hiding places and are moving to deeper waters in hope of finding rocks or sunken wood to hunker down for the winter. Fishing transition areas, where crawfish have to travel, with small crankbaits, jigs and soft plastics that resemble crawfish is a winning ticket this time of the year. Spinnerbaits can also be a good option outside the edges of diminishing grass beds. Casey Frederick is all smiles with this whopper of a Largemouth Bass he caught on a spinnerbait at Liberty reservoir.

Photo Courtesy of Casey Frederick
Crappie continue to hold near deep structure this week; marina docks, bridge piers and deep sunken wood are great places to fish with small minnows or tubes under a bobber. Bluegills can be found outside of grass beds and often around docks and deeper structure outside of coves. A variety of small lures and live baits will charm them into biting. As water temperatures cool in our central region reservoirs, those that contain landlocked Striped Bass will see improving fishing. Reservoirs such as Liberty, Triadelphia and Piney Run hold populations of large Striped Bass. Slow trolling large Golden Shiners, crankbaits and spinnerbaits are good options for catching one of these nice fish.
There are plenty of Channel Catfish in many of the tidal rivers throughout Maryland in the upper, middle and lower bay regions. The tidal Potomac also contains Blue Catfish and now that water temperatures have cooled the larger Blue Catfish are biting. Fresh cut baits of Gizzard Shad, White Perch or sunfish make good baits. The Fort Washington area tends to be a kind of ground zero area when looking for large Blue Cats.
Ocean City fishermen are watching water temperatures close to shore dipping into the mid- 50's this week. Surf fishermen are in a waiting mode for the Striped Bass run of migrating fish to pass by Maryland's shores. At present they are mostly catching a few Red Drum and Striped Bass and a lot of skates and dogfish. The flounder have departed the back bays for the most part and only a few incidental catches are being reported. Tautog fishing has been very good in the inlet/ Route 50 Bridge area during slacking tide periods. Sand fleas and Green Crab pieces are the baits of choice. Out at the wreck and reef sites fishing for Sea Bass and Tautog has been very good. Most fishermen have been jigging for their Sea Bass. A few large flounder are also still being caught around the wreck sites.


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