Thursday, November 21, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 20, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

Every fisherman knows that each fishing trip has its own rewards whether it is an outstanding catch, being in the company of good friends, family or perhaps just a beautiful day away from responsibilities and work. This past Sunday proved to be one of those days when the sun came out and the beauty of fall just dazzled the eye. I happened to be on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake near home where the geese and ducks were flying, the trees were ablaze in color and friends were out enjoying a day of sailing, fishing or just taking one more ride in their boats before winterizing them. The lower Choptank River became cloaked in a chilling fog and at times one could barely see 100 yards which offered a sharp contrast to the sunny conditions in the creeks and uplands. The picture below is a shot of the fleet jigging and trolling for Striped Bass in the lower Choptank just before the dense fog rolled in from the bay and obscured everything.

Photo by Keith Lockwood

Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna area continue to find the best fishing for Striped Bass in the Conowingo Dam pool by casting crankbaits and swim shads. Farther down the river Smallmouth Bass and small Striped Bass are providing most of the action and the walleye fishing is beginning to pick up. Fishing for Channel Catfish continues to be good in most of the tidal rivers in the region and White Perch can be found in some of the deeper waters.
In the upper bay fishermen are catching Striped Bass that seem to be spread out over a wide area in a variety of locations. Trolling tends to be one of the more popular methods of fishing this week and that varies from flat lines, planer boards, planers and inline weights to bottom bouncing. Most fishermen are trolling a mix of bucktails, swim shads and spoons in tandem, single or behind umbrella rigs along channel edges in the main part of the bay and the largest of the tidal rivers. Ever hopeful fishermen are placing a few large baits in their trolling spreads in hope of bumping into a trophy Striped Bass, it can happen. There has been two large trophy size Striped Bass logged in on the fisheries angler's log this November 18th, be sure to check them out.
Although it is a lot of work bottom bouncing with 12-ounce weight; it can really be the magic touch this time of the year along lumps and channel edges when Striped Bass are holding tight to the bottom. Usually a heavy sinker with a 12" or so dropper is attached to a 3 way swivel and a leader anywhere from 4' to 6' is run from the 3 way with a medium sized bucktail or swim shad. The fisherman slowly trolls along a likely looking spot working the sinker up and down along the bottom by lifting the rod tip.
Fishermen in the middle region of the bay can be seen trolling along traditional steep channel edges at the mouth of Eastern Bay, Thomas Point, the Choptank River and other tidal rivers in the region as well as the western edge of the shipping channel. Trolling spreads can vary from planers and inline weights with medium sized bucktails and swim shads to planer boards and large parachutes and bucktails or all of the above. Most fishermen are experiencing a slow pick unless they run into a concentration of fish. One may also run into the good fortune of catching a trophy sized Striped Bass such as this one Chris Phillips caught while trolling out in front of Annapolis.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Phillips

Fishermen are also watching for birds and breaking fish wherever they happen to occur. The consensus of opinion among local fishermen is that the fish are moving around a lot; late last week the lower Choptank was a great place to fish but by Sunday things seem to have moved on. Water temperatures have dipped to below the 50-degree mark in many areas and it would seem that juvenile Menhaden and young of the year shad and herring migrating out of some of the tidal rivers are what the Striped Bass are after.
Lower Bay region fishermen are finding their Striped Bass along traditional shipping channel edges such as Cove Point and Buoy 72. Some of the hottest fishing remains in the lower Potomac along the channel edges around St. Georges Island and Piney Point. Most fishermen are trolling, but jigging can also be a very productive alternative and a lot of fun on light tackle. Striped Bass are also being found in the Tangier Sound area along channel edges and the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers such as the lower Patuxent. Breaking fish can be encountered just about anywhere in the lower bay region where swift currents move bait fish such as juvenile Menhaden along channel edges.
White Perch present some great fishing opportunities this week as the perch school up in deep channels or hold close to deep oyster reefs. Once they are located the fishing can offer some exciting action and the payoff of some wonderful eating. Most fishermen are using metal jigs with one or two dropper flies tied or small soft plastic grubs or similar baits tied in above the jig. A bottom rig that is baited with pieces of bloodworms is a deadly combo also. There are usually some deep spots at the mouths of most of the tidal rivers in all three regions of the bay and some of the most productive are the Patapsco, Chester, Choptank, Severn, Nanticoke and Patuxent. Greg Jenkins holds up a nice filleting size 13" White Perch caught while jigging recently.

Photo by Rich Watts

Freshwater fishermen are enjoying some outstanding Walleye and Yellow Perch fishing this week at Deep Creek Lake. The water temperatures have cooled down to the point now where Walleye and Yellow Perch can be found in water less than 10' along shorelines and at the mouths of coves. Most fishermen are using crankbaits and Rapalas to target the larger Walleye and minnows or worms under a slip bobber to target both Walleyes and Yellow Perch. Recent fisheries surveys at Deep Creek Lake revealed a very strong 2013 year class of Walleye, the 2nd highest in the 7 year long study.
Fisheries biologist John Mullican reports that the upper Potomac River is running low and clear which makes for some difficult fishing. He mentioned that the Smallmouth Bass are not very active but fishermen can expect a hand full of bites from the larger bass. John also mentioned that the smaller Smallmouth Bass tend to hunker down under rocks and ledges once the water temperatures drop into the 40's and do not bite. Walleye are active in low light conditions and can be caught on small crankbaits this week.
Trout fishing remains very good in most trout management waters in the western and central regions. Water temperatures in most areas tend to be ideal for trout survival this time of the year and fishermen can expect good fishing through the winter months. There are still plenty of trout to be caught from the generous October stockings. Ethan Fike got to go trout fishing with his dad recently and by the looks of this picture they had a great time.

Photo Courtesy of Ethan Fike

Largemouth Bass fishing remains good this week in many of the state's lakes, ponds, and tidal rivers. Most fishermen are finding the best success by fishing crankbaits and soft plastics that resemble crawfish in transition areas between shallow cover and deeper waters.
This week is a wonderful time of the year to fish for Channel Catfish in many of the state's tidal rivers and some selected reservoirs such as Piney Run, Loch Raven and Liberty. Blue Catfish offer some exciting fishing this week in the tidal Potomac and a chance to stock up the freezer. Larry Jarboe and his fishing buddy Bill Davis teamed up on catching a mess of Blue Catfish in the tidal Potomac recently and Bill holds up one of the larger cats for the camera.

Photo Courtesy of Larry Jarboe

The Maryland Fishing Challenge has opened up a new invasive species component for the 2013/2014 tournament, current species include Blue Catfish, Northern Snakehead and Flathead Catfish. There are three ways fishermen can enter the invasive species component; 1) Through the Angler Award program - fish meeting minimum award size are eligible. The minimum sizes are 40" for Blue Catfish, 30" for Northern Snakehead and 34" for Flathead Catfish. 2) State Record - fish exceeding the existing state record weight are eligible; 3) Angler's Log - fish harvested at any size are eligible. Multiple entries are allowed, but each fish can only be entered once. Remember, all invasive species must be dead to be entered into any of the above categories and there is no catch and release category. To view the rules for entering your catch check out theMaryland Fishing Challenge web site. Two prizes will be awarded for this component via random drawing at the annual Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale.
Ocean City area fishermen are watching water temperatures steadily decline into the mid-50's this week. Surf fishermen continue to watch for the first of the northern migration of Striped Bass and this weekend may well be it. At the inlet/Route 50 Bridge area fishermen are finding very good Tautog fishing about 30 minutes on each side of a slack tide. Sand fleas and pieces of green crab on a simple bottom rig close to structure is the ticket to this fun event. Maryland's Tautog season closes on the 26th of November so don't miss out. Tautog fishing has also been good on some of the inshore wreck sites.
At the offshore wreck and reef site fishermen are enjoying excellent fishing for Sea Bass and Tautog. Many fishermen are jigging for their Sea Bass while others choose conventional baits such as surf clams. Fisheries biologist Steve Doctor holds up a beautiful pair of Sea Bass caught on a local head boat out of Ocean City.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Doctor

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