Saturday, December 7, 2013

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | December 07, 2013


By: Keith Lockwood

As December moves in on Maryland fishermen, generally only the most ardent seem to be out fishing these days and as they personally know they are often rewarded for their efforts. If their reward is not catching some nice fish, it can also be uncrowded conditions and a chance to be outside and enjoy the outdoors. Many outdoorsmen that are deer hunters are out in the woods doing their best to fill their freezers with some home grown red meat. A lot of boats came out of the water this past weekend on the Chesapeake and coastal bay areas and of course it is very easy to get caught up in the Christmas rush of holiday parties, honey do lists and shopping. Do your best to get out for at least one more outing and if on open water be careful and wear a PFD; that water is cold.
Despite cold morning temperatures fishermen continue to find good fishing for Striped Bass at the Conowingo Dam Pool. Most fishermen are finding the best success with surface poppers at the dam pool and along the shores of the lower Susquehanna. Water temperatures have dipped to below the 40-degree mark this week. Fishing for Channel Catfish in the lower Susquehanna and Elk Rivers has been very good lately for fishermen using fresh cut bait, nightcrawlers or chicken liver.
In the upper bay region water temperatures have dropped to 40-degrees and fish are holding in deeper waters where temperatures near the bottom may be a couple of degrees warmer. Fishermen have been trolling deep with a variety of lures such as bucktails dressed with sassy shads, spoons and swim shads in medium sizes as well as a few large parachutes in hopes of running into a larger fish. Most fishermen are trolling along the edges of the shipping channel and channel edges in the lower sections of the Patapsco and Chester Rivers. One of the better places to try jigging in the upper bay area has been the steep channel edges near Podickory Point and the Bay Bridge Piers. The Bay Bridge Piers and Rock Piles are attracting both Striped Bass and White Perch and most fishermen are jigging with metal and soft plastics. Elliot Bodner caught this nice Striped Bass while jigging at the Bay Bridge recently.

Courtesy of Elliot Bodner

In the middle bay region fishermen are finding it hard to find Striped Bass in the lower sections of the tidal rivers in a mood to bite. Anglers are reporting marking fish on their recorders and having little success in getting them to strike a jig. Water temperatures are below 40-degrees now in most areas and only a couple of degrees higher on the bottom in deeper areas so Striped Bass are becoming less active. Fishermen should note that often dense schools of Gizzard Shad can be spotted on depth recorders at the mouths of tidal rivers in deep water and can be confused with Striped Bass. Gizzard Shad, like striped Bass and White Perch, seek the deep waters of the bay to spend the cold winter months.
Boats can be seen trolling along traditionally productive steep edges of the shipping channel pulling flat lines and planer boards pulling a variety of medium sized lures and some of the big stuff in hopes of bumping into a really large Striped Bass. Most fishermen are describing the fishing action as a slow pick with fish up to 30". Anyone trolling along the edges of the shipping channel needs to keep a keen lookout for buoy flags marking drift gill nets since the Striped Bass Drift Gill Net Season opened on December 3rd. No one likes losing those expensive parachutes and umbrella rigs. At times trotlines of crab pots are also set in the deeper waters of the channel this time of the year and losing a trolling spread to one of these can ruin your day in a hurry.
In the lower bay region fishermen are out trolling large lures in search of the elusive large fall migrant Striped Bass; to date only a handful have been caught. Most fishermen will attest to the fact though that it only takes one big fish to make your day. Steven McArthur is all smiles after catching this nice Striped Bass while trolling the eastern edge of the shipping channel with his father.

Courtesy of Steven McArthur

The big story in the lower bay region last week was the appearance of a very nice grade of Striped Bass in the Cornfield Harbor/ Point Lookout area that were in the 28" to 38" size range. According to those who were present it was a real melee with pelicans and gannets joining in on the action as fishermen enjoyed some outstanding jigging action. Generally speaking the lower Potomac River has been offering some of the best and most consistent Striped Bass action for most of November. An added bonus to all of this is also the fact that recreational Striped Bass fishing in the Potomac River below the Wilson Bridge is open until December 31st giving fishermen additional time after the Maryland Chesapeake closure date of December 15th.
Freshwater fishermen in the western region are beginning to see some serious ice forming up in the cove areas of Deep Creek Lake and other lakes and reservoirs within the region. In the main section of Deep Creek Lake fishermen are still able to fish along the shores for Walleyes and Yellow Perch with small crankbaits and live minnows. Trout fishermen continue to enjoy good trout fishing in the trout management waters despite rod guides icing up and cold fingers. Walleye are available in the upper Potomac although low and clear water conditions have been making successful fishing difficult.
Largemouth Bass fishermen are targeting deeper waters now looking for bass holding close to the bottom. The bass are not in a very active feeding mode so it often takes some pestering to get them to pick up a bait. Slow rolling spinnerbaits along the bottom, jigging soft plastic craws and similar looking baits or deep running crankbaits can often get a lazy Largemouth Bass to strike. Blade baits are an often "go to" lure when the really cold temperatures set in and most fishermen would agree we are just about there as anglers find ice in the live wells and the edges of shallow waters.
Despite many of our freshwater fisheries slowing down; this time of the year offers a great time to fish for Channel Catfish in many of the tidal rivers of the state and some selected lakes and reservoirs. In the tidal Potomac Blue Catfish are now the most prevalent catfish by far and if fishermen learn some simple techniques they can really get into some exciting action. Bill Boteler sent in this picture of a cooler full of Blue Catfish he and his fishing buddy caught in the Fort Washington area.

Courtesy of Bill Boteler

Fishermen in the Ocean City area have been patiently waiting for the fall migration of Striped Bass to pass by their shores and provide some fishing opportunities. Their wait seems to be coming to an end this week as surf fishermen and boats trolling outside the inlet begin to hook into some fish. Surf casters have been using large cut Menhaden baits on bottom rigs and catching a few large Striped Bass, slot size Red Drum and a whole lot of Dogfish. In and around the inlet fishermen are picking up some large Striped Bass around the jetties and the Route 50 Bridge on bucktails, swim shads and live eels. Fishermen trolling large bucktails, parachutes and Stretch 25's are finding large Striped Bass on shoal areas such as Little Gull Shoals and most boats are returning with limit catches.
Offshore Sea Bass fishing is the hottest show in town right now. Most of the party boats are heading out to the deeper wreck sites where limit catches along the rails are common. Jigging metal and bait are both effective and patience with being covered up with pesky Dogfish can be difficult at times. Fishermen also talk of large Bluefish around the wreck sites which can be caught by jigging. Steve Doctor sent in an angler's log and some nice pictures so be sure to check it out on the Angler's Log.


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