Thursday, September 18, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 18, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

After what may be the last bout of oppressive heat, summer seemed to loosen her grip when a front moved through last Saturday bringing rain, wind and cooler temperatures. The wind managed to drop out on Sunday in time for some evening shallow water fishing on the Choptank River. Conditions were near perfect with a flooding tide, slick water and hungry striped bass eager to attack surface poppers. The striped bass were keeping us busy but then a spectacular sunset began to transform the western sky into a palette of striking colors that left us transfixed. Fishing offers many things and it is not always just catching fish; there are many other rewards such as watching a September sunset and realizing the sun is also setting on the summer of 2014. Bring on the rest of September and October and all of the exciting fishing that is promised, we're ready.

Photo by Keith Lockwood

In the lower Susquehanna River the fishing for channel catfish and flathead catfish has been very good this week as cooling water temperatures are causing fish to be more active. Fishing for channel catfish in the Elk River and the channels around the Susquehanna Flats area has also been good. There is a morning and evening striped bass bite around the edges of the flats for anglers casting topwater lures and to a lesser extent crankbaits and soft plastic jigs. Sightings of breaking fish and diving birds are becoming more common, recently, Cindy Demond was able to get in on the action near Carpenter's Point.

Photo Courtesy of Cindy Demond
There has been some striped bass action being reported around Pooles Island where drifting live eels and casting jigs and topwater lures have been accounting for some action. There has also been very good fishing for white perch around some of the shoreline structure and channel cuts. Farther down the bay white perch are also being caught in the tidal rivers on both the east and west sides of the bay. Bluefish are very common in the upper bay this week and the recent drop in water temperature seems to have heightened their appetites. Trolling small spoons and surge tubes behind inline weights and planers has been a favorite choice for putting a mix of bluefish and striped bass in the ice chest. Chumming at channel edges such as Love Point is still a viable option this week but expect plenty of bluefish to come to the dinner bell.
The structure of the Bay Bridge piers continues to provide plenty of fishing opportunities this week for a mix of striped bass, white perch and bluefish. The striped bass are holding close to the piers and can be caught by jigging, live lining or chunking and expect bluefish to be part of the deal. White perch are being caught around the rock piles and shallower structure and small jigs tipped with a piece of bloodworm tend to do the job.
In the middle bay region spot are still available for live lining if you are lucky enough to find them or have a favorite honey hole staked out. The area around the Gum Thickets and Buoy 86 continues to be a good location to live line but there can be action found at numerous channel edges at a variety of areas such as Thomas Point, Bloody Point, or places like Stone Rock; it can pay big dividends to check these places out. Breaking fish are becoming a more common sight in the middle bay region as a mix of bluefish and striped bass chase bait. Most of the bait being seen are bay anchovies but schools of menhaden can also be seen pushing water in the tidal rivers and the bay. The 2011 year class striped bass are starting to squeak over the 18" mark after being so close and loading up on chow in the form of bay anchovies will certainly help them grow longer and put some shoulders on.
Trolling has been a very good way to catch a mix of bluefish and striped bass this week along major channel edges on both sides of the bay. Small spoons and surge tube lures have been the most popular and durable behind inline weights and planers. There is the chance of a few spanish mackerel out there but most seem to have headed south when the cooler weather moved in. As the water temperature drops schools of striped bass are going to become more active and found holding near channel edges where bait schools are being swept by. Their presence can be detected by obvious surface action and diving birds, marks on a depth finder or slicks caused by recent or active feeding activity taking place below the surface. Aaron Wexler holds up a nice spanish mackerel and striped bass caught near Thomas Point.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Wexler
Shallow water action for striped bass is gaining speed as waters cool down and flood tides coordinate with early morning and evening hours. Submerged shoreline structure near prominent points is the place to be and topwater lures can offer some exciting fishing. Often these areas hold grass that will foul subsurface lures and then of course there are the rocks that will cause snags. White perch are beginning to move into shallower waters and are providing plenty of action for those fishing from small boats, piers, docks and shorelines. Beetle-Spins, small jigs and shad darts tipped with bloodworms are a great offering as are spinners or a light bottom rig baited with bloodworms or grass shrimp.
Fishing in the lower bay region like the other regions of the bay has begun to shift towards a fall fishery as cool nights depress water temperatures. Already the spanish mackerel are leaving and spot and croaker are schooling up at the mouths of the major tidal rivers. Striped bass and bluefish are feeling the urge to become more active and feed heavily.
Trolling small spoons and surge tubes has been a good option this week for a mix of bluefish and striped bass along channel edges on the western and eastern edges of the shipping channel, the lower Potomac and the Tangier Sound area. Breaking fish are becoming a more common sight and bay anchovies tend to be at the top of the menu for bluefish and striped bass. The lower bay region has some of the largest bluefish being seen in Maryland waters and many of the 2011 year class striped bass are passing the 18" mark. Jigging over suspended fish or casting into breaking fish is coming into its own and will provide plenty of light tackle fun.
Shallow water fishing for striped bass and bluefish is getting better as water temperatures cool. Fish are moving into the shallower areas earlier in the evenings and staying later in the morning hours. Flood tides tend to offer some of the most productive fishing and topwater lures and swim shads like the Gulp Mullet are good lure choices. Prominent points and shoreline structure are always good places to check. Shorebound anglers are enjoying good fishing from shorelines and various docks and piers for a mix of croaker, spot, bluefish and striped bass.
Croaker and spot have been schooling up at the mouth of the Patuxent River and the tidal rivers on the eastern shore and the fishing has been about as good as it gets. In some areas white perch are also a big part of the mix as are small bluefish. There are also some nice flounder to be caught along shoal edges that drop into channels.
The Tangier and Pocomoke Sound areas have been offering some of the best fishing but the Point Lookout area is also a good place to look. Catch and release fishing for large red drum north of the Target Ship continues to offer some exciting fishing for those trolling large spoons or jigging where slicks can be seen from feeding fish.
Recreational crabbers in all three regions of the bay are seeing better catches of large full crabs this week. Catches are generally running from a third of a bushel or better in the upper bay to a full bushel in the middle and lower bay regions per outing. Some of the better catches tend to be coming from relatively shallow water and as one would imagine lower bay crabbers are seeing a lot of sooks on their trotlines or in collapsible crab traps. Angelina Watts spent some time with her dad crabbing in the Miles River recently and holds up a big fat Jimmie for the camera that is destined for the steamer pot.

Photo by Rich Watts
Freshwater anglers are beginning to see water temperatures at Deep Creek Lake drop down to the 70-degree mark and the absence of boating traffic. There is some very good smallmouth bass fishing occurring over rocky points in about 15' of water and good fishing for largemouth bass in grassy cove areas. As waters cool a bit more, walleye will become more common along steep edges and deep grass edges.
The upper Potomac River is reported to be running low and clear with grass fairly thick in many areas. Smallmouth bass are being caught along current breaks, underwater ledges and near large submerged boulders on tubes, jigs and crankbaits. Most of the smallmouth bass are in the 12" size range but cooler water temperatures will encourage the larger bass to become more active soon.
Largemouth bass activity is beginning to increase with cooler water temperatures and the morning bite is extending longer and the evening fishing begins earlier. The bass are still roaming near shallow grass and structure and a variety of lures such as spinnerbaits, topwater lures and soft plastics are all good choices.
Fishing for blue catfish in the tidal Potomac River is a great option this week for fun and for also filling up ones freezer with mild tasting fillets. Channel catfish are also present in the tidal Potomac and many of the tidal rivers around the Chesapeake Bay and selected ponds and lakes. David Brown was fishing on the lower Susquehanna River when he caught this big channel catfish on a chicken liver bait.

Photo Courtesy of David Brown
Surf water temperatures in the Ocean City region have dropped close to the 70-degree mark this week and will continue to steadily slide as cooler nights prevail. Small bluefish tend to dominate the surf action this week and finger mullet on a mullet bottom rig is a sure fire way to catch a mess of them. There is also a mix of kingfish and flounder being caught in the surf.
In and around the inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area flounder are being caught during the day along with small bluefish. The bluefish action really picks up in the evenings and casting Got Cha lures and metal is a good way to catch them. The channels in the back bays leading to the inlet are holding plenty of flounder and Gulp baits or fresh baits of squid, minnows, large silversides or finger mullet are good choices. Drifting live spot is a good choice when looking for larger doormat sized flounder.
The boats heading out to the wreck and reef sites continue to find excellent fishing for flounder and fair to good fishing for sea bass. The sea bass season will be closing from September 22nd to October 18th. False albacore are being caught along the 30-fathom line and farther offshore at the canyons dolphin are dominating catches with white marlin releases and some yellowfin tuna.


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