Thursday, October 9, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | October 09, 2014

By: Keith Lockwood

Fishermen who were out on the water this morning or anyone else who was up and happened to look at the western sky a little after 6 am this morning was treated to a lunar eclipse. The October moon is also labeled as the Hunter's Moon by Native Americans and was a signal to them that they better start hunting in earnest and begin putting up meat for the winter months. Perhaps this long weekend and the Hunter's Moon will encourage fishermen to take advantage of some of the good fishing available right now to stock up on some fish fillets in their freezers for the upcoming winter months.
There continues to be very good fishing for striped bass in the very upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay near the Susquehanna Flats, the mouth of the Susquehanna and Elk Rivers. Most are enjoying fun topwater action with the striped bass in the morning and evening hours but trolling a mix of bucktails and crankbaits can also be very successful. Floating grass is becoming a problem in regard to fouling lines but well worth the aggravation since a very nice grade of striped bass is being caught in the area.
A little farther down the bay live lining eels near some of the swift current channel areas around Pooles Island, Hart Miller Island and the mouth of the Patapsco River has been a very productive method to catch some of the larger striped bass in the area. Jigging near deep structure for suspended fish is effective as is casting topwater lures, crankbaits or soft plastics near shoreline structure. Breaking fish are being spotted with more regularity as schools of bait fish begin to move down the tidal rivers and providing some fun casting and jigging action. White perch are a big part of the mix in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and can offer some fun ultra light fishing when using small jigs, spinners or Beetle Spin type lures. Shoreline fishermen are also using bottom rigs baited with bloodworms with good results.
There have been good opportunities for trolling in the upper bay region near the channel edges at the Triple Buoys, Love Point, the mouth of the Magothy River and the Dumping Grounds. There are still some bluefish in the area so spoons, bucktails and surge tube lures behind planers and inline weights have been the most common lures. Breaking fish have been a more common sight this week and trolling near the action or casting or jigging with light tackle have been good options.
There is still plenty of fishing action near the Bay Bridge piers where striped bass tend to be suspended near the pier bases. Jigging with soft plastics or bucktails is a good option, chumming and chunking can work and those lucky enough to find some live spot or live eels can always live line near the piers or rock piles for their striped bass. Joe Perret recently took his two daughters fishing near the Bay Bridge and this one seems very happy with a nice fish she caught on a live eel.

Photo by Joe Perret
October usually heralds in a time of exciting light tackle striped bass fishing and so far fishermen have not been disappointed as schools of striped bass and bluefish are busy chasing bait that is beginning to move out of the tidal rivers. A large percentage of the bait being encountered are bay anchovies along with a mix of small menhaden and silversides. Later on this month young of the year river herring and hickory shad will be exiting the tidal rivers in small scattered schools. Diving birds often mark the action but slicks can also lead the way to good jigging action with metal jigs or bucktails. A good depth finder is often as important as having a bird dog when upland game hunting and will reveal suspended fish. A good pair of binoculars can also be very helpful when scanning the horizon for bird action. Charging up on a group of fishermen and breaking fish is a sure way to receive a lot of stink eye and perhaps a few well placed comments if in ear shot so it is best to move in slowly upwind, turn the motor off and drift into the action. Braided line and a fast taper fishing rod are a real plus for the ultimate in sensitivity and being able to vertical jig effectively. Usually a 1 oz to 2 oz jig is sufficient to hold close to the bottom but a few heavier jigs in your tackle box are good insurance. Although a bit more expensive butterfly jigs are a good option when jigging over rocky bottoms since the hooks are not at the bottom of the jig. The channel edges in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and channel edges out in the bay are some of the first places to look for action; these areas are where schools of bait are being swept along by tidal currents.
Trolling a mixed spread of bucktails, spoons and surge tube lures behind planers or inline weights is a very good option and channel edges often offer the best action. Trolling near breaking fish is usually productive but be cautious of fishermen who are casting or jigging on the same fish and never troll directly through breaking fish; a sure way to put them down and curtail the action. Lures can be trolled in tandem, single or behind an umbrella rig and once the bluefish move out swim shads are a real plus on bucktails; Storm Shad type lures are also an excellent choice. Deep diving crankbaits and similar hard baits are also a great choice when trolling a few flat lines. Dave Street sent us a picture of the results of trolling near the mouth of the Severn River of some fat bluefish and nice striped bass.

Photo by Dave Street
Water temperatures have now dipped below the 70-degree mark and the downward decline will continue. There are still some spot to be caught in the lower sections of the middle and lower bay regions but those that have not left yet are certainly getting ready to. The mouth of the Nanticoke and Honga Rivers are holding some spot but a depth finder is needed to locate them; the same holds true for Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds and the lower Patuxent River. The schools of spot are often densely packed so the catching can be really good. White perch can also be mixed in at some locations. The white perch fishing along shoreline structure has been good but cooling water temperatures will soon drive them to deeper waters. Sunny afternoons tend to warm shallower waters up enough to make for better fishing opportunities for white perch.
The lower bay region tends to hold the best promise for anyone wishing to load up their smoker with one more batch of bluefish before they depart completely. Most bluefish being encountered in the middle and lower bay region are small but the Middle Grounds area is holding bluefish up to 5 lbs in size. There are also some flounder, red drum and speckled trout being caught in the lower bay region at locations such as Point Lookout, Hooper's Island and the Tangier/ Pocomoke Sound area. Anna Estremsky holds up a beautiful speckled trout she caught near Hooper's Island while fishing with her dad.

Photo by Anna Estremsky
Water temperatures are in the mid 60's in most of the tidal rivers and recreational and commercial crabbers that trot line are reporting the crabs are deep and catches are dropping off considerably. Typically once water temperatures hit the 60 degree mark most trot line and collapsible trap crabbers pack it in for the season. Bottom temperatures in most areas are running close to surface temperatures so a defined thermocline has not developed yet in most areas.
Freshwater fishing in the western region of the state is slowly transitioning as water temperatures decline. Deep Creek Lake is presently holding in the low 60's. Smallmouth bass are being caught near floating docks in deeper waters and rocky points. Largemouth bass and northern pike are being found along grass edges in the shallower coves. The upper Potomac River is still running low and clear with water temperatures around 60F. The grass is beginning to break up and there is a little color in the water in some areas due to vegetation decomposition. Light lines, fluorocarbon leaders are in order when casting jigs and swim shads near underwater ledges and current breaks. There is also some smallmouth bass and walleye action going on in the lower Susquehanna River; small jigs, crankbaits and topwater lures are the lures of choice.
Trout fishing continues to be good in many of the trout management waters that are part of the fall stocking program. The stocking locations and approximate dates are posted on the trout fishing website link and fishermen can receive confirmation of stocking through the Fisheries email subscription as well as other news such as the results of the recent tidal largemouth bass fishermen survey and the upper Potomac River smallmouth bass young of the year survey.
Largemouth bass are slowly cruising along declining grass beds as cover begins to become sparser for baitfish and crawfish. Spinnerbaits, tubes and small crankbaits that resemble crawfish are very good choices for lure selection. Sunken wood, rocks and pier bases are good places to check during times of the day when the sun is high in the sky. Crappie are beginning to show signs of schooling up in deeper waters near structure such as bridge piers and deep water docks at marinas. Fishing for channel catfish is excellent in many of the states tidal rivers and selected impoundments and fishing for blue catfish is excellent in the tidal Potomac. Smiley Hsu was fishing a tube in deep water at Rocky Gorge when he caught this slab crappie recently.

Photo courtesy of Smiley Hsu
Water temperatures in the Ocean City area have finally dropped below 70F and many fisheries are transitioning. Small bluefish are still being caught in the surf on finger mullet along with kingfish, small black drum and flounder. A few large red drum are being caught and released in the surf of Ocean City and Assateague. At the inlet flounder are pouring through on their way offshore for the winter. Tautog and sheepshead are being caught along the jetties and bulkheads on sand fleas and pieces of green crabs. The channels leading to the inlet are flounder highways this week and catches have been some of the best of the season.
At the inshore wreck and reef sites large flounder are being caught by party boats and private boats fishing with Gulp baits or strip baits. There have been plenty of sea bass taking swipes at baits and if they keep that up after October 18th they might find themselves being tossed into an ice chest. Farther offshore in the canyon regions dolphin have been plentiful and at times boats are finding some large yellowfin tuna.


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