Monday, November 10, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 10, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

Your fishing report author is back in Maryland after an exciting and at times hair raising hunting trip to Tanzania. To keep it short I will say that being around lions and crocodiles gives you a new perspective about being part of the food chain and I've never hunted something that meant to do me in. I did do a little fishing for tiger fish and jumped three or four but found them hard to hook with lures while trying to not be lunch for a crocodile.
I was fortunate enough to get out fishing yesterday afternoon on the lower Choptank River and it was very exciting to see sea gulls diving and striped bass breaking for miles around. The fish were beautiful, robust and holding those wonderful shades of purple and green on their backs and at the top of their form. I was happy to see there was still a lot of fall color, the geese were flying, the loons have arrived, life is good in Maryland and it is good to be back home. Don't take fall fishing for granted make sure to get out and enjoy it whether you are fishing freshwater, Chesapeake Bay or at Ocean City. 

Photo by Keith Lockwood
The Conowingo Dam has been on a late afternoon power generation schedule lately so morning access to the river and dam pool has been easy and there are some striped bass being caught in the dam pool by casting lures or using live eels. In the lower Susquehanna there are striped bass, smallmouth bass and walleye as well as flathead and channel catfish. Water temperatures at the mouth of the river are holding around 54F and there is good fishing for striped bass being found there and around the edges of the flats. The morning topwater action continues to be a favorite with jigging and trolling being employed later on in the day.
In the upper bay there is a lot of action around prominent points and channel edges for those using live eels, jigging soft plastics and metal or trolling a mixed spread of bucktails dressed with sassy shads and swim shads. Umbrella rigs are very popular this time of the year and with the bluefish out of the equation Storm type swim shads and similar soft plastics are a good choice. Love Point, Swan Point, Pooles Island and Podickory Point are all good places to give a try and of course breaking fish can be encountered along channel edges at most any time. Chumming is also a very viable option this week along steep channel edges at traditional locations such as Love Point.
The Bay Bridge area continues to a good place to fish whether one is working the structure of the bridge piers and rock piles or cashing in on the breaking fish that can often be spotted along the shipping channel edges. Drifting live eels or jigging near the bridge piers and rock piles are very popular methods of fishing for striped bass and jigging is the way to catch the large white perch that often congregate at the rock piles this time of the year. The swift currents along the shipping channel are great places to check for striped bass feeding on small menhaden that are being swept along by the currents. This past Friday before the weekend blow any driver crossing the Bay Bridge that happened to be a fisherman surely had to discipline themselves to keep their eyes on the road as diving birds and boats worked breaking fish below. Conner Shank got to go fishing at the Bay Bridge recently and holds up a nice 26" striped bass he caught there. 

Photo courtesy of Conner Shank
Water temperatures in the middle bay region are running about 56F this week and bait in the form of small menhaden are pouring out of the tidal rivers. After a tough weekend blow the action has been nonstop this week when it comes to jigging and trolling for striped bass in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and out in the bay. Usually the birds lead the way to the action but a trusty depth finder is a fisherman's best friend this time of the year to spot fish holding near the bottom. Casting topwater lures to the breaking fish is always a lot of fun but hooking a sea gull can be a real headache to fisherman and bird as well. Most are using metal or soft plastic jigs and the 2-ounce Crippled Herring is a standout for this type of fishing. A fair percentage of the fish being encountered are coming up just short of 18" but most are falling in the 19" to 22" size range. Every once in a while there are some whoppers out there such as this 33" striped bass caught in the lower Choptank by Steve Early on Monday afternoon.

Photo by Matt Mahoney
The lower bay region has its share of striped bass action this week as bait is being swept down the shipping channel and out of the region's tidal rivers. Light tackle enthusiasts are having a ball, finding plenty of breaking striped bass to cast or jig to. The mouths of the region's major tidal rivers have been great places to get in on the action as well as bay locations such as Point No Point. The Tangier and Pocomoke Sound areas and the lower Patuxent and Potomac have also been real hot spots lately. Trolling is a fine option for fall striped bass fishing and a mixed spread of swim shads and bucktails dressed with sassy shads is a great choice. There may still be a few bluefish in the region but with water temperatures in the 56F range the last of them may exit after this weekend's predicted blow. There is a lot bait in the form of menhaden moving down the bay and with salinities up perhaps there will be a fall run of large striped bass in the lower bay region soon.
White perch are moving into the deeper areas of the regions tidal rivers and small jigs dressed with a piece of bloodworm or a bottom rig baited with the same will often get results. The lower Potomac from the Wicomico River north is holding a lot of medium sized blue catfish which freeze well and make excellent table fare. Most any kind of fresh cut bait will entice them to strike. 
Freshwater fishing at Deep Creek Lake has been very good this week as water temperatures dip into the low 50's. There is a mix of yellow perch, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, chain pickerel and largemouth bass being caught. The yellow perch and walleye are being caught along steep lake edges on live minnows and a slip bobber, smallmouth bass are being caught on tubes and crankbaits and chain pickerel and northern pike are being caught in the cove areas on a variety of spinners and hard baits. 
The upper Potomac is presently running clear and at good levels but that may change for the weekend with rain in the forecast. Leaves and floating grass can tend to foul lures but the smallmouth bass are there willing to strike a variety of tubes, swim shad jigs and crankbaits.
Largemouth bass are on a heavy feed for baitfish and crayfish leaving the shallower areas as grass beds begin to break up. Crankbaits and jigs that resemble crayfish are an excellent choice whether you are fishing a pond, lake or tidal river this time of the year. Tubes and jigs and similar crayfish imitations are also the go-to bait when fishing for smallmouth bass in Prettyboy and Liberty Reservoirs. 
Trout fishing continues to be good in the trout management areas that were stocked last month. Cool water temperatures and thin crowds will ensure that these trout will be available for several months. To catch up where and when the trout were stocked be sure to check the trout stocking website. Skylar Hepner's dad took her trout fishing at Hughesville Pond recently and had fun catching some rainbow trout. 

Photo courtesy of Skylar Hepner
Cooler water temperatures have the catfish biting and most of the major tidal rivers have good populations of channel catfish. The lower Potomac has large populations of blue catfish and the lower Susquehanna has flathead catfish. All three make for some excellent eating and fun fishing. Fresh cut baits, nightcrawlers or chicken liver are good baits to use for channel catfish; blue catfish and flathead catfish prefer fresh cut baits.
Ocean City area water temperatures have dipped to the 60F mark this week and most of the summer species have left. There are still some small bluefish in the surf but dogfish, skates and a few striped bass are now filling in. At the inlet there are still a few flounder moving through the inlet but most of the attention is on tautog fishing which has been very good lately around the rocks and bulkheads at the inlet and Route 50 Bridge. At night striped bass are being caught at the inlet on live eels and large swim shads.
Out at the wreck and reef sites sea bass fishing has been excellent and limit catches are common. There is also a mix of bluefish, trigger fish and flounder being caught. Richard Gunion sent in this picture of a fine looking sea bass that he caught while fishing on a head boat out of Ocean City. 

Photo courtesy of Richard Gunion


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