Friday, November 21, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 21, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

Maryland has of course been hit with some really cold and windy weather this week, driving water temperatures down and keeping most boats and fishermen off the open waters of the ocean, bay and large freshwater impoundments. The wind is dropping out and warmer air temperatures are predicted for the weekend so make sure to get out and help yourself to the excellent fishing that can be found in many areas of the state.
Despite cold temperatures there are still good fishing opportunities for striped bass in the channel edges surrounding the Susquehanna Flats and nearby tidal rivers. As long as the wind is not too strong, casting topwater lures and small crankbaits and soft plastic jigs is providing action on fish with about a 2 to 3 throwback ratio. Others have been having luck drifting live eels or casting a variety of lures in the Conowingo Dam pool in the mornings. White perch and channel catfish are being caught in the channel areas of the tidal rivers and smallmouth bass and walleyes are part of the deep water mix in the lower Susquehanna River.
Farther down the bay striped bass are being found in a variety of locations such as channel edges, shoals and prominent points. The fish are either suspended off the bottom or in a favorite scene of breaking water with diving sea gulls leading the way. Jigging is a favorite method when fish can be spotted in concentrations and trolling with a mix of bucktails and swim shads in tandem or behind umbrella rigs with plenty of weight to get them deep when fish seem scattered. Live lining eels at areas where bottom structure and currents provide an inviting place for larger striped bass has also been very productive. Locations around the Baltimore Harbor area and the Bay Bridge piers and rock piles are always favorite places to fish live eels.
Breaking fish can be spotted at anytime in the bay and most often where strong tidal currents are sweeping schools of bait along. The presence of diving sea gulls is always a dead giveaway but resting birds and slicks can often indicate striped bass suspended off the bottom. This is when a good depth finder is a very valuable asset. Jigging with metal, bucktails or soft plastic jigs is the way to get down to the fish. Rich Watts sent us this picture that tends to stir the heart of anyone wishing to get in on the exciting action of working a school of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay. 

Photo by Rich Watts

The striped bass action continues down into and throughout the middle bay region this week and with diminishing winds those hardy enough to brave the cold temperatures will find striped bass along major channel edges in the bay and tidal rivers. There is still bait in the form of small menhaden moving out of most of the region's tidal rivers. In the lower Choptank River there are also young of the year river herring and hickory shad exiting the river as well. Water temperatures are dipping into the 40's in most areas. When birds and slicks lead the way to suspended fish holding off the bottom, (again, jigging with bucktails, soft plastic jigs and metal are the preferred method to reach the action) a good depth finder will certainly help confirm the fish are there. Trolling a mix of bucktails and swim shads deep is the best way to cover water when the fish are scattered. There have been few reports of large fall migrant striped bass in the last week but one never knows if and when those reports will become more numerous. The time of the month is right so it might pay to put a few large parachutes or bucktails out in your trolling spread. There are also fish in the 30' class that are mixed in with the smaller fish and these will light up anyone's day on light tackle. Bill Harvey holds up a really nice one he caught on a bucktail in the lower Choptank River. 

Photo by Donald Webster
White perch can be found holding over deep oyster shell bottom in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and often are coming up on metal jigs when fishing for striped bass. They can be targeted when they can be spotted on a depth finder; a metal jig with a smaller jig or fly on a dropper loop tied in above is a good way to catch them. Putting a small piece of bloodworm in the dropper fly can improve the odds. Shoreline fishing for white perch and channel catfish can be good at times in some of the deeper channel areas when a good tide is running. The Kent Narrows and the deep end of the Bill Burton Fishing Pier are two places often worth checking out.
The lower bay has been offering good fishing for striped bass throughout the entire region recently. The steep channel edges near St. George's Island on the lower Potomac River have been a good spot to troll or jig for striped bass. The Lower Patuxent River is offering similar action at the mouth of the river and the tidal rivers on the eastern side of the bay are holding striped bass as well. Breaking fish can be encountered most anywhere where a good tidal current is pushing bait along a steep channel edge. The channel edge out in front of Cove Point and Point No Point are two good examples. There has also been a lot of action reported down at Smith Point. 
Trolling has been a good option in the region and if the large fall migrants show up, the Smith Point area will be one of the first places they are caught. Mixing in some large parachutes in bucktails is a smart move this time of the year. Bradley Adams was certainly happy that he put some large lures in his spread and holds up a whopper of a striped bass that took him up on his offerings. 

Photo Courtresy of Bradley Adams
The white perch fishing in the lower Patuxent River has been very good near the Solomon's Bridge up to Point Patience. Good fishing for white perch can also be found at the mouth of the Nanticoke and similar rivers on the Eastern Shore. Jigs or bottom rigs tipped with bloodworms is a sure fire way to catch them. Fishing for blue catfish has been excellent in the lower Wicomico River that flows into the Potomac and of course the Potomac River is also full of blue catfish. Most any kind of fresh cut bait will work well.
Freshwater anglers in western Maryland who love their ice fishing may be getting their wishes before Christmas if the present course of weather continues. Some of the coves at Deep Creek Lake have ice on them already. Of course the ice usually forms and retreats at first but present weather forecasts may help develop an early ice fishing season. Yellow perch and walleye are being caught along the steep and rocky drop offs around the lake. The yellow perch really go for minnows under a slip bobber and casting Rapala type lures at dusk for the walleyes is a fun way to catch them.
Trout fishing remains good in many of the western and central region trout management waters whether they are put and take or catch and release. The upper Potomac River is still running very low and clear making for difficult fishing, especially from a boat. 
Largemouth bass are beginning to hold deeper as water temperatures decline and can often be found holding along steep edges. They are there to intercept crayfish and baitfish headed for deeper cover. Most any kind of crankbait or jig that looks like a crayfish is a good bet as are spinnerbaits slow rolled close to the bottom.
Crappie are schooled up near deep structure such as bridge piers and wharfs. Marinas with deep water docks in the tidal Potomac are an especially good place to catch a mess of crappie. Small jigs and minnows are good choices to catch them.
The Ocean City area water temperatures are now in the 50's and surf fishing has been mostly centered on small bluefish a lot of skates and dogfish with the hope of a striped bass or two. At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area tautog fishing has been good but the throwback ratio can be high. Pieces of green crab and sand fleas have been the baits of choice. Striped bass are also being caught at the inlet at night, mostly on live eels.
Offshore the fishing for sea bass has been excellent on the wreck and reef sites lately. Limit catches are often the norm. Large bluefish have been living up to their reputation at times by biting off sea bass being hauled to the surface. Bluefish, triggerfish and a few flounder tend to fill out the mix. Richard Wright holds up a nice pair of sea bass he caught while on an Ocean City party boat. 

Photo Courtresy of Richard Wright
More than a few boats have been out trolling near the inshore shoal areas off the beaches looking for fall migrant striped bass moving south along the Maryland coast. There has not been much to report lately but this could change at any time.


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