Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 26, 2014


By: Keith Lockwood

As the end of November approaches and fishing begins to take a back seat for many, there is a group out there enjoying plenty of good fishing opportunities when the weather permits. A lot of boats are being pulled from the water and marina lots are filling up with boats being winterized. Many trailered boats are now giving up their "ready to go" status to being winterized and parked farther into the backyard. Turkey day is upon us and if one thinks about the origins of Thanksgiving up on the coast of Massachusetts I think it would be a safe bet that more seafood was served at that first Thanksgiving meal than turkey.
There is still plenty of striped bass action along channel edges in the Susquehanna Flats, Elk River and the mouth of the Susquehanna River. There is still some topwater action being reported but as water temperatures drop, jigging and the use of deep water crankbaits are becoming more popular. The Conowingo Dam is releasing water in the late mornings and sometimes late evening as well; striped bass are being caught in the dam pool on live eels and by casting crankbaits and swim shads. Leonard Fewster really looks like he has his hands full as he holds up this 46.5" striped bass for the camera in his kayak before releasing it near the Susquehanna Flats.

Photo Courtesy of Leonard Fewster
Upper bay striped bass fishing tends to be focused now near deep structure such as steep channel edges, prominent points, bridge piers and shoal areas. Drifting live eels has been popular as is jigging and trolling. Breaking fish can be found at times but most of the action tends to be on suspended fish, so a good depth finder and knowledge of bottom structure is important. The Bay Bridge piers and rock piles continue to be a magnet for fish and a mix of striped bass and white perch can be found there. Much of the jigging action is taking place in about 50' of water near the main bridge abutments and rock piles. Metal or soft plastic jigs are working well for the striped bass; a metal jig with a dropper fly above is the ticket for white perch.
In the middle bay region much of the striped bass action continues to be near the mouths of the region's major tidal rivers as the striped bass intercept bait leaving the tidal rivers. Breaking fish and diving birds often lead the way to the action but slicks, birds sitting on the water and a good depth finder can help find suspended fish. The major channel edges out in the bay are also good places to find striped bass where swift current sweep schools of bait fish along. Jigging with metal or soft plastics is perhaps the most popular method of fishing when concentrations of fish can be found but as most know a lot of water can be covered by trolling when fish are scattered. Most are trolling a mixed spread of bucktails dressed with sassy shads or twister tails, swim shads and a few large parachute offerings just in case a large fall migrant striped bass happens to be in the area. Only a few really large striped bass have been caught recently but that could change any day; there is always hope.
Fishermen can find good fishing opportunities from shore as well this time of the year from fishing piers, prominent points and similar areas that hold striped bass or white perch. Solomon Jovenal was casting a 6" Storm Shad at Kent Narrows when he caught this nice striped bass.

Photo Courtesy of Solomon Jovenal
The sharp drop in water temperatures can have a detrimental effect on some of our summer season visitors to the Chesapeake Bay. Sea turtles are often seen in the bay during the summer months and unfortunately some of them don't head south fast enough to avoid the extreme cold causing them to be in severe distress and sometimes death. If you happen upon a distressed sea turtle you can report it to NRP at 1-800-628-9944 and the Marine Mammal/ Sea Turtle Stranding group will do their best to respond.
Lower bay fishermen are seeing all kinds of striped bass action along the steep channel edges of the shipping channel at many traditional locations such as Cove Point on the western shore. The steep channel edges in the lower Potomac near St. George's Island are holding fish as is the mouth of the Patuxent River. The channel edges near Buoy 72, along lower Hooper's Island and Tangier sound are also providing plenty of action. Diving sea gulls and breaking fish have been leading the way for much of the action for light tackle jigging. The size of the striped bass tends to range from about 17" to about 24" with a larger fish tossed in every now and then.
Trolling a mixed spread of bucktails and swim shads is also a very popular way to fish especially on the colder days when the warmth of a cabin in so inviting. Most boats are trolling along the steeper channel edges often deep with the use of inline weights or planers. If the large fall migrant striped bass show up, the lower bay will be the first place they are caught so large parachutes or bucktails are being mixed in with trolling spreads this week.
There is some good white perch action to be had in the deeper areas in the lower sections of the region's major tidal rivers. Jigging with metal and dropper flies or using bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworms can put a fine mess of white perch in your boat. There is plenty of blue catfish action in the lower Potomac River around the Wicomico River and north. Bill Boteler and his fishing buddies Pat Baseler and Craig Harlow fished for two hours on a flood tide in the lower Potomac for blue catfish and had to stop when they filled their two 120 quart coolers.

Photo Courtesy of Bill Boteler
Freshwater fishing at Deep Creek Lake continues to be good for yellow perch and walleyes along some of the steeper rocky edges. Drifting minnows under a slip bobber has been one of the more popular ways to fish but deep running Rapalas or crankbaits can work well for walleyes in the evening hours. More and more ice is being seen on coves lately and this will be a process of forming and retreating as weather fluctuates but eventually it will be here to stay. The ice fishing community is beginning to get excited that maybe they may have an early ice fishing season this year.
Trout fishing remains very good in many of the western and central region's trout management waters. The upper Potomac is still running low and clear making for difficult fishing but that may change with the impending weather due tomorrow.
Largemouth bass are entering a winter mode of behavior when cold water temperatures tend to drive them to deeper waters and their metabolism tends to slow down. Look for largemouth bass on the sunny sides of lake and pond shores during the afternoons when they seek out warmer water. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastics can be good choices to try and entice them to strike. Often when the water is colder the strike will be more of a pickup especially when using soft plastics. Fishing deep along channel edges and deep structure with crankbaits, slow rolled spinnerbaits and soft plastic grubs is a good bet this week. It might even be time to break out a blade lure. Whatever you use, remember the pickups will be subtle.
Crappie are schooled up near deep structure such as bridge piers and marina docks. A small jig or minnow under a bobber is a time proven method to catch them. Channel catfish can provide plenty of fun fishing this time of the year and can be found in most tidal rivers and a few selected lakes such as Piney Run. There are plenty of bluegills holding in deeper water that will take small jigs and similar lures. Chain pickerel love cold water and are very active this time of the year and with grass beds declining the pickerel can be more accessible. Matt Baden took this picture of a Maryland Fishing Challenge award certificate qualifying chain pickerel before releasing it back into a Severn River tributary recently. 

Photo Courtesy of Matt Baden
Ocean City surf fishing is centered mostly on catching the last of the small bluefish in the area and waiting out for hopes of catching a large striped bass moving south along the beaches. Fresh menhaden baits are what are being used for the striped bass with plenty of skates and dogfish ready to chew things up. In and around the inlet tautog are being caught during the day on pieces of green crab and sand fleas near rocks and bulkheads. At night a few striped bass are being caught on live eels.
Outside the inlet boats have been trolling a mix of deep diving crankbaits, parachutes and bucktails near some of the shoal areas hoping to connect with migrating striped bass. There have been a few reports of some big striped bass caught south of the inlet. The boats headed out to the wreck and reef sites are reporting excellent sea bass fishing for their clients. Limit catches are common and captains report that jigging has been as successful as bait. Now and then bluefish have been up to their tricks of biting off sea bass being hauled to the surface so bluefish and the occasional triggerfish and flounder can also be part of the mix.


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