By: Erik Zlokovitz
This is Erik Zlokovitz, filling in for Keith Lockwood for the next two weeks while he is on a hunting trip in New Mexico. A major weather system with easterly winds and rain moved through the area on Wednesday through Saturday, which caused water temperatures in the Bay to drop further in Bay Waters. A combination of cooling water temperatures and lower salinity from the rain and freshwater input should start to push the summer visitors such as bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and red drum south towards their overwintering areas. The falling temperatures will also create new angling opportunities for resident fish in Maryland as they feed and prepare to fatten up for the upcoming winter months. For example, striped bass tend to bite well on topwater baits under overcast skies as the waters cool down.
Photo courtesy of Steven Snyder
In the extreme upper Bay/Susquehanna Flats area, water temperatures at the NOAA Data Buoy – "Susquehanna" – near Havre De Grace have dropped further to 72°. It seems that most of the rain during the last few days fell over on the Eastern shore, and the Conowingo Dam hotline reports that no flood gates have been open, so there is no extreme flow condition. Shore anglers have been reporting success on keeper size striped bass up to 27 inches in the Conowingo tailrace, using a fly or bass assassin in combination with a 2-3 ounce inline sinker and casting the rig with a long surf rod and 20lb braid.
In the upper bay region between Baltimore Harbor and the Bay Bridge, most striped bass are being caught on jigs, topwater baits, and trolling. Some folks are live lining spot around the Bay Bridge pilings, but this live bait will be less readily available as the water temperatures continue to cool down. The chumming bite which was steady all summer has also slowed down. Breaking fish have been reported anywhere from Love Point, south to the Bay Bridge, Poplar Island, and Thomas Point.
Fishing for white perch in the lower sections of the upper bay and middle bay's tidal rivers is slowing down in the shallows, but should be better in the deeper areas over hard bottom. Bloodworms and dropper rigs with small flies or plastics and small leadheads with twister tails work well.
Lower bay fishermen are were fishing on a mix of bluefish, Spanish mackerel and striped bass prior to the storm system on Thursday. The Spanish mackerel should be moving out now as waters cool.
Recreational crabbing continues to be good in the rivers with good catches reported from the Severn and West/Rhode systems. This is a good time of year to catch heavier crabs and boat traffic is very light.
The mid-Atlantic Region received much needed precipitation last week and the flows in most Maryland rivers and streams have improved. Smallmouth bass fishing on the upper Potomac has been good with most fish running 8 to 14" with larger bass thrown into mix enough to keep things interesting. Topwater baits fished during the evening hours have accounted for some of the larger bass while finesse-sized plastic baits fished on lightweight jig heads have been most successful under low, clear conditions.
Photo courtesy of John Mullican
The population of invasive flathead catfish in the upper Potomac has increased dramatically in recent years. The chance to catch large fish has attracted anglers to this fishery. Flathead catfish are excellent table fair and the Freshwater Fisheries Program encourages anglers to harvest these tasty predators to help control their numbers and reduce their potential to impact existing resources.
Photo courtesy of John Mullican
Freshwater fishing opportunities in Western Maryland are starting to increase. Drought conditions have been hampering trout fisherman in Western Maryland for a month or so. Cooler night time air temperatures along with a few days of rain should bring rivers and streams back to fishable form. Areas like the Youghiogheny and North Branch Potomac River, which has been experiencing historic low flows, will be fishing better due to last week's rain. Smaller streams which hold Brook Trout are also seeing the positive effects of rain and cooler temperatures. Environmental stresses on trout should ease and catch rates should go up.
Western Maryland's impoundments are also starting to fish better due to lower temperatures and increased rain fall. Surface temperatures, which have exceeded 70 ° the past couple weeks, have dropped. The lower temperatures have triggered fish activity and better fishing opportunities. Bluegill, Yellow Perch, and Smallmouth Bass, are being caught more frequently in areas like Deep Creek Lake. Early fall can be a great time to hook into a trophy Walleye or Northern Pike. As surface temperatures drop, game fish will be more active in shallow water and increase fishing opportunities throughout the month.
In Ocean City, there was very good white marlin fishing prior to the storm system. Wahoo and dolphin were biting well on Sunday after the system moved through. The flounder bite picked up inshore, and sheepshead were biting well around structure.