By: Erik Zlokovitz
This is Erik Zlokovitz again, filling in for Keith Lockwood while he continues his hunting adventure out west. Keith will be back from his trip next week and I'm sure he will have plenty of great stories! The remains of Hurricane Matthew hit the Chesapeake Bay and Ocean City area over the weekend with moderate to heavy rains and gusty winds which kept most boat fisherman at the dock. Some wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour were reported in the Ocean City area. We were fortunate to avoid the damage and flooding which was experienced in the Carolinas and Southeastern Virginia. The rain and colder air temperatures have caused water temperatures in the Bay to drop down to the mid-60's. A few bluefish, red drum, speckled trout and stray flounder have been reported from the middle and lower portion of the Bay, but the Spanish mackerel seem to be gone due to the cooling water temperatures. The big ocean run migratory striped bass have not arrived yet, but small to medium sized fish are very active and have been spotted surface feeding in the upper and middle Bay. Recreational crabbing is also very good, but will not last long, so make sure you get on the water soon to take advantage of the fall harvest! John McMullen had a great "combo trip" on the upper bay, catching crabs and striped bass with friends Mike Yants and Chris Keithley.
Photo by: John T. McMullen
In the extreme upper Bay/Susquehanna area, striped bass are being caught by shore anglers at the Conowingo tailrace, Elk Neck State Park and Turkey Point. Striped bass are being caught on the bottom with bloodworms and cut fish bait, and also on flies, and small jigs. Topwater lures should work during morning and evening hours and on overcast days. Channel catfish have been biting well on the Susquehanna flats. Clam snouts have been the best bait for catfish, but they are also biting on night crawlers, cut fish bait and bloodworms.
The larger migratory striped bass have not arrived yet, but small to medium sized fish have been reported breaking on the surface and feeding on small baitfish such as anchovies and silversides over a wide area in the upper and middle Bay and in the rivers such as the Patapsco, Magothy, Severn, and West/Rhode system. Most anglers are jigging, trolling and fishing topwater baits, with a few folks still live lining spot. As I mentioned last week, the spot will be hard to obtain with the rapidly falling water temperatures.
Striped bass fishing has improved in the Lower Bay and in some of the southern rivers such as the Patuxent. The fish are not big but they are providing some action for trollers and jiggers using small lures to imitate the small profile baitfish. The majority of the Spanish mackerel have left the lower Bay, but there are still a few bluefish, red drum, and speckled trout being caught. A stray flounder was caught in the lower Patuxent River near Solomons. The rain did not scare Julie Tomasik off the water, and she caught this nice striped bass from her kayak on the Patuxent River.
Photo courtesy of Julie Tomasi
Recreational crabbing continues to be good in the rivers with good catches reported from the Severn River and upper Bay. If you have not had your fill of the blue claws yet, then this is the time to go out and harvest some fall-run heavy crabs!
On the freshwater scene, steady rains last week produced a much needed but small rise in upper Potomac River levels. The small increase in flow made navigation a bit easier and the fishing has been good, though the fragments of aquatic vegetation present a real challenge, especially for surface lures and moving baits with treble hooks. Smallmouth fishing on the Potomac has been consistent and will remain good well into the fall and early winter. The best options for smallmouth continue to be small, lightweight tubes or other plastic baits bounced along the bottom and swept over boulders and ledges. Fall is a wonderful time of year to be outdoors and it can be tough deciding what fish to pursue. Trout fishing in October can be excellent too. A recent trip to the Savage River tailwater produced many nice brown trout. The water was slightly stained and larger nymphs proved to be best. Don't put those rods away just yet!
Smallmouth Bass and Brown Trout Photos courtesy of John Mullican
DNR Biologist Kenny Wampler out in Garrett County sent in the following report from a recent outing; the fishing at Deep Creek Lake is getting better with the recent cool weather and with water temperatures dropping into the low 60's. In recent outings I have fished for a mix bag of species and have covered the lake from deep water weed lines to docks in a few feet of water and I have found fish deep, shallow and everywhere in between. This time of year I like to throw jerkbaits, crankbaits, and jigs with a "match the hatch" approach. Using these lures along weedbeds has produced a mixed bag of bass, perch, walleye, pike and pickerel. Live bait should be in your arsenal as well. Jigs tipped with minnows, minnows under a bobber, and drifting worms should produce some action. Outside edges of weedbeds and drop offs have been good for live bait options. Live bait has produced mostly perch with an occasional walleye and bass thrown in the mix. Late fall is a great time to be on Deep Creek with little boat traffic and the fish will in a feeding 'free-for-all' in the weeks to come. Don't give up too soon, or you might miss a shot at a big Northern pike like this one caught by Rick Krivda.
Photo courtesy of Rick Krivda
In Ocean City, wahoo and dolphin were biting well in the Washington Canyon before the remains of Matthew moved through, but offshore fisherman stayed tied to the dock during the storm and few reports have been seen after the big blow. The flounder bite has been very good near the inlet and sheepshead are biting well on the jetty rocks. Nice sized bluefish up to 6 pounds, and striped bass were hitting well on the Route 50 bridge. The classic lures here are Gotcha plugs, plastic jigs, and bucktails. Kyle Wasem and his friend were drifting the inlet using 4" and 6" gulp jigs and caught a lot of small sea bass, a short flounder, and found a school of 17"-20" red drum. These two pretty puppy drum were quickly released after the photo was taken.
photo by Kyle Wasem