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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 29, 2010

Fishermen across the state will be looking forward to some moderation in the weather this weekend if the weather man keeps his end of the bargain up. Water temperatures actually rose in some areas due to last weeks hot weather but perhaps mother nature will get back to her fall agenda this week after some much needed rain and fishermen will see calmer wind conditions and milder temperatures.

Bill Burton Annual Youth Fishing Derby - View tournament flyer

There will be a fun fishing event for children and parents this coming Saturday October 2nd on the Talbot County side of the Bill Burton Fishing Pier across the Choptank River. Join staff from MD DNR Fisheries Service, the Coastal Conservation Association, and the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Associatison, along with members of longtime Maryland outdoor writer Bill Burton's family. The First Bill Burton Annual Youth Fishing Derby is free of charge and open to all youth under the age of 16. Loaner fishing tackle and bait is available for those that don't have their own. Registration and fishing begins at 8 AM and runs until 11 AM. There will be an awards ceremony with prizes at 11:30AM including a grand prize from AAA Stormy Petrel Charters, a charter boat trip for six. For additional information, please contact Marty Gary: 410-260-8289 or mlgary@dnr.state.md.us.

Chesapeake

Chesapeake Bay fishermen have been watching some of our summer migrant species leave one by one in the last couple of weeks. The Spanish mackerel have left for the most part as have the croaker. There are still some large spot in the lower bay and still plenty of fat bluefish around for this coming weekend. More than a few fishermen have been trying to stock up on spot for live lining and keeping them in floating cages or pens off their docks. A story came across my desk this week of a charter boat captain who had his spot pen raided by a hungry otter. I think otters are always hungry and are proven to be crafty tricksters. At the harbors at Ocracoke and Hatteras, North Carolina in the 1970's they had the mischievous habit of slipping over the transom of center console boats and riffling live wells and fish boxes for lunch while you paid for gas at the dock. So make sure the lid on your spot pen has a locking latch.

The continuing fall of water temperatures in the upper bay are beginning to show some profound changes for fishermen. Bait in the form of menhaden, silversides and bay anchovies are moving out of the tidal rivers and traveling down the bay often unmolested by marauding striped bass and bluefish. Trolling spoons and bucktails have been a very good way to catch striped bass and bluefish recently and light tackle jigging is beginning to become more productive as fish school up under bait or deep structure. The Bay Bridge piers and steep channel edges have been two of the "go to" places for fishermen recently and this pattern will likely continue. The mouths of the region's tidal rivers such as the Patapsco have also been good places to troll or jig for striped bass.

White perch fishing continues to be good near deep structure such as rocks and shoal areas. Jigs with dropper flies or bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp, bloodworms or peeler crab are good choices to use. The rock piles at the Bay Bridge and Fort McHenry or shoal areas such as Belvidere Shoals are good places to start looking for white perch. Most fishermen will agree that one needs to check out several likely locations to find the best concentrations of large perch. Fishing for channel catfish in the tidal rivers and at the head of the bay has been very good.

Fishermen in the middle bay region will be looking forward to better weather conditions this coming week which will allow for better fishing. Large schools of bait in the form of adult and juvenile menhaden are moving through the area and when they meet up with striped bass and bluefish it can be quite a scene. The large menhaden although too large for our resident striped bass hold the promise of luring the large fall migrant striped bass up the bay into Maryland waters in a couple of months.

I had the opportunity to prepare some bluefish for the smoker last weekend and it never ceases to amaze me what glutton's bluefish can be. The blues looked like their belly skin was about to split and their stomachs were so full of chunks of 6" menhaden; it was hard to imagine that they were still interested in eating more. But they did and it of course lead them to the end of a fishing line. A good portion of the bluefish were so fat and thick that they needed to be split to smoke and cure properly.

Fishermen continue to troll bucktails and small spoons behind inline weights and planers with good success; either near channel edges or near schools of bait. As water temperatures continue to cool and striped bass school up vertical jigging will come into its own. Make sure to stock up on your favorite metal jigs and soft plastics, perhaps check the line on your favorite spinning or conventional reels and prepare for some of the finest fishing of the year.

White perch fishing continues to be very good over a wide range of the middle bay region. White perch are roaming the shallower areas, shoreline structure such as old breakwaters and deeper shoal and oyster bars. Jigs with dropper flies, spinner type jigs or bottom rigs baited with bloodworms, grass shrimp or peeler crab are good choices to use to catch them. Don Webster sent in this picture and a report that his friend Tom Green caught and released about 20 small sea trout recently in the Little Choptank on bloodworms.

Photo Courtesy Don Webster. Click to Enlarge.

Lower bay region fishermen were seeing the last of the Spanish mackerel, red drum and croaker last week and the recent cool weather and rain may have tended to close the door behind them. Large spot are still being caught in the Tangier Sound area, the mouth of the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers and of course bluefish are still a big part of the fishing scene in the lower bay region.

Trolling bucktails and small spoons behind inline weights and planers has been an effective method of catching striped bass and bluefish and will continue this weekend as the weather improves. Charter boat captains report miles of bait in the form of adult and juvenile menhaden as well as silversides spread along the edges of the shipping channel and the mouth of the Potomac River. All this bait holds the potential for some hot action when bluefish and striped bass move in; the nice weather forecasted for this weekend may offer the opportunity for fishermen to join in. Vertical jigging and casting to breaking fish is a rite of fall for light tackle fishermen and it is beginning to happen, so get your favorite fast action spinning or conventional rod and reel combo and jigs together and get out there this coming weekend.

Recreational crabbers are reporting some tough times trying to put together a bushel of fat crabs this week. The recent full moon spurred on what may be the last shed of 2010 so there will be some light crabs around for a couple of weeks. The soft crab market is reported to be flooded this week so it must have been a big shed. Most crabbers are reporting 5-1/2" crabs are the largest crabs in their catch so perhaps in about three weeks we'll see those larger fat fall crabs we all love.

Freshwater

Freshwater fishermen in the western region of the state are still seeing low water flows this week but fishing has been good for those trout fishermen who adapt. Alan Klotz sent in an Angler's Log about just such a trip with his son Kyle; be sure to check it out. Alan holds a nice rainbow trout he caught and released from the Youghiogheny River.

Photo Courtesy Alan Klotz. Click to Enlarge.

Fisheries biologist John Mullican reports that river levels in the upper Potomac are still low but fishing for smallmouth has been good. Grass continues to be thick and John mentions that weedless lures are very helpful in getting into the action.

Water temperatures in many of the largemouth bass waters in the state including impoundments and tidal rivers have been holding in the upper 70's due to the recent hot weather. In most areas largemouth bass are still clinging to a summer mode of behavior; which often equates to loafing in the shade during the day and becoming active in the early morning and late evening hours. Slow rolled spinnerbaits have been a top producer for fishermen lately with small crankbaits and soft plastic creature baits a close second.

Ocean

Fishermen in the Ocean City area have been dealing with some tough weather conditions lately which has riled up local waters causing bumpy conditions offshore, rough surf and cloudy water conditions in the back bay areas. There are still a lot of flounder inside of the inlet but clearer water is needed for better fishing which may occur by this weekend. Fishermen have been reporting catching speckled trout in the back bay areas while flounder fishing this past week. Bluefish and striped bass are being caught in the inlet at night and tautog and sheepshead during the day on sand fleas and pieces of green crab.

Surf fishermen have been enjoying catching and releasing red drum and a mix of inshore sharks on large cut menhaden baits. Bluefish are being caught on finger mullet and a mix of kingfish, croakers and large spot on smaller baits.

The boats heading out to the wreck sites are reported to be catching sea bass and tautog along with some large flounder. Offshore fishing has been tough due to the bumpy conditions but a few boats did get out and came back with gaffer sized dolphin, a few yellowfin tuna, wahoo and white marlin releases in the canyon areas. Large bluefish are being reported in the area of the Hambone and Hot Dog.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.