Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | October 20, 2010
Fishermen are finding near perfect water temperature conditions in the freshwater and bay waters of the state this week as temperatures hover in the lower sixties. Freshwater fish such as trout, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass are very active, flow conditions in trout waters have improved and striped bass in the Chesapeake are moving freely throughout the shallower and deeper waters of the bay. Perhaps the only problem for fishermen is finding the time between work and family activities to enjoy October's bounty. The second problem of course can be solved by taking your family fishing with you.
Upper bay fishermen are finding striped bass from the mouth of the Susquehanna River to the Bay Bridge. There is still a lot of bait in the form of small menhaden migrating out of the tidal rivers and the striped bass are waiting for them in areas where tidal current sweep the bait schools along channel edges and prominent points. When the attack begins it is not always marked by diving birds so it pays to keep an eye out for unmolested surface splashes. Many fishermen are finding that turning the motor off and just drifting with the action and casting surface poppers provides some long term fun. A lot of the surface action in all three regions of the bay can be comprised of smaller sized 3-year old striped bass and bluefish. Often jigging deep will be rewarded with a larger grade of striped bass.
Shallow water fishing for striped bass along bay and tidal river shorelines could hardly be better this week as striped bass find the water temperatures to their liking. Few types of fishing offer as much fun as casting poppers and skipping bugs along the shorelines in the morning and evening hours.
The Bay Bridge piers and rock piles continue to be a "go to" place for fishermen looking striped bass. The fish are holding tight to the structure and can be caught by live lining spot, small eels or jigging soft plastics. Some of the fish being caught are over 30" in size which makes for some fun fishing and also makes it hard to keep them from wrapping ones line around the bridge piers. Paul King and Lisa Malaska came all the way up from West Palm Beach, Florida to live line a few spot with local friend Rich Watts and proudly hold up part of their catch.
Fishing for a mix of striped bass and bluefish in the middle bay region could hardly be better if you are the lucky ones to find the fish and calm winds. There are plenty of striped bass spread out throughout the region but with choppy conditions and the fish always being on the move it can be hit or miss at times. Fishermen can be seen casting to shoreline structure, trolling, casting to breaking fish and jigging from the lower sections of the region's tidal rivers out to the shipping channel in the middle of the bay. Bait in the form of small menhaden is still moving out of the tidal rivers and moving down the bay so a mix of striped bass and bluefish are on them wherever and whenever they meet up. Fishermen are reporting a lot of three year old striped bass (14"-17.5") up on top and often a better grade of fish underneath. Some of the most reliable locations are classic old favorites such as Stone Rock, Sharps Island, False Channel and Poplar Island.
Trolling along the western side of the shipping channel has been good for boats trolling tandem bucktails and spoons behind planers. The western side of the bay has been providing some amount of lee for fishermen recently on days when the westerly winds blow so hard. There are still plenty of bluefish around this week but they should be out of here shortly so hold off on putting valuable Storm shads and sassy shad umbrella rigs out for the moment. Trent Godhard sent in this picture of a pug-nosed bluefish that a friend caught in Herring Bay recently. Although very uncommon this deformity can also be seen in striped bass occasionally.
Fishermen in all three regions of the bay have also been finding some shelter from strong winds and rough conditions on the bay by fishing for white perch in the tidal rivers. The perch are beginning to school up in the lower parts of the tidal rivers and offer some fast and steady action. Jigs with a dropper fly or bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or grass shrimp are the ticket for putting a nice catch of fat white perch together.
Lower bay region fishermen are also finding good fishing for striped bass and bluefish throughout most of the region. The striped bass are spread out along the shipping channel, prominent points and steep channel edges. Live lining spot along the deeper channel edges continues to be a good bet as is casting along shorelines to shallow water fish. Trolling bucktails and spoons is a good option and of course casting or jigging to breaking fish wherever they can be found is always fun.
The largest concentration of bluefish in the region is in the neighborhood of the Target Ship and Middle Grounds; trolling has been one of the more popular ways to catch them. Fishermen are reporting that the large spot are mostly a memory now in the lower Patuxent River and Tangier Sound area but they are still finding small spot for live lining. Speckled trout are being found along the eastern bay tidal marshes and flats along with a mix of striped bass and bluefish.
Recreational crabbers are cashing in on the seasons largest and fattest crabs this week. The crabs are deep, often in 15' of water or more but they are plentiful and this is the time of the year locals take advantage of the bay's bounty to put some crab meat away for those cold winter months ahead. Ted Kolobo sent in this picture of a sponge crab he released back into the Miles River; which is a bit unusual for this area of the bay and this late in the season. Ted mentioned he was able to put together a nice bushel of large meaty crabs in short order.
Freshwater fishermen are enjoying some great trout fishing this week due to the generous fall trout stocking program. Be sure to check the stocking schedule to see what waters near you have been stocked. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/stocking/index.asp.
Fishermen in the western and central regions are seeing improving water flow conditions due to recent rains. The upper Potomac River is running clear and the thick grass is beginning to break up. Deeper holes and submerged ledges are great places to cast tubes and jigs for smallmouth bass. The boat traffic at Deep Creek Lake has tapered off and fishermen can once again fish points and coves in peace. The smallmouth bass, yellow perch and largemouth bass fishing has been excellent.
Cooler water temperatures have largemouth bass in an aggressive feeding mood and they can be caught in a variety of ways. Casting surface lures near grass and structure continues to be a good bet in the mornings and evening or low light conditions. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits cast near grass edges and shallow sunken wood is catching largemouth bass, jigs and soft plastic bumped close to deep structure are catching the deeper fish.
Ocean City area fishermen are focusing a lot of their attention around the Route 50 Bridge/ Inlet area this week. They are catching some nice flounder that are moving through the inlet as cooler water temperatures in the back bay areas begin to urge them out into the ocean. Many fishermen are drifting spot to catch only the larger flounder but large baits such as white Gulp mullet swim shads work well also. The tautog fishing in and around the inlet has greatly improved and most fishermen are able to catch their two fish limit in short order. Striped bass and bluefish are being caught in the area at night by casting bucktails and swim shads.
Surf fishermen are still catching and releasing some red drum and striped bass less than 28". Sharks are also part of the mix for anglers fishing large menhaden and mullet baits. The surf zone has been holding a lot of small bluefish and finger mullet has been one of the best ways to catch them. Flounder and kingfish can also be caught in the surf this week.
The sea bass season is closed until the 1st of November so most wreck fishing boats are sitting at the dock. When the season opens and the tautog limit goes to 4 fish per day there will be a lot more incentive to venture out to the wrecks. There has not been much to report on the offshore fishing front. Prior to the big blow a few dolphin and wahoo were coming into the docks and now most of the focus will be on intercepting migrating bluefin tuna.
Marty Gary will be writing the weekly fishing report for the next two weeks in my absence. Many of you might remember that Marty used to write the fishing report back in the 80's so I'm sure it will be a treat for everyone to enjoy his writing once again.
"Memory is a man's real possessionâ€¦ In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor. "
Alexander Smith 1830-1867