Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | December 15, 2010
Cold and windy weather has many fishermen tucked into warmer places these days especially with the Chesapeake striped bass season ending today. If this weather ever breaks, it is bound to, there will be some selective fishing opportunities for some freshwater species. Of course "hard water" fishermen are reveling in the fact that lakes are freezing up in the western region of the state. Ice conditions at Deep Creek Lake are still unsafe at the moment but that might change by the weekend. Usually the edges cause the most immediate concerns. Ice fishing veterans will always use the buddy system and stay in the cove areas until ice conditions become unquestionable.
This will be our last fishing report for the 2010 season but be sure to look for a Christmas message and the annual report summaries written by the fisheries biologists of the Fisheries Service in mid-January of 2011. The annual reports or year in review; however you want to look at it, will encompass all the interesting fisheries management and restoration programs that the Fisheries biologists are working on.
Being the last day of the 2010 Chesapeake striped bass season one can imagine there are a few fishermen out there somewhere. Let's just hope they are in a big boat with a heater in the cabin. Windy conditions on top of freezing temperatures have made it dangerous to be out on the bay and no fish is worth that. It is now time to huddle up next to a warm fireplace and reflect on the past season and start thinking about next year. For those who can't wait there is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel complex and some anglers will be booking trips down there. Others might slip out and try a little light tackle catch and release jigging near power plant warm water discharges. For others it is time to inventory tackle and plan for next year.
In general it was a good season on the bay this year. The spring striped bass season went very well with a lot of big fish caught along the edges of the shipping channel. School-sized striped bass entertained fishermen throughout the summer and fall months and no one will forget the hordes of bluefish that blanketed the bay waters this past summer. Croakers did not let us down this year and provided a lot of bottom fishing fun and tasty meals. Large spot were hard to come by this year north of Hooper's Island and flounder were a bit off this year when compared to 2009. It was a banner year for yellow perch in the lower Susquehanna and Northeast Rivers and a number of other tidal rivers experienced good runs. White perch never seem to let us down and they provided a lot of action from the spring spawning runs, through the summer and fall months.
Spanish mackerel showed up a little early this year and swept through the lower and middle bay regions providing a thrill for fishermen and some tasty fillets for the grill or broiler. Certainly no one will forget the great crabbing this year and hopefully there are some frozen crab cakes in your freezer.
Only the hardiest fishermen will be out this week on some of the fast moving waters or perhaps some of the upper reaches of the tidal rivers fishing deep and slow for largemouth bass, crappie and perch. Any water that sits still for too long is frozen by now and if this weather continues we probably will see good ice fishing conditions before Christmas. Caution is the word here as no one wants to fall through the ice. Remember to use the buddy system when venturing out on the ice and be prepared with the right rescue equipment such as a pair of ice picks in your pockets to haul yourself out. Fishermen will be seeing ice fishing opportunities at Deep Creek Lake shortly and some of the other lakes in the western region. Lakes in the central region will need several more weeks to be safe.
Yellow perch are moving into the deeper waters at the lower end of the Susquehanna and Northeast Rivers. Fishermen can access some of this wonderful fishing from shore or small boats and if the Northeast freezes up like it has in the past one can ice fish for yellow perch. Small jigs and minnows are good choices for bait.
Winter is always a great time to fish for chain pickerel; they really seem to love the cold and when their weedy haunts retreat due to cold water it can be a great time to target this fish. Spoons, spinners, soft plastics and swimming minnow type lures are all good choices. Basically when it comes to chain pickerel if it moves they'll go after it. The upper reaches of just about every tidal river and creek that flows into the Chesapeake holds populations of chain pickerel as do most lakes and ponds.
Generally freshwater fishermen had a good year of fishing. The opening of trout season started off with a big bang of 5lb to 12lb rainbow trout stocked in a wide range of put and take trout waters. The summer months got a little toasty for largemouth bass fishermen but fish and fishermen adjusted to early morning and late evening hours.
When the winter winds blow (oops forgot it is not officially winter yet) it is hard to fish the beaches or the open waters of the Atlantic, that is for sure. Most fishing activity has been focused around surf fishing for striped bass due to the windy conditions that have prevailed lately. A few striped bass are being caught and very few large bluefish lately. There are still striped bass north of us so the fish should be out there.
The great fishing that had been occurring at the shoal areas off the beaches has faltered this week; perhaps due to the weather. The bluefish may have moved farther south but striped bass should continue to move through the areas within 3-miles of the beaches. Trolling large lures such as parachutes, bucktails, spoons and plugs has been a favorite tactic but live lining eels and jigging can work also.
The sea bass season is still open until the 31st of December but tautog is not and will not open until the 1st of January. Several of the party boats are taking this time to haul out and make repairs so check for availability if you find a calm window of weather to go out fishing.
Some good fishing was had this season for a fairly wide variety of fish. Tautog fishing was good, sea bass kept anglers busy, flounder didn't let us down and there certainly were plenty of small bluefish around this year. It would be unfair to leave out our buddies the dogfish, skates and stingrays out of the surf fishing event schedule. A lot of fishermen discovered the fun of catch and release fishing for sand tiger sharks in the surf this year; a lot of pull there.
Offshore fishermen picked away at a mix of offshore species; had a good run of bailer dolphin and it will be a long time before anyone forgets our second grander blue marlin at Ocean City and the incredible run of white marlin in September.
Winds are advertisements of all they touch... telling of their wanderings by their scents alone. -John Muir