Cooler water temperatures are beginning to have some profound effects of the fishing in the upper bay region. First off it is a lot nicer to be out fishing from an air temperature except for the intermittent bouts of fog and strong winds. The striped bass in the lower Susquehanna River below the dam are becoming more active during water releases and fishermen are enjoying some good fishing in the evenings. A mix of white perch, striped bass and small bluefish can be found in the general area south of Pooles Island; often in the lower sections of a number of the regions tidal rivers. Locations such as Belvidere Shoals, Man O War Shoals, the 6’, 7’, and 9’ knolls and tidal rivers such as the Patapsco and Curtis Creek, the Magothy and Chester have all been good places to find fish. Most fishermen are jigging metal with teasers or spec rigs. Fishing cut baits of live lining spot has also been effective along channel edges around Pooles Island, Love Point, the mouth of the Chester River and Podickory Point to name a few.
A mix of small bluefish and striped bass have been chasing bait to the surface in the bay proper from the Brewerton Channel south to the Bay Bridge often near channel edges and during strong tidal currents. The bluefish tend to dominate the action but fishermen have been finding some good-sized striped bass deep underneath by jigging. Fishermen trying to live line spot have been finding it difficult due to the large number of bluefish in the region. Those fishermen choosing to troll have been catching bluefish on surge tubes or small spoons along with a few striped bass. A number of fishermen have been trolling bucktails for striped bass and finding some action; although bluefish like bucktails also.
Shore based fishermen are seeing better fishing from piers and points now that water temperatures are dipping below 70-degrees. Many are catching small bluefish on cut bait rigs and others are catching a mix of white perch and large spot. Recreational crabbers are beginning to see crabbing slowing down in a number of tidal rivers; although the upper Elk remains a good place to go.
Mid Bay Region:
Bluefish and more bluefish that seems to be the major portion of what fishermen are seeing in the middle bay region this week. It seems that no matter what type of fishing you try in the bay, chances are bluefish will be part of the action. Fishermen that are trying to live line spot at locations such as the Bay Bridge, Gum Thickets and basically any good looking channel edge south to the lower bay region are finding bluefish a dominating factor. There still seems to be plenty of spot in the shallows this week; there is just no guarantee how long they will stick around. Live menhaden would be the next logical choice for those still wishing to live line for striped bass after the spot leave. Mike Irons sent in this picture of the catch from a spot live lining trip to Buoy 84A. His two sons Daniel and Jonathan stand with two friends Augie and Fred Grimes who were visiting from Portugal with a mixed catch of bluefish and striped bass. Mike mentioned that they caught 3 striped bass and over 20 bluefish on their trip.
Fishermen have been complaining that it has been hard to find good numbers of striped bass in consistent numbers for the past week; many attribute it to the hordes of bluefish blanketing the region. Whatever the situation many fishermen have been adjusting and catching bluefish; some are being kept to be eaten fresh or smoked and most are being released. Trolling surge tube lures in green or red as well as small spoons are a good way to catch them. Most are being caught by light tackle fishermen who are jigging underneath the surface action of breaking fish. At times fishermen are getting lucky and finding striped bass lurking close to the bottom; perhaps trying to protect their white undersides from voracious bluefish teeth. It’s always funny to notice that you usually do not see sea gulls resting on the water after bait and predators sound when bluefish are in the area. One can only imagine what those little feet look like from below. Rich Watts was jigging off the Gum Thickets bailing bluefish and took this picture of a double shot of toothy bluefish.
Shore based fishermen have been getting in their licks at the bluefish now that cooler waters have them roaming the shallower waters of the bay and the lower sections of the tidal rivers. Many fishermen are catching spot and cutting them up for fresh cut baits that are fished with a bottom rig. The Matapeake Fishing Pier, various points as well as the Choptank Fishing Pier have been good places to fish. Large spot, white perch and a few striped bass have also been part of the mix.
The shallow water fishery for striped bass hopefully will develop this week; the action was a bit off this past weekend perhaps due to churned up waters but conditions are improving and stable weather is predicted for the rest of the week. One can only guess why the evening action has been coming up short for fishermen in the tidal rivers lately although small striped bass and bluefish are being caught on popping lures and white perch can be caught close to structure. This one was caught on a short evening foray from shore on the Tred Avon River.
Recreational crabbers were out this past weekend and most caught all the crabs they needed; although the bulk of the catches have been heavy number 2’s. Many are picking crabs for crab cakes and other favorite dishes to help make those winter months a little more enjoyable. Of personal note was the number of light crabs observed this past weekend; there apparently must have been a recent shed. Also the number of sooks in many creeks and rivers is declining rapidly; so the girls must be on their way south. Jim Livingston sent in this picture of a nice catch he made in the West River this past weekend.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
Bluefish continue to dominate the fishing scene in the lower bay region this week and will most likely continue to do so until colder water pushes them south. The smaller bluefish tend to be in the shallower waters and in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. Out in the main stem of the bay the bluefish tend to be around 20” in size and even larger ones can be found near the Middle Grounds region. Breaking fish can be encountered at most any time along channel edges and where strong tidal currents are sweeping bait along. Most of the action is bluefish but fishermen are managing to find some striped bass underneath the surface action by jigging. Bluefish are also being caught by trolling green or red surge tube lures or spoons or by chumming.
More than a few fishermen have been asking where the striped bass are; they’re of course out there in the bay but they seem to be steering clear of the hordes of bluefish. Perhaps those bluefish play a little too rough with all those sharp teeth. Fishermen are reporting catching striped bass in the evenings by trolling along the inside edges of the channels and near structure such as sharp points and rock piles. Most fishermen are trolling a mix of bucktails and spoons.
The areas where fishermen are finding decent fishing for striped bass are in the shallower waters along the bay shorelines and tidal rivers. Light tackle fishermen in small boats have been enjoying good fishing in the early mornings and evenings or on cloudy days casting a variety of soft plastics and topwater lures. Shore based anglers are also getting into the action fishing from piers and structured shoreline such as jetties, points and riprap. Most are casting lures but bottom rigs using cut bait such as fresh spot are also doing very well for a mix of small bluefish, striped bass and puppy drum. Garrett Cook took some time from classes at St. Mary’s College to do some evening fishing from his kayak and caught and released this small puppy drum near Point Lookout.
The fishermen on the eastern shore that fish the shallow waters of the marshes and creeks have been catching a mix of striped bass, bluefish, puppy drum, flounder and speckled trout. Many are casting lightly weighted soft plastics but a number have been doing very well fishing soft crab or peeler baits by either drifting them with very little or no weight or even under a float.
Fishermen are still catching a few large spot in lower Tangier Sound and flounder fishing has been very good along channel edges and points. A number of the boats in the Crisfield fleet are now running out to the Southwest Middle Ground to chum for striped bass and bluefish.
Recreational crabbers had a good weekend of crabbing this past week and the action should continue. They report a lot of small and light crabs plus a good run of sooks in the major tidal rivers but everyone reported being able to put a good catch together of heavy crabs.
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