Fishermen have been reporting good fishing for striped bass over a wide range of the upper bay region this week. Striped bass are being encountered as they push bait to the surface from Pooles Island south and their presence is often betrayed by diving sea gulls. Juvenile menhaden seem to be what is on the dinner menu this week as colder water temperatures have pushed most of the bay anchovies south. Light tackle jigging is one of the most popular and enjoyable ways to fish for one’s striped bass this week when concentrations can be found either on the surface or with a good depth finder. Most fishermen are using metal and using a dropper fly if white perch are in the area. Now that the bluefish are gone soft plastic jigs such as BKD’s, Gulps and Bass Assassins are also a good choice.
Trolling is the other very popular and effective method to catch striped bass this week and is the best method to employ when the action is not fast and furious. Fishermen are trolling near tidal river mouths such as the Patapsco, Chester and Magothy as well as channel edges and bottom structure features having been paying dividends in the form of striped bass up to 32” in length recently. Umbrella rigs with parachute, bucktail or swimming shad lures as trailers have been the rig of choice as well as the same lures tandem rigged. All depths are being covered by most fishermen and a number of fishermen are also using their planer boards. Most of the striped bass being caught are being reported to be from 20” to 30” in size. Michael Holland caught this nice 30” striped bass while trolling near the Dumping Grounds.
Water temperatures in the upper bay are now in the low 50’s so the fishing for school sized striped bass is about as good as it gets so fishermen really should make every effort to get out and enjoy this fantastic upper bay action. Fishermen know they’ll have to pick their days because of weather so don’t hesitate when you can get out.
White perch are very much a part of the exciting fishing action this week as large white perch continue to pour out of the tidal rivers and school up near deep structure out in the bay. Several of the shoals in the upper bay as well as the fabled rock piles at the Bay Bridge are offering excellent jigging opportunities most of the time. Nothing is guaranteed as we all know with fishing and fishermen have reported a few off days when white perch and also striped bass seem to have “lock jaw”. Usually all it takes is a change of tide to get things in gear again.
Mid Bay Region:
The fishing scene really started to bust loose late last week and through the weekend in the middle bay region and the action is only getting better this week. This is definitely not the time of the year to be coming up with excuses not to get out into the bay for light tackle jigging or trolling. The school sized fish have been chasing small menhaden throughout the region and fishermen have been following the feeding spree. Fishermen have been remarking about the nice grade of school sized striped bass that are being caught. Dave Street holds up two that he caught while trolling solo off the mouth of Eastern Bay. Dave mentioned at one point he was sure he had snagged a crab pot only to find he had two big striped bass on a tandem rigged setup of bucktails.
Fishermen who were trolling in the middle bay region found a pleasant surprise on their larger rigs such as parachutes and bucktails on the weekend; the first of the large fall migrant striped bass showed up in earnest. Fishermen trolling the edges of the shipping channel and the mouth of the Choptank were delighted and overjoyed with the opportunity to have a chance at these huge fish. Most fishermen used the same gear they used during the spring season including planer boards. The fish are drawn to the Maryland section of the Chesapeake Bay looking for menhaden and the shipping channel tends to be the super highway of the Chesapeake that these fish use. It is a wonderful thought for fishermen that the striped bass season in Maryland has been extended to the end of December. Chris Tawney certainly is all smiles with this 43lber that he caught while trolling at the mouth of the Choptank over the weekend.
The fishing action for school sized striped bass has been bubbling up here and there throughout the region but the areas around Thomas Point to the mouth of Eastern Bay and the mouth of the Choptank have taken center stage lately. The fortunes in the Choptank were a bit up and down late last week; fishermen reported excellent jigging action from Todd’s Point to Castle Haven on Thursday but Friday was another story. The fishermen were there; it was noteworthy to see so many boats and fishermen cruising waiting for something to happen.
A few fish could be seen on depth recorders as well as bait but no takers. At the mouth of the river from Buoy R12 to Stone Rock there also were boats milling about; many light tackle fishermen were watching a few diving birds here and there but most boats were trolling and that was because that was what was catching fish. The striped bass were chunky had heavy shoulders, fat bellies and were full of small menhaden.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
Fishermen have been catching school sized striped bass fairly regularly by trolling medium sized bucktails and small parachutes along channel edges and points or by watching for diving sea gulls as schools of striped bass push small bait to the surface. Finding breaking fish is of course always exciting and casting a variety of lures to the surface fish such as bucktails and soft plastic jigs is always fun. Jigging underneath is usually a sure bet also; especially when the striped bass and bait are detected beneath the surface with a good depth finder.
Bill Kobie holds up two nice fish he caught while fishing with Capt. Ken Zborowski in Tangier Sound while casting 4” Storm lures to breaking fish. It was interesting that Ken reported that the striped bass they caught that day had mantis shrimp in their stomachs.
The doors blew off the lower bay striped bass fishery on Saturday when respectable numbers of large fall migrant striped bass started to be caught. There was a lot of excitement in the cockpits of charter boats, private boats and marinas that spread like wild fire. Fishermen were found babbling to anyone who would listen to their stories. JJ’s Tackle reported over 20 citations for striped bass over 40” were issued over the weekend. The gear being used is the same that is employed during the spring season and everyone was happy to be into this kind of fish once more. Keith Wilson of Crownsville stands with one of the largest fish checked in at JJ’s a 57-1/2lber.
The catches of large striped bass seem to be coming in from many of the more traditional locations along the edges of the shipping channel and in the channel itself. Fish were reported from Buoy 70 up to Hooper’s Island Light, Cedar Point, the channel edge off Cove Point and the mouth of the Potomac River.
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