Last week’s northeaster brought wind, rain and cool temperatures that have had a dramatic effect on bay waters and fishing. Of course it was near impossible to be on the open water on Thursday and Friday; but conditions began to improve on Saturday and Sunday was gorgeous. Water temperatures in the upper bay have taken a nose dive and now are sitting around 71-degrees.
Fishermen who were out on the water over the weekend reported that there were plenty of large spot and white perch on several of the knolls and shoals; such as the Snake Reef, Man-O-War and Podickory Point. Small spot were near impossible to find and this may very well be an indication that the spot are beginning to leave due to cool water temperatures.
Breaking fish comprised of small bluefish and striped bass are being reported as far north as Pooles Island. Most of the striped bass are one year old fish so that puts them in the 12” category; the bluefish are just slightly larger. There are of course larger striped bass and bluefish in the region; it just takes some exploring to find them. Some Spanish mackerel are being caught by anglers casting to breaking fish and by trolling.
The best success for larger striped bass has been by fishermen jigging to suspended fish along channel edges and lumps outside of the Patapsco River mouth and various steep edges throughout the region. The Bay Bridge piers and rock piles are always a good place to check and soon large white perch will begin to hold there as well. Trolling is a good option and the best place to troll bucktails, spoons and swim shads is close to the bottom. Bottom bouncing works very well this time of the year also along shoal and channel edges.
Recreational crabbers report good catches in the Elk River and fair to good crabbing in some of the major tidal rivers. The rains have pushed crabs down river so the best crabbing will be there until the surge of freshwater moves through.
Middle Bay Region
Fishermen will be trying to figure out this week how much the fishing scene in the middle bay region has changed with the dramatic drop in water temperatures and the recent northeaster. Saturday provided a chance to get out on the water and Sunday was one of those special days to enjoy the bay. Water temperatures have dropped down to about 72-degrees and this is certain to have an effect on the migration of summer species in the bay and activity levels of the resident striped bass.
Spot of suitable size for live lining are becoming increasing scarce and the larger spot were not exactly as abundant as they were before last weeks blow. As the bay stabilizes this week fishermen will have a better idea as to what changes they will face but it is safe to say that croaker, spot and Spanish mackerel fishing is on borrowed time. Sunday fishermen were looking for small spot to live line at the Hill and other channel edges and for the most park came up empty. Some tried using cut baits from larger spot allowed to settle to the bottom and had success with bluefish and striped bass. Other fishermen found plenty of breaking fish and were able to jig up a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel or troll with equal success.
Small baitfish such as bay anchovies and menhaden are beginning to move out of the tidal rivers and shallower areas and a mix of bluefish and striped bass will be waiting at steep edges of channels where the bait will be caught up in strong currents and swept to waiting predators. The shipping channel edge on the western side of the bay, the area south of Bloody Point the mouth of the Choptank River are all traditional areas to look for this type of activity.
As the fishing for croakers and spot begins to diminish in the next few weeks; fishing for white perch will begin to pick up as they school up on oyster shoals and lumps in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. Small jigs with a dropper fly are a favorite way to catch a mess of white perch. Fishermen enjoyed good flounder fishing right up to the closing bell on Sunday and will have to be satisfied with practicing catch and release for the duration of the season.
Recreational crabbers have been reporting that it appears that a lot of crabs did not shed during the last full moon. Peelers have been in short supply and many of the crabs being caught are heavy and show signs of being close to shedding. Perhaps the recent dramatic drop in water temperatures has stalled the last big shed of the summer. Recent rains have also pushed crabs to migrate towards the mouths of the tidal rivers and creeks.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
The lower bay region will be offering some exciting fishing opportunities this coming week as cool water temperatures have stirred up the activity levels of most fish species. Also any migration of summer species from the northern regions of the bay must move through the region.
The area around the Target Ship to the Middle Grounds has been an excellent location recently to catch large bluefish, Spanish mackerel and large red drum by trolling spoons behind planers and inline weights. The red drum are being caught on larger spoons and of course must be released but they sure add an element of excitement to a fishing trip and anglers can apply for a catch and release citation from the Fisheries Service to help remember their catch. www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/downloads/catch_and_release_form.pdf
Striped bass fishing is bound to improve as lower water temperatures will increase the activity levels of the striped bass. Schools of baitfish will be moving through the region and anywhere where steep channel edges and swift currents collide; bait will be in peril. Predators such as striped bass, Spanish mackerel and bluefish will be waiting to take advantage of the situation. It is anyone’s guess how long the Spanish mackerel will be around but it would be safe to say that they will not be around for long. Shaun Miller braved the wind and rain to try trolling bucktails in about 25’ of water out in front of the Patuxent River when he caught this pair of striped bass in less than an hour.
The fishing for large croakers has been very good in the area of the Target Ship and the Middle Grounds. Croakers and spot are beginning to move out of the tidal rivers so the better fishing should be out at the river mouths and in the bay. The boats fishing out of Crisfield have been catching a mix of croakers, spot and even a few kingfish and sea trout near locations such as Terrapin Sands and Island Rock. White perch will slowly begin to school up in the deeper areas of the tidal rivers and near deep structure such as oyster bars. There are still a lot of flounder around but it is catch and release only for the rest of the year.
Recreational crabbers are catching a lot of sooks in the lower bays tidal rivers and creeks; often as much as a 12/1 ratio. There are of course a lot of small crabs chewing up baits and light crabs are also part of the mix.
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