Water temperatures in the upper bay are holding around 72-degrees this week and fishing is inching closer to a fall pattern for striped bass, white perch and bluefish. Small striped bass continue to entertain fishermen near the mouth of the Susquehanna River this week and the channels in the upper most parts of the bay. Small bluefish begin to become part of the mix around the Pooles Island area when it comes to making life miserable for any schools of bay anchovies in the region. Fishermen are finding breaking fish that is composed of striped bass and bluefish down to the Bay Bridge. Most of the striped bass on top are small but fishermen are finding larger ones underneath by jigging or trolling deep.
Trolling bucktails, spoons and surge tube lures deep near the channels leading into the Patapsco and Chester Rivers has been paying off dividends in striped bass up to 30” in some cases and bluefish up to 18”. Other fishermen are reporting good results at times around Pooles Island and Hart-Miller Islands. Some fishermen have been trying their hand at chumming at Love Point and Hart-Miller Island and finding a lot of small bluefish and small striped bass in their slicks with some larger striped bass holding close to the bottom.
Jigging or trolling to striped bass holding over deep structure has been a good successful way to catch larger striped bass lately. Many fishermen are bottom bouncing bucktails with a curly tail on them or jigging with soft plastic jigs and metal. Lumps near channel edges, steep channel edges and structure such as the sewer pipe on the northeast side of the Bay Bridge and the Bay Bridge piers have been excellent places to look for striped bass.
White perch are beginning to show signs of schooling up in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and creeks and will often hold on hard bottom lumps in deep water. Fishermen are reporting good fishing for white perch in the lower Patapsco River this week. Recreational crabbers are reporting fair to good crabbing in the upper bay region with some of the better crabbing being reported in the upper Elk River and the lower Patapsco.
Middle Bay Region
Slowly the middle bay region is settling into a fall pattern of fishing for a mix of bluefish and striped bass. The mix has been making life difficult for schools of bay anchovies and sometimes small menhaden throughout the region. The bait is moving out into the bay and has to run a gauntlet of hungry predators on their way south. Most often fishermen are spotting diving birds in the form of sea gulls and terns as the striped bass and bluefish push the bait to the surface. Quite often when the action takes place in the lower sections of the tidal rivers the striped bass can one to two year old fish ranging from 11” to 14” in size. Larger striped bass can be found beneath them by jigging or trolling deep but usually the larger striped bass tend to be farther out towards the open bay waters. It is not uncommon for fishermen to move from one concentration of fish to another looking for a better grade of striped bass. The larger bluefish also tend to be out in the open bay waters also. Fishermen are enjoying casting metal, surface poppers and bucktails to the surface melee and others are vertical jigging deep below the surface fish.
Cooler water temperatures have striped bass roaming the shallows and small boat and shoreline fishermen are enjoying good fishing in the early morning and evening hours casting surface lures, crankbaits and sassy shad type lures. The water is also starting to clear up so once the sun gets high in the sky most fish are headed for deeper waters that offer more protection from bright sun light. Prominent deep water points and any structure protruding out into the current are excellent places for shore based anglers to cast a variety of lures. Trolling bucktails dressed with sassy shads or twister tails along channel edges in the tidal rivers such as the Choptank has also been a good way to catch striped bass that are holding a little deeper of the shallows. Don Webster was trolling for striped bass in the Choptank River over the weekend when he got a surprise with this beautiful speckled trout.
The mouth of the Choptank River and particularly the area of the Diamonds and False Channel has been a very active location to find schools of bluefish and good sized striped bass chasing bait coming out of the Choptank River. The western side of the shipping channel has been another good location where bait is being swept by the strong currents the move along the steep channel edges from Cove Point north to Thomas Point with the area from Breezy Point to Parkers Creek being one of the more productive areas to fish. Many fishermen are trolling deep with a spread of lures that contain tandem medium sized bucktails, spoons and surge tube lures for a mix of striped bass and bluefish with an occasional large red drum.
White perch are beginning to school up in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and creeks often holding near deep lumps such as oyster bars. Steep edges and points, ballast stone piles and even piers that project out into deep water are all good places to look for white perch. Bottom rigs baited with peeler crab, bloodworms or grass shrimp are a good choice for fishermen fishing from small boats or shorelines and casting small jigs, spinners and beetle spins close to the bottom are also effective. David Yost caught this nice citation sized white perch in the South River recently.
Recreational crabbers are enjoying good crabbing opportunities in many of the regions tidal rivers and creeks this week as crabs are fattening up for the winter season. Cooler waters are causing crabs to move down the tidal creeks and rivers and much of the best crabbing is taking place in the deeper waters in the lower sections of the rivers and creeks. Most crabbers are reporting large numbers of sooks being caught and released from trot lines and collapsible traps.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
There are all kinds of changes going on in the lower bay region as the bay fisheries begins to switch from a summer to fall. Fishermen are still catching croakers and large spot in many areas of the lower bay and Tangier Sound this week but most fishermen know they are on borrowed time. Water temperatures have been rather stable lately; holding right around 72-degrees so the departure of warm water species is occurring rather slowly. The Spanish mackerel are now gone except for a straggler now and then; catch and release flounder fishing is still good and the croakers and large spot are schooling up. The schooling behavior tends to present the situation of boom or bust for fishermen this week. Earlier this week anglers had some exciting fishing for croakers and large spot around Buoy 72, the lower Patuxent, and locations in Tangier and Pocomoke Sound during daylight hours on peeler crab, squid and shrimp baits.
The fishing for striped bass has really picked up this week as the cooler water temperatures have spurred the larger sized fish into increased feeding activity. The striped bass have moved into the shallows and shore fishermen have been doing quite well in some areas. Casting from small boats at prominent points with some structure such as Cedar Point on the western shore and the many marsh points on the eastern side of the bay has been offering some fine light tackle fishing opportunities. Speckled trout and puppy drum are also showing up now and then, adding to the fishing excitement.
Trolling a mix of bucktails, spoons and surge tube lures along channel edges and near the mouths of some of the tidal rivers has been good for striped bass and bluefish. Occasionally fishermen are also enjoying some fun catch and release action with some of the large red drum that are still in the lower bay region. Bluefish seem to be everywhere with the smaller ones near the tidal rivers and the larger ones out in the bay near the Middle Grounds and the Target Ship.
Breaking fish composed of bluefish and striped bass can show up just about anywhere in the lower bay region this time of the year. Casting surface poppers, bucktails or metal or vertical jigging deep are both effective methods. Fishermen are always watching for diving bird activity or slicks this time of the year and often a good depth finder is very valuable for finding fish holding deep.
White perch fishing is good in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and creeks as they begin to school up in deep water near hard lumps. They can be caught on bottom rigs with peeler crab, bloodworm or grass shrimp baits of small jigs. Recreational crabbers report a lot of sooks on trot lines and in collapsible crab traps and heavy male crabs.
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