Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 16, 2015



This weekend's cool front has been a bit of a wakeup call for anglers thinking of the fishing opportunities that will be occurring shortly as water temperatures begin to cool. Freshwater fish will become more active and the traditional fall stocking of trout in trout management waters is just around the corner. Chesapeake Bay fishermen are thinking of fall light tackle jigging for striped bass and checking their supply of jigs and condition of braid that may need to be changed. Coastal opportunities will include an upswing in tautog and sea bass fishing and the migration of flounder through the Ocean City Inlet as well as offshore fishing prospects. Then there also comes the glancing at calendars and figuring out future dates that can be penned in hope of taking a few days off from work to enjoy some wonderful fishing.

The 2014/2015 Maryland Fishing Challenge ended with a big bang on Sunday September 13th with scores of registered anglers leaving with valuable prizes and checks for big money payouts. It was a beautiful day for Maryland's anglers to get together and rejoice about the wonderful fishing opportunities Maryland has to offer, have some good fun together and enjoy the Seafood Festival. I personally enjoyed meeting new friends and seeing old ones that have been attending the event for years. Click here for the whole story.


Photo by Karin Dodge

The cool nights that arrived after the weekend's cool front will begin the process of lowering the water temperatures in the upper bay area and fishing for striped bass is improving. Already water temperatures are slowly decreasing and striped bass are responding accordingly. At the very top of the bay there is good topwater fishing for striped bass around the outer edges of the Susquehanna Flats in the early mornings and evenings. The Conowingo Dam has resumed afternoon power generation water releases which will also help lower water temperatures in the lower Susquehanna.

Striped bass fishing in the upper bay continues to focus on chumming at traditional steep channel edges, trolling and live lining spot for those who can still find the elusive little guys. Finding spot is not going to get any easier for anyone as these fish begin to head south and exit Maryland waters. Swan Point, Love Point and Podickory Point are traditional locations for chumming and live lining as well as trolling on the outside edges of the fleet. Striped bass are spreading out now, taking advantage of the schools of bait that are in the area. A good depth finder is an invaluable tool this time of the year to locate suspended fish along channel edges. Trolling is a good option and allows one to cover a lot of water in the search for fish. Spoons and surge tube lures (hoses) are good choices to pull behind inline weights and planers. Recently the Dumping Grounds area above the Bay Bridge has been a productive place to troll for striped bass.

The Bay Bridge continues to be a draw for fish and fishermen alike. The bridge piers are holding striped bass and setting up current and chumming, chunking or drifting live spot or eels are all popular ways to cash in. Casting bucktails and swim shads and jigging around the pier bases is also an excellent way to catch the striped bass holding there.

White perch fishing in the upper bay will begin to take a different twist as they begin to school up in deeper waters near structure such as shoals, reefs and rocks. At the moment there is still great white perch fishing in the tidal rivers and harbors around structure. Small jigs and spinners or bait on a bottom rig are sure ways to catch them. Channel catfish are also roaming the tidal rivers and always provide plenty of pull. John Agius landed this big one in the upper bay.


Photo courtesy of John Agius

The middle bay region offers a lot of fishing options this week. Striped bass are spreading out at various channel edges ambushing schools of bait being swept along by stiff currents. There are still plenty of chumming, chunking and live lining opportunities at the Hill area but other locations such as Tolly's, Thomas Point and similar steep edges are now holding fish. They are on the move though and it pays to be flexible and to check out various locations. Trolling is a good option in that it allows one to cover more water and perhaps bump into some breaking fish action or being able to spot suspended fish on a depth recorder. Spoons and surge tube lures behind planers and inline weights are the best choice lately. Spanish mackerel small bluefish and of course striped bass make up the mix that is harassing bait throughout the main part of the bay in the middle bay region. At present there is not that much action in the tidal rivers but dropping water temperatures will change that soon.

The shallow water striped bass fishing in the region has been in a bit of a funk lately due to elevated water temperatures and uncooperative tides but water temperatures are beginning to drop and there is an air of anticipation that fishing will improve soon. A few striped bass are being caught very early in the morning and late evenings along shoreline structure. The shores of Poplar Island continue to be one of the better places to cast topwater or swim shad lures this week.

White perch fishing has centered mostly around deeper structure this week so most have been using bait on bottom rigs for the best results. The Kent Narrows area has been a great place to fish from shore and various deepwater piers, jetties and submerged rocks are good places to target. We all appreciate the job our Natural Resources Police do in protecting our fisheries and they have been on top of illegal fishing activities at the Kent Narrows and we are all glad to see it.


Two men were charged with poaching 35 striped bass off Kent Narrows

Two men were charged on Saturday by a Maryland Natural Resources Police officer with poaching 35 striped bass while fishing from a boat off Kent Narrows. Alexis Gustavo Corrales Osorio, 24, of Davidsonville, and Elvis Jose Corrales Rodas, 35, of Alexandria, Va., were charged with fishing without a Chesapeake Bay sport fishing license, exceeding the daily limit, keeping undersized striped bass and possessing striped bass between midnight and 5 a.m. The officer saw the two men fishing, asked to check their cooler and found the illegal catch. Osorio and Rodas are scheduled to appear in Queen Anne's District Court on November 19; if found guilty of all charges, each man could be fined as much as $4,000.

In the lower bay region medium sized bluefish, Spanish mackerel and striped bass are on the top of the list for those trolling in the region. A mix of spoons and surge tube lures behind planers or inline weights has been the tactic along channel edges and the Middle Grounds area. There is a lot of bait in the lower bay region and the mix of Spanish mackerel and bluefish have been making life tough for them. Striped bass can be found at times under the surface action. There has been some good striped bass trolling action in the lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers this week. Casting near shoreline structure near Cedar Point and the mouth of St. Jerome's Creek has been fairly good and as water temperatures cool this week this light tackle action should pick up in other areas.

The spot and croaker are beginning to think about heading south as they feel water temperatures cool so if you wish to get in on this action before it is over this next week may be your last shot at it. The lower Patuxent and Potomac Rivers are the place to be and white perch can also be added to the mix. Also do not forget about the abundance of medium sized blue catfish in the lower Potomac River. They are plentiful, make excellent eating and there are no minimum sizes or creel limit.

Large red drum continues to surprise those who are mixing in a few large spoons into their trolling spreads in the lower bay region. The general areas around the Target Ship and Middle Grounds have been hot spots but the large red drum can show up along most any channel edge. They provide some real catch and release excitement for any angler. The father and son team of Al and Shaun Miller managed to land this big red drum while light tackle jigging near the mouth of the Patuxent River recently.


Photo courtesy of Shaun Miller

Recreational crabbing just gets better and better this week which is usually the case after Labor Day. The recent rains may have driven some of the crabs downriver from the upper reaches of the tidal creeks. The largest crabs have been coming from deeper waters and there are plenty of legal sized crabs to fill anyone's basket in the middle and lower bay regions. Razor clams are by far the best bait to use in collapsible traps and trot lines and chicken necks are a standard on a trot line. If you can obtain some fresh menhaden or white perch or bluefish, they make excellent baits for crab traps.

Freshwater fishing in the western region of the state is quickly beginning to see the effects of cool nights as water temperatures begin to drop. The summer crowds are gone on Deep Creek Lake and fishing for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass around shoreline structure is very good.

The upper Potomac received a little kick in water level from the recent rains and smallmouth bass fishing has been good. Casting tubes has been a great way to get in on the action. Recent seining surveys by fisheries crews have shown that the smallmouth bass year class strength was considered good throughout the Upper Potomac.

There will be a youth fishing event on September 19th from 8 am till noon at Howard's Pond in the town of Elkton. This should be a fun event with educational exhibits and plenty of fishing at the pond for those 4 to 15 years of age. Advanced registration is encouraged at 410-398-5076 or jprice@elktonalliance.org

Trout fishermen can anticipate a strong stocking of trout during the fall trout stocking program that is due to begin during the second week of October. The trout production program is planning to release approximately 25,000 trout in trout management areas throughout the state. The stockings will be posted on the trout stocking website as they occur and those who have joined the Fisheries email subscription list will be notified by email of the stockings.

Largemouth bass are still holding to a summer pattern of behavior this week but as most can tell recently the mornings have been cooler and there is change in the air. Targeting shallow grass and structure in the early mornings and evenings or deep structure during more day light hours continues to be a good bet. Ryan Johnson holds up a nice Centennial Lake largemouth bass for the camera before releasing it.


Photo courtesy of Ryan Johnson

Anyone who enjoys fishing at Stemmers Run should take notice that county officials are currently considering ending a lease at the popular southern Cecil County boat ramp. The 20-year-old Stemmers Run boat ramp, located at the end of Pond Neck Road next to the Pearce Creek Dredge Material Containment Area, was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers using state and federal funding, but subsequently leased to the state of Maryland. Cecil County has subleased the ramp from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for the past 19 years. If the lease ends the boat ramp will most likely be closed. A public meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Cecilton library, located at 215 E. Main St., to collect public comment and provide information on the proposal.

The Ocean City area is beginning to feel the post Labor Day changes that September brings and inshore fishing is picking up. Cooler surf temperatures have kingfish biting for longer hours into the day and more bluefish are showing up in the surf. The annual red drum run should occur along the beaches in the next week or so and these large fish always please catch and release anglers. Bluefish have also been moving in and out of the inlet area and casting Got-Cha lures has been a great way to catch them in the inlet and near the Route 50 Bridge. Flounder are moving into the channels and soon will be feeling the urge to move towards the inlet and on to offshore waters.

Outside the inlet there is good flounder fishing on the near shore shoal areas and farther offshore at the wreck and reef sites. Many of the flounder limits being caught are large size with several doormats always coming over the rails. Sea bass season will take a break on September 21st and will reopen on the 22nd of October.

The offshore fleet had to deal with a bit of a blow last week but the few boats that managed to get out to the canyon areas have been filling fish wells with large catches of dolphin. White marlin releases are numerous and double digit release totals can be expected at times in the next couple of weeks. Bryan Floyd holds up a nice dolphin he caught while trolling at the Poorman's Canyon.


Photo courtesy of Herb Floyd

"Come warm weather, I'm going to take a kid fishing; I hope you do too. But nothing would make me happier than to look across a cove or down the stream and see a young one help an old one remember what it is like to be young in springtime." - Gene Hill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.