Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 10, 2015

The signs of the season are beginning to show more strongly as leaves begin to fall and the mornings tend to have a little more nip in them. For those who are connected to the water, one can't help but notice floating docks being pulled at Deep Creek Lake or grass beds diminishing in favorite ponds and lakes. On the Chesapeake and coastal areas more empty boat slips are beginning to show and boat yards are storing boats in every available space. For those that pursue striped bass it is much too early to think about pulling a boat or winterizing your boat on a trailer. There is plenty of good striped bass fishing in the Chesapeake and coastal areas to be had this month.

In the upper bay region this week striped bass are being reported to be spread out through the bay and tidal rivers. Water temperatures in the bay are now below 60° and even chillier in the tidal rivers; water clarity is remarkably good. There is good shallow water fishing along bay and tidal river shorelines where structure and prominent points are holding striped bass. It is still an early morning and late evening venture and topwater lures, crankbaits and swim shads are choice baits. The outside edges of the Susquehanna Flats, the lower Gunpowder, Middle and Patapsco Rivers, Pooles Island, the Chester and Kent Island shorelines have been just a few of the good places to work the shallower areas.

There tends to be two types of trolling going on recently in the upper bay. One group is trolling medium sized bucktails and swim shads on flat lines far behind their boats in the tidal rivers along shallower channel edges and shoal edges. They are catching a nice grade of striped bass in what could be best described as a slow pick. The second group is in involved in the more traditional manner of trolling umbrella rigs behind inline weights deep along major channel edges in the bay. Often they are directed by breaking fish and diving birds if they are lucky or watching depth finders for evidence of suspended fish. Mark Crowe was trolling Tony spoons deep at the mouth of the Patapsco River when he caught these two nice striped bass.


Photo by Mark Crowe

The hot action of coming upon diving sea gulls and breaking fish has been spotty lately in the upper bay and a lot of gas is being burned as the search for surface action continues. Often when it is found the top tier of fish will be sub-legal sized striped bass but larger ones are often mixed in or deep underneath where vertical jigging comes into play.

The Bay Bridge continues to be a good place to look for striped bass suspended near bridge piers, rock piles and abutments. Jigging with bucktails, soft plastic jigs or metal jigs is the most common practice. There are also white perch holding in the same areas and a heavy metal jig or sinker with a dropper fly will put you in the zone for some white perch action. A few anglers are also live lining eels or white perch at the Bay Bridge or similar bridge piers or structure in the upper bay for striped bass with fair to good results.

Light tackle shallow water action has been a big draw lately despite cooler water temperatures which usually shuts this type of fishing down when striped bass feel the urge to head out into deeper waters to chase migrating baitfish. The water temperatures in the bay are below 59° and even cooler in the tidal rivers. The water clarity is astounding with visibility to over 8' in many areas with a lee from the wind. Poplar Island and areas with good current flow and structure in the lower sections of the region's tidal river have been offering fun action in the mornings and evenings on topwater lures or swim shad type lures. Anthony Nicholas certainly has something to smile about with this nice 35" striped bass he caught off the Naval Academy on a topwater lure.


Photo by Anthony Nicholas

The typical fall striped bass action out in the deeper channel areas where light tackle jigging is the big show has been a little disappointing lately for many. On three recent trips out to the mouth of the Choptank, schools of baitfish could be seen happily swimming along on the surface with not a care in the world. Where were the striped bass that tore this place apart the previous weekend? If fish could talk to us they might tell us but at the moment we can only guess that they've spread out into other areas and many of them may have headed south into the lower bay based on reports from there. There has been scattered action at the mouths of the Severn and West Rivers, the mouth of Eastern Bay and the Little Choptank. There have also been good reports of action off of Hooper's Island. This may be a good time to coordinate with other fishing buddies and stay in touch by cell phone and cover different areas of the bay. A good pair of image stabilized binoculars will also be a valuable asset in trying to spot bird action.

Trolling is a good tactic when fish are spread out and one can cover a lot of ground trolling the main channel edges out in the bay. Most are trolling umbrella rigs behind inline weights now that most of the bluefish have moved down to the extreme lower Bay, and few things attract a striped bass's attention more than an umbrella rig. There have been recent reports of bluefish still holding in the lower bay region so a few sassy shad teasers may take a hit now and then. Hunter Hannum got to go fishing with his dad and brother near Bloody Point when he caught this nice striped bass while trolling.


Photo by Phillip A. Hannum

White perch are schooling up in the lower sections of the region's tidal rivers this week. At present they are holding in about 25' to 35' of water on oyster reefs and hard bottom. They can be spotted on depth finders and a sinker rig with two dropper flies is a good option. A bottom rig baited with pieces of bloodworms is always a sure fire method to entice white perch this time of the year.

The lower bay region has had some exciting life pumped into the fishing scene this past week. Striped bass are being found this week spread throughout the entire region. The lower Potomac River from the Route 301 Bridge south to Point Lookout has been offering good trolling for striped bass along the channel edges. The steep edges in front of St. Clements Island and Piney Point have been particularly good. Most are trolling bucktails or umbrella rigs behind inline weights. Breaking fish are also being encountered at times. The lower Patuxent River has also been offering similar action for those trolling along channel edges. Jigging along these edges is equally good in these same areas of the lower Patuxent.

Out in the bay breaking fish are being spotted in a wide spread area. There has been a resurgence of bluefish in the southern edge of the lower bay and these are fat heavy shouldered bluefish in the 4 lb to 5 lb size range. Because of the bluefish most captains have put their umbrella rigs aside and are trolling bucktails, spoons and red surge tube lures. Casting to the breaking fish is fun and jigging underneath has been paying off with a nice grade of striped bass. There has been a lot of small sea trout being found in the lower bay and to a greater degree around the Middle Grounds.

The shallow water striped bass fishery is still worth some attention this week along bay and tidal river shorelines. The eastern side of the bay has been offering some fun striped bass action on topwater lures and places like Cedar Point offer similar fishing action on the western shore.

White perch are schooling up in the deeper waters towards the mouths of the region's tidal rivers. There has been some excellent white perch fishing in the lower Nanticoke and Wicomico Rivers on the Eastern Shore and the lower Patuxent on the western shore. The perch are holding on oyster reefs or hard bottom in about 30' of water. Jigging with dropper flies or using bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworms will get you into the action. A good depth finder is of course invaluable to spot the perch stacked up on the bottom. Fishing for blue catfish has been very good in the tidal Potomac and more than a few fishermen are taking advantage of the plentiful blue catfish to stock up their freezers for the winter.

Freshwater fishing at Deep Creek Lake has been good this week for a mix of smallmouth and largemouth bass. Tubes, crankbaits and jigs tend to be the choice lures along rocky areas such as points and the mouths of coves. The shallower grass beds are breaking up and baitfish and crayfish are heading to deeper cover. Fishing for yellow perch has been very good and fishing minnows under a slip bobber has been one of the most popular ways to catch them this week. Walleye are beginning to come into shallower areas towards the evenings and jerkbaits are a good option to fish for them. Chain Pickerel and northern pike are very active outside the shallower grass beds at the mouths of coves.

The North Branch of the Potomac and the Casselman received trout stockings last week and these areas will provide good trout fishing opportunities for the months to come. Water flows have been good in all of the western region trout streams and there is plenty of elbow room to enjoy peaceful time trout fishing.

There is still plenty of good trout fishing to be found in the other regions of the state as trout spread out from the recent fall stockings. Contrary to what some put and take trout fishermen might think not all of the trout are caught up within a few days of the stockings. Fishing with spinners and similar type small lures or by fly fishing with nymphs are good tactics.

Largemouth bass are working the transition zones from the shallow grassy areas to deeper waters. They are running a picket line to intercept baitfish and crayfish that are making the move to deeper cover for the winter; small crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastic jigs are good options to use in these areas. Crappie are schooling up in many impoundments and tidal waters this week and can be found near deep structure. Small jigs and minnows are good tactics to put some in the boat. Steven Snyder caught holds up a nice upper bay largemouth bass he caught by working a crankbait near rocks.


Photo by Steven Snyder

The Ocean City area is reporting water temperatures dipping below the 60° mark this week. Surf fishing has focused mostly around catching small bluefish on finger mullet rigs and catching a few striped bass that fall under the 28" mark. Surf casters are anxiously waiting for the migration of striped bass from up north and based on reports from New Jersey it should only be another week or so. Large menhaden baits (the head stays on the best) will be the ticket for fishing a bottom rig out in the surf line. The striped bass fishing will also pick up on the shoal areas off the beaches where drifting live eels or jigging with bucktails will entertain light tackle anglers. Trolling with umbrella rigs or Stretch lures will be a good option also.

At the inlet tautog are being caught along the jetty rocks with the south jetty offering some of the better fishing opportunities. Bluefish and striped bass are being caught at the inlet on the night tides by casting bucktails and Got Cha lures. At the nearby bulkheads and Route 50 Bridge, tautog fishing has been good although there are a lot of undersized tog that have to be released. There has been a little striped bass action in the back bay area's but most are undersized.

The boats that have been heading out to the wreck and reef sites have been coming back to the docks with limit catches of sea bass, tautog and a mix of bluefish and flounder. A few boats continue to slip out to the canyons when bluebird weather comes our way and a few yellowfin tuna and at least one wahoo have been brought back to the docks. Deep drop fishing is still going strong and both golden and blueline tilefish can be caught. Richard Gunion holds up a nice sea bass he caught while fishing on an Ocean City party boat.


Photo by Richard Gunion

"There are two distinct kinds of visits to tackle shops, the visit to buy tackle and the visit which may be described as Platonic when, being for some reason unable to fish, we look for an excuse to go in and waste the tackle dealer's time." - Arthur Ransome

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.