Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 14, 2012

Maryland fishermen got a taste of warm weather this past weekend and many were able to capitalize on enjoying some relaxing fishing time in T-shirts. The cold front that moved in yesterday has moved daytime temperatures into the low to mid 50's for the rest of the week with clear skies until the end of the weekend. Cooling water temperatures offer some unique fishing opportunities for freshwater fish such as trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and crappie. Oceanside fishermen are finding very good fishing for tautog and Chesapeake Bay fishermen are seeing the first of the large fall migrant striped bass moving into state waters. Robert Donor caught this whopper on Saturday while trolling the depths near Buoy 72 in the lower bay.

Photo courtesy of Robert Donor

Fishermen continue to enjoy good fishing for a mix of striped bass and smallmouth bass in the lower Susquehanna River this week using soft plastic jigs close to the bottom. Most fishermen are either drifting in small boats in the channel or casting from shore. A few hearty souls are using medium size surf fishing outfits and casting into the dam pool with heavy swim shads and catching striped bass and the occasional large flathead catfish.

Farther down the bay striped bass are being spotted on depth finders holding along steep channel edges at the mouths of the region's tidal rivers and out in the bay. Jigging is perhaps the most popular way of targeting suspended fish but deep trolling with swim shads and bucktails behind umbrella rigs will also catch fish. Most fishermen are lamenting about the large number of sub-legal fish; but there are larger fish to be found. Bay anchovies tend to be the predominant bait in the upper bay and they are often being found deep, now that surface water temperatures are 15-degrees cooler than the bottom. Fishermen have been finding concentrations of white perch and striped bass holding near the Bay Bridge in approximately 65' of water near the rock piles and steep edges such as Podickory Point. Small bay anchovies are what are for dinner as the bait fish are being swept along by strong currents so it is important to use enough weight to hold in the current. Fishermen have been reporting for a couple of weeks that a mix of white perch and striped bass have been spitting up bay anchovies when caught. Rich Watts sent in this picture of a weighted rig with a small spoon and fly that he has been catch large white perch on and a second picture of the real thing next to a small gold spoon.

Photos by Rich Watts

Fishermen in the middle bay region have been finding small striped bass spread throughout the region chasing small bay anchovies on the surface but more commonly down deep along channel edges and traditional locations where strong currents are prevalent. Most fishermen are reporting that it has been tough to find a decent grade of legal sized striped bass amongst all the sub-legal fish. Jigging is of course the most popular method of fishing in the fall but trolling can also be productive and the refuge of a warm cabin can be very appealing this time of the year. Swim shads and bucktails behind an umbrella rig with inline weights has been the most common rig used to get down to fish lately. Fishermen have also been using planer boards and large parachutes and swim shads when looking for the first of the seasons large fall migrant striped bass. The first ones were caught over the weekend near Buoy 83 and the western side of the shipping channel; it is hoped that the numbers will improve this week.

Lower bay fishermen will be focusing on deploying planer boards and all the heavy gear that goes with fall trolling for large migrant striped bass this week. A few fish were caught over the weekend and the run is expected to pick up this week. The gannets have arrived and schools of large menhaden can be spotted on depth finders being swept down the edges of the shipping channel. Traditional locations such as Smith Point, Buoy 72, Cove Point, the HI Buoy and the channel out in front of St. George's Island on the lower Potomac River will all be worth checking out.

Fishermen have been finding striped bass under 28" in length in the lower Patuxent River and channel areas in Tangier Sound, Potomac River and traditional steep channel edges in the bay. Jigging and trolling have been the preferred methods of fishing. A few fishermen have reported that there still are a few bluefish hanging around in the lower bay and others are reporting good white perch fishing with jigs in the deep waters of the lower Patuxent River.

Freshwater fishermen got to enjoy some warm weather this past weekend and many reported that fishing picked up especially for largemouth bass. Water temperatures in most lakes and tidal rivers have been hovering around 50-degrees lately and largemouth bass are beginning to go deep. The drop off edges in about 10' to 15' seem to be one of the most productive areas for fishermen working close to the bottom with grub jigs and crawfish looking jigs. Crawfish are a very important menu item for largemouth bass this time of the year as these small crustaceans move to deeper water and cover.

Fishermen in the western region of the state have been enjoying good fishing for walleyes and smallmouth bass in Deep Creek Lake and the upper Potomac River. Casting small crankbaits has been a favorite in Deep Creek Lake and small tubes and swim shad jigs in the upper Potomac.

Trout fishermen continue to enjoy good fishing in many of the states trout management areas and especially the put and take areas. Cooler water temperatures and reduced fishing pressure should ensure good fishing for several months. Fish such as crappie are schooling up near marina docks and bridge piers in tidal rivers such as the Potomac and lakes and reservoirs. Fishing for channel catfish in many areas and blue catfish in the tidal Potomac has picked up with cooler water temperatures. Connor Smith was fishing with his dad when he caught this whopper of a blue catfish in the tidal Potomac.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Smith

Ocean City surf fishermen have been limited to fishing cuts between the outside sand bars and the inside trough due to the massive rearranging of sand and distance to cast beyond the outside bar. They are catching puppy drum with a few fish just over the 18" minimum. The big striped bass are moving along the beaches as proved by the catches coming in from boats working the shoal areas. Fishing the cuts in the outside bars should produce some results this week.

In and around the inlet most of the fishing action centers around the good tautog fishing being found from the jetties and the Route 50 Bridge. The Oceanic Pier opened over the weekend and unfortunately the bulkhead between 2nd and 4th Streets still remains closed. At night a few striped bass are being caught and larger fish should become more common soon.

Outside the inlet the best fishing action tends to center around drifting live eels or trolling for striped bass near traditional shoal areas. Fenwick Shoals, Isle of Wright Shoals, Little Gull Bank and Great Gull Bank are all good places to look for striped bass that are moving down the coast. Tautog fishing remains good on the inshore wrecks and reefs.

"It mattered little what the weather was and scarcely more as to the time of the year, John Pike must have his fishing every day and on Sundays he read about it and made flies. All the rest of the time he was thinking about it. " - R.D. Blackmore


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.