Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 25, 2015



There tends to be a little more chill in the air these days as the end of November approaches and Turkey Day is tomorrow. There is good freshwater fishing this week for a variety of species and striped bass fishing in the bay is good. Sea bass fishing off Ocean City is excellent and the fall migration of large striped bass and bluefish into Maryland's coastal waters has begun. Dress warm and enjoy the cool water fishing opportunities we have at the moment.

Striped bass fishing in the upper bay begins in the lower Susquehanna River and extends all the way down to the Bay Bridge this week. There has been plenty of good action in the lower Susquehanna for striped bass above 20" in length and the good action can also be found off Turkey Point and channel edges in the area.

Striped bass are being found along channel edges in the upper bay in about 35' of water mostly by those trolling. They are typically trolling a mixed spread of spoons, swim shads, bucktails dressed with sassy shads and umbrella rigs. Most of the fish being caught range from 20" to 30". There are smaller striped bass in the upper bay but they are usually high in the water column chasing bait. Water temperatures in the upper bay are in the low 50's and even colder in the tidal rivers so most of the better striped bass fishing is occurring out in the bay or the mouths of the rivers. Doug Crowe was trolling an umbrella rig near the mouth of the Magothy when he caught this nice striped bass recently.


Photo Courtesy of Doug Crowe

At the Bay Bridge there continues to be good fishing around the bridge piers for striped bass. Most are jigging soft plastic jigs and bucktails near the pier bases and rock piles. There tends to be a lot of small striped bass in the Bay Bridge area and they can often be seen on top chasing bait. The concrete abutments are a good place to look for a better grade of striped bass holding close to the bottom. There has also been good fishing for white perch at the rock piles. The perch are holding deep and it will take a heavy weight to get to them without being swept off target in the strong currents. A heavy sinker and two dropper flies will usually do the trick.

There continues to be good striped bass fishing at the Kent Narrows for shore bound anglers and for some who wish to break our fishing regulations - it’s too good. Our Natural Resources Police work hard, often at very inconvenient hours to protect our fisheries resources. Three men were charged Thursday with poaching striped bass by officers on an overnight saturation patrol in Kent Narrows. Officers stopped two vehicles under surveillance and found 28 striped bass, 21 of which were undersized. Alejandro Argueta Lanaverde, 38, and Gonzolo Martinez Pena, 46, both of Annapolis, and Franklin Rafael Flores Santos, 27, of Hyattsville, received citations for exceeding the daily creel limit, possessing undersized striped bass and possessing striped bass between midnight and 5 a.m. Santos is scheduled to appear in Queen Anne’s District Court on Jan. 7. The Annapolis men have a Feb. 4 court date. If found guilty, each man could be fined as much as $3,000.

In the middle bay region trolling has become very popular along channel edges in the main bay such as the 30'to 35' edges on the western side of the shipping channel from Breezy Point south past Parkers Creek to Cove Point. Most boats are pulling a mixed spread of lures at various depths using inline weights of various sizes. Umbrella rigs have been popular with trailing bucktails dressed with sassy shads or Storm type lures. Spoons have been a good choice as has tandem rigged bucktails. Most of the larger fish are coming from deeper depths and it is a good way to avoid the smaller striped bass that tend to be higher in the water column. Sam Schatz holds up two nice striped bass caught while trolling along the western edge of the shipping channel below Breezy Point.


Photo by Travis Long

Breaking fish are being encountered throughout the region; with most of the action for larger fish occurring in the bay. There is still some spotty action in the tidal rivers but it is usually smaller striped bass with a few larger fish underneath the surface action at times. Jigging is one of the most popular ways for small boat anglers to fish when breaking fish can be spotted to get to those larger fish. Larger striped bass are being spotted on depth finders, suspended out in the bay along channel edges and oyster bars. Metal jigs combined with braided line and a fast action rod tends to be a favorite but soft plastic jigs work well also. The water clarity in the middle bay region continues to be extremely good, bay water temperatures are about 55° and the salinity is elevated at18 parts per thousand. Water temperatures are noticeably cooler in the tidal rivers.

In the lower bay breaking striped bass are being encountered throughout the entire region with the bulk of the action occurring from the Middle Grounds area to the west side of Point Lookout. Most are jigging underneath the smaller striped bass which tend to be at the surface in search of a larger grade of fish. In the area from lower Hooper's Island to buoy 72A more than a few fishermen are reporting striped bass in the size range of 20" to 32" being caught by jigging and trolling. The channel cuts through lower Hooper's Island have been a good place to cast soft plastics and bucktails and bounce them along the bottom to striped bass that are holding there. There is also a shallow water bite in the early mornings and evenings along the marsh shorelines of the Eastern Shore. Casting swim shad type lures or topwater lures has been the ticket to this late season show. There continues to be some sea trout in the area and most are being caught while jigging.

Those who are trolling are using a mixed spread of umbrella rigs with bucktail or swim shad trailers behind inline weights along with spoons and tandem rigged bucktails dressed with sassy shads. As of this week, there have been a few reports of large fall migrant striped bass making their way up the bay into Maryland waters. The bulk of the fall coastal migration of large striped bass is in New Jersey and the vanguard is now just entering Maryland waters. There were two large fish in the 47" size range reported during during last weekend's MSSA Tournament and Jason Zagalsky and crew caught and released this big 47" striped bass last Thursday just a few days before the tournament.


Photo Courtesy of Jason Zagalsky

Freshwater anglers at Deep Creek Lake are beginning to buzz about hopes of the lake icing over and a fun season of ice fishing. Until then there is plenty of good fishing to be had while the lake waters are clear of ice. There is good fishing for a mix of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and large yellow perch in the upper lake areas where deep grass remains. Northern pike and chain pickerel are plentiful in the mouths of coves around the remaining grass beds also. There is good fishing for walleyes at dusk along some of the steeper rocky shorelines and most are casting swimming minnow type lures with good success.

The upper Potomac River continues to be low with very clear water; water temperatures are in the upper 40's. Smallmouth bass and walleye are scattered in the middle part of the river with the larger smallmouth bass concentrating in what is often termed "winter spots". These are the deeper areas that have large boulders to break up the current flow during high flow conditions. Soft plastic jigs, tubes and small crankbaits are good choices in these areas. The smaller smallmouth bass are becoming mostly dormant now with colder water temperatures so gear up for the larger fish.

Largemouth bass fishing remains good in the ponds, lakes and tidal waters this week. The bass are holding in deeper waters now near drop-offs. They are busy feeding on small baitfish and crayfish that are moving from the shallower areas where grass is breaking up to deeper cover such as sunken wood and rocks. Slow rolling spinnerbaits close to the bottom or working small crankbaits and jigs in similar fashion is a good bet. Working sunken wood and structure such as bridge piers and rocks is also a good strategy.

Crappie are schooled up now in deeper waters near structure. Bridge piers, marina docks and sunken brush or rocks are a good place to fish. Small jigs or minnows under a slip bobber are a good tactic. Channel catfish are active in most of the tidal rivers of the Chesapeake and blue catfish are plentiful and active in the tidal Potomac River. Chain pickerel are active and with grass beds diminishing, the pickerel and other fish are more accessible. Myroslav Tarnovetskyy was fishing in Tuckahoe Lake when he hooked this Maryland Fishing Challenge award size chain pickerel.


Photo Courtesy of Myroslav Tarnovetskyy

Trout fishing remains very good this week in many of the states trout management waters. There are still good numbers of trout in many of the put and take management waters. Casting spinners, small spoons and flies are a good way to cover plenty of water to find those trout that have been dodging Powerbaits. The catch and release and fly fishing only trout management waters are offering excellent trout fishing opportunities this week.

The Ocean City area is beginning to see the first substantial numbers of large migrant striped bass entering Maryland waters this week and this coming weekend may give anglers their first licks at these beautiful fish as they pass by on their way south. Surf casters will be fishing with fresh menhaden baits on bottom rigs; boats will be trolling the near shore shoal areas with Stretch 25 lures, bucktails, umbrella rigs or will be seen jigging or fishing with live eels. At the inlet casting bucktails or drifting live eels will be popular in the evenings. There are a lot of large bluefish in the region and more to come so they are part of the equation.

Sea bass fishing has been very good on the offshore wreck and reef sites with limits around the rails of party boats a common occurrence. Large bluefish are present and making short work of sea bass being reeled in, so speed reeling your valuable catch is in order.

Tautog fishing has been good on the inshore wreck sites and at the Route 50 Bridge/inlet complex. There are a lot of throwbacks inside the inlet area but keepers are present. Pieces of green crab and sand fleas are the best baits. Tautog season closes tomorrow November 26th.

"The trouble" the old man said "with people and turkeys is not knowing which side of the road to stay on in face of temptation." - Somebody Else's Turkey Tastes Better, Robert Ruark, The Old Man and the Boy.

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.