Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | October 05, 2011

As we start off our first solid week of October we are reminded each and every day when we step out the door just how special this month is for those who love the outdoors. Migratory Canada geese are perhaps one of the true heralds of fall and they could be faintly heard high above the clouds this week heading south. Leaves are beginning to show color, temperatures are inviting and it is a wonderful time to be in the outdoors. It is an especially inviting time to spend with children whether you are fishing or just hiking in the woods, yes, a very special occasion to spend some one on one time with your kids. Stocking crews have been busy generously stocking trout and chances are there has been or soon to be a stocking in waters near to where you live. Crowds are just about non-existent, so get out in the outdoors and enjoy it all, for winter will soon be knocking on the door. Sean Poulin got out with a few of his friends to enjoy some trout fishing on the recently stocked Little Patuxent River.

Photo Courtesy Sean Poulin

The Conowingo Dam is presently releasing a lot of water on a continuous schedule to deal with the large amount of runoff coming down the Susquehanna from recent heavy rains in Pennsylvania. Fishermen should expect high flows in the lower Susquehanna and cloudy water conditions in the surrounding areas near the mouth of the Susquehanna. Farther down the bay near the Baltimore/Rock Hall area south, fishermen will see the same cloudy water conditions they have seen for several weeks now. Some of the better fishing has been for white perch on oyster reef shoals out in the bay such as Tea Kettle Shoals and Man O War Shoals and all the smaller oyster reefs near tidal rivers and in the bay. Cooler water temperatures are causing white perch to begin to school up and leave the shallower waters of the tidal rivers. The rock piles at the center of the Bay Bridge are always a great place to jig up some large fat white perch in the fall. Current water temperatures near the mouth of the Susquehanna are holding at 61-degrees.

Breaking fish are being spotted by fishermen in the upper bay and they are usually 2 and 3 year old striped bass that are less than 18" in length. At times larger fish can be found underneath the surface fish by jigging or trolling deep. The sewer pipe just north of the Bay Bridge on the eastern side of the bay and the Bay Bridge piers are good places to jig and troll for striped bass; chunking with fresh cut bait or razor clams is also working well for fishermen. The striped bass are holding deep and close to the bridge piers.

Fishermen in the middle bay region are enjoying good fishing for a mix of striped bass, bluefish and speckled trout in the shallower waters of the bay shores and tidal rivers this week. Most light tackle fishermen are using surface poppers and fly rod enthusiasts are using skipping bugs or Clousers. Prominent points and old sea walls that are now offshore are favorite spots to cast in the morning and evening hours. The recent run of speckled trout continues but will not last much longer as water temperatures drop to the middle 60's.

Bait is beginning to move out of the tidal rivers and into the bay and a mix of striped bass and bluefish are waiting to move in. Often the smaller striped bass will be found in the tidal rivers working on bait and their larger brothers farther out into the bay. At times larger fish can be found underneath the surface action by jigging but sometimes it just pays to move on to the next group of breaking fish and diving birds.

Photos Courtesy Keith Lockwood

Fishermen are still having success chunking with fresh cut spot and razor clams at the channel edge at the False Channel area. Trolling along channel edges, near breaking fish and suspended fish is often a good option for fishermen this time of the year; it is especially popular on charter boats. There are still a lot of small bluefish around so spoons are often the most durable choice to troll.

White perch are schooling up and holding near structure such as oyster reefs, rock piles and channel edges. Jigging with a heavy jig and a small dropper fly is a good option as is a bottom rig baited with bloodworms. If conditions are right in regard to depth and current, small spin jigs such as Beetle Spins and Roadrunners can also be an effective choice with light tackle when worked close to the bottom.

Recreational crabbers are getting their last licks in on crabs as water temperatures continue to cool. They report decent catches of large male crabs but are finding their baits chewed up by large numbers of sooks and small crabs. If you have plans for crab meat in the freezer now is the time of the year for picking large heavy crabs; which makes picking a lot more rewarding.

Lower bay water temperatures finally dipped below 70-degrees this week but just barely. Fishing has been very good for a variety of fish species and at the forefront are striped bass, bluefish and speckled trout. Perhaps the speckled trout fishing has been one of the more exciting and novel fishing opportunities this fall. This season for whatever reason there are large numbers of good sized speckled trout spread out along the eastern shore of the bay and Tangier Sound tends to be the center of it all. Fishermen casting topwater lures, soft plastic jigs, swim shads and bait fishing with peeler or soft crab have been catching some nice fish. This happy angler holds up a nice speckled trout caught along the eastern shore marshes of Somerset County.

Photo Courtesy Jay Fleming

A mix of bluefish and striped bass are chasing schools of bait in the lower bay region and are often marked by diving birds. Casting a variety of lures such as poppers with single hooks, spoons or metal jigs to the surface action is exciting fun. Jigging underneath is productive as is trolling on the outside edges of the action. The lower bay region is seeing the largest bluefish in Maryland waters some as large as 6-pounds so hang on. There are still some spot in the Patuxent River and a few boats are still live lining spot outside of the Gas Docks with good success.

Spot and white perch are still being caught in the Patuxent River and other tidal rivers this week. The spot though are moving out and like the croakers and Spanish mackerel they too will soon be a memory. Fishing for white perch has been good in the deeper portions of the regions tidal rivers and there are still some flounder being caught along the channel edges of Tangier Sound. Recreational crabbers report good catches of heavy fall crabs with small crabs and sooks chewing up baits.

Freshwater fishermen have a lot of fishing opportunities to look forward to this week as cooling water temperatures have most fish in a very active feeding mode. The fall trout stocking program is underway and many trout waters are getting a generous dose of scrappy rainbow trout. Be sure to check out the trout fishing link on the Fisheries website for up to date stocking information.

The trout waters of western Maryland are in their glory this week as fall colors begin to show and water temperatures are cool. Alan Klotz sent in this picture of a beautiful rainbow trout from the catch and release trout fishing area in the North Branch of the Potomac.

Photo Courtesy Alan Klotz

Farther down the upper Potomac, fishing for smallmouth bass and walleye is good as cool water temperatures have the fish in the mood for chowing down on crawfish seeking safe haven from diminishing grass beds. Crankbaits that resemble crawfish and tubes are a very good choice when fishing the upper Potomac now. Deep Creek Lake is seeing the same kind of action for smallmouth bass along rocky shores and anything that resembles crawfish is a sure winner.

Largemouth bass are searching grass bed edges looking for small bait fish and crawfish. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastics are all good choices. Cooler water temperatures are causing the thick grass beds of the summer to retreat and bait such as small fish and crawfish are looking for cover in deeper waters. Now that the sun is a little less intense and cooler water temperatures prevail, fishermen are finding the good morning fishing lasts longer into the day and bass are not so quick to retreat to shade.

Fishermen in the Ocean City area are reporting that releases of red drum have dropped off significantly as the main body of fish has moved through the region. There are a few striped bass and plenty of small sharks being caught on large baits. There are a lot of small bluefish in the surf and it takes small baits of finger mullet to catch them. Kingfish and a few croakers are being caught on smaller baits. In and around the inlet to the bulkheads at 2nd through 4th Street fishermen are seeing increasing luck with tautog. The south jetty is one of the best places to fish if you can get there by boat and fishermen are also catching sheepshead there on sand fleas. Flounder are moving through the inlet area and fishermen have been using live finger mullet to catch the largest ones. All of the channels leading to the inlet are also good places to fish for flounder and again larger baits will get you larger flounder. At night striped bass are being caught on swim shads, bucktails and live bait in the inlet along with small to medium sized bluefish.

Fishing for sea bass and tautog on the wrecks and artificial reefs off of Ocean City is going well. The throwback ratio can be high at times and some wrecks are holding better fish than others but overall the fishing is good. Large flounder help round out the mix and even a few cod are being caught. Farther offshore the boats trolling the canyons are finding very good fishing for white marlin in the Poorman's, Baltimore and Washington Canyons. Fishermen have been catching a lot of bailer size dolphin near the lobster pot buoys and some yellowfin tuna in the 50lb to 60lb size range have been coming into the docks.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. -George Eliot


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.