Fishermen are seeing some exciting changes in the fishing scene in the very upper limits of the bay this week. The Conowingo Dam has been releasing water in the afternoons and cooler water temperatures have done much to revive the striped bass fishery. Fishermen are reporting a lot of small striped bass and a number of others over 18” in the lower Susquehanna, Northeast and Elk Rivers. Casting Rat-L-Traps and soft plastic jigs has been a successful way to catch them in the evenings all the way down to the mouth of the Sassafras River.
Farther down the bay fishermen have been finding striped bass and small bluefish around the edges of Hart-Miller Island by casting lures in the evening hours. Fishermen report the same kind of action in the mouth of the Gunpowder, Patapsco and Chester Rivers; plus a mix of striped bass and small bluefish on top chasing bait now and then. Cooler water temperatures in many tidal rivers are forcing small bait out into the bay and bluefish and striped bass have formed a picket line of sorts at the mouths of a number of tidal rivers in the upper bay region. Scott Ford holds up part of a limit of striped bass that he and crew caught in the Patapsco while trolling white bucktails.
Fishermen report that there are still a lot of small spot to be found in the shallows of the upper bay and they are live lining them for striped bass at various channel edges such as Podickory Point, Love Point and at the pier bases of the Bay Bridge. Striped bass are of course the intended target and a number are reported to be over 30” in size; but unfortunately bluefish are often chopping up baits as fast as fishermen can send them to the bottom. A number of fishermen are also reporting that trolling small spoons, bucktails, surge tube lures and for the really brave, Storm lures; have been catching a mix of medium to large bluefish and striped bass.
Recreational crabbers are reporting generally good crabbing this week in a number of rivers in the upper bay region; including the Elk, Bush, Gunpowder and Chester. They are reporting a number of light crabs and crabs with missing claws and legs but most were able to catch a full bushel of heavy crabs.
Mid Bay Region:
Water temperatures in the middle bay region are now in the high 60’s and the small spot are still around; it seems hard to believe. Fishermen are still taking advantage of the situation and live lining them for striped bass in a number of traditional locations. The bluefish that are still blanketing the region are also taking advantage of the situation and chewing up any spot that is sent to the bottom in deeper waters. The area around the channel edges at the Gum Thickets and south to Poplar Island are reported to be not as good as they were last week for live lining for striped bass and those who try are being cut up by bluefish. The bridge piers and the east rock pile at the Bay Bridge are still a good bet this week though for live lining of jigging.
Fishermen are reporting they are catching striped bass and bluefish around the shoreline of Poplar Island and Eastern Bay by casting lures in the evening hours. Other shallow water areas of the bay such as the lower Choptank River do not seem to be as fruitful for light tackle fishermen lately. Fishermen are still reporting large amounts of bait in the lower Choptank this week but few striped bass or bluefish chasing them. Fishermen at the Choptank Fishing Pier report good fishing for small bluefish on an incoming tide and small white perch have been abundant at the pier lately. The Matapeake and Romacoke fishing piers also report good fishing for small bluefish this week. Fishermen are also reporting quite a bit of good jigging action for striped bass at the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant discharge this week.
Out in the more open waters of the bay fishermen are finding breaking fish that are made up of a mix of bluefish and striped bass and others are often finding the fish suspended deep working on bait. Fishermen have been jigging with good success or trolling along the channel edges. Those trolling are using a mix of bucktails, spoons and surge tube lures.
Recreational crabbers are reporting good catches of crabs this week; noting that they have been tossing back a percentage of light crabs and smaller ones. Most reported being able to put a nice bushel together of heavy crabs in an outing. Jim Livingston tips a basket of West River crabs over for us to see a nice mess of crabs headed for the steamer.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
The big news in the lower bay region this week is the first large fall migrant striped bass over 40” being caught. Boats are trolling the shipping channel with large bucktails and parachutes dressed with sassy shads and generally the top 30’ of the water column seems to be where the fish are cruising. No doubt in coming days and weeks more than a few light tackle fishermen jigging to heavy marks are going to get quite a surprise when they hook into one of these beasts. Large menhaden seems to be drawing these larger striped bass up the bay into our waters so look for this fishery to gain momentum in the coming weeks.
Bluefish are spread throughout all corners of the region with the largest bluefish concentrating around the Middle Grounds and off of Cove Point. Most fishermen are trolling for them with spoons and green or red surge tube lures or jigging and casting to breaking fish. Smaller bluefish can be found in the tidal rivers and shoreline areas of both sides of the bay. Light tackle fishermen who love to ply the shallows towards the evening hours casting lures have been enjoying good fishing lately. On the eastern side of the bay from Hooper’s Island south through Tangier sound they are catching a mix of speckled trout, bluefish, striped bass, puppy drum and flounder. The western side of the bay is offering fair to good shallow water fishing for striped bass, puppy drum, bluefish and flounder. Shawn Perry holds up a beautiful fall speckled trout for the camera.
The fleet from Crisfield has started to make the switch to the Middle Grounds for a mix of bluefish and striped bass. Private boats from the Crisfield area continue to work the channel edges for flounder and most report good success.
Recreational crabbers continue to report good crabbing in the tidal rivers and creeks of the two regions. They do report there is a mix of sooks, small and light crabs but it does not take to long to catch a nice bushel of heavy crabs.
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