Although fishermen are finding some striped bass in the channel approaches to the lower Susquehanna River; the best fishing has been occurring below Pooles Island for a mix of striped bass and bluefish. Water temperatures in the upper bay have now dropped below the 70-degree mark and a typical fall pattern of fishing for striped bass, white perch and bluefish is setting in. Striped bass and white perch are beginning to hold near deep structure in the form of steep channel edges, rocks and shoals. Bait in the form of bay anchovies are moving out of the regions tidal rivers and creeks and the striped bass and bluefish are waiting for them where strong currents sweep the bait past steep channel edges and shoals.
The channels around Pooles Island and Hart-Miller Island have been good places to look for breaking fish as well as watching depth finders for fish holding near channel edges. The channels leading out of the Inner Harbor of Baltimore out in front of Fort McHenry have been a good place to look for a mix of striped bass, white perch and bluefish chasing bait. The shoals outside the Patapsco such as Belvidere, the 6’ and 7’ knolls and others have been holding the same mix of fish at times. Fishermen are finding breaking fish or jigging deep to marks on depth recorders. Bottom bouncing with bucktails or trolling deep have also been good ways to catch a mix of striped bass and bluefish.
A few boats have been chumming in the lower part of the region with good results around the Love Point and Podickory Point areas. There are still a high number of small striped bass in the chum slicks but there are much larger fish around for fishermen patient enough to wait them out with baits close to the bottom. Some of these fish have been measuring of 30” in length.
Perhaps the best deep structure in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake is the Bay Bridge piers and rock piles. These underwater structures are a standout this time of the year for fishermen jigging for a mix of striped bass and white perch with a few bluefish tossed in for good measure. This time of the year when water temperatures dip below 70-degrees fish will school up near these structures and provide excellent jigging opportunities for fishermen. Most fishermen that jig around the bridge piers will use soft bodied jigs and those fishing at the rock piles will use a metal jig with a dropper fly above and at times come up with a striped bass/white perch combo like Rich Watts did at the same time.
Recreational crabbers are reporting good crabbing this week in many of the tidal rivers and creeks this week. The upper Elk River and the lower Gunpowder, Bush, Patapsco, Chester and Magothy have been very good places to catch up a mess of fat crabs. Crabbers are also seeing their share of light crabs but report that there are enough heavy ones available that they can toss the light ones back; the best catches tend to be coming from about 7” of water. Tim Bird sent in this picture of some nice crabs he caught in the Magothy on Tuesday.
Middle Bay Region
Fishermen are finding good to excellent fishing opportunities this week for a mix of striped bass, bluefish and white perch. The striped bass and bluefish are chasing schools of bait throughout the region and particularly in areas where strong currents sweep past channel edges. The area near the mouth of Eastern Bay and Poplar Island, Thomas Point, Buoy 88, the Diamonds and the western side of the shipping channel from Breezy Point south have been standouts this week.
Most fishermen are casting to breaking fish with metal or surface poppers. Most have learned to take the treble hooks off their poppers and replace them with single hooks. Some even go so far as removing the hooks completely and trail a small fly on a short leader behind the popper. The primary bait fish are bay anchovies and they tend to be fairly small so the hookless popper gives the fishermen some weight to cast the fly out on a spinning rod. This is a great time of the year to break out that fly rod that has been collecting dust and either cast skipping bugs or a Clouser fly into the surface melee.
Many fishermen prefer to jig underneath the surface action and sometimes that is all there is. This is a time of the year when a good depth finder earns its keep. Birds lazily flying around in an area and slicks are good hints that there could be something going on below and a depth finder will confirm those suspicions. Metal jigs such as Sting Silvers and Crippled Herrings are very popular but soft bodied plastic jigs work well also. Bluefish will continue to be part of the action for several more weeks so soft plastic can take a beating until they leave. Justine McKnight was fishing with her husband when she hooked up with this toothy critter.
White perch are beginning to school up in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers on oyster reefs and hard lumps. Fishermen have been using bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or jigging with small jigs to catch them. Cooler water temperatures have enabled striped bass to wander the shallower waters near the mouths of the tidal rivers and bay shorelines. Bright sunlight tends to chase them from the shallows; especially with fall’s clearer water so early mornings and late evenings often provide the best fishing opportunities.
Recreational crabbers continue to enjoy catching crabs in the region’s tidal rivers and creeks as crabs fatten up for the winter. Sooks and light crabs are certainly part of the mix but large rusty-bottomed Jimmys are fall treat that offer some of the best crabs of the season.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
Lower bay fishermen are enjoying good to excellent fishing opportunities this week for a mix of striped bass and bluefish throughout most of the region. Fishermen are encountering breaking fish most anywhere but especially along the steep edges of channels. Bay anchovies are being swept along by strong currents and striped bass instinctively know right where to wait for them. Casting to a mix of thrashing bluefish and striped bass is a lot of fun with single hooked poppers, bucktails or metal. The bluefish are getting fat and many are over 20” in length. The size of the striped bass has greatly improved and fish up to 30” in size are not uncommon. Vertical jigging with metal is perhaps one of the more popular methods for fishing under breaking fish or when fish are found schooled up over structure by depth finders.
Trolling is certainly another popular way to catch striped bass and bluefish and most fishermen are trolling deep with inline weights or small planers. Bucktails and spoons are popular for striped bass and red surge tube lures will usually catch you a mess of bluefish. The channel edges are one of the more productive places to troll.
More boats are beginning to chum now above Point Lookout on the rock piles and the Wilson Bridge reef site. The charter boat fleet has been anchoring up there and catching a mix of striped bass and bluefish. The Crisfield fleet is beginning to switch from bottom fishing to chumming at the Middle Grounds area for striped bass and bluefish up to 5-pounds in size.
Speckled trout are entertaining fishermen along the marsh edges of the eastern shore as well as striped bass and bluefish. White perch are beginning to school up on oyster bottom lumps in the lower areas of the regions tidal rivers such as the Nanticoke, Pocomoke and Patuxent.
Recreational crabbers are catching some large heavy crabs this week in the regions tidal rivers; sooks and light crabs are a big part of the mix. The fall bonanza of crabs is something not to be missed whether you catch your own or buy local. October crabs represent some of the season’s finest eating.
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