The water temperature at Deep Creek Lake has dropped to the middle to upper 40ís this week and many of the cold water species there are feeling the urgency to fatten up for the winter. Regional fisheries manager Alan Klotz sent us a wonderful report on some recent fish survey work on Deep Creek Lake.
We have been surveying Deep Creek Lake this past week as part of the annual comprehensive fish community study. Based on our observations - don't store your fishing rods just yet! Most game fish species are in shallow shoreline areas around the grass beds, feeding heavily on juvenile panfish. Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, northern pike, walleye, and jumbo yellow perch can be found in abundance in this type of habitat right up until ice-up. We also observed schools of smallmouth bass in shallow near rocky points, probably foraging for crayfish. Pictured is Fisheries Tech Jon Folk with a nice Deep Creek Lake northern pike.
We also surveyed the North Branch Potomac River Black Bass Catch and Release Area near Cumberland recently as well. The river is loaded with scrappy 8 - 10 smallmouth bass, with plenty of chunky 12 to 15 inch smallies to bend your rod. All the bass seemed to be in close to shore, oriented on large woody debris. Fall is probably the best time of the year to fish the North Branch Potomac River for great smallmouth bass action.
Fisheries biologist John Mullican sent in this report from some field work they have been doing. Crews have been busy over the past several weeks stocking trout throughout western Maryland. The staff at the Albert Powell Hatchery has produced some great trout for put and take anglers this fall. Most of the smaller streams are still running low and clear, but flows are improving. During these conditions, stealth and concealment is important for success. Try working upstream taking care not to spook fish and make accurate casts.
We recently completed a fishery survey of Cunningham Falls Lake in Frederick County. As usual, this lake continues to produce an abundance of 12 to 15 inch largemouth bass, with a few whoppers to spice things up, as well as large sunfish and crappie. Fall is a great time to enjoy this lake amidst a colorful mountain backdrop. There is plenty of bass attracting cover around the lake to cast to in the form of large boulders, willow trees, deadfalls, and brush piles created by Inland Fisheries with assistance from the Youth Conservation Corp.
Recent rains and windy conditions have not been kind to fishermen but there are always those days in between and of course usually on weekdays when all the magic of fall comes into place. The water temperature in the Susquehanna River below the Conowingo Dam is now down into the mid-50 degree range and fishermen should start to see the walleye fishery there begin to develop. Casting small diving crankbaits or jigs with twister tails has always been a popular way to catch them. Smallmouth bass are already very active as are largemouth bass and crawfish is the number one item on the dinner menu; so any diving crankbait or jig that resembles a crawfish will be a good choice.
The many lakes and reservoirs of the central and southern regions are beginning to see grass beds retreat and when that begins to occur crawfish will be migrating to deeper cover to find a place to spend the winter. This annual migration does not go unnoticed by smallmouth and largemouth bass; crawfish are one of their favorite foods so they will be feeding near the deeper drop-offs or around the edges of declining grass. Jig and crankbait crawfish imitations will be one of the best options for lures for the next several weeks. As grass beds and other types of vegetative cover begin to diminish small baitfish such as juvenile sunfish will also find it harder to hide from predators. In the reservoirs of the central region where gizzard shad are present the juveniles will be a top food item for largemouth bass, pike and chain pickerel. Craig Walrath was fishing in Rocky Gorge Reservoir and sent in this picture and a short report. I caught all my fish on Spinner Baits in shallow water, shoreline pattern. They seem to be following shad schools into the shallows as the water temperature drops to the mid-50's and the thermocline vanishes as the lake "turns over". All three were briefly kept in an aerated livewell and then immediately and safely released after the photo.
Fishing in the tidal portion of the Potomac River for largemouth bass has seen an upturn as cooler water temperatures are causing largemouth bass to increase their feeding activity. Thick grass beds of milfoil are receding so bass are on the prowl for small baitfish and crawfish looking for new cover. Isolated clumps of grass, sunken wood and rocky edges are always good places to cast spinnerbaits, shallow running jerkbaits and shallow running crankbaits.
A number of put and take trout waters within the two regions have recently been stocked with trout; so be sure to check out the fall trout stocking schedule to see which waters near you have been stocked. The trout stocking website can be found at the following link. www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/stocking/springtroutstock.html
This week fishermen will have good opportunities to fish for a variety of fish in the eastern region and largemouth bass will certainly be at the top of the list. Cooler water temperatures have instilled a sense of urgency in area largemouth bass to feed heavily and fatten up for the upcoming winter months. They will able to move freely throughout the water column and will most likely be prowling the edges of declining grass beds and sunken wood looking for juvenile fish such as sunfish, golden shiners and crawfish. The crawfish will be moving to deeper water looking for cover and stable water temperatures to wait out winter. They are of course vulnerable as the migrate across open bottom and largemouth bass will be patrolling the edges. Small crankbaits and jigs that imitate crawfish will be a good choice for baits. Spinnerbaits and shallow running jerkbaits would be a good choice where largemouth bass are feeding in the shallower areas on small fish.
The Tuckahoe River at Crouses Mill was stocked with 200 rainbow trout and 100 brown trout on October 20th so there is some good fishing to be had there. Fishing for channel catfish can offer good fishing in most of the tidal rivers within the eastern region. They are active now and are readily taking cut bait, nightcrawlers or chicken livers.
Click here to view recent bay satellite images at mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/NASAimagery/EyesInTheSky.cfm
Reservoir Bathymetry information:
The Maryland Geological
Survey has bathymetry maps on their website:
Links to freshwater flows:
Latest real time stream flow for
Gunpowder Falls near Parkton.
Latest real time stream flow for
Gunpowder Falls At Glencoe.