Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 07, 2011

Now that we find ourselves a full week into September, fishermen are seeing cooler water temperatures and improving fishing conditions for a wide variety of fish from the waters of western Maryland to our offshore waters in the Atlantic Ocean. All types of fish are beginning to feed more aggressively and that makes for better fishing. This weekend the awards ceremony will take place for the 2010/2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge and several fishermen will be opening envelopes to see if they were lucky enough to catch Diamond Jim. The 2011/2012 Maryland Fishing Challenge began on September 6th so check out the Fishing Challenge website on the Fishing Report or Fisheries Home Page and be aware of the minimum sizes for fish and enter for next year's drawing. Good luck to our entrants this Saturday and to those fishermen out fishing for next year's tournament.

Fishermen in the upper bay are experiencing cloudy water conditions spreading from the Susquehanna River. The Conowingo Dam is opening gates in a mid-day power generating schedule and creating fishing opportunities for striped bass, smallmouth bass and channel catfish as water temperatures drop to the 73-degree mark. Jack Wang sent in this picture and an angler's log about fishing for striped bass below the dam during a water release.

Photo Courtesy Jack Wang

Fishermen are reporting that striped bass have been spread out over a wider area since Irene moved through the region. This may be due to cooler water temperatures and the increasing number of bait in the region. Striped bass in particular are free to roam a wider range of water depths and areas when cooler water temperatures prevail. As schools of bait form, jigging and casting to breaking fish will become more common as a fall pattern of fishing begins to develop. Trolling can be a good option for fishermen with bucktails, Storm shads or spoons near channel edges and structure. Structure such as the Bay Bridge piers and the sewer pipe just north of the bridge on the eastern shore continue to good places to fish. Shallow water fishing with lures for striped bass and white perch is also becoming a good option for fishermen.

Middle bay region fishermen report clear water in most areas and good fishing. Water temperatures have dipped to 76-degrees and the salinity at the Gooses was listed at 5.4 p.p.t.; which is about half of what it was before the Irene deluge. Despite low salinities fishermen are still catching Spanish mackerel as far north as Eastern Bay and finding larger bluefish as well. The cooler water temperatures may also be having an effect on the live lining fishery at the False Channel area as fishermen report more difficult fishing. Crowded conditions and a slow bite at times are causing some consternation among fishermen looking for a more peaceful and rewarding fishing experience. Fortunately the cooling water temperatures has caused the striped bass in the region to begin to roam more, searching for schools of bait throughout the region from the shallows of the shorelines to channel edges where strong currents sweep schools of bait with the tides. Light tackle jigging and casting to breaking fish is what September and October are all about in the Chesapeake when fishing for striped bass.

Cooler water temperatures are causing white perch to be more active this week and fishing along shoreline structure with light tackle and an assortment of small lures can provide some fun fishing and tasty fillets. Fishing with bait such as grass shrimp, bloodworms and small minnows near deeper shoreline structure is another fun and productive way to catch a fine mess of white perch when fishing from shore.

Lower bay region fishermen are seeing fewer effects of the heavy runoff from Irene this week and good fishing for a variety of species. Striped bass are still being found off the Gas Docks in about 30' of water by the live lining fleet. Live spot are still relatively easy to obtain from the Patuxent River and there are plenty of striped bass and increasing numbers of bluefish more than eager to chomp down on a lively spot sent to the bottom. Larger bluefish have become more common in the lower bay region and are joining in with Spanish mackerel and striped bass to chase schools of bay anchovies. Trolling at a good clip with small planers and Drone spoons is a good way to catch the Spanish mackerel. Slower speeds will get one into bluefish and striped bass. Casting into breaking fish and speed reeling metal lures is a fun way to catch Spanish mackerel and bluefish: jigging underneath is often where the largest striped bass are holding. Trolling spoons in the region from the Middle Grounds to Hooper's Island can also get one into some exciting catch and release action with the large red drum that have been frequenting the region.

Large spot and medium sized croakers are being caught in the regions tidal rivers and the Tangier Sound area and shallow water light tackle fishermen are finding plenty of action for a mix of striped bass, speckled trout and bluefish along the eastern shorelines. The early morning and evening shallow water fishing for striped bass is becoming the real deal now that water temperatures are down into the seventies. Jay Fleming holds up a speckled trout he caught while fishing the bay marsh edges of the lower eastern shore.

Photo Copyright Jay Fleming

Recreational crabbers are reporting mixed results so far this week in the upper bay regions tidal rivers with collapsible crab traps and trotlines. The chances of catching a full bushel in an outing increases in the middle and lower bay regions with most crabbers talking of heavy 7" crabs.

Cooling water temperatures in the western region lakes and ponds is causing largemouth bass to become more active later on in the day as the fish begin to break out of their summer mode of behavior. Western region trout streams and rivers are showing good flows and trout are more active now with cooler water temperatures.

Largemouth bass throughout the states many lakes, ponds and tidal rivers are becoming more active as water temperatures cool, giving fishermen a much longer window of time to enjoy good fishing. Largemouth bass can be found near the edges of grass beds and most any kind of submerged structure looking for prey items. Fishermen are reporting that spinnerbaits, crankbaits, topwater lures and soft plastics are all working well. Will Stackus holds up a nice largemouth bass he caught and released at Loch Raven.

Photo Courtesy Michael Gay

Ocean City fishermen are reporting that sea conditions have calmed down in the offshore waters and water clarity has greatly improved in the back bay areas. Surf fishermen are catching small bluefish in the surf, a few large spot, croaker and kingfish. Large inshore sharks and rays are also present. Bluefish and striped bass are being caught at the inlet mostly at night. The bluefish are being caught on Got-Cha lures and striped bass on live eels and swim shads. Flounder are being caught in the back bay areas and at the inlet on traditional baits and live spot.

Captains report that the sea bass fishing improved after Irene and flounder are also being caught around the wreck and artificial reef sites. Captains have also been stopping closer to shore to fish on croakers that are holding in the slough areas. Offshore fishermen are reporting white marlin releases approaching double digit figures per day. They are also reporting false albacore, skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna and dolphin being caught as well.

... things hoped for, have a higher value than those assured. -Aldo Leopold


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.