Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | September 28, 2011

Fish, fish, fish that is what we should all be doing as much as possible as we approach the end of September and the beginning of October. Conditions are just about perfect for all kinds of fishing from the mountain streams of western Maryland to the offshore canyons out of Ocean City. Cooling water temperatures have fish in an aggressive feeding mode and that is good news for fishermen. Starting in early October trout hatchery crews and biologists will be out stocking trout in many areas as cooler water temperatures make for better trout survival. Those stockings will be posted on the trout fishing page of the Fisheries website as they occur at the following link.

Fall is always a wonderful time of the year to fish for trout and October is especially wonderful as fall colors abound and cool air temperatures just make it nice to be in the outdoors. The word "trout" can mean different things in different areas and in saltwater crowds trout means gray trout or weakfish up north and one of the most beautiful saltwater fish anywhere the speckled or spotted trout. Although the saltwater trout are not related at all to freshwater trout, the colors of a speckled trout are just as beautiful as those of a freshwater brown trout. Lately bay fishermen have been treated to a surge of speckled trout and for many this is the first time they have caught one, so get out there and enjoy the freshwater and saltwater trout opportunities that abound this week. Here they are side by side, the freshwater brown trout on the left and the saltwater speckled trout on the right.

Brown Trout Photo Courtesy of Kevin Gladd and Speckled Trout Photo Courtesy of Jay Fleming

Flow conditions at the Conowingo Dam remain higher than normal for this time of the year but the dam is running normal mid-day power generation water releases. The upper bay region is still experiencing cloudy water conditions but there are some fishing opportunities to be had; especially in the tidal rivers and close to the Bay Bridge. There are some striped bass being caught immediately below the Conowingo Dam in the dam pool and fishing for channel catfish is very good throughout the entire region. White perch are moving into deeper waters in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and also shoal areas in the bay. Fishermen are finding some striped bass by trolling along channel edges with umbrella rigs and also jigging under breaking fish at times. The Bay Bridge piers continue to be a good place to jig or chunk fresh bait such as cut fish or razor clams. The shallow waters in the lower sections in the tidal rivers have been offering some action as is the Kent Island Narrows area. Recreational crabbers report fair catches of crabs in the regions tidal rivers but note most are large and heavy.

Middle bay region fishermen are seeing water temperatures close to 70-degrees this week, lower than normal salinities and cloudy water conditions in some areas. Striped bass fishermen are seeing renewed interest in the False Channel area as chunking cut spot and whole razor clams has been very productive for a nice grade of striped bass. Trolling is good in many channel edge areas and umbrella rigs with bucktail trailers, spoons behind inline weights and surge tube lures are working well. Bluefish are still in the region so soft plastics such as Storm lures are an expensive proposition to be putting in harms way. Breaking fish will be seen throughout the region at times and casting metal to the surface fish or jigging underneath will get you into the action.

Perhaps one of the most exciting fishing news this week is the number of speckled trout that are being caught by fishermen casting topwater lures in the shallower areas along the shorelines of the bay and tidal rivers. Smaller speckled trout have been here for several weeks but larger specks, some over 22" have moved in and are providing great fishing opportunities when fishing for striped bass. Striped bass fishing in the shallows has been very good for the last couple of weeks and few types of fishing are more exciting than casting topwater lures with light tackle. Striped bass aggressively hit these topwater offerings and sometimes one has to wonder with the smaller fish in the area if their eyes are bigger than their mouth. Peter Jayne sent in this picture of a one year old striped bass with quite an appetite.

Photo Courtesy Peter Jayne

White perch seem to have left the shallower areas in the regions tidal rivers and must be beginning to school up as water temperatures decline. Look for them holding over oyster shoals in deep water and similar structure. They can be caught by jigging or by using bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or grass shrimp. Recreational crabbers are reporting good catches of large heavy crabs in most of the regions tidal rivers with a large number of small crabs and sooks at times.

Lower bay region is offering a lot of different fishing opportunities this week for a broad mix of fish species. At the fore front is the large number of speckled trout that seem to have invaded the shallow waters of the lower bay and particular the eastern shore shallows. Light tackle fishermen that are casting topwater lures for striped bass are catching unprecedented numbers of beautiful speckled trout; many up to 24" in size. They are a wonderful addition to the already excellent fishing for striped bass and bluefish in the shallows.

Fishermen are finding breaking fish throughout the lower bay region chasing schools of bay anchovies; most often there is a mix of bluefish and striped bass with an occasional Spanish mackerel. Often the bluefish are in the 3lb to 4lb size range along with the common snapper sized bluefish that have been around all summer. There is still plenty of action going on outside the Gas Docks with striped bass. Spot numbers are diminishing in the Patuxent River as cool water temperatures begin to urge them to move south. Fishermen are finding chunking larger spot as well as the smaller live spot to be very effective. Trolling spoons, bucktails and surge tube lures along channel edges and over suspended fish is also effective.

Fishing for white perch in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers is good on hard bottom in the deeper areas; blood worms have been preferred bait. Large spot can also be found in many of the same areas. Recreational crabbers are reporting good catches of large heavy crabs this week in the regions tidal rivers and creeks. Large numbers of sooks and small crabs continue to chew up baits.

Freshwater fishermen will be seeing improving conditions this week as the skies clear up and waters recover from the weekend's heavy rain. Western region trout streams and rivers are in good shape and trout fishing has been good as water temperatures cool and trout are more active. Alan Klotz sent in an angler's log about a fun fishing trip to the Youghiogheny River to test out a new fly rod on some of the fine brown trout there.

Photo Courtesy Alan Klotz

John Mullican sent us this short report concerning Frederick County and the upper Potomac fishing conditions. Some areas in Frederick County and east got heavy rain last Friday. The Monocacy jumped up to over 13', but is now backing down to 3.7'. Overall, the upper Potomac River is in great shape and fishing well. Smallmouth bass fishing has been very good throughout the river. In addition to the reliable standbys, tubes and grubs, crankbaits and topwaters have been working very well. Try Tiny Torpedoes, Rapala Skitterpops, Pop-Rs, and buzzbaits around grass beds and boulders adjacent to current.

Fishermen looking for largemouth bass are finding good fishing conditions in most areas as the largemouth bass have transitioned into a very aggressive feeding behavior. Grass beds are an excellent place to target for largemouth bass that are frequenting those areas looking for small prey items that are beginning to lose the cover that has been so prominent all summer. Topwater lures such as buzzbaits and frogs over shallow water grass in the morning and evening hours is always a productive and fun way to fish for largemouth bass this time of the year. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits worked along the outside edges of grass beds, spatterdock fields and wood structure is also very productive now. Stick worms and other soft plastics worked in the grass will entice those largemouth bass residing in the grass.

The week has started off with rain and fog for Ocean City fishermen but clearing weather later on this week will do much to improve fishing conditions. Surf water temperatures are creeping below 70-degrees and many inshore fisheries are in transition.

Surf fishermen are enjoying catch and release fishing for large red drum; although rough surf has hampered their efforts at times. Inshore sharks, dogfish, skates and a few striped bass are also being caught on large baits. Small to medium sized bluefish are moving along the beaches and can be caught on whole or partial finger mullet. A few kingfish and croakers are still around and are being caught on small baits.

In and around the inlet area fishermen are seeing the tautog fishery improving as water temperatures cool. Sand fleas have been favorite baits lately and the jetties to the 2nd. To 4th Street bulkheads have been the places to fish. Flounder are moving through the inlet area and fishermen have been catching some nice ones before they exit out the inlet for their fall offshore migration. Striped bass and bluefish are being caught in the evenings on a variety of lures and live baits.

Water clarity has been an issue in the back bay areas due to rain and wind but is clearing up this week and the weekend promises to offer good fishing for flounder. The flounder are on the move and are also feeding aggressively so the channel areas leading to the inlet will be good places to fish.

Fishermen have been doing well in regards to catching sea bass out at the wreck sites. They report a high throwback ratio but double digit catches are common and limits do occur on every outing for a few lucky fishermen. Large bluefish are beginning to crash the party on some days often cutting sea bass in half while being reeled up to the boat. A few large flounder are also being caught near the wreck sites and a few triggerfish are often part of the mix.

The boats heading out to the canyon areas have been catching and releasing white marlin and bringing in a mix of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and a few wahoo. Most boats have been going to the Baltimore and Washington Canyons.

We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive. -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.