Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 02, 2011

The tail end of October left many of us with a whopper of a northeaster that graced us with a record snow in many western and northern areas, lot's of rain and fierce winds over the weekend. Over here on the eastern bank of the Chesapeake it also left us with the season's first hard frost. Fishermen will start to dress a lot warmer now especially in the mornings and evenings; topsiders and sneakers will be replaced with rubber knee boots and camouflage duck hunting coats will round out the fishermen's wardrobe. So here we are in the first days of November and fishing for some of our favorites such as striped bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass and trout could hardly be better. Dress warm and make sure to enjoy the colorful foliage and your favorite kind of fishing, for old man winter is beginning to knock at the door.

Fishermen in the upper bay region are reporting cold water temperatures this week; below 50-degrees in some areas. Most fishermen are casting to breaking fish that are often marked by birds, jigging underneath for a larger grade of fish, trolling or fishing bait from shore. Breaking fish in the upper bay are often 3-year old striped bass in the 14" to 17" size range but jigging underneath with soft plastic jigs or metal can produce large fish at times. Trolling close to the bottom near channel edges and lumps has been productive and "bottom bouncing" with bucktails has been working well also. Fishing from shore at prominent points and piers is a good way to get in on some of the action with striped bass since they are roaming freely in all water depths. Fishing with bloodworms or fresh cut bait is usually the ticket. This happy angler caught this pair of striped bass at sandy Point State Park.

Photo Courtesy of Dan Austera

The striped bass action at the Bay Bridge piers continues to be a tough egg to crack this week but fishermen are catching a few nice fish by jigging soft plastics, White perch have moved into deeper water for the most part near the mouths of the region's tidal rivers and out in the bay on oyster lumps and increasing numbers of yellow perch are being caught in the upper bay tidal rivers above Baltimore.

Fishing in the middle bay region this week seems totally focused on light tackle jigging and to a lesser degree trolling on schools of striped bass chasing bait. The bait has been pouring out of the tidal rivers and the dinner bell is ringing in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and out in the bay where strong currents are sweeping the bait along channel edges. Most anglers are reporting a lot of 3-year old striped bass that are below 18" in size; especially in the tidal rivers but a better grade of fish out in the bay. There are still some bluefish in the middle bay region so it is a hard life for soft plastic jigs these days. The mouth of Eastern Bay, in front of Poplar Island, the lower Choptank and shipping channel have been good places to look for fish this week.

White perch are holding on many of the oyster bars out in the bay such as Hackett's, Holland Point and the Choptank Lumps. Bloodworms on a bottom rig are standard fare although jigging with a dropper fly can be very effective in areas such as the rock piles at the Bay Bridge.

Fishermen in the lower bay region are reporting a mix of striped bass and bluefish spread throughout the region but the lower Potomac River, the Middle Grounds and the edges of the shipping channel are particularly noteworthy. Trolling and jigging have been favorite methods for approaching breaking fishing in the region and chumming has been good at the mouth of the Potomac and the Middle Grounds. Of note is the fact that the region's largest bluefish are being caught at the Middle Grounds. Water temperatures in the lower bay have dipped below 60-degrees this week and fishermen can expect cooler water temperatures in the tidal rivers and bay shallows. White perch are schooled up over oyster bottom in the deeper parts of the regions tidal rivers and the Nanticoke and Patuxent are offering very good fishing opportunities for white perch.

Freshwater fishermen in the western region of Maryland are seeing some profound changes in the weather and fishing. Trout and smallmouth bass are at the top of the list for exciting fishing this week. Many of the regions streams and rivers have been generously stocked in October and good fishing continues with plenty of elbow room to spare. Smallmouth bass are on the prowl for bait and crawfish retreating to deeper waters as shallow cover begins to diminish in the colder water. Tubes, jigs and small crankbaits are good choices for smallmouth bass in Deep Creek Lake and the upper Potomac River. Be sure to check out western region biologists Alan Klotz and John Mullican's fish survey angler's logs in regard to the upper Potomac and Deep Creek Lake. Ryan Lignelli also sent in an angler's log from the upper Potomac and a few nice pictures such as this one of the smallmouth bass he and his fishing buddy caught.

Photo Courtesy of Ryan Lignelli

Cooling water temperatures are making for excellent largemouth bass fishing opportunities in the central, southern and eastern regions of the state this week. As grass beds in the shallower waters of the regions impoundments and tidal waters die back small baitfish and crawfish are moving towards deeper cover. A variety of lures such as spinnerbaits, small crankbaits, jigs and buzzbaits are working well in the transition areas between deeper water and the shallow grass. Many fishermen are also starting to fish the deeper points and drop-offs with deep running crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps with good success.

Crappie are schooling up close to deep cover such as bridge piers and docks, channel and blue catfish are feeding in the channels of the tidal rivers. Chain pickerel are very active now in lakes, ponds and tidal waters, more yellow perch are also being caught now in the tidal rivers. Also do not forget the excellent fishing for lunker smallmouth bass in the lower Susquehanna River and Liberty reservoir.

Coastal fishermen had a rough weekend due to the northeaster that moved through the region. The waters of the ocean, back bays and surf are calming down now and good fishing is expected this week.

Small bluefish are being caught in the surf and the striped bass are due to arrive in the next week or so. Fishermen are catching them along New Jersey's coast this week so the vanguard may arrive as early as this coming weekend. Large cuts of menhaden will be the bait of choice and local tackle shops will be stocking fresh supplies. In and around the inlet the tautog fishing continues to gain speed as water temperatures drop. Surf water temperatures are close to 60-degrees this week and the daily tautog bag limit is now 4 fish/day.

The sea bass season opened up yesterday and fishermen will be heading out to the wreck sites this week to pick up where they left off since the brief October closure. There are high expectations around the docks for a good fall season of sea bass and tautog at the wreck sites. Offshore fishermen have been scoring big on overnight chunking trips for yellowfin tuna and even a few swordfish. The boats that have been trolling have been catching a mix of yellowfin tuna and large dolphin in the canyon regions.

We were talking about the seasons one time and the Old Man said that if he had to he could do away with summer and all of spring except for May and he would be just as happy to settle for October through January and give the rest away. He said he would pick November as the best one, because it wasn't too hot and wasn't too cold and you could do practically anything in it better than any other time of the year, except maybe get sunburnt or fall in love. - The Old Man And The Boy, Robert Ruark (to be continued next week)


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.