Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | November 30, 2011

Family and friends gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed renewed relationships, warm conversation and oh yes, lots of good food. Since many family and friends were in town, what better thing to do then enjoy the pleasant weather this past weekend and go fishing together. Surf fishing at the Ocean City beaches was popular as was getting out on the Chesapeake Bay, hopefully in a large and secure boat. This is the perfect time of the year to hire a charter boat and the captain that can put you on fish like no other. Lauren Kinney was visiting from Sterling, Virginia and caught this beautiful striped bass while fishing on a charter boat out of Chesapeake Beach.

Photo Courtesy of Andre R. Kinney

Upper bay fishermen are seeing some cold temperatures up towards the mouth of the Susquehanna River; 47-degrees to be exact. Fishermen have been catching some very large smallmouth bass in the lower section of the river and a mix of largemouth bass and walleye while jigging. Striped bass have been tough to find in the area but farther down the bay prospects look much better. Fishermen keep hitting the lumps between Baltimore and Rock Hall with some success but most describe the opportunities there as a slow pick at best. As one gets closer to the bay bridge the fishing gets better and most of the fish are being caught deep while jigging close to the bottom. A good depth finder is a real asset this time of the year to find striped bass or white perch holding deep. The mouths of many of the regions tidal rivers, deep channels and of course the bay bridge piers and rock piles are great places to scout. Select your jigs to match the current and depth which may mean going to 2-ounces or more and braided line is a valuable asset. Paul King came up from Florida to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving and managed to go fishing and jig up this nice striped bass at the mouth of the Magothy River on an ebb tide.

Photo Courtesy of Rich Watts

Striped bass opportunities in the middle bay region tend to be a "here and there" fishing situation as resident fish are holding deep and the large fall migrants are spread out along the shipping channel. Fishermen are checking all of the traditional locations and depending on tide and the whim of the fish they can be there or not. Bait also plays a major role in where striped bass may be this time of the year as availability of bait tends to narrow down to menhaden and juvenile river herring. Jigging and trolling close to the bottom are the most productive fishing methods this week. Many of the resident fish being spotted on depth finders are often holding 45' deep or more. Umbrella rigs and tandem rigs are being trolled close to the bottom with a lot of weight to get them down there; most the large striped bass are coming from the deep also. Steep channel edges such as Bloody Point, Buoy 83 and the western edge of the shipping channel south of Breezy Point have been productive places to troll.

The large fall migrant striped bass in the lower bay region seem to have taken center stage this week as fishermen have been enjoying some exciting fishing. Trolling large parachutes and bucktails in tandem or behind umbrella rigs close to the bottom along steep channel edges is the way to get into the action. Most everyone is also placing some smaller offerings in their trolling spread for resident striped bass that generally are running around 26" in size. The channels in the Tangier Sound area have been very productive this week as well as Hooper's Island Light, the Middle Grounds and Buoy 72. Sterling Edwards from Birmingham, Alabama booked a charter boat while visiting for Thanksgiving and caught this nice striped bass while trolling off of Point Lookout.

Photo Courtesy of Darin Martin

There has been plenty of jigging action for resident fish in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers such as the Patuxent. The fish are holding deep along channel edges and lumps. At times fish can be found in shallower waters also chasing bait and a variety of lures such as soft plastic jigs and surface poppers can offer some action. Prominent points such as Cedar Point are always worth checking when a good stiff tide is running.

Freshwater anglers are finding very little company and lots of elbow room this week at their favorite fishing holes. There has been some beautiful weather lately so when the temperatures reach 60-degrees or more it can be hard to stay away from fishing. There are still plenty of freshwater fishing opportunities out there if you know where to look and how to entice fish to strike. Trout love chilly water so the trout fishing in the states management and put and take waters could hardly be better. Floating leaves can give fishermen a fit at times since it seems it always is at the worse time when a leaf snags your line. Chain pickerel are also another fish that loves chilly water and fishing for them in the upper reaches of the state's tidal rivers and lakes can offer a lot of fun.

Largemouth bass are generally holding deep now along drop-off edges and fishing slow, small and close to the bottom will get you into largemouth bass that are there. There are still some remaining grass beds in many of the tidal rivers and when the sun warms things up a bit targeting these last grass beds on a falling tide is a good tactic. Crappie fishing has been very good in the tidal Potomac and other waters where they reside. The crappie are schooling up near deep structure. Fishing for blue catfish has also been very good this week in the deeper holes in the river's channels.

Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are catching smallmouth bass and some walleye. The upper Potomac holds excellent populations of smallmouth bass and walleye and John Mullican was able to get out last weekend before the recent rains this week caused the river levels to raise. Water levels should subside by the weekend and good fishing will resume. Steve Peperak holds up a nice upper Potomac smallmouth bass caught on a tube before releasing it.

Photo Courtesy of John Mullican

Fishermen in the Ocean City area are still listening to reports of New Jersey fishermen whooping it up on the large striped bass that are passing through their waters this week. The fishing in Ocean City along the beaches and within 3-miles of the beach can best be described as a slow pick. Large striped bass are being caught in the surf on fresh menhaden baits but the action is far from fast and furious. The boats trolling and jigging on the shoal areas off the beaches haven't been doing much better but they are catching a few fish. All are hoping the fishing will improve by the weekend so many are putting in their time hoping to be fishing the day the main body of fish arrives.

Tautog fishing in and around the Ocean City Inlet continues to be stellar this week. Many fishermen are not only catching large tautog but they are also catching their limits from jetties, bulkheads and the Route 50 Bridge. Pieces of green crab have been one of the favorite baits and the word is bait shops are having a tough time keeping up with the demand; the fishing is that good!

Outside of the inlet, boats are finding tautog on the wreck and reef sites close to shore. Farther offshore sea bass are the prime target of fishermen working the wreck and reef sites. Throwbacks are a big part of the story out there but most fishermen are coming back to the docks with 15 to 20 large sea bass in their ice chests. Large bluefish have been showing up here and there for sea bass fishermen and those trolling.

The human venture depends absolutely on this quality of awe and reverence and joy in the Earth and all that lives and grows upon the Earth. As soon as we isolate ourselves from these currents of life and from the profound mood that these engender within us, then our basic life-satisfactions are diminished. None of our machine-made products, none of our computer-based achievements can evoke that total commitment to life. - Thomas Berry, The Great Work


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.