Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | December 07, 2011

Fishermen throughout Maryland enjoyed a great weekend of fishing opportunities and the action is predicted to continue despite the promise of colder temperatures for the coming weekend. Coldwater species of freshwater fish such as yellow perch, walleye and crappie are schooled up and providing good fishing. The action on the Chesapeake Bay has been hot for the large fall migrant striped bass that have decided to pay us a visit. Fog has been a bit of a problem on the bay and tidal rivers but with colder temperatures arriving that should not be a problem. The picture below show just how thick the fog was at the Bay Bridge late in the morning this past Monday.

Photo Courtesy of Rich Watts

Water temperatures in the upper bay are holding below the 50-degree mark now in most areas and are as low the mid 40's near the Susquehanna River. Fishermen with good depth finders are finding striped bass and white perch holding in deep water at the mouths of the tidal rivers; often in tight schools. Jigging is the preferred method to get to them and possibly entice a strike. As the water gets colder and colder the pickup or strike on a jig will become more subtle so braid is a definite advantage for sensitivity.

The area around the Bay Bridge continues to get a lot of attention this week from fishermen looking to jig up a limit of striped bass or a mess of large white perch. The rock piles in the center of the bridge are two of the more popular places to look and jig for fish holding deep. When the current is running heavy jigs of 2-ounces or more are often needed to get to where the fish are holding.

In the middle bay region many fishermen are focused on trolling for the large fall migrant striped bass. Many fishermen were successful this past weekend while trolling large white or chartreuse parachutes and bucktails dressed with sassy shads along the steeper edges of the shipping channel. Be sure to check the angler's logs to see some of the hefty striped bass that were caught. Bait and large fish are being spotted on depth finders holding deep and close to the bottom. Traditional locations such as Bloody Point, Buoy 83, the False Channel and the western edge of the shipping channel south of Breezy Point are living up to their reputations of holding big fish.

Tightly packed schools of striped bass and white perch are also catching the attention of fishermen who are slowly cruising over known deep water haunts and keeping a sharp eye on their depth finders. Putting a dropper fly inline is a good option to up the odds on possible catching some large white perch two at a time. As a note to the uninitiated, striped bass and white perch are not the only fish schooling up in the deep waters at the mouths of the tidal rivers. If your school of fish refuses to bite they very well might be a school of gizzard shad or large menhaden. Some traditionally good places to look for striped bass and white perch are the channels at the mouths of the Severn, Eastern Bay, and Choptank River as well as out in the bay. Rich Watts sent in this picture of two large white perch he jigged up from a school he located off Matapeake this past Monday.

Photo Courtesy of Rich Watts

Large fall migrant striped bass is what the big focus is on by fishermen this week in the lower bay region and for a good reason. Fishermen have been catching some real whoppers and plenty of them. Trolling large parachutes and bucktails deep along the shipping channel, Tangier Sound channels and the channel at the mouth of the Potomac River have been producing some outstanding catches this week. Maryland fishermen have a week and a half to cash in on this wonderful opportunity to catch a trophy sized striped bass so don't miss out on the action.

Water temperatures in the lower bay are down to about 50-degrees now and smaller striped bass are hunkering down in the deeper waters of the channels. If spotted on a depth finder they can often be enticed to strike with a properly placed jig close to the bottom. Heavy jigs are often a must in stiff currents whether they be metal or soft plastic; braided line noted for its sensitivity and minimal water resistance is always an asset when fishing deep. White perch are holding in the deep waters at the mouths of most of the tidal rivers with the Patuxent being a very popular spot with fishermen.

Freshwater fishermen are seeing many fisheries beginning to slow down as fish such as largemouth bass head for deeper and warmer water. Fortunately coldwater species such as smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, trout and chain pickerel have no problem with the colder water temperatures. Species such as walleye, yellow perch and crappie are schooling up and can often be found in tight packed schools along deep edges at lakes such as Deep Creek Lake. Small jigs, tubes and lures such as silver buddies worked slow and close to the bottom are the ticket to entice a pickup from these fish. Trout fishing continues to be a good option in the western and central trout management waters; many of these waters hold good populations of trout that don't mind the cold temperatures at all. Fisheries biologist John Mullican sent us this report from the upper Potomac River. It is raining of course and the river is predicted to be at unsafe levels for fishing over the coming weekend. I did get out for a couple of hours Sunday afternoon and caught a few smallmouth bass and walleye. The river was high, but clarity was good. The water temperature was 42 – 43°F.

Photo Courtesy of Mike Burchick

Largemouth bass fishermen are now working the drop-off edges to channels and deep structure with a variety of lures worked close to the bottom such as small crankbaits, grubs, whacky rigged plastics, silver buddies and jigs. Blue catfish are certainly an option in the tidal Potomac and channel catfish are still active in many of the states tidal rivers and lakes.

Fishermen in the Ocean City area are still patiently waiting for the annual striped bass run to begin in earnest along the Maryland beaches. So far the action along the beaches and shoal areas within 3-miles has been a disappointing slow pick. A few fish are caught everyday but certainly not the action fishermen were hoping for. Water temperatures are still relatively warm (55-degrees) and there are still a lot of fish up north so just maybe this will be the weekend the big fish arrive. Fresh menhaden baits in the surf and trolling large parachutes, Stretch plugs and bucktails at the shoal areas off the beaches are the tickets to the party.

Unfortunately the tautog season in Maryland waters closed on November 30th and will remain closed till January 1st. Sea bass fishing is one bright light in the room as fishermen have been routinely walking off party boats with double digit catches of sea bass. Jigging and bait have been equally good ways to get in on the action.

Great Spirit - I want no blood upon my land to stain the grass. I want it all clear and pure and I wish it so, that all who go through among my people may find it peaceful when they come and leave peacefully when they go. - Ten Bears-Comanche


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.