Fishing Report: With autumn, it all about cooler waters

 

The recent cold front came in with some rather windy conditions and cold temperatures. Water temperatures will begin to decline rapidly if this cooler weather persists so fishermen will see all of Maryland’s fisheries continue to kick into a fall mode of fishing opportunities.

Your author is headed off for an adventure trip to the Dark Continent this week so your next fishing report will be compiled by various biologists and personnel that have volunteered to help out.

I hope when I return that I can share with you a picture of a fish that has mystified me for years, the tiger fish. Until then please enjoy the fall colors for me and take advantage of the fantastic fishing that the rest of October can offer.

There continues to be good opportunities for catching larger striped bass by live lining eels in the upper bay around good bottom structure near Pooles Island and south to the mouth of the Patapsco River.

Trolling has been a good option in the upper bay with bucktails and small spoons behind planers and inline weights along channel edges. Breaking fish can be encountered at most anytime along channel edges in the lower end of the region’s tidal rivers and out in the bay.

Most of the striped bass on top tend to be less than 18-inch, but often larger fish can be found by jigging underneath or moving to a different school of fish.

Live lining eels and jigging around the Bay Bridge piers and rock piles continues to be a popular option when fishing near the bridge. Trolling along nearby channel edges, the sewer pipe and the Dumping Grounds have also been good options lately.

In the middle bay region jigging over suspended fish near channel edges, under breaking fish or near slicks has been very popular lately. Recent windy conditions have made it tough to fish on the bay but when winds calm fishermen can often find themselves with plenty of elbow room and schools of breaking fish all to themselves.

There are definitely less boats out on the bay now and fewer people fishing. There are still some bluefish in the middle bay area despite cool water temperatures so durable lures are being used by most. When jigging, metal or bucktails are favored options but soft plastics are real striped bass getters if bluefish are not around.

Most steep channel edges have been good places to look for suspended striped bass or for breaking fish where bait is being swept along by swift currents. Bay anchovies and small menhaden are exiting the tidal rivers and moving down the bay.

The lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers also offer good opportunities for finding feeding striped bass; a lot of small fish are often on top but larger fish may be found deep underneath.

Fishing conditions in the lower bay are much the same as the middle bay with striped bass and bluefish spread out over a wide area. Channel edges in the lower Potomac, Patuxent, the shipping channel and the eastern shore tidal rivers and sounds are all good places to intercept striped bass that are feeding on a mix of bay anchovies and small menhaden moving out of the tidal rivers.

Jigging under breaking fish or trolling a mix of bucktails, spoons and surge tube lures behind inline weights and planers are the most popular fishing methods. The spot and croakers are gone for the most part and bottom fishing has been focusing on white perch that are beginning to school up in the deeper areas of the regions tidal rivers.

Recreational crabbers are still finding crabs but mostly in deeper waters in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. More than a few trot liners have reported that razor clams are helping to fill baskets over the standard chicken necks.

Ocean City fishing is undergoing changes as cooler waters are urging flounder to exit the back bay areas, so the inlet area is a great place to fish for them this week.

There continues to be exceptional flounder fishing at the wreck and reef sites and sea bass fishing got off to a great start on Saturday. Tautog are becoming more common around the inlet and live lining eels have been a great way to catch large striped bass in the inlet.

Surf fishing has been mostly focused on fishing for striped bass and small bluefish. Some large bluefish have also shown up in the surf and the inlet this past week.

There have been few reports from the offshore canyons due to windy conditions but there should still be some dolphin and a mix of bigeye and yellowfin tuna possibilities.

Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. He is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the Eastern Shore.

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