Fishing Report: Surf-fishing would take off if seas ever calm

 

Fall colors are beginning to show, cooler temperatures are prevailing and many of Maryland’s fisheries are kicking into high gear.

Deck shoes, flip flops and sneakers are giving way to more waterproof footwear such as knee boots and waders and T-shirts are being replaced by sweat shirts and camo duck hunting coats.

Many freshwater, Chesapeake Bay and Marine fish species are feeling the urge to feed and beef up for the winter months ahead so it is an ideal time to go fishing.

Trolling has been a very good option for striped bass fishing in the upper bay along prominent channel edges. Bucktails in tandem or behind umbrella rigs are popular as are spoons; both are trolled behind planers and inline weights.

The Love Point, Sandy Point channel edges and the Dumping Grounds have been good places to troll lately. Breaking fish are being spotted throughout the region and fishermen are enjoying light tackle casting to the surface fish and jigging to those underneath.

There are still some bluefish in the upper bay and the striped bass on the surface tend to come up a bit short of 18 inches, but often larger striped bass can be found underneath by jigging.

Striped bass continue to hold at the Bay Bridge piers and rock piles; spot are becoming very scarce lately so live eels are becoming more popular for live lining. Jigging with bucktails or soft plastics is a very good option also. White perch are beginning to show up in greater numbers at the rock piles lately and heavy jigs are an excellent way to catch some of the larger perch holding deep.

In the middle bay region breaking fish made up of a mix of bluefish and striped bass are busting loose throughout the region. The most common places for this action to take place are steep channel edges at the lower end of the tidal rivers and the shipping channel edges.

Small menhaden and bay anchovies are often being swept along the steeper channel edges where the current is the strongest. Some larger bluefish seem to have moved into the region to mix it up with the region’s striped bass and are being caught on light tackle so be careful about casting soft plastic jigs into the melee.

Metal jigs are often a better choice when bluefish are around and jigging deep will often find you a better grade of striped bass.

Trolling a mix of bucktails, surge tube lures and spoons behind inline weights and planers continues to be a good option for catching a mix of striped bass and bluefish in the middle bay region this week.

Prominent points and steep channel edges offer some of the best opportunities and trolling near slicks or breaking fish is always a good bet. Chumming continues to be another option at traditional locations such as the Hill, Thomas Point, the Clay Banks and Stone Rock.

Some captains are chumming with razor clams to cut down on the number of bluefish attracted to a chum slick and it seems to be working like a charm.

Shallow water fishing for striped bass is a fun option for light tackle fishermen at prominent points and shoreline structure; topwater lures are a favorite choice for lures. Striped bass are beginning to school up in the tidal rivers and bay so shallow water fishing for striped bass will begin to wane.

White perch are also moving into deeper waters and can offer some exciting fishing when they can be located on hard shell reefs and shoals out in the tidal rivers.

Jigging with small jigs can be a very effective method of catching them and a piece of bloodworm on the jig is an added enticement or a two hook bottom rig baited with bloodworms is a good option.

The fishing for spot in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers has shown very evident signs of slipping away as cooler waters force the fish to head south for warmer waters off Virginia.

White perch are still very much in play and can be found holding on hard shell shoals and reefs in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers. Small jigs tipped with a piece of bloodworm or bottom rigs baited with bloodworms are excellent choices to get in on the action.

A depth finder is also very important to locate where the schools of white perch are holding.

Recreational crabbing has not been any easier for those still willing to give it a try but the rewards are there if and when one can get on some crabs.

The crabs tend to be deep and sparse but there are some large heavy Jimmy crabs being caught in the middle and lower bay regions on trot lines and collapsible crab traps.

The Ocean City area has been dealing with some wind issues lately making it tough for surf fishermen and those wishing to head out of the inlet for offshore fishing. It is hoped that the surf will calm down and surfcasters will be able to hold bottom.

There have been some large striped bass caught in the surf along with some red drum catch and releases and there are still plenty of small bluefish around.

At the Inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area flounder continue to move through the area and are providing plenty of action.

Live lining eels has been productive for some striped bass while sheepshead and tautog fishing has been good for those using sand fleas and pieces of green crab.

When boats can get out to the wreck and reef sites they have been finding limit catches of hefty flounder.

The sea bass season opened Saturday, and the prospects look very good based on the encounters with sea bass that flounder fishermen have been experiencing at the wreck and reef sites.

Venturing out to the offshore canyons has been difficult lately due to rough seas but there is hope that will change by the weekend.

The last boats out returned to the docks with double digit catches of dolphin and a few yellowfin tuna.

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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