Fishing Report: Channel edges near Buoy 72 providing action

As the end of November approaches and fishing begins to take a back seat for many, there is a group out there enjoying plenty of good fishing opportunities when the weather permits.

A lot of boats are being pulled from the water and marina lots are filling up with boats being winterized. Many trailered boats are now giving up their “ready to go” status to being winterized and parked farther into the back yard.

There is still plenty of striped bass action along channel edges in the Susquehanna Flats, Elk River and the mouth of the Susquehanna River. There is still some topwater action being reported but as water temperatures drop, jigging and the use of deep water crankbaits are becoming more popular.

The Bay Bridge piers and rock piles continue to be a magnet for fish and a mix of striped bass and white perch can be found there. Much of the jigging action is taking place in about 50-feet of water near the main bridge abutments and rock piles. Metal or soft plastic jigs are working well for the striped bass; a metal jig with a dropper fly above is the ticket for white perch.

In the middle bay region much of the striped bass action continues to be near the mouths of the region’s major tidal rivers as the striped bass intercept bait leaving the tidal rivers. Breaking fish and diving birds often lead the way to the action but slicks, birds sitting on the water and a good depth finder can help find suspended fish.

The major channel edges out in the bay are also good places to find striped bass where swift current sweep schools of bait fish along. Jigging with metal or soft plastics is perhaps the most popular method of fishing when concentrations of fish can be found but as most know a lot of water can be covered by trolling when fish are scattered.

Most are trolling a mixed spread of bucktails dressed with sassy shads or twister tails, swim shads and a few large parachute offerings just in case a large fall migrant striped bass happens to be in the area. Only a few really large striped bass have been caught recently but that could change any day; there is always hope.

Fishermen can find good fishing opportunities from shore as well this time of the year from fishing piers, prominent points and similar areas that hold striped bass or white perch.

The sharp drop in water temperatures can have a detrimental effect on some of our summer season visitors to the Chesapeake Bay.

Sea turtles are often seen in the bay during the summer months and unfortunately some of them don’t head south fast enough to avoid the extreme cold causing them to be in severe distress and sometimes death.

If you happen upon a distressed sea turtle you can report it to NRP at 1-800-628-9944 and the Marine Mammal/ Sea Turtle Stranding group will do their best to respond.

Lower bay fishermen are seeing all kinds of striped bass action along the steep channel edges of the shipping channel at many traditional locations such as Cove Point on the western shore. The steep channel edges in the lower Potomac near St. George’s Island are holding fish as is the mouth of the Patuxent River.

The channel edges near Buoy 72, along lower Hooper’s Island and Tangier sound are also providing plenty of action. Diving sea gulls and breaking fish have been leading the way for much of the action for light tackle jigging.

The size of the striped bass tends to range from about 17 inches to about 24 inches with a larger fish tossed in every now and then.

Trolling a mixed spread of bucktails and swim shads is also a very popular way to fish especially on the colder days when the warmth of a cabin in so inviting.

Most boats are trolling along the steeper channel edges often deep with the use of inline weights or planers. If the large fall migrant striped bass show up, the lower bay will be the first place they are caught so large parachutes or bucktails are being mixed in with trolling spreads this week.

Ocean City surf fishing is centered mostly on catching the last of the small bluefish in the area and waiting out for hopes of catching a large striped bass moving south along the beaches.

Fresh menhaden baits are what are being used for the striped bass with plenty of skates and dogfish ready to chew things up. In and around the inlet tautog are being caught during the day on pieces of green crab and sand fleas near rocks and bulkheads.

At night a few striped bass are being caught on live eels.

Outside the inlet boats have been trolling a mix of deep diving crankbaits, parachutes and bucktails near some of the shoal areas hoping to connect with migrating striped bass. There have been a few reports of some big striped bass caught south of the inlet.

The boats headed out to the wreck and reef sites are reporting excellent sea bass fishing for their clients. Limit catches are common and captains report that jigging has been as successful as bait.

Now and then bluefish have been up to their tricks of biting off sea bass being hauled to the surface so bluefish and the occasional triggerfish and flounder can also be part of the mix.

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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