Fishing Report: Cooling waters changing fishing patterns

The first days of autumn were ushered in this week with a cool northwest wind and with that little extra push from the north the first Canada geese began to arrive on the Eastern Shore as our resident ospreys headed south.

Air temperatures along with water temperatures are steadily dropping and causing changes in our Maryland fisheries. Some of our summer migrant species have or are getting the hint to think about heading south.

This is a wonderful time of the year to enjoy the outdoors in Maryland and fishing offers some of the finest outdoor opportunities, don’t miss out.

Cooler water temperatures in the upper bay are causing white perch, striped bass and channel catfish to become more active in the bay and tidal rivers and creeks.

Retired Natural Resources Police Capt. David Street has been enjoying himself during retirement and holds up two nice striped bass he caught while trolling near Bloody Point.

Retired Natural Resources Police Capt. David Street has been enjoying himself during retirement and holds up two nice striped bass he caught while trolling near Bloody Point.

Targeting deep shoreline structure in the form of old piers, pilings, channel edges or submerged rocks especially where current flow is good can provide some productive fishing. Beetle spins, spinners and small jigs are great lures to use for white perch and if tipped with a piece of bloodworm will often do even better.

Bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or grass shrimp are also a good option. Striped bass are being found in the same locations and topwater lures, crankbaits, soft plastics or drifting live eels are good choices.

Breaking fish can be encountered at any time where jigging is a favored method to get in on the fun.

Water temperatures are dipping close to the 70-degree mark this week in the middle bay region and there are some changes occurring in our Chesapeake Bay fisheries.

Most of the spanish mackerel have dropped out of the middle bay region, striped bass and bluefish have kicked their appetites into high gear in the middle bay region and croaker and spot are starting to move south.

Chances are the bluefish will not stick around much longer so if smoked bluefish is on your mind this weekend may be your last chance in the middle bay region.

Cooling water temperatures have done much to improve the shallow water fishing in the mornings and evenings for striped bass this week. There is some fun topwater fishing to be had along shoreline structures and prominent points.

White perch are also moving towards shallower structure and offer some fun ultra-light tackle fishing and tasty eating. Croaker and large spot are still being caught in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers but numbers will diminish in the next week or so.

Lower bay fishing continues to offer a wide variety of fishing opportunities and perhaps the last chance for Maryland fishermen to catch some spanish mackerel.

A mix of bluefish and striped bass are chasing bait throughout the region and at times Spanish mackerel are joining the melee.

There are still a lot of croaker and large spot holding near the mouth of the Patuxent River as well as Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds; small bluefish and white perch can also be part of the mix. Shallow water fishing for striped bass has been very good in the mornings and evenings, speckled trout have been sparse at best on the eastern shore.

Flounder are still being found along hard bottomed shoal areas next to channels in the Pocomoke/Tangier Sound area and large red drum are being caught and released above the Target Ship.

Cooling water temperatures are also the big story in the Ocean City area this week as water temperature dip to the 70-degree mark.

Small bluefish are dominating the surf scene this week along with a mix of kingfish and flounder. Some large red drum are being caught and released in the surf along with some inshore sharks. At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area a mix of flounder, triggerfish and sheepshead are being caught and the first tautog are starting to show up.

At night bluefish and a few striped bass are being caught.

In the back bay areas flounder fishing has been good and the channels leading towards the inlet offer some of the best fishing.

Flounder fishing on the wreck and reef sites outside the inlet continues to be excellent with limit catches being the norm with an added mix of triggerfish. Sea bass season is closed until Oct. 18.

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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