Fishing Report: Don’t take fall fishing for granted

Fishing column 11-13

I was fortunate enough to get out fishing yesterday afternoon on the lower Choptank River and it was very exciting to see sea gulls diving and striped bass breaking for miles around.

The fish were beautiful, robust and holding those wonderful shades of purple and green on their backs and at the top of their form. I was happy to see there was still a lot of fall color, the geese were flying, the loons have arrived, life is good in Maryland and it is good to be back home.

Don’t take fall fishing for granted make sure to get out and enjoy it whether you are fishing freshwater, Chesapeake Bay or at Ocean City.

The Bay Bridge area continues to a good place to fish whether one is working the structure of the bridge piers and rock piles or cashing in on the breaking fish that can often be spotted along the shipping channel edges.

Drifting live eels or jigging near the bridge piers and rock piles are very popular methods of fishing for striped bass and jigging is the way to catch the large white perch that often congregate at the rock piles this time of the year.

The swift currents along the shipping channel are great places to check for striped bass feeding on small menhaden that are being swept along by the currents.

Water temperatures in the middle bay region are running about 56 degrees this week and bait in the form of small menhaden are pouring out of the tidal rivers. After a tough weekend blow the action has been nonstop this week when it comes to jigging and trolling for striped bass in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and out in the bay.

Usually the birds lead the way to the action but a trusty depth finder is a fisherman’s best friend this time of the year to spot fish holding near the bottom. Casting topwater lures to the breaking fish is always a lot of fun but hooking a sea gull can be a real headache to fisherman and bird as well.

Most are using metal or soft plastic jigs and the 2-ounce Crippled Herring is a standout for this type of fishing.

The lower bay region has its share of striped bass action this week as bait is being swept down the shipping channel and out of the region’s tidal rivers. Light tackle enthusiasts are having a ball, finding plenty of breaking striped bass to cast or jig to.

The mouths of the region’s major tidal rivers have been great places to get in on the action as well as bay locations such as Point No Point.

The Tangier and Pocomoke Sound areas and the lower Patuxent and Potomac have also been real hot spots lately. Trolling is a fine option for fall striped bass fishing and a mixed spread of swim shads and bucktails dressed with sassy shads is a great choice.

There may still be a few bluefish in the region but with water temperatures in the 56 degrees range the last of them may exit after this weekend’s predicted blow. There is a lot bait in the form of menhaden moving down the bay and with salinities up perhaps there will be a fall run of large striped bass in the lower bay region soon.

White perch are moving into the deeper areas of the regions tidal rivers and small jigs dressed with a piece of bloodworm or a bottom rig baited with the same will often get results. The lower Potomac from the Wicomico River north is holding a lot of medium sized blue catfish which freeze well and make excellent table fare. Most any kind of fresh cut bait will entice them to strike.

Ocean City area water temperatures have dipped to the 60-degree mark this week and most of the summer species have left.

There are still some small bluefish in the surf but dogfish, skates and a few striped bass are now filling in.

At the inlet there are still a few flounder moving through the inlet but most of the attention is on tautog fishing which has been very good lately around the rocks and bulkheads at the inlet and Route 50 Bridge.

At night striped bass are being caught at the inlet on live eels and large swim shads.

Out at the wreck and reef sites sea bass fishing has been excellent and limit catches are common. There is also a mix of bluefish, trigger fish and flounder being caught.

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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