Thursday, October 29, 2020

Fishing Report

The Potomac River is offering good fishing for striped bass and many are having the best success by trolling umbrella rigs along the channel edges. Anglers should note that Potomac River Fisheries Commission regulations allow two striped bass per day that measure 20 inches or larger in the main stem of the tidal river. If you are fishing within a Maryland tributary to the Potomac, the daily creel limit is one striped bass per day at 19 inches.

Breaking fish made up of sub-legal striped bass and the last of the bluefish are popping up throughout the region, chasing bait in the form of bay anchovies and juvenile menhaden. Bait is pouring out of the rivers and headed down the bay. The edges of the shipping channel often provide the swiftest currents to sweep schools of bait along on a falling tide.

White perch are providing plenty of great fishing opportunities in the lower reaches of the tidal rivers. Most have left their summer habitat in the creeks and shallower areas of the rivers and are holding over hard bottom in the deeper waters of the rivers. Pieces of bloodworm on a two-hook bottom rig are the most popular way to catch them. Anglers report that most of the larger spot have left the region.

There are plenty of blue catfish waiting for anglers in the tidal Potomac, Patuxent, and Nanticoke rivers. Cooler water temperatures have blue and channel catfish feeding aggressively, building up body stores for the coming winter. Fresh-cut bait of spot or white perch are two of the easier baits to obtain, but fresh menhaden also makes good bait.

Friday, October 23, 2020

 A mix of striped bass, bluefish, speckled trout, white perch, and spot are entertaining lower bay anglers this week. Striped bass are being found in the bay and tidal rivers, as are bluefish and speckled trout. Spot and white perch are being found in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers and sounds. 

Trolling is good along the shipping channel edges in the main part of the bay and the channel edges in the lower sections of the Potomac, Patuxent, and Tangier Sound. Most are trolling with umbrella rigs behind inline weights with bucktails for trailers. Trolling bucktails, spoons, and hoses are also effective choices. When breaking fish or slicks can be spotted, trolling around the perimeters is a great way to target striped bass and bluefish. Many of the striped bass in the lower bay are undersized but there are enough fish 19 inches and larger for anglers to take a fish home. 

Jigging is good for striped bass where they can be found suspended along channel edges in the bay or tidal rivers. Often larger striped bass can be found suspended close to the bottom under breaking fish –which are usually 2-year-old striped bass in the 16-inch to 18-inch size range — and bluefish. Speckled trout can also be a bonus when jigging close to the bottom. Both soft plastic and metal jigs are equally productive choices for jigging. 

The shallower waters along the edges of the bay, Tangier Sound, and the lower sections of the tidal rivers are offering good shallow-water action this week. Topwater lures tend to do best in the shallower areas over grass, and jerkbaits, crankbaits, and paddle tails work well in slightly deeper waters around shoreline structure. A mix of speckled trout, striped bass, bluefish, and a few small puppy drum are all part of the mix.


Those wishing to catch some spot are enjoying the best the season has to offer, as the spot are at their season’s best in size and abundance. Spot are a wonderful eating panfish and if large enough can be filleted and they make a wonderful fish sandwich. Pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig is the most popular bait and method to catch them. The lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers are full of them as is the Tangier Sound area. White perch and speckled trout can often be part of the mix. 

Recreational crabbers are still catching blue crabs in the middle and lower bay regions, with a half to a full bushel being common per outing. In the upper bay there are still crabs being caught, but catches are usually being reported to be a few dozen per outing. Trot lines are still effective and many are reporting catching crabs in 6 feet to 10 feet of water. Collapsible traps offer a good way to crab in deeper waters. Razor clams have been the best bait to use, and they may be cheaper in price now that many commercial crabbers have switched to oystering. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Fishing Report

Rockfish are the prime target now with good catches just about everywhere for trollers in bay, Potomac and Patuxent. They love the smaller Hard Head Custom Bait umbrella rigs, tandem bucktail rigs, bucktails, jigs. and spoons.

There are still chunky bluefish in the region near the Target Ship, the Middle Grounds, and along the shipping channel edges. There are even a few Spanish mackerel stragglers being caught this week. Striped bass are spread throughout the region in the lower sections of the tidal rivers and out in the bay along channel edges. 

A mix of bluefish of about 2 pounds or so are mixing it up with 2- and 3-year old striped bass. The 3-year-olds usually are measuring from 20 inches to 26 inches. Jigging along channel edges in the lower regions of the Patuxent and Potomac rivers and the Tangier Sound area has been very good. The channel edges of the shipping channel also offer great jigging action when fish can be found suspended under breaking fish or bottom structure. Soft plastic and metal jigs are both working well. 

Trolling along channel edges and wherever breaking fish can be spotted is an excellent way to fish. Trolling umbrella rigs behind inline weights or trolling tandem rigged bucktails or single-rigged spoons are very popular. Placing a hose or large spoon in a trolling spread can also be a good idea in case you come across a large red drum for some catch and release action. Great places to troll include both sides of the shipping channel, and the lower Potomac between St. George’s Island and Piney Point. 

In the Tangier Sound area, fishing for speckled trout remains good. Grassy shallows, prominent points, stump fields, and creek mouths are great places to fish. Paddletails are a popular bait, while drifting soft crab baits on a falling tide in the creeks is also a great option and slot size red drum can be part of the mix. 

Most areas with hard bottom in the lower Patuxent, Potomac, and Tangier Sound are holding concentrations of spot. Many are pan-sized and white perch and speckled trout can be part of the mix. Pieces of bloodworm are the most popular bait but pieces of soft crab will work well on white perch and speckled trout. 

Recreational crabbing is slowing down as water temperatures become chillier and crabs migrate to deeper waters. Trotlining has been tough as the crabs are often found in about 20 feet of water. Sooks are ever-present and baits are getting chewed up fairly quickly. Those crabbing with collapsible crab traps tend to have it a bit easier in the deeper waters. Just make sure you have plenty of line and a substantial buoy so you don’t lose track of your traps due to current drag on long lines. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Fishing Report

Fishing is very good with perch, spot, and rockfish leading the way.

The perch are in the creeks and rivers taking tiny spinner baits in the shallows and bloodworms and fishbites in the deep.  

Spot are still in the creeks and rivers and bay willing to hit most any bait with protein.

Puppy drum and slot drum are being caught on lures and bait most everywhere.

The rockfish are schooled up with blues in the mouth of the Patuxent breaking into bait fish. The blues are a hefty two to three pounds; the rockfish breakers are mostly undersized. The bigger stripers are under the breaking fish for trollers using heavy weights  to get their  lures down. The rockfish are coming into the creek mouths on falling tides at sunset. There was a proper blitz of rockfish at Goose Creek below Cedar Point on the Naval Air Station several evenings last week. Consistent catches of stripers are available by trolling bucktails on the bottom up the Patuxent and Potomac. 

Red drum in the 18 to 27 inch slot are in the creek mouths and in the shallows on the bay shore. Puppy drum in the 10 to 14 inch range are mixed with perch in the creeks.

It is October and the the time to catch fish is now.

A percentage of the striped bass can be just short of the 19-inch minimum but there are plenty of striped bass in the 20-inch to 29-inch range. The lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers are two of the better places to find these larger fish. In the mornings and evenings there is good light-tackle fishing along the shorelines for a mix of striped bass, speckled trout, and small red drum. Casting paddle tails and similar soft plastics is a very popular way to fish.

Jigging along the steeper channel edges, under breaking fish or wherever striped bass can be found suspended near bottom structure. Skirted soft plastic jigs and metal jigs are the most popular way to fish. Trolling is also a great way to catch striped bass. The channel edges and the outside edges of breaking fish are good places to be. A mix of umbrella rigs, spoons, bucktails, hoses, and swimshads are all good items to have in a trolling spread.

There are still some large red drum in the region to provide some exciting catch-and-release action. They can be found under smaller breaking fish, chasing bait such as large menhaden, or caught blind while trolling large spoons. There are still a few cobia near the Middle Grounds but they must be returned to the water if caught now that the season is over.

Fishing for a mix of spot, white perch, speckled trout, and a few surprises such as kingfish, northern blowfish, and even small sea bass has provided entertainment for those who choose to go bottom fishing. The mouth of the Potomac and Patuxent rivers is full of action this week as is the Tangier Sound area. The most popular bait has been pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig; artificial flavored baits and soft crab can work well also.

Those hoping for one more good batch of crabs are working hard to catch a half bushel. The crabs tend to be deep, and using collapsible crab traps is one of the better ways to catch them. Reports of crabs dropping off before they can be netted and large numbers of sooks continue. Razor clams seem to far outshine chicken necks as the 2020 recreational crabbing season winds down.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Fishing Report

Much of the focus is toward striped bass and their shift into a fall pattern of behavior. Trolling a mix of spoons, tandem-rigged bucktails, and swimshads as well as umbrella rigs is popular along channel edges and near breaking fish. Most will be using inline weights to get lures down to where the fish are holding.

Jigging over suspended striped bass will be popular with light tackle anglers. Depth finders will be very important for locating suspended fish, and binoculars can be very helpful to spot distant diving seagulls. Surface slicks can also be a good indicator of feeding action under the surface of the water. Skirted plastic jigs can offer a larger profile to fish when jigging, and braided line helps with sensitivity. Jigging may even reward you with a speckled sea trout.

White perch are on the move in the region’s tidal rivers and creeks, there seems to be small white perch in the traditional summer habitat areas but the large white perch tend to be found in deeper waters over oyster reefs and similar bottom in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. The most effective way to target them in the deeper waters is with bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm or peeler crab.

Fishing for striped bass is good along the shipping channel edges for those trolling umbrella rigs or jigging under breaking fish. The lower Potomac has been a great place to troll along the channel edge between St. George’s Island and Piney Point. Light-tackle jigging has also been a popular and effective way to catch striped bass this week wherever they can be found suspended over structure or under breaking fish.

Fishing for striped bass along the shallower shorelines of the lower Potomac, Patuxent, and bay shores is good this week. Casting topwater lures, paddle tails and similar soft plastics or crankbaits are all effective ways to catch them. In many areas, speckled trout and small to medium-sized red drum can be part of the mix. In Tangier Sound, fishing for speckled trout is very good along marsh edges and creek mouths. Drifting pieces of soft crab in the small marsh creeks on a falling tide can be a very effective way to catch speckled trout and red drum.

Bottom fishing for spot remains excellent this week in the lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers as well as Tangier Sound. Depending on the location, white perch, speckled trout, and small red drum can also be part of the mix. Pieces of bloodworm and soft crab are being used on bottom rigs for the best results.

Recreational crabbing fortunes in the tidal rivers has unfortunately dropped off in the past week. Everywhere one looks at commercial docks, the shade roofs are coming off workboats, oyster culling boxes are being set up onboard, and hand tongs are being readied for the upcoming oyster season. The colder water temperatures are driving the crabs deeper as they travel down the tidal rivers towards the bay. Trot liners have been reported crabs dropping off lines as they come up, so collapsible crab traps might be a good idea. Baits are attracting sooks and fortunately there are lots of them, which speaks well for the future of our blue crab resources.

Fishing Report

The 2020 recreational striped bass season closes Dec. 10 for the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Anglers will still be able to fish ...