Thursday, September 29, 2022

Fishing Report

Fishing at the Bay Bridge is providing another good week for anglers looking for striped bass near the deeper water bridge piers. When the tide is running, many anglers are drifting back to the pier bases with live or fresh-cut spot, small white perch, eels, menhaden or peeler crabs. Jigging close to the pier bases is also a good option and whether live-lining or jigging, the best fishing success is in the morning hours. At the shallow waters of the western side of the bridge a mix of spot and white perch are being caught on pieces of bloodworm or peeler crab on bottom rigs. 

Striped bass are being found along some of the channel edges in the middle Bay and anglers are either live-lining with spot or eels, or chunking and drifting cut bait when they can locate fish suspended close to the bottom. Trolling with umbrella rigs sent deep with inline weights is also a good option along channel edges and anywhere a mix of striped bass and bluefish can be found working over schools of small menhaden and bay anchovies.

Jigging is becoming more of an option for striped bass fishing and will really gain momentum next month, as cooler water temperatures push juvenile menhaden and bay anchovies out of the tidal rivers. The shallow water fishery for striped bass has been extremely popular. The lower Choptank River, Eastern Bay, the Little Choptank, the Severn, West River and Thomas Point are all good places to cast poppers, crankbaits and paddletails. At times speckled trout, bluefish and red drum can be part of the mix.

There are still roving schools of Spanish mackerel mixing it up with bluefish and striped bass in the middle Bay, but the Spanish mackerel are beginning to move south. If you wish to get one more shot at the Spanish mackerel, you better do it soon. Trolling small gold Clark spoons or Drone spoons behind planers is the most popular way to fish for them, but casting into breaking fish with epoxy jigs or heavy chrome spoons is a fun option. Jigging under breaking fish can at times result in legal-sized striped bass or even large red drum.

White perch are in play in the region’s tidal rivers and creeks, and some of the best action is in the deeper waters where the perch are holding close to oyster bars. They can still be found holding near docks, rock jetties, and shoreline structure in the mornings and evenings. A simple bottom rig baited with grass shrimp, pieces of bloodworm, or peeler crab will work well when fishing off docks near pilings. Casting small roadrunner type lures, jigs, and spinners work well along the shallower shoreline structure areas. 

There are plenty of channel catfish in the region’s tidal rivers to entertain anglers; they are not hard to catch and provide plenty of fun fishing. Blue catfish can show up almost anywhere, but the Choptank River tends to hold the greatest concentration of them. Currently, the blue cats tend to be in the middle to lower section of the river from Cambridge to the town of Choptank. It is hard to beat fresh menhaden for bait and many anglers report chumming helps attract them to the party.

The lower Bay offers some of the best opportunities for Spanish mackerel this week. Cool nights are causing water temperatures to decline and giving the Spanish mackerel an incentive to begin heading south for warmer waters. Trolling along the east side of the shipping channel from Buoy 76 south to the Middle Grounds can yield a mix of Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Small gold Clark spoons and Drone spoons pulled behind planers at a fast clip is a good way to fish for them, as is casting into breaking fish with epoxy jigs and chrome spoons. Bluefish will most likely stick around a little longer than the Spanish mackerel and it will be more common to see striped bass and bluefish going after schools of small menhaden and bay anchovies.

Anglers are reporting good success jigging close to the bottom, under the surface action of breaking fish, and finding large red drum lurking underneath as well as striped bass and the occasional speckled trout. The large red drum are still in the general region but some of the best catch-and-release action is in the area near Cove Point, Smith Point, the Target Ship, the Mud Leads, and Tangier and Pocomoke sounds. Jigging with large soft plastics or fishing with cut spot, menhaden, or soft crab are favored methods when schools can be spotted by slicks and backed up by depth finders. 

The shallow-water fishery in the lower Bay is quickly developing into a productive and exciting opportunity this week. The shorelines of the Bay, tidal rivers, creeks, and sounds are holding a mix of striped bass, bluefish, speckled trout, gray trout, and small red drum. Casting poppers, soft plastic shrimp, or paddletails under a popping cork or casting a variety of soft plastic jigs in the morning and evening hours is a fun light-tackle way to fish. 

Recreational crabbers are enjoying success in many tidal river waters of the middle and lower Bay. Many are enjoying the heavy and extra-large crabs that September usually brings. The best crabs tend to be deep in waters 12 feet to 20 feet, and most of the sooks are headed down the Bay, so baits tend to last longer. This is a great time to catch the best crabs of the season. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Fishing Report

Spanish mackerel and bluefish are popular targets for anglers along the edges of the shipping channel from Buoy 76 south past the Target Ship, Tangier Sound, and the mouth of the Potomac River near Smith Point. Schools of bay anchovies are being swept along the channel edges by currents. Trolling small Clark and Drone spoons behind planers at a fast clip is the most popular way to fish for them, but casting into breaking fish is an exciting alternative. Small heavy chrome spoons and metal jigs cast into the action, allowed to sink, and then speed-reeled in is a fun way to catch Spanish mackerel. Slower speeds will catch bluefish.

Fishing the shorelines of the Bay, tidal rivers, and creeks is a very productive way to fish for a mix of striped bass, bluefish, speckled trout, and small red drum. The early morning hours offer some of the best opportunities to work points, grass beds, dock areas, and jetty rocks with topwater lures, crankbaits, and paddletails. On the east side of the Bay, marsh edges, creek mouths, and stump fields offer chances at speckled trout and red drum. Water temperatures are slowly declining so this fishery will only improve in the next couple of weeks.

Large red drum continue to entertain catch-and-release anglers this week. A popular way to fish for them is spotting schools on depth finders and jigging over them or dropping cut spot or soft crab baits. Trolling a mix of large spoons and hose lures is another option and a good way to cover a lot of water. Cobia are attracted to the hose lures, but they are out of season and must be returned to the water.

Fishing for spot could hardly be better this week and they are about as large as they are going to get before leaving our waters and heading south. The mouth of the Patuxent and Potomac rivers are excellent places to find them over hard bottom. The mouth of the Honga and Nanticoke rivers also has some spot. White perch, croaker, kingfish, and gray sea trout can be mixed in at any time.

Recreational crabbing continues to be good this week in the middle and lower Bay. The creeks around Kent Island and south in the tidal rivers on both sides of the Bay are holding a lot of crabs. Many of the male crabs are larger than 6 inches and are heavy as they prepare for the fall and winter. The abundance of sooks has dropped off in many locations as they work their way down the Bay. Some of the largest crabs are coming from waters deeper than 12 feet.

Freshwater Fishing

Water temperatures are cooling slightly across Maryland and a variety of fish will begin to respond by feeding more aggressively and longer into the morning hours. Trout in select management waters of the western and central regions are providing fun fly-fishing experiences this week. Fishing for smallmouth bass is improving with cooler water temperatures but the upper Potomac is still running low and clear, so long casts and light lines are the ticket. 

Fishing for largemouth bass is excellent in many tidal areas where grass beds are declining, forcing bass to seek existing beds and other types of structure. Casting spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits around the edges of grass is a good tactic. Dropping wacky rigged stick worms through thick floating mats of grass is another good tactic as the sun climbs into the morning sky. Finding deep structure in the form of sunken wood, bridge piers, and rocks is a good place to look for lounging largemouth bass. Working wacky rigged stick worms or soft craw jigs near these structures can work well.

In the morning and evening hours, fishing with topwater frogs and buzzbaits is a fun way to fish for largemouth bass, and in tidal waters northern snakeheads can be part of the mix. Cooler water temperatures are causing snakeheads to be more active through the month of September. Fishing the open waters around the deeper edges of grass beds or sunken brush with a large minnow under a float is a very good way to fish this time of the year. Often one can dead-stick a minnow under a float while casting buzzbaits or white paddletails, just check on that float every so often.

Fishing Report

Fishing at the Bay Bridge is providing another good week for anglers looking for striped bass near the deeper water bridge piers. When the t...