On this Veterans Day, let us all take a pause to thank our veterans for their service and sacrifice — to them we owe gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy.
Marylanders have been treated to some beautiful weather recently and many enjoyed a wonderful weekend in the outdoors.
Forecast Summary: Nov. 11 – 17:
Expect rain as this week progresses, with moderate but cooling conditions. Surface water temperatures increased since last week but will decline with cooling air temperatures. Daytime Chesapeake Bay water temperatures are holding in the low 60s. Local rivers are cooling faster than the bay so there will continue to be movement of fish such as white perch towards the deeper but warmer waters, as they prepare for winter in the river mouths or nearby waters. While the bay’s waters have adequate oxygen for fish at all depths, the warmer, deeper waters will become more attractive to forage fish and closely following predators. As a result of the below-normal flows from the Susquehanna River, the main bay salinities are slightly higher than normal. As always, best fishing areas could be further refined by intersecting them with underwater points, hard bottom, drop-offs, and large schools of baitfish.
Expect average flows for most Maryland rivers and streams. There will be above average tidal currents as a result of the upcoming new moon on Nov. 15.
For more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the bay, be sure to check out Click Before You Cast. Get regular updates on Maryland’s waters sent to your inbox with our Eyes on the Bay newsletter. Sign up online.
Upper Chesapeake Bay
The Conowingo Dam has suspended appreciable power generation for several days, causing low water flows at the dam pool and lower river. Anglers arriving in the morning and evening hours are casting a variety of lures into the dam pool, as close to the turbine as possible, to connect with striped bass. Most of these striped bass are short of 19 inches but offer fun catch-and-release action, with a legal-sized fish caught now and then.
The lower Susquehanna River is offering excellent fishing for blue and channel catfish this week. The catfish are very active and are readily taking baits. Fresh cut baits, nightcrawlers, clam snouts, and chicken livers all make good baits.
The edges of the Susquehanna Flats and the nearby channels are offering good fishing for striped bass. In the morning and evening hours casting topwater lures, paddle tails, and crankbaits are good choices for striped bass. A major portion of the striped bass being caught are undersized but there are enough fish above 19 inches to keep things interesting.
As the day wears on, jigging with a variety of soft plastics — especially white paddle tails — is an effective way to target suspended striped bass along the channel edges in deeper waters. Trolling is a very popular way to reach the striped bass that are suspended close to the bottom along channel edges. Umbrella rigs pulled behind inline weights with spoons or bucktails as trailers are a great way to get down to where the fish are holding.
A little farther down the bay, there is plenty of striped bass action at the mouths of the Patapsco, Bush, and Chester rivers. Jigging and trolling are both effective ways to fish for striped bass suspended near the bottom along channel edges. Most are jigging when fish can be spotted on depth finders, or when diving seagulls and breaking fish can be spotted. Most of the surface action involves smaller striped bass but larger fish are often mixed in or holding close to the bottom. White or chartreuse pearl combinations are popular choices for soft plastics. The Love Point rocks, the Key Bridge, and the Bay Bridge are good places to jig.
In the fall, when targeting striped bass that may be spread out over wide areas and holding deep, one can cover a lot of water when trolling. It will require stout tackle to handle heavy inline weights and the drag of an umbrella rig.
White perch are also holding deep and can be found in the channels at the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers, and out in the bay on hard bottom. It will take a bottom rig with sufficient weight to get down to them and pieces of bloodworms is the calling card. The Bay Bridge piers and rock piles are also a good place to find white perch.
The calm winds and warm weather have made light-tackle jigging and casting lures a fun way to fish. Some turbulent weather is predicted later this week but hopefully calm conditions will return. Bird activity is leading the way to schools of undersized striped bass chasing bay anchovies. These fish offer some fun catch-and-release action, which is not detrimental to the fish due to cold water conditions and higher salinity values. When the winds are calm, the situation presents a fun opportunity to bring along a medium-weight fly rod and small foil type flies that represent bay anchovies. It is great fun and anyone who enjoys fly fishing should not miss this chance for some nonstop action.
Larger striped bass can be found throughout the middle bay along channel edges, under smaller breaking fish. They can also be found in shallower waters of the tidal rivers in the morning and evening hours. When jigging or casting, soft plastic jigs and paddle tails in white and combinations of pearl, chartreuse, and sparkles are popular choices.
Trolling is always a popular way to fish in the fall, mostly because it is so effective, but it is certainly not light-tackle fishing. Dragging heavy inline weights and umbrella rigs behind the boat creates a lot of dead weight. The striped bass are holding at about 25 feet to 30 feet along channel edges near Hacketts Bar, the Gum Thickets, Thomas Point, Bloody Point, in front of Chesapeake Beach, and in channels at the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers.
Those trolling near the shipping channel edges need to be on the lookout for buoys with flags that mark the ends of crab pot trotlines. Commercial crabbers often place their crab pots in very deep water this time of the year, using long lines of pots with flags marking each end. If you are trolling deep, you do not want to tangle with a long line of crab pots, and the owner of those pots hopes you do not also.
Fishing for white perch has shifted to targeting schools of perch holding over deep hard bottom such as oyster reefs in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. Using bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworms is the most popular way to fish for them.
The lower Potomac River channel edges, from the general area of Piney Point to St. George Island and down to Point Lookout, is one of the best places to fish this week for striped bass that exceed 20 inches in length. Trolling those channel edges has been one of the most popular ways to fish this week. It can be a tough way to fish at times, with stout tackle inline weights as heavy as 14 ounces and umbrella rigs, but it does catch fish. The striped bass tend to be suspended at about 25 feet to 30 feet along the channel edges. Another trolling option is to pull single or tandem rigged bucktails dressed with twister tails or sassy shads and single paddle tails, with a light amount of weight on light to medium tackle in shallower waters.
When good marks are found on a depth finder or one finds breaking fish, light tackle jigging can be a fun alternative to trolling. Soft plastics have been the most popular way to jig lately; these days you do not hear too much about metal jigs, which were the standard for many years. The color combinations are white and variations of pearl and sparkles. Many are also having very good luck casting paddle tails near shoreline structure in the morning and evening hours.
There are other trolling and jigging options at the mouth of the Patuxent River, the edges of the shipping channel near Cove Point, and the eastern side of the shipping channel. Diving seagulls and breaking fish can be spotted now and then and always an exciting scene to come upon. The Target Ship and Tangier Sound have been a recent scene of this exciting action. The surface fish are usually undersized striped bass but not always and jigging or trolling deep under the surface action.
The lower Patuxent River, Tangier Sound and the mouth of the Nanticoke River are excellent places to fish for white perch this week. The perch are holding deep over hard bottom such as oyster beds. Bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworms tend to be the best way to reach them.
The recent spell of warm and pleasant weather offered plenty of fun fishing opportunities for a wide range of freshwater species. There is some rain in the immediate forecast but more pleasant weather is on the way. There are still plenty of trout holding in a wide range of trout management waters this week. A lot of put-and-take trout anglers tend to give up a week or so after the last trout stockings but there are still plenty of trout to be found if one gives it a try.
Fishing is good for a variety of species at Deep Creek Lake, with smallmouth bass, walleye, and yellow perch providing a lot of opportunities. The upper Potomac River is still experiencing low water conditions which is making fishing for smallmouth bass difficult. Long casts, light lines, and working the deeper holes is the best way to fish under these conditions.
As water temperatures continue to cool and grass beds decline, largemouth bass are holding more to deep structure and drop-offs. Casting light jig heads with soft crayfish imitations are one of the best ways to fish for them since they are focusing on crayfish. Working baits slowly across the bottom and pausing is one of the most popular tactics. Small crankbaits can be a good option and when exploring for bass still holding near existing grass unweighted stick worms, soft plastics and spinnerbaits can be a good choice.
Cooler water temperatures always means excellent fishing for chain pickerel which can offer a lot of fun fishing. Fishing for northern snakeheads has slowed down due to cooler waters and fishing with large minnows tends to be the best way to fish for them at this time.
In the tidal rivers fishing for a mix of blue and channel catfish is very good. Blue catfish can be found in the tidal Potomac, Patuxent, Nanticoke, Choptank, Chester, and Susquehanna rivers. Channel catfish can be found in all of the tidal rivers in Maryland.Fresh cut bait is the best bait for blue catfish while cut bait, nightcrawlers, clam snouts, and chicken livers work well for channel catfish.
Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays
Surf anglers are catching the last of the kingfish remaining in the surf this week on pieces of bloodworms on bottom rigs. The bluefish are gone for the most part. Those soaking cut baits are catching a few striped bass which are mostly slightly under the 28-inch minimum. A few red drum are providing some exciting catch-and-release action and a few medium-sized black drum are being caught on clam baits.
At the inlet, tautog are being caught with more regularity, with a good portion measuring over the 16-inch minimum. Pieces of crab and sand fleas tend to be the most popular baits. A few sheepshead are still being caught on sand fleas at the South Jetty. Striped bass are being caught on jigs and by drifting cut or live bait, and the last of the flounder are moving through the inlet headed to offshore waters.
Fishing for sea bass at the offshore wreck and reef sites continues to be excellent, although a few captains reported a couple of days when the sea bass seemed to have lockjaw. A mix of large flounder and triggerfish have been part of the mix on most days. Further offshore at the canyons, most of the focus has been on swordfish and tilefish in the depths.
“Every man has a fish in his life that haunts him.” —Negley Farson