As temperatures drop in Maryland, anglers are adapting to the chilly weather but continue to enjoy fruitful fishing conditions across the state. From the upper Chesapeake Bay to the lower Bay, various fish species are actively biting, with cooler water temperatures influencing their behavior.

Chesapeake Bay and Tributaries: In the upper Chesapeake Bay, blue catfish are particularly active in the lower Susquehanna River, where anglers are effectively using cut bait such as menhaden and gizzard shad. This fishing not only offers enjoyment but also contributes to conservation efforts by controlling the catfish population. In the same area, anglers are catching striped bass, although many fall below the 19-inch minimum size. Popular lures include soft plastic jigs, paddletails, and lipless crankbaits. The cooler temperatures have also increased activity among walleye and smallmouth bass.

The middle Bay’s dropping temperatures, now in the upper 50s, are pushing striped bass to deeper waters. Trolling with heavy inline weights and umbrella rigs has become a popular method to reach these depths. Anglers are focusing on channel edges, with Thomas Point, Chesapeake Beach, and Breezy Point being noteworthy locations. Light-tackle jigging is also providing exciting action, especially around Eastern Bay and the Choptank River.

In the lower Bay, trolling remains the preferred method for striped bass. The lower Potomac River, Patuxent River, and various channel edges are hotspots for anglers using umbrella rigs and tandem rigged bucktails. The lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers are seeing a movement of white perch to deeper waters, with effective baits including grass shrimp and bloodworms.

Freshwater Fishing: The lack of rain has led to low water levels in many reservoirs, impacting boat access but opening opportunities for shore and kayak fishing. Target species like smallmouth bass and walleye are active, with water temperatures in the upper Potomac River ranging from 45 to 50 degrees. Trout fishing remains a popular activity in various waters, with spinners and spoons being effective tools.

Largemouth bass fishing is thriving, with the fish roaming between shallow and deep waters. Effective lures include spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and soft plastic craw jigs. Northern snakeheads are less active due to cooler waters, but sunny afternoons present good opportunities for catching them. Crappie are congregating near deeper structures, making marina docks and bridge piers ideal fishing spots.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays: Surf casters are experiencing a diverse catch including kingfish, flounder, and bluefish. In the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, striped bass are being caught with soft plastic jigs, while sheepshead and tautog are biting on sand fleas and green crab pieces. Offshore, black sea bass fishing is thriving with limit catches being a common occurrence. Anglers are also targeting swordfish and tilefish in the canyons.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources provides up-to-date information on fishing conditions through their Eyes on the Bay’s Click Before You Cast program, ensuring anglers have the latest insights for their fishing trips. Despite the seasonal shift, Maryland’s waters continue to offer abundant and diverse fishing opportunities for enthusiasts of all levels.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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