Maryland Fishing Report – Nov. 4
As we enter November there is plenty of fun to be had in the outdoors, we just have to dress a little warmer as the month progresses. Those wishing for some fresh blue crabs are enjoying good recreational crabbing this week.
Expect stable, moderate conditions that will warm slightly as the week continues. Chesapeake Bay surface water temperatures have plummeted to the mid to upper 50s and will continue to slowly decline this week. 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, 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 except for the lower Potomac and lower Eastern Shore. There will be above average tidal currents as a result of the recent Halloween weekend full moon.
Expect average clarity in Maryland’s portion of the Bay and rivers except for the Northeast, Bush, Back, Sassafras, upper Patuxent, and upper Nanticoke rivers and Fishing Bay as a result of algal blooms. To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps.
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.
Anglers in the lower Susquehanna River area are reporting good fishing for blue and channel catfish at the Conowingo Dam pool, the lower river, the Susquehanna Flats, and the mouth of the Elk and Northeast rivers. Cut fish is the most popular bait but chicken liver, nightcrawlers, and clam snouts can work also. The Conowingo Dam is sporadically releasing small amounts of water. Fishing for striped bass has been very good in the dam pool and the Flats. Most of the striped bass being caught are falling short of the required 19-inch length but providing plenty of fun catch-and-release fishing.
White perch are being caught near the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers over hard bottom, and out in the bay on reefs and knolls. Bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm are the best way to fish for them. Yellow perch are showing up in the middle to upper sections of the region’s tidal rivers and creeks. Working beetle spins along the bottom is a good way to catch them; live minnows always are a good bet when fishing for yellow perch.
Further down the bay there has been a lot of striped bass action at the Key Bridge and the mouths of the Patapsco, Chester, and Magothy rivers. Many anglers are trolling umbrella rigs outfitted with spoons, with either a bucktail or a spoon or bucktail for a trailer. Tandem bucktails have also been a good choice. These rigs need to get down to a depth of about 25 feet, so inline weights are usually employed.
The Love Point rocks along with the above-mentioned rivers are great places to jig for striped bass. Anglers are seeing breaking fish at times, but most are undersized and the action tends to be shifting as the schools of bait and small striped bass are constantly on the move. Jigging underneath the smaller fish is a proven tactic to find larger fish.
The Bay Bridge can be a great place to jig for striped bass holding near the bridge piers. The best action tends to be in the morning and evening hours on a moving tide. Jigs should be cast slightly up-current of the bridge piers and working past while jigging. The piers and the rock piles are also holding large white perch, and they can also be caught while jigging with small jigs on dropper rigs or by fishing with pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig.
A few of the most productive locations to troll along the shipping channel edges include the edge in front of the Gum Thickets south to Bloody Point, and then from Buoy 84A to Buoy 84. The outside edge of Hacketts, Thomas Point, and the shipping channel edge in front of Chesapeake Beach south to Parkers Creek are also good locations. Most anglers are pulling umbrella rigs with sassy shads or spoons on the umbrella arms with a spoon or bucktail as a trailer. All are being pulled behind heavy inline weights to get them down to about 25 feet.
Schools of small striped bass are popping up all over the middle bay chasing schools of bay anchovies and juvenile menhaden. The schools of baitfish are exiting the tidal rivers and heading down the bay, pushed along by ebbing tides. Allowing jigs to sink close to the bottom underneath this action is your best chance of connecting with striped bass measuring over 19 inches. Jigging close to the bottom is catching a few sea trout at the mouths of the Choptank and Little Choptank rivers.
The shallow water striped bass fishery has been in full swing this week during the morning and evening hours. Topwater lures always provide plenty of fun surface explosions; jerkbaits and paddle tails are good choices also when waters are slightly deeper. The rocks around Poplar Island, Eastern Bay, and the shorelines of the lower Severn, Choptank, and West rivers are all great places to cast lures.
The white perch have moved to the lower sections of the tidal rivers and tend to be holding over oyster bottom. Fishing with bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm is the best way to catch them. Channel catfish can be found in the middle sections of the tidal rivers and can provide plenty of fun fishing. Cut bait, nightcrawlers, clam snouts, and chicken liver all work well as bait.
The lower Potomac River tends to be the hot ticket right now. Anglers trolling near Piney Point down past St. George Island are catching some very nice striped bass over 20 inches in length. Umbrella rigs with enough inline weight to get them down to 25 feet are popular, rigged with spoons or sassy shads and using a bucktail or spoon as a trailer. Tandem rigged bucktails behind a planer are working well also. There is also some good trolling action for striped bass at Cornfield Harbor, the mouth of the Patuxent River and across the bay near the Target Ship and the channel edge between Buoys 72A and 72.
Many are finding themselves chasing diving seagulls throughout the region which tend to pop up here and there from time to time. As usual the breaking fish chasing bait are striped bass under 19 inches, but deep underneath close to the bottom there are often larger striped bass. Most are using soft plastics in the 5-inch to 6-inch size range with good success.
Small striped bass are also being found in the shallows on both sides of the bay, with a few larger fish mixed in. Casting paddle tails and similar soft plastics with light jig heads is the most popular way to fish. On the eastern side of the bay in the Tangier Sound area, speckled trout and the last of the puppy drum are also part of the shallow water mix.
Fishing for blue catfish in the tidal Potomac, Patuxent, and Nanticoke rivers has been excellent lately and will continue through the month. This is a great time to stock up one’s freezer with nice fillets. Fresh cut bait is by far the best choice for bait, but in a pinch clam snouts can work well.
Fishing for white perch is good in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers. The perch tend to be deep and the best way to get to them is a bottom rig baited with pieces of bloodworm.
Those heading out for one more chance for some fresh blue crabs are doing well in many of the tidal rivers. Water temperatures in the tidal rivers are running about 55 degrees. The crabs tend to be found in about 12 feet to 15 feet of water and most crabbers are reporting close to a full bushel or more per outing. Chicken necks work well as the standard bait but razor clams are held in high esteem by the most serious crabbers.
In the western region of the state, fishing at Deep Creek Lake is good for a variety of fish. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are being caught on rocky points and slightly deeper areas along the shorelines. Both species are targeting crayfish and soft plastic craws on a ned rig or similar rigging is a shore fire way to catch them. Northern pike can be found in the cove areas, and yellow perch and walleye are along deep grass lines and steep rocky shores. Drifting live minnows along the deep grass lines is a good way to fish for those species. In the evenings, casting jerkbaits along steep shoreline edges is another good way to target walleye.
The fall trout stocking was completed in October with 51 locations receiving 27,100 fish in total. Mettiki Hatchery, which supports stocking for Allegany and Garrett counties, supplied 10,800 rainbow trout at just under 2 fish per pound. Albert Powell Hatchery and Cushwa Hatchery supplied 16,300 rainbow, brown, and golden trout to the program, with fish numbering about 1.51 fish per pound.
Many of the put-and-take areas are still holding trout, especially the larger lakes and ponds that were stocked last month. The delayed harvest, fly fishing, and catch-and-release areas also hold good opportunities for some fun fishing. In the fly fishing areas, caddis nymphs and streamers can be a good choice. Many of the western and central region trout streams and rivers received some rain runoff over the weekend to enhance stream flows.
Fishing for smallmouth bass in the upper Potomac remains good. Water level conditions are improved, and water temperatures are in the comfort range for smallmouth bass and walleye. Small tubes and soft plastic craws are good choices for baits.
Largemouth bass fishing is good this week, the fish are active and feeding aggressively on baitfish and crayfish. Areas leading from the diminishing shallow grass beds are good places to target along with areas close to drop-offs and sunken wood. Soft plastic craws rigged on small jig heads are a good offering to largemouth bass that are feeding on crayfish looking for deeper cover. Grubs, small crankbaits and hair jigs are also good choices.
Those fishing the beaches of Ocean City and Assateague Island are still catching kingfish but the action is slowing down. Small bluefish are still being caught but they are also thinning out. Medium-sized black drum are being caught on clams and sand fleas. Most are soaking large cut baits in hopes of some catch-and-release action with large red drum or perhaps a few striped bass.
At the inlet tautog are showing up for those fishing for them with pieces of crab or sand fleas. Sheepshead and small to medium sized black drum are also in the mix. Those jigging are catching a mix of puppy drum and striped bass. Recently a large influx of small red drum moved into the area and anglers enjoyed some fun catch and release action since most were undersized. Flounder are moving through the inlet and the inlet is a great place to fish for them as they exit our coastal bays.
In the coastal bays, flounder are still being caught but they are thinning out as water temperatures become colder. Striped bass are being caught near the Route 90 Bridge on soft plastic jigs and paddle tails. Small red drum are also part of the fun catch-and-release mix this week.
Anglers seeking sea bass are enjoying another extraordinary week of boat limits on chunky sea bass. Triggerfish and flounder are also part of the mix coming over the rails of party boats. The boats traveling farther offshore to the canyons are catching swordfish and blueline tilefish, and still finding a few small dolphin near lobster pot buoys.
“What brings us back to fishing is its glorious uncertainty.” — Arnold Gingrich
Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Keith Lockwood, Maryland Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist.
Click Before You Cast is written by Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham.
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