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Maryland Fishing Report – November 23

Photo of woman holding a black sea bass

Photo by Monty Hawkins

Everyone at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources wishes you a pleasant and warm Thanksgiving holiday. More than a few anglers will slip out for a little fishing before the big celebration or on the weekend. There are plenty of exciting fishing opportunities out there this week.

Forecast Summary: November 23 – November 29:

Conditions will be sunny all week except for Friday through Sunday when there is a chance of rain. Expect windy conditions Friday evening through Monday with winds of 10-20 knots and higher gusts. Chesapeake Bay surface water temperatures are hovering in the low 50s with the coolest waters found in the upper Bay and upper Potomac River near the Woodrow Wilson bridge. The warmer Bay waters are found from Gooses Reef south to the mouth of the Potomac River. Maryland river water temperatures are currently in the low 40s

Cool late November conditions should keep surface water temperatures slowly inching downward, resulting in gamefish continuing their movement out of river mouths and down the Bay. 

The Maryland portion of the Bay has a well-mixed water column with suitable oxygen conditions from surface to bottom. There are slightly warmer and saltier bottom water temperatures, so anglers may want to scan these deeper channel areas. Gamefish will be following baitfish and moving towards overwintering areas in the deeper, warmer bottom waters of the main Bay near such structure as channel edges, underwater points, hard bottom, and drop-offs.

Expect average flows for most Maryland rivers and streams. There will be above average tidal currents all week as a result of the upcoming new moon on November 24.

Expect average water clarity for most Maryland portions of the Bay and rivers. However, expect poor water clarity from algal blooms in the Bush river.

To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps on the Maryland DNR website.

For more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the Bay, be sure to check out Eyes on the Bay’s Click Before You Cast.

Upper Chesapeake Bay
Photo of man holding a striped bass

Kevin Brittingham caught this nice striped bass while he and his dad were trolling near the mouth of the Patapsco River. Photo by Kevin Brittingham

Now that colder temperatures are more common, water temperatures in the upper Bay are causing striped bass to move to deeper waters. There are still a few striped bass to be found in the upper Bay including the Conowingo Dam pool, the lower Susquehanna River, and at the mouths of tidal river channels, but many have moved south into the middle Bay.

Striped bass can still be found in good numbers at the mouths of the Patapsco, Magothy, and Chester rivers. They tend to be holding deep along steep channel edges or near bridge piers. Jigging and trolling continue to be popular ways to fish along channel edges, and around the Key bridge piers they are being caught with live-lining or jigging. It will take a lot of inline weights – often as much as 20 ounces – to get tandem-rigged bucktails or umbrella rigs down to where the striped bass are holding. Light-tackle anglers using various jigs can go to an ounce or more depending on wind, tide, and depth conditions. White bucktails, umbrella rigs, and soft plastic jigs are very popular this week.

There is no shortage of catfish in the upper Bay. Flathead catfish can be found in the Conowingo Dam pool, and casting cut bait into the power generator turbine tailrace is one of the best ways to catch them. It takes a sturdy outfit and most successful anglers targeting large flatheads and blue catfish use spinning surf outfits.

A mix of channel and blue catfish can be found in all the region’s tidal rivers and most parts of the upper Bay. They can be found holding on the edges of channels and some of the deeper holes. A variety of baits can catch them, and some anglers enjoy experimenting with flavors and scents to enhance their baits. 

White perch are now holding in the deeper channels over hard bottom at the mouths of the tidal rivers and out in the Bay. It will take plenty of weight to get down to them when fishing hooks or small flies baited with pieces of bloodworm.

Middle Bay
Photo of man holding a striped bass

Craig Roberts caught this nice striped bass while fishing near Thomas Point. Photo by Craig Roberts

There is good fishing for striped bass in the middle Bay and anglers may get a break in the weather this week. Striped bass are being found at the Bay Bridge, from Thomas Point to beyond Chesapeake Beach on the western shore, and from Bloody Point to the False Channel area on the eastern side of the Bay.

At the Bay Bridge, striped bass can be found at the bases of the piers in deeper waters, the rock piles, and the concrete bridge abutments. Jigging is a popular way to fish for them, but success is also being had with live-lining eels. Trolling along the sewer pipe located just northeast of the bridge is also a good tactic.

Trolling umbrella rigs and bucktails along the steep channel edges of the shipping channel and those leading out of the tidal rivers is a popular way to fish. Heavy inline weights are needed to get rigs and lures down deep to where the striped bass are suspended off the bottom. Waters in the middle Bay are clear, so white has been a favored color bringing a lot of success for anglers jigging or trolling.

Breaking fish are being spotted now and then, and casting into the action is always fun. Most of the action though is taking place deep along channel edges. Surface water temperatures in the middle Bay are holding around 50 degrees, the Choptank River is 46 degrees at Cambridge. The False Channel has been one of the better areas to jig and troll lately. They are feeding heavily on juvenile menhaden but a surprising number of them are being found with small spot in their stomachs. 

White perch have also moved to ever deeper waters near the mouths of the tidal rivers, the rock piles at the Bay Bridge, and deep channels off Matapeake and the Brickhouse Bar. In most of these areas, several ounces of weight will be needed to get rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm to where the perch are holding. Blue catfish in the Choptank River are holding in the channel from the town of Choptank to the Dover Bridge.

Lower Bay

The lower Potomac River continues to be a favorite location for anglers fishing for striped bass. A big draw is the minimum of two fish over 20 inches per day, plus the fishing has been good. Striped bass are being found on both the Virginia and Maryland sides of the main channel, and tend to be holding close to the bottom in the deeper waters. Trolling umbrella rigs and tandem-rigged bucktails behind heavy inline weights is a successful way to get down to the fish and reap the rewards. The general area from the Route 301 Bridge to Piney Point has been holding a lot of fish. Jigging is a fun light-tackle way to fish this week, and metal and soft plastics around one ounce or more are needed to reach the depths. 

The western edge of the shipping channel, in the general area of Cove Point to Point No Point, has been holding good numbers of striped bass in water about 35 feet deep. The eastern side of the shipping channel from the mouth of the Little Choptank south to the Middle Grounds has also been a great place to fish for striped bass. Breaking fish are being spotted from time to time; anglers should keep watch for gulls sitting on the water and slicks that can reveal striped bass action below. A good depth finder is a very useful tool this time of the year.

The lower Patuxent River from the Route 4 Bridge out to Cedar Point has been a good place to fish along the channel edges for those jigging or trolling. The general area near the cuts coming through Hoopers Island, the Target Ship, and the main channel in Tangier Sound are good places to check for striped bass. 

White perch are holding deep at the mouths of the Nanticoke, Wicomico, and Patuxent rivers this week. They can be found holding in about 40 feet of water over oyster bottom. Using bottom rigs or dropper rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm is a good way to entice them to bite. Blue catfish are in abundance in the Nanticoke River near the Sharptown and Marshyhope Creek area.

Freshwater Fishing

November presents a peaceful and uncrowded setting for anglers in many of the trout management waters across the state. The catch-and-release designated waters offer plenty of good fishing this week. Waters are in good shape as floating leaf litter is greatly reduced, flows are good, and water temperatures are cool.

Photo of man holding a golden trout.

Herb Floyd was fishing a stocked pond recently when he caught and released this golden rainbow trout. Photo by Herb Floyd

In the put-and-take areas the trout spread out from where they were initially stocked, so it will take some searching. Casting small spinners and other lures are a good way to cover places where trout may be holding. Many community ponds were stocked last month and there are still trout to be found there. 

Fishing for coldwater species is good at Deep Creek Lake and the upper Potomac River. Smallmouth bass are very active as they seek out crayfish moving from the shallower waters to find cover for the winter months in deeper areas. Small crankbaits, crayfish jigs, tubes, and grubs are all good baits to try. Walleye fishing is improving with the colder water temperatures and can be caught on jigs and small jerkbaits along drop-offs. 

Largemouth bass can be found near drop-offs to deeper waters, in transition areas, and near any kind of deep structure. Fallen treetops, sunken wood, and bridge piers should not be overlooked. Fishing slow and close to the bottom is a good way to entice them to strike a variety of crankbaits, soft plastics, wacky rigged stick worms, crayfish jigs, and spinnerbaits. 

Crappie do not mind a little cool water and they are very active this time of the year. They tend to be deep and will hold near any kind of structure they can find. Fallen treetops, bridge piers, marina docks, and sunken brush all tend to fit the bill. The fish will take a variety of small lures that are retrieved slowly, but a small minnow or marabou jig tops the list. 

Yellow perch are active this time of the year and provide good fishing in many lakes and reservoirs. Loch Raven Reservoir is an excellent place to find them. In tidal waters they can be found in the upper areas holding in deeper waters. Fishing slowly with lip-hooked minnows, beetle spins, or Roadrunner type lures is a good way to catch them this time of the year.

Catfish are always ready for any angler who wishes to fish for them. Channel catfish can be found in every tidal river in Maryland as well as a few reservoirs where they have become landlocked; Piney Run Reservoir is a good example. Blue catfish are spreading to every tidal river in the Chesapeake Bay system, with some of the greatest concentrations in the Potomac, Patuxent, Nanticoke, Choptank, and Susquehanna rivers. Flathead catfish can be found in the upper Potomac River, the Conowingo Dam pool, and the lower Susquehanna River. 

Chain pickerel seem to enjoy the cooler water temperatures and are very active this time of the year. They can be found along shorelines holding close to sunken wood or any other kind of structure. They are common in the upper reaches of many tidal rivers as well as lakes, ponds, and reservoirs across the state. Most any kind of lure will attract their attention.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays

Colder water temperatures along the beaches are pushing the kingfish south and this fishery is almost done for this year. Anglers fishing large baits are catching striped bass in the surf and a few exceed the 28-inch minimum. Clear-nose skates continue to be a pesky competitor for menhaden baits.

At the inlet, tautog are the focus for anglers fishing with sand fleas. There are still a few sheepshead also being caught but their numbers are declining quickly as they head south for warmer waters. Striped bass are being caught around the inlet jetties, bulkheads, and the Route 50 Bridge, and a growing number surpass the 28-inch minimum. Most anglers are catching them by casting soft plastic jigs, but others are drifting cut bait with good success.

The boats taking anglers out to the wreck and reef sites to fish for black sea bass are experiencing excellent fishing. Limit catches of chunky sea bass are very common with a mix of the occasional flounder and porgy. Anyone traveling out to the canyons is deep-dropping for swordfish and blueline tilefish.

“In the autumn, fishing is coming to an end, and each day you are parting with it – for a long time.” – Sergei Aksakov

Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Keith Lockwood, fisheries biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Click Before You Cast is written by Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham.

This report is now available on your Amazon Echo device — just ask Alexa to “open Maryland Fishing Report.”