Somehow we made it through another northeaster that deposited a lot of rain and caused a lot of flooding and wave damage in the Coastal and Chesapeake Bay waters. The winds dropped off on Saturday and a few fishermen donned their rain gear and gave fishing a try and most caught some fish. Sunday was so beautiful it had many fishermen dazzled and almost spellbound after four days of rain. Many complained that they were about sprout gills if it rained anymore. Well, fishermen were out in force on Sunday and oh boy did they catch fish! Freshwater fishermen enjoyed good trout fishing and fishing for largemouth bass. Chesapeake Bay fishermen found some of the best fishing for large striped bass many have ever experienced.
Fishermen are finding breaking striped bass throughout all three regions of the Chesapeake Bay and often the large fall migrant striped bass are mixing it up with the school sized striped bass. This tends to offer a new dimension to light tackle fishing when all of a sudden the 26” striped bass you expected on the end of your fishing line turns out to be over 50” long. Most fishermen looking for the fall migrant striped bass are trolling a mix of large parachutes, bucktails and spoons along the shipping channel edges down deep around 25’ or so. Many of the traditional steep edges that fish so well during the spring season are doing just as well in the fall.
Freshwater fishermen are enjoying good trout fishing and youngsters have some additional chances to catch stocked trout at several of the youth fishing areas this week. Be sure to check www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/#8 to see where the rainbow trout were stocked.
Largemouth bass fishermen are finding fish holding deeper this week in a typical fall pattern of behavior. Fishing for smallmouth bass and walleye has been very good in the upper Potomac and lower Susquehanna this week as water temperatures cool to more comfortable levels for these fish.
Chesapeake Bay Report
Once the wind calmed down fishermen were out in droves over the weekend and into this week trolling the shipping channel edges for large fall migrant striped bass or light tackle jigging over schooling fish. Captains are deploying planer boards and downriggers to cover a wide swath of horizontal and vertical levels. The best catches have been coming from some of the deeper levels often from 20’ to 35’. Umbrella rigs will require inline weights but single or tandem rigged bucktails, parachutes and spoons can be run off of planers.
Fishermen that are trolling along the shipping channel edges have been kept busy keeping lines clear of loose grass that is floating in the bay; a real chore when a large number of lines are being trolled but absolutely essential if you want to catch fish. Hopefully much of this grass that was tore up by last week’s northeaster will be less of a problem as the week progresses. Water clarity has been a diminished from the big blow and many fishermen are finding chartreuse has been a good color to use recently.
Fishermen have been encountering striped bass near the mouths of the major tidal rivers in the region and out in the bay at traditional locations near channel edges. Light tackle jigging with metal and soft plastic jigs has been a very effective and fun way to catch striped bass. Many fishermen have been getting quite a surprise when supposedly jigging for school sized striped bass and find themselves hooked up with a striped bass over 50” in size.
White perch are schooling up in some of the deeper channel edges and holes at the mouths of the tidal rivers within the region. Most fishermen are finding the schools on their depth finders, drifting over them and fishing with bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or grass shrimp. Jigging can still be an effective method to catch up some large white perch but will become less effective as water temperatures continue to cool.
Brighter weather brought out fishermen this past weekend after several days of rain and wind. Water temperatures continue to drop in the two regions reservoirs, lakes and tidal rivers and fish are adjusting. Largemouth bass are moving to deeper water and looking for structure such as rocks, sunken wood or steep edges to hunker down. They are still feeding and bait fish such as juvenile bluegills, sunfish and minnows are high on the menu as they look for some kind of cover as shallow grass beds recede. Slow rolled spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are a good choice to imitate these food items. Deep diving crankbaits, grubs and soft craw jigs work well where largemouth bass are holding deep and looking for crawfish.
The fishing for walleye and smallmouth bass in the lower Susquehanna River remains very good this week. Most fishermen are using jigs and tubes and working close to the bottom as they drift down river in small boats. Other fishermen are being very successful by wading out from shore and casting up current and bouncing jigs or tubes along the bottom. The Conowingo Dam is releasing water each day; usually around mid-day so fishermen are always keeping an eye on the water release schedules.
Southern Region Fisheries Manager Mary Groves sent us this report. We recently found out late in the process that Cosca Lake needed to be drawn down for some maintenance this fall. The trout that were going to be stocked in Cosca were stocked in Melwood pond instead. Also, we completed a 2-night sample on Rocky Gorge earlier this week and found a nice population of largemouth bass and crappie (both white and black). We’re also happy with how the northern pike are doing in the lake. We’ve not stocked northern’s there for quite a while, but they are reproducing on their own and seem to be doing well. The reservoir is at full-pool this year which means that there’s more wood in the water. Many of the fish we caught were holding to this cover.