Chesapeake Bay fishermen who ventured out this past weekend after the northeaster began to report a difficult time locating spot and croakers in the tidal rivers. Further fishing expeditions this week will add further light to whether our mix of summer migrants is beginning to say “Adios” and are heading south. This exodus usually starts with the spot and croaker, followed by the Spanish mackerel and flounder and last to leave will be the bluefish. The good news is striped bass are becoming more active and the anticipated arrival of large fall migrant striped bass is closer to being a reality.
Trolling continues to be an effective way to catch a mix of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and striped bass this week and fishermen are also finding plenty of breaking fish comprised of the same trio of fish. Croaker fishing has been good this week in the lower bay region with some of the best action happening in the area of the Target Ship and Tangier Sound.
Freshwater fishermen are finding largemouth bass in a very active mode now that cooler water temperatures have caused them to break from their summer pattern of behavior. Fishing has been good in many of the states reservoirs and lakes as well as the tidal rivers and creeks. Trout fishermen are finding good water flows and active fish in the western and central regions rivers and streams.
Fishermen will be trying to figure out this week how much the fishing scene in the middle bay region has changed with the dramatic drop in water temperatures and the recent northeaster. Saturday provided a chance to get out on the water and Sunday was one of those special days to enjoy the bay. Water temperatures have dropped down to about 72-degrees and this is certain to have an effect on the migration of summer species in the bay and activity levels of the resident striped bass.
Spot of suitable size for live lining are becoming increasing scarce and the larger spot were not exactly as abundant as they were before last weeks blow. As the bay stabilizes this week fishermen will have a better idea as to what changes they will face but it is safe to say that croaker, spot and Spanish mackerel fishing is on borrowed time. Sunday fishermen were looking for small spot to live line at the Hill and other channel edges and for the most park came up empty. Some tried using cut baits from larger spot allowed to settle to the bottom and had success with bluefish and striped bass. Other fishermen found plenty of breaking fish and were able to jig up a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel or troll with equal success.
Small baitfish such as bay anchovies and menhaden are beginning to move out of the tidal rivers and shallower areas and a mix of bluefish and striped bass will be waiting at steep edges of channels where the bait will be caught up in strong currents and swept to waiting predators. The shipping channel edge on the western side of the bay, the area south of Bloody Point the mouth of the Choptank River are all traditional areas to look for this type of activity.
As the fishing for croakers and spot begins to diminish in the next few weeks; fishing for white perch will begin to pick up as they school up on oyster shoals and lumps in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. Small jigs with a dropper fly are a favorite way to catch a mess of white perch. Fishermen enjoyed good flounder fishing right up to the closing bell on Sunday and will have to be satisfied with practicing catch and release for the duration of the season.
Recreational crabbers have been reporting that it appears that a lot of crabs did not shed during the last full moon. Peelers have been in short supply and many of the crabs being caught are heavy and show signs of being close to shedding. Perhaps the recent dramatic drop in water temperatures has stalled the last big shed of the summer. Recent rains have also pushed crabs to migrate towards the mouths of the tidal rivers and creeks.
Cooler water temperatures are having a dramatic positive effect on the freshwater fishing scene this week in the central and southern regions. Many species of fish and particular largemouth bass are breaking from the summer pattern of behavior due to cooling water temperatures and becoming more active during the day.
The reservoirs of the central region such as Loch Raven, Prettyboy, Liberty and Rocky Gorge are offering excellent fishing for largemouth bass and other species such as crappie. Prettyboy and Liberty are famous for the good smallmouth bass fishing that can be found there. Most fishermen will choose topwater lures when the water surface is calm and light conditions are low. The surface strike of a largemouth bass always offers exciting visual entertainment and it is a good choice for active and hungry bass now. Many fishermen like real noisy lures this time of the year and larger ones for those really big bass. Spinnerbaits can be a good choice when the surface is roughed up by wind as are crankbaits and soft plastics such as wacky rigged worms along grass edges.
The many lakes and ponds that dot both regions are a great place to fish now that most fish are more active. St. Mary's Lake is always popular with fishermen in the southern region and most everyone has a favorite small pond that they like to think of as a honey hole.
The water temperatures in the tidal Patuxent and Potomac Rivers as well as the rivers in the central region are down to near the 70-degree mark now and largemouth bass there are very active. Fishermen are talking about fishing over the thick grass with various types of topwater lures such as frogs on a high tide and fishing the edges during low tide with crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Fishing for channel catfish and carp is improving with cooler water temperatures. The lower Susquehanna and Potomac are just a few of the rivers that offer good fishing for channel catfish.