The 2009 Maryland Fishing Challenge and Search for Diamond Jim came to a climax this past weekend with David Wihelm of Perryville winning the drawing for a new boat, motor and trailer for himself and his two excited children he had in tow at the drawing. The smile on Davidís face at drawing the winning tackle box was complemented with the whoops and shrieks as his children excitingly jumped into the boat to try out their new prize.
Upper Chesapeake Bay region fishermen are finding a mix of small bluefish and small striped bass chasing bait in the upper bay and are finding larger striped bass close to the bottom by jigging or trolling. Cooler water temperatures have caused striped bass to become more active and hold to deep structure. One of the best pieces of structure in the Chesapeake is the Bay Bridge jigging a soft plastic jig close to the bridge piers.
Middle region fishermen are also finding a mix of bluefish and striped bass chasing bay anchovies throughout the region. Schools of bait are pouring out of the tidal rivers and into the bay and are being swept along by strong currents along the channel edges. Jigging with metal or trolling deep with bucktails and spoons have been productive methods of catching them. Lower bay region fishermen have much the same action and still have a few Spanish mackerel as part of the mix.
The lower bay region, Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds are offering some of the last chances at croakers and large spot this week as these fish have been steadily moving out of the middle bay and lower bay regions.
Freshwater fishermen are seeing fishing conditions improving as water temperatures cool and fish such as largemouth bass, trout and other species become more active. Largemouth bass fishermen are enjoying good fishing as bass break out of the summer mode of behavior and move freely through the water column.
Freshwater fishermen are enjoying good fishing for largemouth bass in the central regionís large reservoirs and lakes as water temperatures cool and fish become more active. Fishermen have been targeting grass bed edges, sunken wood and steep edges with jig/craw combinations, crankbaits, soft plastics, spinnerbaits and even topwater lures. It would seem that just about anything in the tackle box will work this time of the year. It is not quite like that but there is no doubt that largemouth bass and other species are feeling an urgency to put on the feed. Smallmouth bass in reservoirs such as Prettyboy and Liberty are becoming more active also and in the next couple of weeks will really start to kick into gear.
Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna River are catching largemouth bass below the Conowingo Dam and out on the Susquehanna Flats. The tidal rivers such as the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers are offering good fishing in some of the deeper waters near grass bed edges. Fishermen have been having good luck with surface poppers as well as crankbaits, spinnerbaits and wacky rigged worms near the edges of grass beds in about 6í of water.
As water temperatures cool, the fisheries in the middle bay region continue to change from a mix of summer species to a classic early fall fishery of striped bass and bluefish. Breaking fish are now composed of a mix of striped bass and bluefish; although fishermen may see a Spanish mackerel now and then. The top part of the action is usually small striped bass as small as 12in mixing it up with the bluefish and the larger striped bass are below. This is the time of the year to break out the metal jigs; there are plenty of different types, everyone has their favorites and 2oz is the most popular weight depending on current and wind drift conditions. Schools of bait such as bay anchovies are moving out of the tidal rivers and creeks and will be swept by strong currents along the edges of channels.
Fishermen have been spending a lot of time trying to catch up the last of the small spot in the region for live lining. The spot have schooled up and are moving out of the shallows and finding these pockets of spot can be difficult at times. One thing is for certain; as time goes on it will not get any easier, so fishermen will be shifting their efforts from live lining to jigging and trolling.
Trolling bucktails and spoons along the edges of the shallower areas of the bay and tidal rivers in the early morning and evening hours has been paying off for small boat fishermen with striped bass and bluefish. Diving crankbaits are also another good option for small boat fishermen trolling in the tidal rivers and bay. Farther out in the bay trolling along channel edges with bucktails and spoons is catching a mix of bluefish and striped bass. Fishermen who want to load up on bluefish have been trolling surge tube lures in their spread. The western side of the shipping channel in the area of Breezy Point and Parkers Creek, Thomas Point, the Hill and the Diamonds has been good places to troll for striped bass and bluefish recently.
Fishing from shoreline docks, breakwaters and other types of shoreline structure is a good choice for shore bound fishermen this time of the year. Striped bass are very active and can often be found holding near structure where the current is sweeping past. Fly casting with skipping bugs or flies such as chartreuse Clousers and Deceivers can offer some fine fishing in the evenings and early morning hours. Casting crankbaits and swimming shad type lures is a good option for fishermen fishing with spinning tackle.
White perch are beginning to school up and moving out of the tidal creeks and often these same prominent shoreline structures on points will hold white perch. Soon they will be schooling up out in the lower sections of the tidal rivers near oyster bars and eventually the deeper areas as fall progresses.
Recreational crabbers in the region are reporting tough crabbing at times in the tidal creeks and rivers. Crabs are beginning to move down the tidal creeks and moving into the rivers. Some of the better catches of heavy crabs have been in the deeper parts of the creeks and collapsible crab traps have been a good way to catch them.