October is one of those months where the weather is often in a state of flux and it can be frustrating at times for fishermen longing to fish the open waters of the bay, ocean or large lakes in Maryland. Cold fronts are now cold instead of just being cool and wild things such as fish are beginning to feel an urgency that colder times are coming. The weather that is predicted until the weekend will be another knock on the door that winter is coming. The water temperatures will take another dip, thick grasses in tidal rivers and lakes will begin to diminish and falling leaves will begin to choke western Maryland streams; all part of a cycle of nature. The decomposing grasses and leaves will serve as food for a host of aquatic insects and invertebrates that provide an important link in a cycle that eventually provides the top predator fish that many sportsman fish for. It is important to note that fishermen become part of that cycle when they participate in fishing and eating their catch.
Chesapeake Bay fishermen are finding a mix of bluefish and striped bass in all three regions of the bay this week. Upper bay region fishermen are reporting some large striped bass up to 30” or more are being caught at times along with large number of small striped bass. Cooler bay water temperatures and improved water quality have raised the activity levels of many fish. Fishermen in the middle and lower bay regions are reporting water visibility as much as 10’ in some areas. Large schools of bait in the form of anchovies and menhaden continue to move out of the tidal rivers and into the bay where striped bass are waiting at areas where strong tidal current sweep the bait along steep channel edges and shoals. Leo Dortch is all smiles with this striped bass his dad is holding for him in the Severn River recently.
Fishermen are casting to breaking fish or jigging underneath the surface action and enjoying a mix of striped bass and bluefish. Trolling a mix of spoons, bucktails and surge tube lures is also another good option for bluefish and striped bass. There are some large bluefish in the 5lb to 6lb range in the middle and lower bay regions chasing bait. There are still a few large croakers holding out at the Middle Grounds in the lower bay and spot at the mouth of the Patuxent River. Recreational crabbers are trying to get their last licks in on some of the large heavy crabs that are available in the tidal rivers of the bay this week. Daniel Hillman sent in this picture of a nice bushel of crabs that holds the promise of steamed crabs or some crab cakes.
Freshwater fishermen are finding good fishing for largemouth bass throughout the state as cool waters spur on their activity levels. Walleye and smallmouth bass in the western region are also responding to cooler water temperatures in a positive way. The fall trout stocking program has increased fishing opportunities for fishermen in all regions of the state and fishermen can enjoy good fishing with out the spring season crowds. The current stocking information can be viewed at the following link. www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/stocking/springtroutstock.html
Tautog fishing at the Ocean City Inlet continues to be good this week and fishermen are also catching a mix of striped bass and small bluefish there. Boats headed out to the wreck sites are catching a mix of trigger fish and tautog. Ocean City fishermen are still venturing out to the canyon regions for a mix of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and white marlin.
Chesapeake Bay Report
Fishing in the middle bay region has moved into a solid fall pattern; which means trolling, and jigging deep for a mix of striped bass and fat bluefish. The striped bass are typically holding near steep channel edges where tidal currents are sweeping schools of small bait in the form of bay anchovies past. At times the mix of bluefish and striped bass are pushing the bait to the surface where they are often marked by diving gulls and terns and other times can only be marked by depth finders or slicks. Current water temperatures are around 64-degrees.
Jigging with metal jigs with or without dropper flies, bucktails, casting to surface fish and trolling with spoons and bucktails have been the more popular ways to fish for them. Locations such as the mouth of Eastern Bay, Poplar Island and the Diamonds are a few examples of places where breaking fish have been encountered recently. Trolling in these areas as well as the western edge of the shipping channel are also good places to start out a day of fishing. Most fishermen are realizing that they have to be flexible as to where they fish and are cruising the bay while looking for signs of fish.
Recently schools of bluefish in the 5lb to 6lb range have moved into the region and fishermen are finding a little more teeth and power when they hook into a bluefish. There are still plenty of 3/4lb bluefish around but these new larger bruisers may tend to bully striped bass from some locations due to their nature of biting anything around them when feeding. Trolling spoons and surge tube lures deep is a great way to catch them if fresh bluefish fillets or smoked bluefish are in order.
Cooler water temperatures have striped bass roaming through the shallower waters of the bay and lower tidal river shorelines. Casting surface lures in the early morning or evening hours can offer some exciting fishing. White perch are also are on the move in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers and can be caught on spinners and beetle spins in shallower waters and small jigs or bait in deeper water. Peeler crab and grass shrimp are popular baits to use on a bottom rig when fishing for white perch.
Recreational crabbers are catching heavy crabs in many of the regions tidal rivers this week; water temperatures are falling so many of these crabs are on the move. Many successful crabbers are reporting that this is a great time of the year to catch up some large heavy crabs.
Cooler water temperatures have many species of freshwater fish in a very active mode; particularly largemouth bass. Fishermen have been enjoying a good morning and evening surface bite in the shallower waters of the regions lakes, reservoirs and tidal waters. Grasses are beginning to thin in many areas and largemouth bass are on the prowl. Small shallow running crankbaits and spinnerbaits retrieved right at the surface are a good option. During the day largemouth bass have been holding near deep sunken wood such as fallen tree tops. Soft plastic baits such as craws and worms are a good choice for this type of fishing as well as deep running crankbaits. Any crankbait that resembles a crawfish is a sure winner this time of the year. Crawfish are beginning to leave the shallows as cover disappears and waters cool down and head for deeper water.
Central Region Fisheries Manager Mark Staley sent in this report on recent fall trout stockings and a picture of a happy fisherman. Fall trout stocking is in full swing throughout Central MD. We stocked several impoundments, the Little Patuxent at Savage, and Patapsco at Sykesville and Daniels, last week. Many of the loads of trout are a mix of really nice rainbow and brown trout. The rainbow trout we stocked last week, averaged 12-13 inches and the browns were a bit larger and heavier, with some close to 5 lbs. This week, we plan on stocking Gr. Seneca Creek, Deer Creek, and Gunpowder to name a few spots.