Despite recent wind and rain, fishermen have been enjoying excellent fishing for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers. The striped bass are schooling up as water temperatures cool and when they meet up with bait fish in the form of small menhaden and bay anchovies leaving the tidal rivers; the stage is set for some excellent light tackle fishing. Most fishermen are either casting to breaking fish or jigging underneath them. Other fishermen are trolling with equally good results and now that some of the first large fall migrants have showed up in the lower bay the large parachutes and bucktails will become more prevalent in everyone’s trolling spread.
Freshwater fishermen are busy fishing for some of the trout that have been stocked in many of the trout waters throughout the state. Conditions have been good with good water flows, cool water temperatures and plenty of elbow room for fishing. Largemouth bass are feeling the urgency of fattening up for the winter and crawfish and small baitfish is what is on the menu. The security of thick grass cover is in decline with cooler water temperatures and predatory fish such as largemouth bass are waiting near the edges for a quick meal. Walleye and smallmouth bass are more active now as water temperatures cool and the upper Potomac and lower Susquehanna are just two of the good locations fishermen can expect to find them.
Chesapeake Bay Report
Many fishermen have been commenting that the fishing for striped bass could hardly be any better as many of them find plenty of fish before they even clear the tidal rivers when leaving the dock. The striped bass are chasing schools of bait that are pouring out of the rivers and into the bay; bay anchovies and small menhaden are the main items on the dinner menu although young of the year blueback and alewife herring are also beginning to migrate out of many of the tidal rivers. Jigging with metal, soft plastic jigs or bucktails under breaking fish or to fish holding deep is the most popular way to catch striped bass in the fall. Trolling can be an effective way to catch fish and many fishermen are breaking out the umbrella rigs and trolling near concentrations of fish or along channel edges. The fish tend to be deep this time of the year so inline weights are one of the more common ways to get to them.
Despite the cold water temperatures which are now down in the 55-degree range fishermen continue to find striped bass in the shallows during the early morning and evening hours. Casting surface poppers has been a very effective way to fish and certainly a lot of fun. Some fishermen are also trolling with light tackle in the shallows or close to them with bucktails or swim shad lures and doing quite well.
More and more fishermen are also trolling out along the shipping channel edges with large parachutes and bucktails looking for the first of the large fall migrant striped bass. A few have shown up in the lower bay region and it is hoped it will only be a matter of time before more fish move into Maryland waters and fishermen can enjoy catching them till the end of the 2009 season.
More than a few fishermen have been focusing on white perch lately in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers. The perch are schooling up in the deeper areas of the tidal rivers often over oyster bars or similar hard bottomed shoals. Jigging with metal and dropper flies are the most popular method of catching up a mess of fat white perch but bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or grass shrimp will also do the trick and is often the preferred method when taking youngsters out for a day of fishing.
The water temperatures in many of the regions lakes and tidal rivers have dipped to below the 60-degree mark now and these lower temperatures are having a profound effect on fishing. Grass beds are in decline and largemouth bass are losing valuable cover and forage areas thus concentrating around what little cover there is looking for food. Crawfish are doing their best to find new cover in some of the deeper areas and are vulnerable when they make the dash across open bottom. Small fish such as golden shiners are also finding fewer places to hide and they too are finding themselves in a bad spot when largemouth bass are on the prowl. Small crankbaits and soft craw type baits are good representations of crawfish and spinnerbaits are a good choice to imitate small baitfish.
Fishermen in the regions are enjoying the results of some generous stocking of trout in many of the regions trout waters. Cool water temperatures will ensure that these trout will be available for months to come when fishermen have the itch to go out and fish.