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Ivanna Harshman enjoyed a nice day fishing from her kayak and caught this summer flounder. Photo courtesy of Ivanna Harshman
Pleasant weather returns this week, making it a wonderful time to go out and do some fishing – don’t miss the opportunity while so many species are available and active.
Forecast Summary: October 4 – October 10:
The upcoming week should provide moderate temperatures that cool as the week progresses with windy conditions on Saturday. This should result in Bay surface water temperatures continuing to cool from the current 70 degrees. Bay salinity remains above average. The windy, cool conditions greatly increased oxygen conditions with all areas now recording suitable fishing depths down to the bottom. Check our map of areas of low oxygen to help determine the maximum fishing depth in your favorite area.
Expect average flows in Maryland rivers and streams all week. There will be above average tidal currents next Tuesday as a result of the upcoming October 14 new moon. Expect average water clarity for most of Maryland’s Bay, rivers, and streams. To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps.
As always, the best fishing areas could be further refined by intersecting them with underwater points, hard bottom, drop-offs, and large schools of baitfish.
For more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the Bay, be sure to check out Eyes on the Bay’s Click Before You Cast.
Upper Chesapeake Bay
Brandon Tammaro caught this nice 14-inch white perch recently. Photo courtesy of Brandon Tammaro
Last week’s weather brought water temperatures down to 70 degrees, and with sunny and warm weather in the forecast, fishing in the upper Bay promises to be good this week. The Conowingo Dam continues to be on an afternoon and evening power generation schedule.
The lower Susquehanna River close to the dam is a great place to wade during the morning to cast a variety of lures for striped bass and smallmouth bass. As the river widens and becomes deeper, fishing from kayaks and small boats becomes more common and jigging soft plastics along channel edges becomes the most popular way to fish for striped bass. The channel edges from the Susquehanna Flats to the Sands Cove edge on the north side of Spesutie Island are good places to fish for striped bass.
Anglers are still using spot and eels for live-lining near Pooles Island, the mouth of the Patapsco River, the Key Bridge, and at times the sewer pipe above the Bay Bridge with good results, but many are beginning to transition to trolling and jigging. Trolling umbrella rigs with spoons or traditional sassy shads along channel edges with inline weights is becoming more popular as Bay waters cool. The channel edges at the Triple Buoys, Patapsco are target locations this week.
Jigging is coming into its own as fall patterns begin to develop. Water temperatures in the tidal rivers need to fall another 5 to 8 degrees before young of the year menhaden begin their exodus out into the Bay. Striped bass will gather along the steeper edges where currents are stronger, and baitfish get swept along. The Patapsco River near the Key Bridge and Fort Carroll as well as the Love Point rocks are good places to jig with soft plastics this week.
Fishing for white perch remains good in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers. Casting small spinnerbaits, Roadrunners, Beetle-Spins, and small jigs along shoreline structure is a great way to fish this week as shallow waters cool. In deeper waters, peeler crab, grass shrimp, or bloodworms work well on bottom rigs. Spot are still being found in hard-bottom shoals for anglers fishing with pieces of bloodworm.
Fishing for blue catfish remains excellent this week in the lower Susquehanna and many of the upper Bay tidal rivers.
Anglers are anxiously waiting for fall patterns to develop where baitfish will begin to migrate out of the tidal rivers into waiting schools of striped bass. We’re not quite there yet, water temperatures need to drop into the mid to low 60s first. In the meantime, trolling and jigging along major channel edges and fishing the shallower waters of the tidal rivers and bay shores are popular.
Trolling umbrella rigs behind heavy inline weights to get down to the depths where striped bass are suspended is becoming more popular this week. Umbrella rigs are being rigged with spoons or sassy shads with equally good results. A few of the more popular channel edges include from Bloody Point, south past Buoy 83, Sharps Island, and the False Channel. Thomas Point south to Breezy Point and Parkers Creek is also a good edge to check. Bluefish are being caught now and then but their numbers have diminished since last week. Anglers are also reporting good luck trolling bucktails dressed with twistertails inside the tidal rivers along shallower channel edges.
Fishing the shallower waters of the tidal rivers and Bay shores is a productive and fun way to fish for striped bass this week. Cooler water temperatures have been inviting the striped bass, puppy drum and speckled trout to explore the shallower waters in search of food. The mornings and evenings offer the best fishing opportunities for those casting poppers, paddletails, twitchbaits, and jerkbaits. The lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers including the Severn, South, West, and Choptank, plus the Eastern Bay, are providing good fishing this week. Along the Bay shores, the rocks at Poplar Island, Thomas Point, and the rocks in front of the Naval Academy offer good fishing.
Fishing for white perch is excellent along the shores of the tidal rivers and bay shores for those casting small spinnerbaits, Roadrunners, Beetle-Spins, and spinners near shoreline structure. Small red drum are a recent bonus. Fishing small minnows under a bobber is also a fun way to fish the edges of shoreline structure. Using grass shrimp, peeler crab, or pieces of bloodworm on a simple bottom rig near dock piers or oyster reefs is another good option.
The lower Bay is offering some of the best variety for Maryland anglers this week. Bluefish can still be found there along with large sheepshead, speckled trout, striped bass, large and small red drum, and puppy drum – those that fall in the legal size range of 18 inches to 27 inches. Anglers bottom fishing are catching spot, white perch, and sea bass.
Christopher Meade caught this nice sea bass while jigging at the mouth of the Patuxent River. Photo courtesy of Christopher Meade
Trolling for a mix of striped bass and bluefish is popular this week along channel edges at the mouth of the Potomac River and Bay shipping channels. Most are trolling umbrella rigs or a mix of spoons and surgical tube lures behind planers.
The shallower waters along the edges of the region’s tidal rivers and Bay shores are providing a wide variety of fishing success. Striped bass, bluefish, and puppy drum within the slot size or smaller are common and speckled trout can be part of the mix. The morning and evening hours are providing the best fishing times for those fishing out of kayaks or small boats. Poppers are a fun way to fish for striped bass and paddletails are very popular for a variety of fish.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists are looking to better understand the striped bass recreational fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and are asking for your help. Biologists have set up an online survey site where anglers can enter fishing data from a smartphone or computer. All you need to record is the length of the striped bass you catch and whether you kept or released them. On the department website, search for volunteer angler surveys to find the striped bass survey and others that may interest you. For ease of use, you can also access the surveys through the free AccessDNR app.
Jigging with soft plastics or metal jigs is a good option when fish can be spotted suspended near structure. This can be especially true when large red drum show up as heavy marks on depth finders. Anglers will attest that you never know what is down there when you drop a bait in the water.
Bottom fishing for spot at the mouth of the Patuxent River continues to provide good fishing this week but some anglers believe the spot are showing signs of thinning out in numbers. Spot are also being caught in Tangier and Pocomoke sounds on pieces of bloodworm. White perch can be found in the tidal rivers and many anglers are catching them on small lures cast along shorelines during the morning and evening. Others are catching them in deeper waters on grass shrimp or bloodworm baits.
Recreational crabbers continue to do well in all regions of the bay, catches can range from a half-bushel to a full bushel per outing. The best blue crabs are coming from waters between 10 feet and 15 feet deep this week. This is a great time of the year to catch some heavy crabs that are full of meat.
Mike Karn holds up a big tiger musky he caught and released recently. Photo courtesy of Mike Karn
It is time for put-and-take trout anglers to shake the dust off their trout fishing tackle and bait and get ready for the fall trout stocking program that has just begun. Stocking locations are posted shortly after they occur and there may be adjustments due to low water conditions in some streams.
Cooling water temperatures in tidal and nontidal waters are encouraging many species of freshwater fish to become more active, feeding for longer periods during daylight hours. As shallow water grass cover diminishes, prey species like crayfish and small baitfish will seek cover in deeper waters. Largemouth and smallmouth bass will often be found in transition zones where they can intercept this prey headed for deeper waters. The last grass beds that are in intermediate depths will often be a haven for largemouth bass, and these are good places to target with heavily weighted soft plastic baits. Grubs and wacky rigged worms can be good baits to use around sunken wood and rocks for largemouth bass. Smallmouth bass can often be found near current breaks and submerged ledges, and they can be targeted with grubs, small crankbaits, and swimbaits.
Other species of fish such as freshwater striped bass, chain pickerel, northern pike, and tiger muskellunge also are responding to cooler water temperatures and are beginning to provide some exciting fishing opportunities.
Fishing for northern snakeheads continues to be very good as they become more accessible as thick grass beds decline. Anglers are enjoying good fishing in the tributaries of the Potomac River; the Patuxent, Patapsco, Bush, and Middle rivers; and the lower Eastern Shore tidal rivers and creeks. Chatterbaits and white paddletails are excellent baits to use.
Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays
Mary Harshman holds up a nice flounder she caught recently. Photo courtesy of Mary Harshman
The Atlantic Ocean surf is finally calming down and anglers report catching a mix of spot, kingfish, flounder, and small bluefish. At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, sheepshead are providing some exciting fishing near the jetty rocks and bridge piers, anglers are using sand fleas and peeler crab for bait. Striped bass are being caught on paddletails and soft plastic jigs in and around the inlet this week.
The coastal bay waters are beginning to clear up from last week’s stormy winds and flounder fishing is good this week. The channels leading towards the inlet will be a good place to target flounder right now. Flounder will be leaving the back bay waters in the next month and pouring through the inlet as they head for offshore waters.
Black sea bass season is closed and will reopen on October 10, with a 15 fish limit per day for each angler and a minimum length of 13 inches. Tautog season is open with a two fish per day limit at 16 inches until October 31. It will reopen from November 2 through December 31, with a 4 fish per day limit at 16 inches. The few reports from the offshore waters near the canyons report there are still some small dolphin around and there were also reports of white marlin being caught and released.
“It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses it had it coming.” – John Steinbeck
Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Keith Lockwood, fisheries biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Click Before You Cast is written by Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham.
This report is now available on your Amazon Echo device — just ask Alexa to “open Maryland Fishing Report.”