ANNAPOLIS, Md. – There is a wide variety of fishing opportunities this week for Maryland anglers. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has stocked trout in many put-and-take waters, including ponds that are ideal for our younger anglers. Striped bass fishing is at its zenith in the Chesapeake Bay, and extra-large crabs are being caught in the Bay and tidal rivers.
Forecast Summary: November 2 – November 8:
The first full week of November will provide sunny, moderate weather with warming temperatures through the week. Chesapeake Bay surface water temperatures are holding in the low 60s and should remain stable this upcoming week. Maryland rivers are holding in the mid-50s.
Bay waters are well mixed from surface to bottom resulting in good oxygen conditions and uniform temperatures throughout the water column. This will result in fish being able to move throughout the water column in many Bay areas as they feed on baitfish leaving the cooler river mouths.
Expect average water clarity for most Maryland portions of the Bay and rivers. However, expect poor water clarity from algal blooms in the Back, Bush, and North East rivers. To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps on the Maryland DNR website.
As always, 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
At the Conowingo Dam pool, striped bass fishing has been a slow pick at best during the early morning hours. Fortunately, flathead catfish are providing plenty of action for those who show up with surf fishing outfits, waders, and an ability to cast large baits into the turbine wash of the dam pool. Most of these flathead catfish are large so it takes heavy gear to control them in the swirling currents.
Blue catfish can be found in the Susquehanna River, the upper Bay, and surrounding tidal rivers, along with channel catfish. Many of the blue catfish are becoming large and anglers are urged to fish for them, and remove them from the Bay even if they are too large for eating. As they become larger, they have insatiable appetites for valuable adult white perch, yellow perch, river herring, juvenile striped bass, freshwater mussels, and blue crabs.
Elsewhere in the upper Bay, striped bass fishing is good this week. Most anglers are jigging to schools of striped bass holding at the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers and main channels in the Bay. Soft plastic jigs tend to be a favorite, but metal jigs also work well. Bait in the form of juvenile menhaden are moving out of the tidal rivers as water temperatures decline. The mouths of the Patapsco, Magothy, and Chester rivers are excellent places to look for schools of striped bass this week.
Trolling for striped bass is a good option this week along the main channel edges in the Bay and at the mouths of the tidal rivers. Many are trolling single or tandem bucktails dressed with twister tails or sassy shads in the shallower waters near the river mouths. When striped bass can be spotted on depth finders holding deep, trolling umbrella rigs and tandem bucktails behind inline weights is the best way to get to them.
White perch are moving to the deeper waters at the mouths of the tidal rivers and into the Bay. They tend to be holding deep over oyster beds or knolls, and can be caught on bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm or dropper rigs outfitted with small flies or jigs. Yellow perch are moving up the tidal rivers and can be caught by fishing close to the bottom with small minnows, or by casting small lures.
Anglers are still poking around the Bay Bridge this week, but with so many striped bass fishing options, only a few boats can be seen at any time. Jigging near the bridge pier bases, the rock piles, and the sewer pipe can still be a good way to fish. Trolling single or tandem rigged bucktails along the edges of the sewer pipe can be a good option.
Striped bass are spread throughout the middle Bay and present many different fishing opportunities. Jigging is always the most popular light-tackle way to fish for striped bass in the fall, when they school up along channel edges in the Bay and at the mouths of the tidal rivers. Breaking fish are being encountered, but often the striped bass can be found holding close to the bottom in about 20 feet of water. Slicks and depth finder screens often point the way to striped bass holding deep. Soft plastic and metal jigs are the lures of choice, and a good current is important, especially an ebbing tide that will cause baitfish to be swept along.
Trolling shallow near tidal river mouths and Bay shorelines with single or tandem rigged bucktails is a good option for those wishing to keep things simple with a couple of flat lines. Striped bass that are holding deep will require inline weights to get bucktails, spoons, and umbrella rigs down to where the fish are holding close to the bottom.
Schools of striped bass are being found throughout the middle Bay this week, but several locations are standouts. The area around Poplar Island and Buoy 83, Eastern Bay, Thomas Point, the mouth of the Choptank and False Channel area, and the mouth of the Severn are all excellent places to start your search for striped bass.
White perch are moving to deeper waters this week near the mouths of the tidal rivers, often in waters 20 feet to 40 feet deep and holding close to the bottom. Bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm or peeler crab are a popular way to fish for them, while some anglers prefer dropper rigs.
Striped bass can be found in many locations in the lower Bay, but the lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers are standouts this week. The Potomac River near St. Clements Island and the mouth of the Wicomico River are popular places to jig and troll for striped bass. Fishing in the Potomac has the bonus of allowing anglers to keep two striped bass more than 20 inches in length per day. The lower Patuxent has also been a standout for those jigging and trolling.
Breaking striped bass are being encountered throughout the lower Bay, and casting jigs is a fun and exciting way to fish for them. Jigging underneath is also a great option and some anglers are being surprised by hooking up with large red drum.
Trolling is a good option; single or tandem bucktails can be trolled as flat lines along the shallower areas along the shorelines of the tidal rivers and bay shores. When striped bass are revealed by locating slicks or marks on a depth finder screen, heavy inline weights are needed to get umbrella rigs, spoons, or bucktails down to where the fish are holding close to the bottom in waters 40 feet deep or more.
Striped bass are providing plenty of fun near structure in the Bay and the lower sections of the tidal rivers this week. Casting jigs are favored in some of the deeper waters, and casting paddletails, poppers, and jerkbaits in shallow waters is always fun. On the eastern side of the Bay, speckled trout and red drum can be part of the mix. Red drum are also being caught by anglers drifting peeler crab baits on ebbing tides at the mouths of tidal creeks.
Blue catfish are providing a lot of nonstop fishing action in the Potomac, Patuxent, and Nanticoke rivers this week. Anglers are encouraged to fish for them and remove them from wherever they are caught. There is an invasive blue catfish tournament in Caroline County on Saturday, November 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Federalsburg Marina Park on the Marshyhope Creek. Besides a fishing tournament for adults and youth, there will be food trucks, blue catfish fileting demonstrations, and other fun activities. Learn more and purchase tickets online by searching “Madness on the Marshyhope.”
White perch have made their way to the deeper areas at the mouth of several of the region’s tidal rivers, often as deep as 40 feet. They tend to hold over clean bottom such as oyster bars and hard-bottom areas, and will stay there throughout the winter months. Dropping bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm or peeler crab tend to be the best way to target them.
Recreational crabbers are making up for lost time this week by catching extra-large, 6.5-inch to 8-inch blue crabs that are heavy and full of meat. There are also reports of some large 8-inch crabs being light, and unless they fatten up quickly, they’ll never survive the winter. Crabbers report no sooks but plenty of small crabs, when crabbing in 20 feet to 25 feet of water. There have been good reports from the Gunpowder, the Magothy, and tidal rivers from Kent Island south.
The DNR fall trout stocking program is winding down and put-and-take anglers are enjoying the generous stockings that have occurred. Stocking personnel have had a difficult time in some of the smaller western region trout streams due to low flows, which has meant reduced numbers in some cases. The larger waters are flowing well, and water quality is good in the ponds that were stocked, so good fishing should continue until the pre-season stockings begin in a couple of months.
Carroll Creek in the town of Frederick was recently stocked with trout. This creek that flows through the town park offers an excellent opportunity for our younger anglers under the age of 16, with good parking and safe access.
Deep Creek Lake is offering excellent fishing for a variety of species right now. Most vacationers are gone and boat traffic on the lake is minimal, so anglers can fish in peace. Largemouth bass are being found in transition areas between declining shallow grass, and also in deeper waters where they are feeding on baitfish and crayfish that are moving to find cover for the winter months. Jigs, grubs, and spinnerbaits are all good choices for baits. Walleye are being caught along deep-water rocky edges on grubs and small jigs. Northern pike are being caught on large spinnerbaits, spoons, and jerkbaits in the larger coves.
The upper Potomac River is fishing well for a mix of smallmouth bass and walleye. Floating leaves and loose grass can be a problem fouling lines, and the clear waters require light lines and long casts. Small crankbaits, grubs, and tubes can be good choices for fishing current breaks, submerged ledges, and near large boulders.
Throughout the ponds, reservoirs, and tidal waters across Maryland, largemouth bass are providing good fishing opportunities. They are very active in the cooler waters and feel the urge to feed aggressively and build up body stores for the winter months. They can be found in shallower waters near declining grass, submerged brush, and wood, but the transition areas between the shallow and deeper waters can be one of the best places to find them. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and crankbaits are good choices for this area and grubs, craw jigs, and soft plastics can be good choices to work near deeper sunken wood.
Northern snakeheads are losing their summer cover of thick grass and can be found holding near shoreline sunken brush and wood. Casting white paddletails is one of the best ways to target them. Fishing large minnows under a bobber is another good way to fish for them in more open waters. The sunny side of river shores can often draw them to warmer waters during the afternoon hours.
Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays
Surf anglers are catching a mix of kingfish, spot, and flounder this week. The kingfish and spot are being caught on pieces of bloodworm, the flounder on squid and strip baits of spot. A few large red drum are being caught and released by those using large menhaden baits, on which striped bass are also being caught. As can be expected, there are plenty of clear-nose skates in the surf.
At the inlet, a mix of tautog and sheepshead are being caught near the jetties on sand fleas. Flounder are moving through the inlet on their way to offshore grounds; a proven tactic is casting Gulp baits or squid strips across the current and bottom-bouncing the baits as they swing in the current. Striped bass are also being caught near the jetty rocks and the Route 50 bridge piers by casting soft plastic jigs and bucktails.
The flounder are exiting the back bay areas, so the channels leading to the inlet provide the best place to fish for them by drifting with live spot or fresh silversides, Gulp baits, finger mullet, juvenile menhaden, or traditional baits of squid and minnows. Striped bass are being caught by the Route 90 and Verrazano bridge piers; most are below the 28-inch minimum but provide plenty of fun catch-and-release action.
Fishing for sea bass is excellent this week at the offshore wreck and reef sites, and limit catches are not uncommon. Anglers are also catching a mix of flounder, porgies, and the occasional triggerfish. The anglers headed out to the canyons are fishing for swordfish and blueline tilefish.
A new state record smooth dogfish was caught off Ocean City recently, which beat a record that had been held since 1994. Fay Ganster of Pennsylvania caught an 18-pound smooth dogfish on October 22 near the Isle of Wight shoal, using a chunk of cut bluefish as bait.
“The odds of catching a trophy-class fish are inversely proportional to how much you deserve to catch one.” – Larry Dahlberg
Click Before You Cast is written by Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham.
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