Maryland Fishing Report – Nov. 6
By Keith Lockwood
November has started off with lots of exciting fishing opportunities. Maryland Department of Natural Resources crews have stocked generous amounts of trout in waters throughout the state, as our fall stocking program comes to an end. Chesapeake anglers are enjoying fishing for striped bass and coastal anglers are experiencing excellent fishing for sea bass. Mike Glyphis was fishing 16 miles off Ocean City when he hooked up with a 5.6-pound gray triggerfish, which is now recognized as a new state record inching out the previous record of 5.2 pounds set in 2014.
Forecast Summary: Nov. 6 – Nov. 12:
The cool weather has reduced the water temperature in the Bay and rivers to the mid to upper 50s, and this cooling will continue through the next week. Warmest waters can be found in the bottom quarter of the water column. So while Bay fish have lots of cool, oxygenated waters to roam, and will be found chasing shallow schools of baitfish, also monitor the warmer, deeper waters near prime habitat areas for larger concentrations of baitfish and hungry gamefish. As always, make sure to focus on moving water periods for best results.
Bay surface salinities are largely back to normal conditions.
Susquehanna and the Potomac River flows are running slightly higher than normal but expect to be dropping this week. Expect normal flows from most of Maryland’s rivers and streams this week. There will be above average tidal currents Friday through next Tuesday as a result of the upcoming full moon Nov. 12.
Expect a minor reduction in water clarity from light algal blooms from the Bay Bridge down to the lower Chester, Patuxent and Patapsco rivers. In addition, there will be reduced water clarity from the Susquehanna Flats down to Tolchester as a result of some spill gates being opened at Conowingo Dam. On the Potomac, there is reduced water clarity from Indian Head down to Blossom Point due to runoff, and again from Colonial Beach down to Point Lookout due to a light algal bloom). To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps.
For the full weekly fishing conditions summary and more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the bay, be sure to check out Click Before You Cast. You can now get regular updates on Maryland’s waters and the creatures that call them home sent to your inbox with our new Eyes on the Bay newsletter. Sign up online.
Those enjoying the fun early morning striped bass action in the Conowingo Dam Pool and the lower Susquehanna River have been dealing with a fairly large water release. Earlier in the week, as many as eight gates were releasing excess water, making for turbid and high water level conditions. Conditions may improve later this week, but boaters will have to keep watch for floating debris.
At the pool and farther down the river, a mix of sub-legal striped bass with some above the 19-inch mark have been entertaining those casting topwater lures in the early morning hours. Along the edges of the flats the topwater action had been good, with enough larger striped bass to add some healthy spice to the action.
A mix of channel, blue, and flathead catfish abound in the lower Susquehanna River, and most every tidal river in the upper bay is holding channel catfish. Cut bait, clam snouts, or other inventive baits have been working well on simple bottom rigs.
The mouth of the Patapsco River and the Key Bridge have been providing exciting striped bass fishing. There is good fishing for those casting topwater lures along shoreline structure, and drifting live eels or jigging is popular at the bridge piers.
Several channel edges and drop-offs are good places to jig or troll. The steep channel edge from Sandy Point Light north to the mouth of the Magothy River is holding striped bass at about 30 feet on a fairly regular basis. Jigging over suspended fish when they can be spotted on a depth finder is a popular way to fish. Breaking fish will be part of the game this week and seagulls will guide you to large numbers of 2- to 3-year-old striped bass, which need another couple of years to be legal-sized; but often enough larger fish can be found lurking close to the bottom. Slicks are another sign of activity that should not be overlooked.
Soft plastic 6-inch to 8-inch jigs in pearl, white or chartreuse are popular, particularly those with sparkles and skirts. The mouth of the Chester River and Love Point have been good places to fish. Striped bass are also being found suspended over various shoals and knolls in the Bay.
Trolling the above areas is also a great way to fish. Most are placing inline weights in front of their umbrella rigs or single-rigged lures to get down to where the fish are holding. Bucktails dressed with sassy shads, spoons, swimshads, and hoses have all been popular lures.
White perch are steadily moving down the tidal rivers and into the Bay or the mouths of the rivers. The Bay Bridge piers and rock piles are a great place to jig with dropper rigs to catch the larger perch. Using bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm are also a good bet in the tidal rivers and the Bay Bridge.
Anglers are starting to catch yellow perch in some of the more popular tidal rivers this week on small minnows. The Chester, Middle, Northeast, and Susquehanna rivers are all good places to look for them.
There is plenty of striped bass action for those watching for diving seagulls and slicks, or catching a glimpse of suspended fish along channel edges on a depth finder. The Eastern Bay and the shipping channel edge from Bloody Point south past Buoy 83 has been a great place to find striped bass, as has the western side of the shipping channel and the mouth of the Choptank and Severn rivers. Water temperatures in the tidal rivers are now in the upper 50s, so bait in the form of bay anchovies, juvenile menhaden, and silversides are moving out of the rivers into the Bay, and being swept south by strong current flows along the steeper channel edges.
Jigging with soft plastics is a fall tradition. Soft plastics in the 6-inch to 10-inch range in chartreuse, pearl, or white combinations with a skirted jig head can get you front row tickets to this fishing event. A little squirt of menhaden paste in the slotted cavity of most soft plastics, along with a dip of red garlic, can go a long way to increasing enticement. The larger jigs may be a little too much for the large numbers of 2- to 3-year-old striped bass that have been chasing bay anchovies and other bait.
Trolling can be a good option along channel edges and wherever signs of fish can be found. Inline weights are a must to get lures down deep to where the larger striped bass are holding. A mix of bucktails dressed with sassy shads, spoons, swimshads, or hoses have been popular whether pulled alone or behind an umbrella rig. Trolling at slower speeds with large diving Rapala type lures can also be a good option, especially for small boats that can only troll with a couple of flat lines.
The early morning or evening topwater bite in the shallower areas of the tidal rivers is good this week. Casting topwater lures or jerkbaits is a fun way to catch striped bass in the lower sections of the tidal rivers. It affords a great way to get out for a little fishing without putting a lot of miles under the hull of your boat.
White perch offer plenty of good fishing in the tidal rivers and the oyster reefs near the mouths of the rivers. Deep-water piers are also great places to look for them. Dropper rigs with one or two small soft plastic jigs or a bottom rig baited with pieces of bloodworm will do the trick. A good depth finder will give away their presence when fishing out of a boat.
The Bill Burton Fishing Pier is a great place to intercept white perch coming down the Choptank River. The Talbot County side of the Bill Burton piers will be closed from November 12, 2019 to April 1, 2020. Access to the park will still be permitted from sunrise to sunset. The Dorchester County side of the pier will remain open from 7 a.m. to sunset.
Kent Narrows is another great place to seek white perch if you’re fishing from shore.
Some of the best striped bass fishing is occurring in the lower Potomac, St Marys and Patuxent rivers. Casting a variety of topwater lures, swimshads, and crankbaits near shoreline structure is accounting for a very nice grade of striped bass. The best action tends to occur during the morning and evening hours.
During much of the day, jigging with soft plastic jigs takes center stage along channel edges. Fish can be found suspended on depth finders or jigging with larger soft plastic jigs underneath surface breaking fish. There continue to be large numbers of small 2-3 year old striped bass chasing bait along channel edges on top along with the last of the season’s bluefish. Most of the bluefish tend to be near Point Lookout and the mouth of the Potomac.
Anglers who are jigging have also been catching speckled trout on both sides of the Bay. The Point Lookout area, St. Marys River, and the lower Patuxent are popular on the western side, while the region from Hoopers Island south to Pocomoke Sound are offering great speckled trout fishing on the eastern side. The grassy shallows, creeks, guts, slightly deeper holes, and stump fields are all excellent places to look for speckled trout. Soft plastics such as grubs in the 4-inch to 6-inch range with chartreuse, yellow, and pearl flashy sparkle combinations have been popular choices.
Striped bass are being found up the Potomac River far past the Route 301 Bridge, but by far the most numerous fish in the tidal Potomac are blue catfish. They can be found almost everywhere along the edges of channels and adjoining flats. The medium-sized ones make a great addition to anyone’s freezer for the winter months ahead.
White perch fishing opportunities are good in the tidal creeks and rivers. They can be found holding near some of the deeper shoreline structure areas and out in the deeper open waters. Working small spinnerbaits and jigs are a good tactic with light spinning tackle. Bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm also work well.
Note to anglers: Point Lookout State Park will not be open for night fishing from Nov. 12, 2019 to April 15, 2020. During this time, the fishing pier will be closed. Boaters will still be permitted to use the boat launch after sunset during that time but should contact the park to arrange access.
The fall trout stocking program made one last flourish last week as many locations throughout the central, southern and western regions were stocked. While the fall stocking program is now done, these trout will be around for a while and many of the pond locations make a great place to take younger anglers for some fun. Find the best locations near you on our trout stocking website.
Many of the delayed harvest, catch-and-release or fly-fishing-only trout management waters offer wonderful fall and winter fishing opportunities. Fly fishermen will be drifting nymphs or casting streamers. Spin casters will do well with small spinners and spoons.
This is a great time of year to fish at Deep Creek Lake. A mix of large yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, and chain pickerel can be found in the shallower grassy coves feeding on bluegill sunfish fry. They offer excellent fishing when fishing out of small boats or canoes with various lures or live minnows.
In the tidal Potomac River and other tidal rivers throughout Maryland, largemouth bass can be found holding in transition areas between drop-offs and shallower waters waiting to intercept baitfish and crayfish moving to deeper winter cover. Drop shot rigs with soft plastic or stick worms, grubs, and small crankbaits are all good choices. Sunken wood or any kind of cover in these areas are very special places to target. The outside edges of declining grass or spatterdock fields are good places to cast spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, or lipless crankbaits. The same pattern can be seen in large reservoirs and ponds.
Crappie are schooled up near deep structure this week and fishing with small jigs or minnows under a slip bobber is a great way to target them. Bridge piers, sunken brush, fallen treetops, small dam faces, and marina docks are places to find them.
Northern snakeheads are quickly losing their summer cover in the form of thick grass and are compelled to move into more open waters. This is a great opportunity for fishermen to cast chatterbaits over open water or to fish large minnows behind a bobber or popping cork. The tidal Potomac and Nanticoke and rivers and creeks of lower Dorchester County rare some of the best places to fish for them. One does not need a boat — simple fishing from bridges or shore will put you in the front seat for great fishing.
Chain pickerel are also losing their summertime cover and will be found holding near sunken wood along the shorelines of lakes, ponds and tidal rivers and creeks. Chain pickerel love cold water and will be very active during the colder months. A variety of lures will get their attention and they make for some exciting action.
As cooler water temperatures prevail, many of the summer species are heading to more southern waters. Surf fishermen are still catching some small bluefish but most have their sights set on striped bass. Bottom rigs baited with cut baits of mullet or menhaden tend to be the most popular baits when fishing for striped bass.
Flounder are moving out of the coastal bays and moving through the inlet to offshore waters. The channels leading to the inlet offer some of the best chances to connect with them. Larger baits of live finger mullet or other small fish will attract the attention of the largest flounder, as will large soft plastic Gulp baits.
Tautog are taking up residence along the jetties, bridge piers, and bulkheads of the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area this week. Sand fleas or pieces of green crab make the best baits and the top of flood tides or bottom end of ebbtide towards slack often offer the best fishing opportunities. Casting bucktails and jigs around the inlet has been a great way to catch striped bass lately. Many fail to measure up to the 28-inch minimum but offer a lot of fun fishing. There is also some striped bass action taking place near the Route 90 Bridge.
Perhaps the most exciting news is the excellent sea bass fishing out at the wreck and reef sites. Most captains are reporting successive boat limits of chunky sea bass every day. They also report that this usually occurs at their first stop, and that they’ve been fishing some of the sites closer to shore.
The offshore canyons are offering up catches of swordfish for those probing the depths. At least one bigeye tuna was also caught recently.
“Angling is a tightly woven fabric of moral, social and philosophical threads which are not easily rent by the violent climate of our times.” — A.J. McClaine
Click Before You Cast is written by Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham.
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