Maryland Fishing Report – November 30
If you dress warmly there are plenty of fishing opportunities this week. There is good fishing for striped bass along with freshwater species like largemouth bass. Offshore in the Atlantic Ocean, fishing for sea bass is excellent with everyone onboard catching a limit.
Forecast Summary: November 30 – December 6:
Maryland can expect unstable early December weather conditions this week with a chance of rain Wednesday, Saturday and again on Monday and Tuesday. Expect windy conditions Wednesday and Thursday with 15-20 knot winds and higher gusts.
Chesapeake Bay surface water temperatures are hovering in the low 50s with the coolest waters found in the upper Bay and upper Potomac River near the Woodrow Wilson bridge. The warmer Bay waters are found from Gooses Reef south to the mouth of the Potomac River. Maryland river water temperatures are currently in the mid 40s.
Cool conditions should keep surface water temperatures slowly inching downward, resulting in gamefish continuing their movement out of river mouths and down the Bay.
The Maryland portion of the Bay has a well-mixed water column with suitable oxygen conditions from surface to bottom. There are slightly warmer and saltier bottom water temperatures, so anglers may want to scan these deeper channel areas. Gamefish will be following baitfish and moving towards overwintering areas in the deeper, warmer bottom waters of the main Bay near such structure as channel edges, underwater points, hard bottom, and drop-offs.
Expect average water clarity for most Maryland portions of the Bay and rivers. To see the latest water clarity conditions, check Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps on the Maryland DNR website.
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.
The upper Bay is cooling down quickly and the striped bass are heading for the deepest waters. Much of the striped bass fishing in the upper Bay is focused on fishing waters up to 40 feet deep in the channels, at the channel edges, and near deep structure. The shipping channel edges in the main part of the Bay and the channels leading out of the major tidal rivers are the best places to look for striped bass this week.
The area around the deeper bridge piers at the Key Bridge at the mouth of the Patapsco River has been a good place for live-lining eels or jigging. The channels leading out of the Magothy and Chester rivers are also good places to look for striped bass. Jigging is popular and when the fish are holding this deep it can take soft plastics and metal jigs of an ounce or more to stay close to the bottom. Braid line is a distinct advantage in sensitivity and less drag when drifting.
Trolling is a very good option for striped bass fishing this week. It will take heavy inline weights to get tandem rigged bucktails or umbrella rigs down to where the fish are suspended close to the bottom along the steeper edges of the channels. Braided line helps with less water drag when trolling, and white and chartreuse sassy shads and bucktails are popular choices for lures.
White perch have also moved into deeper waters at the mouths of the tidal rivers and in the Bay. They tend to prefer hard-bottom areas and to reach them it will take several ounces of lead when fishing with a bottom rig or dropper rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm.
A mix of channel and blue catfish are as ready as ever to entertain anglers who fish for them with cut menhaden or a variety of other bait choices. At times catfish will be caught when not targeting them, as they have a habit of chasing down crankbaits, chatterbaits, and paddletails. Flathead catfish are available at the Conowingo Dam pool.
Striped bass can be found holding at the Bay Bridge in the deepest waters of bridge piers, rock piles, and concrete abutments. Once striped bass are located with a depth finder, jigging is a good way to fish for them, although anglers may notice that they may be hesitant to bite. Water temperatures are hovering at the 50-degree mark, and once they descend into the 40s striped bass may stop feeding.
Both sides of the shipping channel, from Thomas Point and the mouth of Eastern Bay south to Breezy Point and the False Channel, are good places to find striped bass suspended close to the bottom along the steeper channel edges. They tend to be holding in depths from 20 feet to 40 feet – the shallower depths are at the mouths of the tidal rivers and the deeper waters are along the shipping channel.
Depending on winds and currents it can take an ounce or more in the form of soft plastic or metal jigs to get down to where the fish are holding. Braided line can be a real asset for sensitivity and less line drag. Trolling is a very good option, but it will take some heavy tackle and heavy inline weights to get tandem rigged bucktails or umbrella rigs to depths up to 40 feet. White and chartreuse are popular colors for bucktails and sassy shads.
White perch are now holding in the deepest waters at the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers and out in the Bay. They tend to prefer oyster reefs and similar hard bottom. The deep channel area off Matapeake and the rock piles at the Bay Bridge tend to be good places to look for them. Heavy bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm or dropper flies is the best way to reach them.
The lower Potomac River continues to be a major draw for anglers in the lower Bay. Anglers are allowed to keep two striped bass larger than 20 inches per day from the tidal Potomac River. The striped bass are holding along the main channel edges on the Virginia and Maryland sides from the Route 301 Bridge south to the mouth of the river.
The lower Patuxent River and both sides of the shipping channel are also holding striped bass along the channel edges. They are suspended about 25 feet to 35 feet below the surface Cedar Point, Cove Point, and the main channel in Tangier Sound are also holding striped bass. Additionally, there is still some shallow water action in Tangier and Pocomoke sounds where anglers are casting paddletails with good success.
Anglers will need to use jigs of one ounce or more to reach the deep-water fish, depending on current and wind conditions. Those trolling umbrella rigs or tandem rigged bucktails will need to employ heavy inline weights to reach the depths where the fish are holding. White and chartreuse are popular colors for lures.
White perch are holding close to the bottom at the mouths of the Patuxent, Potomac, and Nanticoke rivers and in Tangier Sound. Once the fish are located on a depth finder it will take a couple ounces of lead to reach the 40-foot depths. Bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm are a popular way to catch them.
Anglers at Deep Creek Lake are finding plenty of good fishing this week. Walleye are moving into relatively shallow areas along rocky shores and providing good fishing. Casting small jerkbaits, crankbaits, and grubs are good ways to target them. Largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are holding in deeper waters near any kind of structure they can find. Soft craw jigs, crankbaits, wacky rigged stick worms, and tubes are good choices for lures. Crappie are schooled up in deep water near structure and bridge piers; a small minnow or marabou jig under a bobber works well for this type of fishing. Northern pike are holding at the mouths of various coves.
Trout fishing is good this week in the special catch-and-release waters that cater to fly fishing or artificial lures. Cooler water temperatures are to the trout’s liking, and they survive catch-and-release much better in colder water temperatures. There are still some trout that were stocked last month in the put-and-take areas, especially in ponds and lakes.
Largemouth bass are providing plenty of action this week in the freshwater impoundments and tidal waters. They are holding along drop-offs and channel edges and will stick like glue to any submerged structure on the bottom. Sunken wood, rocks, grass, and tree stumps all fit the bill. Small baits are in order for this type of fishing. Craw jigs, grubs, small crankbaits, and wacky rigged stick worms are all good choices for bait. Fish them very slowly along the bottom.
Channel and blue catfish are providing plenty of entertainment in the tidal rivers. They can be found in the channel areas and the blue catfish are beginning to move up the tidal rivers to the middle and upper sections. Most any kind of cut bait will work, but menhaden tends to top the list. The lower Susquehanna River holds a lot of blue cats and channel cats. The Chester River has a large population of blue catfish as do the Potomac, Patuxent, Choptank, and Nanticoke rivers.
Fishing for chain pickerel is good in a variety of locations. They can be found in reservoirs, lakes. and ponds, holding near fallen treetops or any sunken wood, feeder creeks, and structure. In the tidal rivers they can be found along shorelines near sunken wood. They will pounce on almost any lure, but paddletails with a single hook is one of the best options when it comes to unhooking fish and releasing them undamaged.
Surf fishing at the Ocean City and Assateague beaches is now focused on large baits of menhaden for striped bass. Anglers are catching enough striped bass to keep their interest up; a percentage of the fish fall short of the required 28-inch length but legal fish are being caught. Clear-nosed skates are proving to be pesky bait stealers so bring plenty of extra bait.
At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, anglers are catching striped bass by casting soft plastic jigs or bucktails. A few anglers are also having success drifting cut baits in the current. Tautog are being caught along the jetty rocks, bulkheads, and bridge piers on sand fleas.
Fishing for sea bass continues to be excellent this week at the reef and wreck sites. Limit catches are common. The flounder have moved farther offshore but anglers are catching a few porgies now and then.
“I will never tire of what fishing gives me. It puts me in touch with another of nature’s species, in beautiful surroundings that are as old as time. This is where I want to be, that is how I’m renewed.” – Joan Wulff
Click Before You Cast is written by Tidewater Ecosystem Assessment Director Tom Parham.