This fishing report will close out 2017, but there are plenty of fishing opportunities for all regions of Maryland through the winter. The preseason stocking of trout has begun and will pick up pace in January and February. Yellow perch are moving into the upper reaches of the tidal rivers while crappie, chain pickerel, catfish and walleye will stay active. The months of January and February often present the best opportunity to catch trophy-sized tautog off Ocean City.
Happy Holidays from all of the staff at Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fishing and Boating Services; enjoy the best of family and friends through this wonderful time of the year, and enjoy the great Maryland outdoors together.
Before we get into this week’s fishing report, I wanted to remind everyone that they can submit their own fishing reports and phots to the Maryland Angler’s Log. To post a report, please email your name, hometown, photos, location information and additional content for your report. All information is optional, but encouraged. New reports are posted daily during the busy fishing seasons.
The windows of opportunity allowed by Old Man Winter were sparse last week, thanks to strong winds. There have been a few days of calm winds and mild temperatures lately, making for some fun fishing trips out on the Chesapeake Bay in search of striped bass. As most anglers know, December 20 is the last day to fish for striped bass in the Maryland portion of the bay until the Spring Trophy Season opens on April 21, 2018. However, all Maryland portions of Chesapeake Bay are open to catch and release striped bass fishing only through December 31. Also, the Virginia portion of the bay and the Potomac River are open through December 31.
Bay surface water temperatures are now in the mid to low 40s with slightly warmer water at 40-foot depths. This is where you will find striped bass suspended close to the bottom. The main shipping channels in the upper bay have been the place to be trolling or jigging and the 40-foot depth tends to be the sweet spot. Heavy inline weights are in order to get tandem rigged swimshads and parachutes or spoons down to where the fish are holding. Some anglers are also using their planer boards to cover more water and different depths when targeting the large fall migrant fish.
The Bay Bridge piers, abutments and rock piles continue to hold a lot of large white perch and striped bass of varying sizes at 40-foot or deeper depths. Jigging has been the way to fish here and more than a few anglers will finish out the season at this spot. South of the bridge and through the middle bay region most of the action has been taking place along the western edge of the shipping channel from Thomas Point south past Breezy Point. Inline weights have been taking lures down to the 40-foot channel edge, and some of the larger lures intended for the large fall migrant striped bass that have arrived are being pulled at various depths. Large spoons and parachutes have been two of the more effective lures to use for the larger striped bass.
In the lower bay region striped bass in the 20-inch to 32-inch size have been fairly plentiful along channel edges on both sides of the bay. Trolling has been very popular, especially when on a boat with a heated cabin this time of the year. A mix of parachutes, swimshads, spoons and surge tube lures are being pulled behind inline weights and umbrella rigs. Most everyone is putting larger lures in their trolling spreads in hopes of hooking up with one of the large fall migrant striped bass that have been frequenting the region from Tangier Sound to the Potomac River.
Anglers in the lower bay region till have some fun fishing opportunities through the end of the month. The approach channel in the lower Potomac has been a great place to troll large diving crankbaits and a mix of large spoons and parachutes for the large fall migrant striped bass. Those looking for the resident striped bass in the 20-inch to 28-inch size range have been trolling medium-sized lures along the channel edge from St. Georges Island south to Point Lookout. Fish can also be found suspended along these channel edges with depth finders, and jigging with soft plastics in the 8-inch to 10-inch size range has been effective. Soft plastics in pearl or chartreuse combinations have been the ticket.
White perch are holding deep over good oyster bottom in many of the larger tidal rivers and channels in the bay. Since they are so deep, a bottom rig baited with pieces of bloodworm tends to be the best way to catch them.