Maryland Fishing Report – October 25

Photo of man in a kayak holding a fish

Eric Packard enjoyed a day fishing for snakeheads in his kayak. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard

Recent chilly temperatures are causing anglers to replace their sneakers and T-shirts with rubber footwear and flannel shirts. Cooler water temperatures have fish in a very active feeding mode, which makes for great fishing.

Forecast Summary: October 25 – October 31:

The upcoming week should provide cooling temperatures as the week progresses with low winds. Bay surface water temperatures continue their decline down to the low 60s. Salinity is average and there are suitable oxygen conditions down to the bottom in all areas of Maryland’s portion of the Bay.

Expect average flows in Maryland rivers and streams all week. There will be above average tidal currents all week as a result of the upcoming full moon on October 28. 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

Anglers are enjoying good fishing action for a mix of striped and smallmouth bass in the boulder-strewn sections of the lower Susquehanna River below the Conowingo Dam pool. It is a strange mix, and it would be difficult to find another fishing location that would provide opportunities for both species. Most anglers are casting soft plastic swimbaits and jigs as well as twitchbaits, jerkbaits, and crankbaits in the deep-water pockets, submerged ledges, and channel edges. 

Fishing for blue catfish could only be better if they jumped into your boat. Anglers are using cut bait for the best results. A variety of fish can be used, but menhaden and gizzard shad top the list because their oil content releases a scent line for catfish to home in on. White perch and cut-up eel work well; many anglers use bluegill sunfish, chicken liver and scented baits. In many regards they are a meat-eating angler’s dream because there is no minimum size or daily creel limit. Cleaned and cooked properly, blue catfish can change the minds of most fish snobs. Check out our Angler’s Log to see some suggested ways to clean catfish

Now that water temperatures in the tidal rivers are 60 degrees or lower, and the upper Bay water temperatures are in the low 60s, striped bass are free to roam wherever they have a notion to go. Their food supply of peanut menhaden is flowing out of the tidal rivers, so staging along steep channel edges at the mouths of the larger rivers is a given tactic. 

There is still plenty of good striped bass fishing at the mouth of the Patapsco River and the Key Bridge, but other locations are coming into their own as good places to fish this week. The Love Point rocks provide a good location to jig, as is the mouth of the Chester River. Baltimore Light is always worth checking out if you’re nearby. 

Trolling is a very popular way to fish for striped bass during the fall; pulling umbrella rigs behind heavy inline weights is the most common way they’re deployed. Most striped bass are holding in deep water along channel edges, so it takes some weight to get down to them. Stout tackle and braided line are needed unless one is trolling single bucktails or Drone spoons, which can be pulled behind a planer. Umbrella rigs can be rigged with hookless sassy shads or spoons and trailers can be bucktails dressed with a sassy shad or twistertail, a Storm Shad type lure, or a Drone spoon. A few popular channel edges to check are the Triple Buoys area, Love Point, Swan Point, the Dumping Grounds, Podickory Point, and the channels leading out of the region’s tidal rivers.

Fishing for white perch remains excellent this week in the region’s tidal rivers and creeks. Water temperatures have dipped below the 60-degree mark in many areas so the white perch will be moving to deeper waters soon. Casting Beetle-Spins along shoreline structure is an excellent way to fish for them now. Shoreline rocks, marina docks, bridge piers, and bulkheaded shores are just a few types of structure they prefer when looking for grass shrimp or small minnows.

Middle Bay

The east end of the Bay Bridge and the sewer pipe continue to draw the attention of anglers who are targeting striped bass that might be there. As one angler put it, “somedays they’re there and others they are not”. If you are in the area the bridge piers near the 30-foot drop-off is worth a look if you are chumming or drifting live spot, white perch, or eels back toward the pier bases. The morning tide is the best time to be there. 

Jigging will always be popular at the bridge piers, rock piles, and the sewer pipe. Skirted soft plastic jigs are hard to beat when cast up tight and close to the piers. The west end of the Bay Bridge offers opportunities for white perch and the last remaining spot holding on the shallower hard bottom.

Anglers are seeing more and more breaking fish situations each day as peanut menhaden pour out of the tidal rivers. The Choptank River provides more of this action than other tidal rivers within the region, but no tidal river should be overlooked. Use soft plastic jigs or metal jigs heavy enough to get down to where the fish can be spotted on depth finders. At times diving gulls will make their way to breaking fish, and soft plastic jigs or paddletails will be taken by fish close to the surface. 

Casting a mix of various lure favorites near the shorelines of the Bay and lower sections of the tidal rivers offers plenty of fun fishing during the morning and evening. Poppers are always an entertaining way to fish during low light conditions, whether one is casting with spinning gear or working skipping bugs with a floating fly line. Casting a mix of paddletails, jerkbaits, and crankbaits are good choices when working areas with less grass, and where speckled trout and puppy drum may be present. 

Trolling is always a popular fall option, especially on boats with a cabin where you can get out of the weather and spend time with friends. Stout tackle, braided line, and umbrella rigs pulled behind heavy inline weights are the order of the day. Channel edges where striped bass may be suspended close to the bottom is where boats will be trolling. 

White perch are still available in the region’s tidal rivers and creeks. Casting Beetle-Spins and Roadrunners near shoreline structure during the morning and evening low-light conditions offers plenty of light-tackle fishing. White perch can also be found holding over oyster reefs, especially after hand tongers have spent a day working the bottom. Kent Narrows is always a fun place to fish for white perch and less boat traffic makes it easier to fish from a boat. Bottom rigs baited with grass shrimp, peeler crab, or pieces of bloodworm are the most popular baits, but dropper flies tipped with artificially scented fabric baits can also work wonders.

Lower Bay

Photo of man in a boat holding a fish

Summer flounder, photo courtesy of Christopher Meade

Cooler water temperatures have shifted many of the lower Bay fisheries into a fall pattern. Striped bass are moving freely throughout the lower Bay and tidal rivers, and in many cases they are holding along steep channel edges as they wait for schools of baitfish to be flushed out of the tidal rivers. The numbers of spot are diminishing quickly, the bluefish are gone for the most part.

The lower Potomac River from the Route 301 Bridge south and along the steep edges from St. Clements Island to Piney Point are great places to jig or troll for striped bass. Anglers also report breaking fish, which is always exciting. Ebbing tide currents can pick up a lot of speed along these steep channel edges, which will often sweep small bait fish along. The striped bass can easily navigate these currents and set up to ambush bait. 

Soft plastic and metal jigs heavy enough to reach the striped bass present a fun and exciting way to fish for striped bass. Trolling is another option, but heavy tackle must be used to be able to control heavy inline weights and umbrella rigs that must descend to the depths where the striped bass are holding.

Many areas along the lower Potomac, Bay shores, and Tangier and Pocomoke sounds offer fun fishing in shallower waters for a mix of striped bass, speckled trout, and slot size puppy drum. Casting paddletails, swimbaits, jerkbaits, and other favorite lures is a fun way to fish in these areas during low light conditions.

Anglers who are bottom fishing with bait are still catching a few spot and a mix of sea trout, kingfish, and black sea bass. Some anglers who are jigging near reef sites are also catching black sea bass. Those that fish for them with Gulp baits or strips of squid or spot are catching a few keeper-size flounder near Point Lookout, the mouth of the Patuxent River, and Tangier and Pocomoke sounds.

Freshwater Fishing

The fall trout stocking program continues, providing plenty of fun trout fishing. Each stocking is posted on the trout stocking website by afternoon, once the stocking crew has finished. This information can be found on the trout stocking website, or by subscribing to our email subscription service. 

Anglers are enjoying good fishing opportunities for a mix of largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, trout, walleye and northern pike at Deep Creek Lake. The upper Potomac is still running low and clear this week, presenting opportunities for shoreline and small boat fishing for smallmouth bass. Root beer colored tubes are one of the more popular lures being used. 

Photo of man in a small boat on a lake, holding a fish

Todd Houck holds up a nice 40-inch northern pike he caught recently in Deep Creek Lake. Photo courtesy of Todd Houck

Largemouth bass in Maryland are in a typical fall mode of behavior, aggressively feeding to build up body stores. The cooler water temperatures have them roaming freely in a variety of aquatic environments. Anglers will find largemouth bass feeding longer throughout the day. Grass beds are diminishing due to shorter periods of daylight and as these grass beds break up, the crayfish and baitfish hiding in them must find a new place to stay safe and secure for the winter. Largemouth bass will be patrolling the transition waters between the shallow grass beds and deeper cover.

Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, and crankbaits that resemble crayfish are excellent choices for casting. In tidal areas, a low ebb tide will often have largemouth bass holding close to the outside perimeter of spatterdock fields and grass beds. Largemouth bass will also be found holding near sunken wood or similar structure, waiting to ambush prey. Whacky rigged sticks or soft plastic worms work well as do soft craws.

Northern snakeheads are being forced out into more open waters as thick shallow grass beds decline. Fallen shoreline brush, sunken wood, and fallen treetops are becoming preferred spots for snakeheads to hold. Casting white paddletails and chatterbaits with large soft plastic creature baits attached are popular baits. Dead sticking a large minnow under a bobber in open water while casting can often pay dividends. 

Fall is an excellent time of the year to fish for crappie. They can be found schooled up tight to deep structure. Marina docks, old piling fields, fallen treetops, sunken brush, wood, and bridge piers all tend to hold crappie. Small minnows or a marabou jig under a slip bobber is a great way to fish for them. 

Hardcore crappie anglers can be seen slowly moving along structure areas with graphite cane poles protruding from a bevy of rod holders. This method, often called spider fishing, is done while an electric motor slowly moves the boat to good locations. It is especially popular in the tidal waters of the Potomac. The Fort Washington Marina has a good boat ramp and a kiosk; launch fees apply. The old marina docks and the spoils area on the northeast side of the Wilson Bridge approach are popular areas to fish.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays

Photo of man on a beach holding a fish

Brian Reynolds is all smiles with this 15.5-inch kingfish. Photo courtesy of Brian Reynolds

Surf anglers continue to enjoy good fishing for kingfish, which are being caught on pieces of bloodworm and artificially-scented bloodworm baits. Bluefish are being caught on finger mullet or cut mullet; flounder and blowfish are being caught on squid. At night, large red drum are caught and released on cut mullet. Stingrays are part of the deal when fishing with large baits.

At the inlet, some nice slot-size striped bass are being caught by anglers casting soft plastic jigs or drifting cut bait. Sheepshead can still be found near the jetty rocks and the Route 50 Bridge piers, and they are being caught on sand fleas and pieces of peeler crab.

Cooler water temperatures and reduced daylight are forcing flounder to head for the inlet and offshore spawning waters. The channels leading toward the inlet are the place to fish and thanks to reduced boat traffic, a safer place to fish. Large Gulp baits and fishing with live finger mullet, spot, or peanut bunker are catching the largest flounder. There is some fun striped bass catch and release action taking place at the Route 90 Bridge. Anglers are catching striped bass measuring less than 28 inches by casting paddletails and soft plastic jigs.

Anglers headed out to the offshore wreck and reef sites are enjoying excellent fishing for black sea bass and a mix of triggerfish and flounder. Those targeting flounder are finding them near wreck and reef sites and lumps out to the 30-fathom line. Small dolphin are also being found from the 30-fathom line out to the canyons.

At the canyons, anglers are finding a mix of yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and dolphin. Those who are fishing the depths for swordfish are finding a few. Deep-drop anglers are also finding a mix of blueline and golden tilefish.

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

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.” 

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