The dog days of summer are behind us and water temperatures have peaked for the fishing year.
That means that fishing in local lakes and ponds should be excellent for the next few weeks while the resident bass and bluegill work around the clock to fatten up for the colder times ahead.
With the crowds of jet-skiers and pleasure boaters out for one last hurrah, Labor Day weekend might just be the perfect time to forego a trip out on the river or bay and focus on freshwater fishing instead.
The opportunities in this area abound. Wheatley Lake, Myrtle Grove Lake, Calvert Cliffs Pond and St. Mary’s Lake are just some of the many public-access fishing holes you could hit up this weekend.
Southern Maryland lakes and ponds — With the cooler water temperatures, a lot of panfish are now behaving like they haven’t eaten all summer. The best way to get their attention is to thread a little piece of nightcrawler onto a hook dangled about two feet under a bobber.
If crappies are more your style, use a minnow instead of a worm. You’ll be in the catching business in no time.
Recreational angler Eric Packard reports that bass in farm ponds can’t resist a topwater frog fished over and around lily pads.
Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park (301-863-8151) says the bass and bluegill at St. Mary’s Lake are “very active” now. Anytime is a good time to be casting when it’s overcast.
Patuxent River — Cuckold Creek remains a stronghold for perch and spot this past week, with some anglers never leaving the creek and catching 50-plus fish in just over an hour. Hawk’s Nest is another popular spot to catch perch and spot by the doubles.
Crabs are running steady with many males in the 7- to 8-inch range. There are going to be a lot of folks feasting on large, heavy crabs this holiday weekend.
Potomac River — Reel Bass Adventures guide Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509) reports that bass fishing has been challenging for most bass anglers lately. Grass and hard cover patterns can produce a limit of bass, but don’t expect fish to jump in the boat.
Baits like crawfish imitators and shaky head worms or swim jigs will work well around grasses. Crankbaits are your go-to lure to take bass off hard cover.
Some topwater action is available in low-light conditions. Small rockfish are available around bulkheads and bridge pilings during the first part of the tide change.
Aqualand Marina (301-259-2222) reports an exceptional bite for “eater-size” blue catfish with boaters filling their coolers easily when bottom fishing. White perch abound and will hit almost anything on Morgantown Bar. Striper fishing has slacked up a touch, but persistent anglers can still connect.
Juniata and Susquehanna rivers (Pa.) — Life Outdoors Unlimited guide Capt. Ken Penrod (240-447-2206) said now that the weather has cooled down, the action should pick up substantially. You can rent a flat bottom boat or canoe from Johnny Cunningham (717-877-2704).
Lake Anna (Va.) — Carlos at High Point Marina (540-895-5249) reports that bass have moved shallower, but with the rain increasing oxygen levels, fish are active at all depths. He recommends fishing main lake points and drop-off as well as brush, docks and other structure with crankbaits, shaky worms or Senkos.
There’s been some excellent topwater action in low-light conditions using Pop R’s, Chug Bugs and buzz baits. Catfish are biting all day and night.
Chesapeake Bay — Capt. Dennis Fleming at Fishamajig Guide Service (240-538-1260) reports that fishing remains strong in both the Bay and lower Potomac for Spanish mackerel and small blues for both light tackle fishermen and trollers. Cobia hunters connect both chumming and sight casting.
Lamb adds that sight casters are having good luck offering live eels. If speckled trout is what you’re after, a trip to the mouth of the Honga River might be in order. Lamb reports anglers are catching them in Tangier Sound on spinners, too.
Atlantic Ocean — Last week’s MidAtlantic tournament was quite the nail-biter. No qualifying blue marlin was weighed in the first four days, but on the final fishing day a 473-pounder followed by a 452-pounder and a 549-pounder kept the spectators on edge.
Those fish were no match for the next blue marlin on the scales. Angler Zeb Zebley’s 630-pound blue marlin handily beat them all and earned the boat Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ $556,365 in prize money.
Capt. Monty Hawkins on the Morning Star (410-520-2076) reports the sea bass bite continues to be hit or miss, but some persistent anglers are catching a nice mess of sea bass on charter trips, along with mahi-mahi and even some keeper flounder.
Larry Jock of the Coastal Fisherman (www.coastalfisherman.com) reports that fishermen on the U.S. Route 50 Bridge have been catching some bluefish up to 29 inches on Roy Rigs.
Do you Roy Rig? If you do, you probably know who caught those bluefish.
Tip of the week
If you do decide to hit up a local lake or pond this weekend, you’ll still want to set your alarm clock even if you’re on vacation. Now is no time to be sleeping in.
On relatively small water, you’ll want to get there early and avoid making a lot of noise.
Bass and other fish have very good sense to feel vibrations and any banging around you do on shore right next to the water is going to spook the fish.
Tread lightly as you walk along the banks. If you arrive right after dawn, you’ll certainly beat the crowd and get a head start fishing before others arrive and make a racket on this holiday weekend.