A commercial crabber I ran into earlier this week told me he found a “honey hole” on the Patuxent River this past Sunday and caught 13 bushels in record time. My own pots have had plenty of 7-plus inchers over the past few days.
Next week we’re hosting an exchange student from Italy and are tasked with showing her what Southern Maryland is all about. No doubt some freshly steamed crabs with Old Bay and J.O. Spice will be on the menu.
There’s still time to catch your own. While temperatures are starting to drop at night, crabs are still active, plentiful and heavy. Oh, and tasty, too. I’d argue October crabs are the rustiest of all.
Southern Maryland lakes and ponds — The water temperature at St. Mary’s Lake has dipped below 60-degrees.
According to recreational fisherman Eric Packard, the bass have been biting slowly but steadily. Fishing with a Ned rig and shaky head, Packard said the fish were active in the morning but the action dropped off later in the day.
Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park (301-863-8151) said customers have been catching some fine crappie hitting lives minnows at the lake.
Patuxent River — According to Lamb, stripers are schooling up in the mouth of the Patuxent, breaking and feeding on most moving tides. You can catch these fish trolling or casting lures into the breakers.
Look for the birds diving into the baitfish driven to the surface by the bigger fish underneath. Most of the fish are various sizes, mostly slightly undersized fish with the occasional 28- to 32-inch fish mixed in. Last weekend, there were acres of fish and birds off the O’Club and from the mouth of the Patuxent to Hog Point and Fishing Point.
Spot and perch are still available. Try bloodworm pieces of bottom rigs in the 18- to 35-foot edges up and down the river.
Potomac River — There’s a big FLW tournament taking place through tomorrow out of Smallwood State Park.
Life Outdoors Unlimited guide Capt. Kenny Penrod III (240-478-9055) said most grass is now dead, so any living grass is going to be harboring fish.
Soon the rocks will heat up and hold fish. Schoolie stripers are coming into the creeks and soon the bigger ones will follow. Use your fish finder to look for streaks on your screen that indicate feeding fish.
You can find crappie suspended off the bottom — they look like fish stacked up on top of each other in a Christmas tree shape. Snakehead are still active on sunny days and can be found around grass or marsh edges.
Capt. Dennis Fleming of Fishamajig Guide Service (240-538-1260) said fishing has been productive in the lower Potomac now that fall has finally arrived.
As water temperatures have fallen, stripers have moved shallow and respond well to artificial lures. If you have current, structure and bait, you’ve got all the ingredients for success.
Fleming suggests studying maps to find prominent points of land and then trying your luck. Trollers are having success fishing the lumps between the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge and Colonial Beach.
Lamb said the speckled trout are scattered with most of them very small, but you can find some “very respectable” trout in the St. Mary’s River. Find them on the oyster bars. They love little white bucktails.
To back up that claim, Lamb sent me a photo of angler Eric Fowler with a 17-inch spec he caught in the St. Mary’s River.
Lake Anna (Va.) — Carlos at High Point Marina (301-895-5429) said water temperatures are in the low 70s and the bass are responding by moving from deep water to shallow. They are scattered in depth from topwater to as deep as 20 feet.
Carlos recommends getting away from the main lake and moving into the creeks. Pitch small plastic worms to docks and jig as they fall. Lipless crankbaits such as Rat-L-Traps work well; count them down to fish various depths. For topwater action, use Pop-Rs and buzzbaits.
Stripers are on the move, too, heading up-lake following the bait run. It’s best to start at The Splits and work your way up.
Chesapeake Bay — Lamb reports Spanish mackerel and bluefish taking small spoons on planer rigs. You can find them schooled up with rockfish up and down the Ship’s Channel.
The mid-bay rockfish are almost all undersized, but the blues are “fat and sassy.” Off Cedar Point, you can find lots of boats and also lots of undersized rockfish.
Fleming said Cedar Point at the mouth of the Patuxent has been consistent for catching stripers both mornings and afternoon. Exercise care releasing the undersized fish.
Atlantic Ocean — Lighthouse View Bait and Tackle (located at the Cape Henlopen State Park fishing pier) has closed for the season. The Oceanic Pier is still open with limited hours, so call 410-289-2602 before you go.
The sea bass chew has been stellar some days. Capt. Monty Hawkins on the Morning Star (410-520-2076) reports on one recent trip they caught a “super boat limit” of 15 for everyone, including the crew.
Tip of the week
The areas near the Target Ship and Middle Grounds have been hot spots for red drum.
While the season is open year-round, there’s a slot in effect. You may only keep one fish daily, and it must measure between 18 and 27 inches. You’ll have to release all the big ones plus any little ones you might catch.