Fishing reports published in print are generalized and weeks may have passed before the report gets into your hands, so for timely up-to-date reports, visit our Fishing Reports online. Current reports will be published every Friday by noon — just in time for your weekend fishing adventures. In the meantime, here’s our monthly prognostication.
COASTAL FISHING FORECAST
When it comes to the offshore bite, October is all about weather windows. When and if you can get out there’s potential for tremendous tuna action and the beginning of a fall swordfish run. Success or a lack thereof will generally be dictated by the wind, storms passing through, and the timing of those calm periods we all watch for. Inshore, meanwhile, the wrecks and reefs should heat up in a big way this month. Same goes for surf fishing — in fact, many seasons October is the very best month of the year for both species diversity and also a shot at large beastly creatures like bull reds in the suds. Again, the weather will likely be the key feature.
Is it on fire? It’s October, so it ought to be! There’s generally no better time of year for everything from bass to crappie to stripers to walleye in the lakes and reservoirs. Added bonus: by this point the aquatic chaos of heavily trafficked lakes like Deep Creek and Lake Anna should have dropped off, and anglers can once again ply the waters in peace. In an entirely different category of fishing, fall stockings will keep trout anglers busy with plenty of action this month. Snakehead, on the flip side of the coin, will likely begin to get tough to catch after temperature drops. Look for temporary warming trends and bright, sunny afternoons if you want to target this species before winter sets in.
WAY NORTH CHESAPEAKE BAY
With a little luck and no big storms mucking things up, this month should see a good topwater bite for stripers on the Flats, improving action in the Dam Pool, and prime perch action in the rivers and creeks. All that said, catfish will almost certainly remain “old reliable” for anyone putting cut fish on the bottom. We note that last October mid-month there was a run of very large cats at the Flats, with numerous fish breaking the 40-pound mark.
You Upper Bay anglers have been enjoying the best rockfish action up and down the Chesapeake all summer, and now that October hits you can expect it to finally… continue! If the past few years are any indication the fish will spread out a bit as the waters cool, but areas like the lower Chester, lower Patapsco, and Pooles should have packs of stripers marauding those poor little bunker. The additional options of white perch and catfish are almost certain to provide plenty of action, too.
Let the peanut bunker migration commence — and the rockfish put on the feed bag. Expect the stripers to push towards the river mouths where they’ll (hopefully) be busting on the bunker, particularly early and late in the day. But… (there’s always a “but”), a lot of our more exotic species will likely turn tail and head south for the winter. Last year the mackerel and bluefish did hang tight until October, but early in the month their numbers dropped off until they disappeared entirely mid-month. The redfish also petered out in October, as did specks north of the Pax. So we can hope to enjoy some good diversity early this month, but note that it will likely shift to rock, rock, and more rock at some point in October.
The farther south you get the longer you’ll enjoy the mixed bag of species. Virginia anglers will be counting down the days to October 4 and the re-opening of striper season, which should make casting in the shallows of the tribs even more interesting than it’s been to date. Again, weather will be a key factor; remember that last year the water temps in early October were still high enough that the shallows hadn’t yet lit up for stripers, but by mid-month it was game on.
TANGIER, POCOMOKE, AND LOWER SHORE
Let the fall speck run commence. And the push of redfish, both slots and bulls. Oh, and also let’s remember that rockfish dwell in this neck of the woods, too. October is commonly a month of utterly epic action in the Sounds and all along the ESVA, and any or all of these bites are likely to bust loose just as soon as a few chilly nights tell those fish it’s time to fatten up for winter.
WAY SOUTH AND VA CHESAPEAKE BAY FORECAST
October at the mouth of the Bay means all bets are off: the hottest action could come from reds, it could come from specks, it could come from flounder, it could come from stripers… the list goes on and on. Also note that the tog bite at the CBBT should kick in at some point in the next few weeks, there should still be a few sheepshead in town, and it’s time for the yellow-belly spot to start filling coolers. Decisions, decisions!