Freshwater Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report, October 2021

Freshwater Fishing Report, October 29 Update:

With the change in weather, many freshwater species have hit their full fall stride and sheltered waters provided more opportunity than large bodies of water this week, thanks to the winds. Bass in most local creeks, rivers, ponds, and streams have become significantly more active, and are active later in the day. St. Mary’s Lake, the Baltimore area reservoirs, Deep Creek, and Lake Anna have all had absolutely excellent bites. St. Mary’s Lake is having an especially productive season — anglers have been easily exceeding 10-plus bass throughout mornings, and are hitting on a wicked crappie bite as well. They’re responding to small twisters, tubes, and live minnow fished in five to 15 feet of water near structure. We also heard about more great pickerel action in St. Mary’s this week, for anglers casting spinners and jigs in the weedy backs of coves. Contributor Wayne Young checked in after fishing on the hot side at Lake Anna, and found the bass around the piers were happy to oblige. An interesting side-note, he cast saltwater shrimp imitations as an experiment, and the bass smacked ‘em!

trout in a pond
Stocked trout are available throughout the region. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing has reported an increase in the number of wild trout biting in Virginia's mountain streams, and fall stocking has now taken place throughout the region. There’s a good chance the storm hitting as we compile these reports will have lots of significant localized effects for the weekend, however, so all bets are off for the moment.

Freshwater Fishing Report, October 22 Update:

This week, the Maryland DNR continued their trout stocking efforts in four different counties, and a combined 2,300 rainbow, golden, and brown trout were stocked in five different lakes and ponds. They’ve been stocking since the beginning of October, and have put tens of thousands of trout in the water so far – see the trout stocking webpage for more specifics. Virginia also has fall stocking underway and their listings of stockings can be found at the VA state trout stocking schedule. This week Delaware joined in, and White Clay Creek got a significant stocking.

snakeheads kids caught
Jack the Snakehead Slayer got a 32-incher, then he and his bud found a pair of beauties in a Western shore trib. Chatterbaits and live minnow did the trick.

Snakehead report: success seems to be have become a matter of timing and weather at this point. Readers hitting the west side on sunny afternoons reported some success from the Magothy and the Rappahannock this week, but many others had skunked outings. All those reporting success noted small numbers (up to three fish) of relatively large fish (up to 32 inches). We heard from one who hit the Blackwater and came up empty. Remember that at this time of year it’s critical to fish during a mini warming trend as temps are on the rise, as opposed to early mornings when there’s still a chill or immediately following a cold front. Those reporting fish were using minnow with one fish we can account for caught on a chatterbait.

Largemouth bass fishing is in full fall mode as conditions are excellent for the fish to bite. They’re actively feeding throughout the day now and moving into shallower waters. Crankbaits, buzzbaits, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits are all working well in the appropriate conditions. St. Mary’s Lake and the Baltimore area reservoirs had standout largemouth bites this week with reports of action-packed days, and the bridges at the Baltimore areas and Lake Anna are now holding crappie in decent numbers.

Small mouth bass are also in their fatten-up mode, happy to take crankbaits and swimbaits. If you haven’t seen it yet check out our new feature on Fishing for Virginia Smallmouth, which has some great where-to/how-to info on targeting them. Yellow perch are also beginning to show the signs of really stirring in western Maryland out at Deep Creek and the other western lakes.

Freshwater Fishing Report, October 15 Update:

Contributor Eric Packard spent some time on the reservoirs this week and says crappie were snapping in large numbers, in 13 to 15 feet of water. Vertical jigging small chartreuse jigs and darts when fish were on the meter did the trick, and casting a Beetle Spin was productive as well. Several readers hitting lakes and rivers reported that big largemouth bass are now feeding aggressively as they try to fatten up for winter and we received more than one pic this week of bass that looked to be in the five-pound-plus range. The Tackle Box reported that St. Mary’s Lake has an excellent largemouth bite right now. They mentioned that largemouth bass are really coming into their autumn patterns for this time of year; topwater baits are the clear winner in this category, with spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and frog imitations likely to incite bites in the morning. Darker colors are the more popular choice in have been working as well. Subsurface jigs are doing pretty good in the afternoon when the fishing gets slower.

big bass caught in a lake
James hit the river, and encountered this chunky guy.

The Maryland DNR stocked around 4,300 golden, rainbow, and brown trout this week and more are coming; see the trout stocking webpage for more specifics. The trout made their way into the waters of Alleghany, Carroll, Garrett, Washington, Baltimore, and Frederick counties. As the season continues, we’ll keep updating you with DNR trout stocking efforts, which will continue throughout the year. Virginia has also begun fall stocking and says they’ll plant a million fish between now and May 31. Listings of stockings can be found at the state trout stocking schedule.

Snakehead hunters reported an on-again-off-again bite this week as the weather fluctuated. Although the fish were feeling finnicky this week, some anglers did manage to score big ones. No specific hotspots stood out in their reports but minnow were mentioned as the best bait.

Freshwater Fishing Report, October 8 Update:

*We apologize for the light reports this week, but due to exhibiting at the U.S. Powerboat Show in Annapolis (come see us this weekend at booth F7) and some personal matters we have not been able to gather as much intel as usual. Stay tuned for next week’s reports!

Maryland DNR fall trout stocking continues with several thousand rainbows, browns, and goldens dispersed throughout the state. Visit for current stocking schedules.

Tackle Box reported very good catches of largemouth bass were made this week at St. Mary's Lake. Wacky worm rigs and swimming baits have worked very well.

largemouth bass angler
CJ landed this 4-pounder at St. Mary's Lake. Photo courtesy of The Tackle Box.

Eric Packard also reiterated great fishing St. Mary’s Lake this week catching 5 chain pickerel and 6 largemouth bass. The biggest bass was a nice 23-inch, 6.31-pound fish.  Most fish were caught on 1/4oz jig with 4” paddle tail, but the lunker bass, was caught on a crawfish colored squarebill. The crappie bite has begun to turn on this week and fishing small vertical jigs in 10-15 feet of water is effective.

Freshwater Fishing Report, October 1 Update:

Freshwater fish have begun their fall fattening up and reports are strong around the dial. In many of the area reservoirs last week’s storms were significant enough that runoff clouded up the water, but fish were still biting and Contributor Eric Packard reports that at Tridelphia he was able to locate fish on the meter over points between 15 and 20 feet deep. Dropping a shaky head jig then giving it a slow rise and fall triggered bites from largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and small pike. He also mentioned that other anglers using similar techniques were catching as well.

huge bluegill
John Meyer found this FAT fall bluegill, which took a nymph fished on a three-weight.

Note the mention of smallmouth: this is prime season for ‘em, and this week the Virginia DWR reminded anglers that cooling trends will put the fish into feeding mode. Perfect timing—the next edition of FishTalk will have a full feature on VA smallie river fishing, so keep your eyes peeled for it in the coming weeks.

Trout anglers will note that the Maryland DNR has announced that fall trout stockings will begin “in early October,” but as of today isn’t yet publishing a schedule online. Check their trout stocking page for updates, as hopefully they’ll release some info soon. Similarly, the Virginia DWR intends to plant trout soon but we don’t have specific dates and places just yet. Visit their page here. Mossy Creek, meanwhile, is reporting the Shenandoah is still a bit stained but remains fishable and is getting better.

Reader reports on snakeheads were thin this week and we only heard of a few taken from Western Shore rivers. Packard tried for them one morning mid-week in some of the upper Pax ponds where the bite had been good recently, but found the fish had gone inactive. However, the bite at Key Wallace Bridge was said to be on the upswing recently with bull minnow the prime bait, and Angler’s is reporting a good bite in the Patuxent, Severn, and Magothy late in the afternoon when water temps hit their peak for the day.