This time of year anglers can expect good catches of flounder, as the fish begin to migrate out of the bay. They will be leaving slowly, so there should be plenty of fish for the rest of the flounder season, which ends Oct. 10 on the Atlantic side of Maryland.
The best tactic for anglers is to fish the high tide, starting in the east channel, using large, live minnows; strips of squid, bluefish or spot belly; live spot; or frozen shiners as bait.
Fall's sometimes windy weather can put a damper on flounder fishing, but anglers find that the fish bite well before a weather front moves in and the barometer is falling.
Fishermen also find good flounder fishing in the inlet and even the ocean in September. Anglers should fish in depths up to 45 feet. Drifting strips of squid, bluefish, spot and trout belly will lure flounder offshore as well as sea trout.
Sea trout school offshore in the months of September, October and even November. Anglers drift with simple monofilament top and bottom rigs baited with strips of squid for the sea trout, which now must be 12 inches to keep in Maryland. The fish like a long, tapered piece of bait. Also, jigging the bait slightly will give anglers a better chance of catching the fish.
Many of Ocean City's party boats will drift for trout, croaker and flounder into the fall if the bite is good. If the sea trout slacken, then the party boats go to wreck fishing for sea bass and tautog.
Sea bass fishing is improving. The bass will be migrating and can be caught on the open bottom. Anglers with their own boats should have good luck drifting over the bass grounds. As the season progresses and the water gets colder, the action will slow, but tautog fishing over wrecks can continue throughout the winter.
Tautog fishing will be good in the Ocean City area from now through the first weeks of November. Anglers fish from the Ocean City Inlet, near the drawbridge of the U.S. 50 bridge and the bulkhead along the Second through Fourth Street bulkheads. In fact, any street from First to Ninth streets has tautog along the pilings if the angler can find a spot to fish.
The best bait for the tautog are sand crabs, sectioned pieces of hard crab, speckled crab or green crab. Anglers find that the change of tide sees the larger tautog, but tautog can be taken at almost any tide, as long as it is during the day. These fish do not seem to bite at night.
There is no size or creel limits on tautog in Maryland, but in Delaware the laws differ. If you fish the Delaware waters, check with a local tackle store to find out the latest information.
Surf fishing for bluefish and sea trout looks promising for the fall. The sea trout bite best at dawn, dusk or at night. Anglers drag strips of mullet or squid along the bottom, in search of the tasty fish.
Bluefish also bite well at this time of year. In September, the blues run on the small side, 1 to 3 pounds, but as the season progresses into October and November, the sizes increase. Blues up to 20 pounds can be taken.
Offshore, the fishing activity does not end. September and October see excellent marlin fishing, although most of the boats do not fish until the end of October. Spanish and king mackerel can be seen jumping relatively close inshore.