Chesapeake Bay Watershed Angling Summary
Welcome to Reel Chesapeake’s Weekly Fishing Report, our interpretation of what’s biting and where throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Please email us directly at email@example.com to share updates and photographs of your recent catches for potential inclusion in next week’s column.
Striped bass are the target of many anglers’ with Maryland’s trophy season having kicked off on Monday, May 1st. Reports from those trolling the channel edges of the middle Chesapeake Bay—between Love Point, the bridge, and Buoy 83—claimed a tougher bite and catches in the mid-20s to low 30-inch range—shy of the 35” minimum keeper size (Reel Chesapeake advocates catch-and-release of breeder size fish).
Several charters and rec anglers also got on a jig bite, bouncing 1–2oz heads fitted with BKDs or paddletails just off the channel. Locating feeding fish by electronics was key. One angler reported throwing white/gold Clouser flies for schoolies between spits of rain in the Magothy River vicinity and doing quite well. Most of these fish were also in the mid-20s. Overall, this week has been a bit challenging with cold air temps, daily rain, wave action, and wind predictions at 20-plus knots, keeping many anglers docked. By Friday, the weather will turn for the better and we expect to see a flood of boats plying the Bay for the prized species this weekend (there are several tournaments taking place, too).
We’re also keeping an eye on Maryland Department of Natural Resources for guidance on this week’s Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission emergency decision to create a 31-inch upper slot limit for all striped bass recreational fisheries (effective immediately, and full implementation by all Atlantic states by July 2nd). Maryland’s trophy season through May 15th is exempt this year.
Stripers’ cousin, the white perch, are starting to please anglers willing to try for them. We’re already seeing them in the upper Severn River—a good indicator that they’ve fully distributed throughout the rivers and creeks. Small 1/4 to 1/16oz offerings, like Kastmasters, perch pounders, and beetlespins around deepwater docks, bridge pilings, and oyster beds work well. Bloodworms sent to the bottom on a hook will also get bites.
Anadromous shad are still making their spawning runs in favored rivers, including the Potomac, Patuxent, Occoquan, and Rappahannock. Last Friday, we experienced a dynamite morning, in a cold downpour nonetheless, on the upper Patuxent hooking into American shad (see photo). They hit a 1/16oz stump-jumper jig again and again. Our advice—try to hook into them before the run finishes any day/week this month.
Blue catfish continue to hit just about any hook purposely baited for them. Popular shore fishing spots include Sandy Point, Fort Smallwood, Matapeake Beach, and access points along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Those on boat have lingered around Podickory Point at the mouth of the Magothy, the lower Choptank River, and further north within the Bush River—though just about every tributary has blues (and channel catfish!).
Speaking of blue, coastal anglers are reporting the first bluefish of the season showing up at Assateague. And good size fish too, in the high-20-inch range. Most have been caught by anglers trying to hook into the last fish of the black drum run. A good sign that bluefish are on the move. If you’re angling along the coastal beaches right now, you have shot at a trifecta of black drum, striped bass, and bluefish. Try sand fleas paired with Fishbites (sand flea, clam, bloodworm) on high-low and fish-finder rigs. Good luck!