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.
White perch fishing is reaching its zenith. June always seems a magic month for the species as the fish fill every nook and cranny of the Chesapeake Bay’s tributaries. They’re seemingly everywhere, especially around visible structure. My personal fishing log has several banner days recorded in June 2021 and 2022. And this past week has seen two such days, so far, to add to the 2023 log.
Upriver in the Severn, for example, we found fish along a stretch of deep-water docks for several consecutive days. The bite was consistent in the morning hours. The key is working the structure, moving spot to spot, until you find the schools. You can also locate them on bottom- and side-scan. Pitch small lures under and around docks that reach from 6’ to 15’ depths. Let them gently fall toward bottom before working them back on the retrieve. I prefer 1/16 to 1/8oz jigheads rigged with 2” microplastics, 1/4oz Kastmasters, or 1/4oz Captain Bert’s Perch Hounders (aka pounders).
In the open Bay, perch schools are more scattered—generally found deeper and over oyster beds, around the crab pots, and any reefs. Try dropping small bait hooks tipped with grass shrimp, bloodworms, or Fishbites. Regardless, when the sun inches high above, perch seek shade or deep water. It’s simple fishing but a good backup to fill a stringer when the striped bass bite is tough.
Middle bay striper fishing has been challenging and is scattered. It’s here today, gone tomorrow. One day, Love Point seemed hot. The next, the fish were gone. There have been many “so-so” reports with most fish in the mid-teens to low-20s. The surface water temperature is hovering around 71–72F. When it reaches 75F the topwater window will be almost exclusively those 15 minutes before sunrise and another 15 after. Sunsets may be more forgiving and allow anglers a better opportunity to catch a fish on top. More and more anglers are trying their hand at live-lining spot, as the baitfish becomes more abundant with summer encroaching. Live-lining within the Bay Bridge vicinity offers a good chance at a decent mid-20s fish.
Trollers and charters working midday hours are searching long and hard for the fish. The most productive areas we’ve heard of include the Patapsco River from its mouth to the Key Bridge, parts of Eastern Bay, and the mouths and lower stems of the Severn, South, West/Rhode, and Choptank Rivers. Some captains even pushed far upriver in search of fish. In the Severn, for example, I saw charters trolling off Sherwood Forest, in Round Bay, and one even pushed as far north as Arden.
That far upriver, there are tons of dink schoolies (12” and under) with only a few larger fish (up to about 22” mixed in). Stick to the lower sections for a better shot at a nicer grade of fish. One angler reported tussling with a 29” striper around Greenbury Point. It’s best to have a detailed plan (and backup ideas) for each outing.
Crabbing is full throttle now in the middle Bay. Bushels are being reported by rec crabbers from nearly every river. It takes time and work, but can be done. Trotlines and box traps baited with razor clams or chicken necks remain your most effective options. With a quarter-moon and balanced tides this weekend, crabbing could be very good. Five to 10’ foot depths have produced the most successful reports.
In the southern Bay, anglers/charters are aiming for the trifecta of stripers, specks, and reds. Most reports continue to come from the eastern side of the Bay (Tangier Sound). Quarter to 1/2oz jigs tipped with 5–7” paddletails produce all species. A few bluefish may be in the mix. We’re awaiting the first reports of prized cobia or Spanish mackerel, which should start showing in Virginia’s portion of the Bay. How far they push north remains to be seen.
Northern snakehead have been tough for anglers to entice bites, as they are pairing up for spawn throughout the region. For bow-fishermen at night, it’s been gangbusters. First-light photos after a night’s haul have been showing line-ups of dispatched snakehead by the dozens…yes, dozens. The north Baltimore (Bush, Middle, and Gunpowder/Dundee), Potomac, Patuxent, and Pocomoke rivers are popular in this regard. These are also great watersheds to try conventional tackle for largemouth bass. Good luck!