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 firstname.lastname@example.org to share updates and photographs of your recent catches for potential inclusion in next week’s column.
A mini-drought kept water conditions stable and surface temperatures increasing at a moderate pace. We’re at about 73F in the middle Chesapeake Bay with increased salinity, and fairly clear water in most tributaries. Finally, a burst of showers last Tuesday offered some relief and much needed fresh water to the region. The fishing has been challenging in some areas/fisheries, but quite stable in others. As always, having a backup plan when preparing for your next angling trip can pay dividends.
For the past two weeks, north of the Bay Bridge has been option No. 1 for many anglers seeking striped bass. The Patapsco River, from its mouth to the Key Bridge, has held schools of keeper-size fish. Mostly 19–27.” Because this is well-known, however, the area has been hammered by charter vessels and recs. How long the area will hold these schools is to be determined.
For now, reports continue filtering in—try casting topwater plugs around Fort Carroll at sunrise or sunset if you want to avoid the midday crowds. By noon, locating fish on down/side-scan and jigging for them with 5–7” softplastics on 1/2 to 2oz jigheads is your light tackle option. If you want to try trolling, cruise the channel edges with a mix of large, diamondback drone spoons and/or 2oz bucktails with twister tails in tandem about 75′ behind the boat. White, chartreuse, and silver colors have been getting lots of hits.
This also has been the daily recipe throughout the middle Chesapeake when seeking stripers. From the Bay Bridge to the Choptank vicinity, anglers have been targeting the massive bridge pilings, Thomas Point lighthouse/rocks, Poplar Island’s riprap, major points/sandbars, and just about any visible structure possible for the morning topwater bite. Then plan to move off the structure to deeper water when the sun gets high. Maybe try trolling or live lining spot, especially in Eastern Bay. If you’re in it for a full day, return to your topwater spots for the evening bite.
In the tributaries, including the Magothy, Severn, South, and West/Rhode rivers on the western side and the Chester, Wye, Miles, Tred Avon, and lower Choptank on the eastern, small schools of striped bass are continuing to fill in their summer haunts. Fish in the 15–22” are reliably being caught around deep water docks, drop-offs from grassbeds and sandbars, and over oyster substrate. We’ve had three increasingly better outings in the past week, with notable drifts along stretches of docks. Casting 3/8oz bucktails (undressed) and 1/4oz jigs with 4” paddletails around them, and retrieving with the current produced the strikes. Most fish that we caught pushed 22” or smaller.
Likewise, summer’s tasty treat—the white perch—are equally accessible around this same structure. Just downsize the offerings to 1–2” lures, softplastics, and the like to produce hits. For fun action—especially with budding anglers—bring earthworms or net some grass shrimp off pilings (also available at your local tackle shop) and bait a small #4 or 6 size hook. Add a bb split shot and drop to the bottom. The perch can’t resist.
In the lower Bay, off Point Lookout and the mouth of the Potomac, speckled trout are exciting anglers. Most fish are in the 16–20” range. Blue catfish are in spawn mode, but also being caught on bottom rigs. So are cownose rays (also spawning) and anglers are reporting accidental catches of them. Be careful when handling a ray. You may find it best to cut the line as close as possible to the fish versus attempting to land it. Directly across the Bay, bull reds and black drum are running in the Tangier Sound region.
And further south in Virginia, the first cobia catches are now being reported around the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in the Kiptopeke/Tunnel area. Cobia will continue to move into the Bay proper and with them, anglers in pursuit, doing the run-and-gun game of sight-casting to them. Summer is nearing full swing. Good luck!