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.
Chesapeake Bay anglers have just a few days left to enjoy the consistent action for striped bass before the fishery shuts down in Maryland for two weeks, beginning July 16th. With summer in full swing and temperatures soaring into the real-feel 90s (even 100F), the state mandates the mid-summer break, which will offer the beleaguered stripers a break from fishing pressure.
Nevertheless, the striped bass fishery continues to produce schoolies from dinks up to 30” in all the middle Chesapeake rivers, especially the Patapsco (still!), where the charter fleet shows up in droves. Eastern Bay action has been reportedly hot, as well as Bloody Point and Poplar Island south. Topwater and jigging produce and the pattern of walking or popping at dawn and dusk, and dropping plastics in deeper water midday, has been the ticket.
In the Severn River on Wednesday, we saw an incredible amount of baitfish in the Round Bay vicinity and picked off plenty of striped bass feeding on them. There were mini-blitzes of generally smaller sized fish (<17) occurring 360-degrees around the boat at one point. Dawn was the magic hour for walking a spook, before switching gears and jigging around deep points and docks. These patterns will continue to improve, as well as the size of fish, come late-summer into fall.
In other news—very big news—Maryland has a new northern snakehead record holder. Damien Cook of Rhodesdale caught a 21.0-pound specimen on July 5th while fishing a Dorchester County river (note exact location not given). Maryland Department of Natural Resources has recognized the catch as the new state record (breaking the previous record 19.9-pound snakehead caught in 2018 by Andrew D. Fox). He made his catch using a modified chatterbait, which are popular for snakes when the sun gets over the horizon. Congrats to Damien, who was one of many anglers enjoying the huge uptick in snakehead fishing during this past week.
We expect early morning topwater frog fishing to keep producing good sized fish in all the snakehead hotbeds, including Blackwater on the east side and the Potomac watershed on the west. The “Baltimore rivers” (upper Patapsco, Back, Middle, Gunpowder, and Bush) are also big producers. All of these waters are also good largemouth bass fisheries.
Spotted sea trout (aka specks) are being caught in water accessible to middle Chesapeake anglers. Renowned angling family, the Rudows, ran down to tiny James Island near the Little Choptank and had success pitching paddletails into structure. The eastern Chesapeake shorelines from the lower 80 buoys on down have produced nice specimens in the mid-20s. Of course, the best action for specks—and red drum, bluefish, Spanish macks, and possibly cobia—is even further south, in the Tar Bay, Honga, Bloodsworth, and Tangier areas. Time to tie on your Zman plastics to hold up to these chompers and brutes! Good luck!