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. The leading photograph (above): White perch caught by fishing a shaded shoreline this past week, by yours truly.
Action has been big hits or huge swings-and-misses this past week for anglers throughout the middle Chesapeake Bay region. There’s a wide and varied amount of reporting for several species, with a few exceptional catches, a few skunks, and some old-standby patterns in between.
Bluegill, crappie, and perch fishing in the upper eastern shore creeks—Tuckahoe, Marshyhope, and others off the Choptank, Nanticoke, and Chester rivers—has been consistent. Fish the shaded shoreline and/or cover no matter the time of day to find pockets of fish holding in water a degree or two colder than sun-soaked environs. A moving tide often helps. Small jig/grub/worm/minnow combos of the 1/16 to 1/8oz variety work well (2” Gulp minnows have been excellent), as do other small offerings like Kastmasters, beetlespins, and stumpjumpers. For a fun challenge, try fly casting small offerings like beadhead woolly buggers to entice strikes. We’ll be giving this a shot in the coming week and will report back.
White perch and a few yellows are also drawn to these offerings throughout the western shore tributaries and most freshwater impoundments. The key—as mentioned—is shaded water. Those that have tried for jumbo whites at deep water structure and reefs in the main Bay haven’t fared as well as creek anglers this week. One Bay angler reported an empty day (and fuel tank) running from oyster bars in the Chester to Love Point to Belvedere Shoals to Podickory Point to the Bridge pilings, plus a few more spots—catching nothing but small fish (>10”). I advise plying the banks and cover in the rivers.
Right now, there is so much baitfish in the rivers—way up the rivers, and particularly the Severn—that sightings of dolphin pods are becoming common. They were spotted in The Narrows of the Severn this week, for example, which has been unheard of until now. The bait is drawing them and other feeders upriver. We actually caught a couple bycatch striped bass up to 21” as we fished the Valentine Creek headwaters during downtime while chicken necking for crabs. And schoolie blitzes are happening everywhere. Hopefully the fish—all fish—hold in these areas on through the 7/31 moratorium and into late-summer/early-fall. If the Severn is any indication, the western shore tribs should be fire this fall season.
Speaking of the Severn, angler Eddie Weber caught a 30”, 10lb, dragon snakehead in the river a few days ago, on a frog, which proves big fish are lurking there. Northern snakehead have been an enigma in some tributaries, like the Severn, despite their widespread distribution in adjacent watersheds. It’ll be interesting to follow catches like Weber’s to see if an uptick in the population materializes. Elsewhere, in known snakehead havens like the Potomac, Patuxent, Gunpowder, and Blackwater coves and creeks, now is the time to get a rise out of big snakehead protecting their fry. Sight fishing for fry balls bubbling on the surface and repeat casting topwater frogs or subsurface shads can irritate mama or papa into striking. Big hookups have been the norm lately.
Mid-bay anglers also have Spanish mackerel on their mind and those that have tried for them from Annapolis south haven’t had much luck…yet. Right now, small bluefish have been the bag, caught with the planer/drone setups that most speed trolling vessels employ. But the Spanish are expected to move into the water from the low-80s buoys and Poplar Island up to the Bay Bridge any day (minute?!) now. So, keep trying. The action should ignite in August.
Speckled trout have kept those anglers within reach of them happy. The fish could be anywhere from shallow grass flats to holding bottom at deeper structure in 40’ depths, so good electronics can certainly go a long way toward finding them. Areas to investigate include the rivers and creeks at the mouth of the Potomac River/Point Lookout (St. Jerome’s Creek!) and, of course, the east side islands from Bloodsworth to Tangier. We haven’t heard of specks being caught north of the Choptank region, but it’s possible to hook into them in the middle Chesapeake. Swimming or jigging brightly colored paddletails can get the bite.
And much lower into Virginia waters near the Bay’s mouth and into the Atlantic, cobia have been seen in decent numbers. A nice report from the CBBT came in with a healthy specimen caught. Around the bend on the Atlantic side, summer flounder continue to be caught in all the coastal back bays. Lastly, the Assateague Island beaches are producing an early bull red run. Angler David Moore and his buddies have gotten an early start hunting for the bigs. Usually a September game, fishing for bulls has already taken flight, with Moore reporting consistent catches all month long. Chunks and fleas on stout fish finder rigs are pulling them in…and it’s usually during the darkest hours of night. Good luck!