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. The leading photograph (above): Striped bass that took the jig/paddletail near shoreline in the Severn River. Photo by yours truly.
The middle Chesapeake Bay region is setting up for, what could be, a fine week of fishing heading into the midway point of August. Big storms blew through the entire Mid-Atlantic stirring up the watersheds, oxygenating them top to bottom, and activating a slight cool down, which has energized multiple fisheries. All of this syncs with a waning moon toward new and the strongest tides occurring at dawn/daybreak by this weekend and into early next week. If you’ve been itching to hit topwater for striped bass at sunrise, as I have, this is our week coming up. We should also see blues and macks feeding voraciously on abundant baitfish, so the trolling game also could be hot.
Anglers have been reporting good catches from the northern end of the bay to southern for a variety of species. Most reports have been stripers, bluefish, specks, macks, and bull reds. Striped bass continue to hold and feed in the Patapsco River around Fort Carroll. The Six-, Seven-, and Nine-Foot Knolls should also have schools foraging near the mouth and further into the main stem. In most of the middle bay rivers, the mouths are active and offer a shot at a trifecta of stripers, blues, and macks. Most of them won’t exceed 20”, but larger fish can be in the mix. Keep a rod rigged with a 1/2oz silver Kastmaster or even a G-Eye rain minnow—you can either jig it deeper for stripers or burn your retrieve up top for the chompers. The Eastern side of the channel seems more active recently.
Light tackle casting or trolling has been very good for anglers plying shorelines and shallower water further into the rivers. Large pods of baitfish continue to fill the creeks and at dawn and dusk, the water looks like it’s sizzling with activity with occasional blitzes of 17” or so class stripers. Topwater poppers, ploppers, and walking baits can trigger exciting strikes. Jigheads from a 1/4oz up to 1/2oz tipped with 3” to 7” paddletails are also excellent for subsurface hits. If you’re fishing over grass flats, try a brightly colored paddletail or fluke rigged weedless for a shot at speckled trout, or even a puppy drum. There have been several such catches in the lower Choptank area, and a couple randoms in the Severn River.
Much further south, the bull red action has been fantastic with multiple charters putting their clients on 40–50” class fish. Captain Travis Long of Schooled Up Charters (@schooled_up_charters on Insta), for example, has demonstrated an excellent August thus far in this regard. Expect to depart Chesapeake Beach, Solomons, and Point Lookout for a shot at these bigs, which are from Taylors Island down to Smith. Continue pushing into Virginia and there may be crossover water with cobia. The biggest bluefish (a few 30 inchers!) in the bay are also down this way.
In the middle and upper sections of major tributaries like the Potomac, Patuxent, Choptank, and Nanticoke anglers continue to encounter classic summer patterns for largemouth bass and northern snakehead. In the past week, we’ve personally caught both species in the Patuxent. Topwater frogs attract the bigger fish and, occasionally, overzealous juveniles. Sight fishing has been solid for snakehead overall, and folks fishing the entire Blackwater system on the Eastern Shore are enjoying what’s become, perhaps, the best northern snakehead fishery in the U.S.
Smallmouth are also active in the western sections of the Potomac, Pax, and Susquehanna above Conowingo. Small jig/grub combos worked in holes and seams can get fish to strike. Earlier this week, we waded a shallow, rocky section of the Middle Patuxent near Savage, Maryland, catching tiny smallmouth. A very refreshing and cool way to fish during the hottest days of the year. Good luck!