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 caught at sunrise on the Severn River, Friday, August 11th. Photo by yours truly.
Since last week, the middle Chesapeake has seen plenty of excellent opportunities to hit the water and catch fish. Calm winds coupled with high and generally strong tides coinciding at sunrise for most of the past 6–7 days did, indeed, create excellent conditions for topwater striper fishing at dawn. Cutlass fish also have been abundant in the middle bay hitting jig/paddletail combos, as have decent specks and puppy drum, while tailor bluefish and some Spanish mackerel are actively hitting flashy metals and Gotcha plugs. Sight fishing for northern snakehead remains prime, and tempting a variety of freshwater species—large and smallmouth bass, sunfish, and crappie—is still a manageable affair in abundant waters. Let’s dive in…
I’ll start in the Severn River because, per usual, it’s my home water and where I fish patterns firsthand. The topwater game for schoolie stripers has been hot. And I get a kick seeing boats at predawn racing downriver past me and out to the expansive bay when there’s great fishing to be had…in the river. While there’s little doubt that good fish are in the bay and possibly at popular feeding grounds like Hacketts, the Knolls northward, Love Point, Eastern Bay, Poplar Island, Thomas Point, and the BB pilings, I encourage anglers to not overlook the flats, sandbars, grasses, and structure they often pass by. There are decent fish feeding mightily at dawn and dusk right now, and closer to home than you may realize.
Last Friday morning, the pattern was easy. I targeted a flat that I’ve grown fond of, located between stretches of docks on either side. The flat has an average depth of about 4 feet. Near shoreline, a vast stretch of SAV covers bottom and the weedline is easily visible. Then there’s open water extending toward the ends of the docks and the river’s main stem for about 30 yards before the depth hits a sharp drop to about 17–20’. Position the boat just inside the dropoff and make casts throughout the 30-yard open stretch in this shallower water. Striped bass will move up from the deeper water at dawn and push baitfish between the dropoff and weedline—basically squeezing them into a feeding zone where topwater poppers and spooks will draw aggressive strikes. The magic hour is about 15 minutes before sunrise and lasts until the sun is three or four fingers above the horizon. By 7 a.m., I switched to a chartreuse jighead with “ice” colored paddletail, swimming it through the same zone to pick up a few more fish. Average size of fish was 20.” This is a classic mid-summer striper topwater pattern that anglers have repeatedly used this past month in many of the mid-bay rivers, and most especially in the Patapsco, Eastern Bay, Severn, lower South, and Choptank.
A better white perch bite—better than in the main bay that is—also remains in the rivers. Those that have tried very hard at traditionally hot white perch spots in the main bay, including at the eastern BB pilings and several reefs have had close-to-zero luck. A slew of miserable reports posted this week as such (but one has to wonder!). Stay in the rivers and find structure and shade. Find that combo now, even in shallower depths, and you should pull fish. Use microplastics on lighter jigheads, small spinnerbaits, beetlespins, or bait a bottom rig with grass shrimp. For the more trying angler, fly casting small, bright woollybuggers or light clousers can do the trick.
Back to those jig/paddletail lures you might be using for striped bass. They’re catching puppy drum as far up as the Severn River right now. Several anglers continue to show off catches that are barely slot size. Very cool. These lures are also catching cutlass fish in the middle bay right now. Anglers Eddie Weber and David Rudow hooked into a mess of them this week on brightly colored combos as such. Way to go guys! In the lower Choptank creeks near the mouth, you also have a shot at speckled trout by pitching these lures across shallow water in the morning, or deeper structure come high sun. The Little Choptank is also active. Ditto for the Solomons/Potomac region, where well-regarded and known angler, Eric Packard, continues to catch a mix of rocks, reds, and specks…often coming on the same style lure.
Main bay trollers are targeting stripers, but most especially bluefish and Spanish macks right now between the Bay Bridge and the lower 80 buoys, with #1 or 2 planers and Drone- or Clark-style spoons. It does appear most fish are still being caught south of Poplar Island.
Throughout the Potomac and Blackwater watersheds, the snake bite has been amazing. Fish the creeks for calmer water and dragon northern snakehead. And throw frogs, frogs, frogs. Any style of frog. Popping frogs…frogs with limbs, skirted legs, spinners. Bright frogs, dark frogs. Have a few on hand and give ‘em a try by sight casting beyond bubbling fry balls and retrieving through them. Mom or dad will likely strike with abandon. And if they don’t? Tie on a light, 4” fluke-style bait and twitch it through the ball. Don’t see fry? Pitch and retrieve around any and all cover.
Some great bass and sun fishing is being reported in the northern Tuckahoe vicinity, Marshyhope near Federalsburg, and the Pocomoke River. Large ribbon tail worms get the big bass to bite, while small jigs tipped with 2” Berkely Gulp minnows have been one angler’s choice for bucketfuls of bluegills, crappies, and perch nearly every…single…morning. Good luck!