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): Schoolie striper caught from a mini-blitz on the morning of 8/29, with a 4” jerkbait. A near-100 percent overcast sky extended the bite. Photo by yours truly.
Oh glorious autumn…it’s inching ever closer to us. If this past week has shown anything, it’s that fall patterns are in the emergent stage throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Anglers fishing for stripers, snakehead, largies, perch, blues, macks, and more species are reporting success and predictable patterns coinciding with the moon, tides, and temps becoming of late-August/early September. Autumn is near folks and now is a great time to start testing some of your favorite methods for catching fall fish.
With the full moon arriving Wednesday night (8/30)—a rare blue supermoon, which won’t be seen again until the year 2037—the fish have activated and should remain in feeding mode throughout the week. This is welcome news for those chasing the striped bass bite. Bay schoolies are showing themselves in droves, pushing baitfish into surface blitzes during dawn and dusk hours. A few 30” class fish have been caught in the middle bay, with one angler reporting a topwater catch just outside of Annapolis (try Tolley Point south to Thomas) and another on the eastern side (Eastern/Prospect Bay area) by means of trolling tandem bucktails. Most of the fish I’m hearing of and seeing firsthand are 17–22” fish—some smaller, a few larger—busting mini-blitzes in the rivers. I joined angler Derek Sadowski for two solid mornings this week in the upper Severn River, with overcast skies extending the morning feed. Run and gun fishing across the deeper water made for exciting outings; look for floating gulls and hang near them. When they move, follow quickly to find the blitz, then carefully ease within casting range. We threw Rapala SXR10s into the mix—perfect peanut bunker imitators. Your choice of lure may vary, but those that work just below surface avoid the gulls but not the fish! And try casting just outside the blitz edge for the rogues that are sometimes a few inches larger.
Working the shallow shorelines around docks, points, and rip-rap also has been consistent. River anglers are reporting a great paddletail bite, hitting their preferred spots with 1/4 to 3/8oz jigheads tipped with the boot of choice (3 to 5” plastics are key). Well-known Capt. Tom Weaver even started putting a few clients on stripers by means of fly. All the middle rivers are producing, especially in the lower sections as some of the bay schools move in to begin the fall feed. We’re all hoping to hear of slightly larger fish soon.
Those jigging 7–10” plastics, like BKDs and large shads, on heavier lead are still having success in the Patapsco River, from the Key Bridge to mouth. I expect more and more Ptap anglers to begin pursuing the topwater bite in earnest though. Meanwhile, those trolling the channel edges from the Bridge down to Bloody Point, and even below that, are doing so mostly for bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Good quantities of both fish are coming in, though nothing prominently larger than about 16”, 20” max. These fish will begin migrating south toward the Atlantic during September, so try to get on them now. And cutlass fish are still being caught in the South River/Thomas Point area.
White perch and croaker fishing has also been excellent. Again, upriver water is where an abundance of fish is still prospering. I speak directly for the Severn River, in which a number of SRRKC members are enjoying outfishing one another for their largest perch aggs in the club tourney. Lots of 10.25” and above fish reported. (Even a couple yellows have been caught.) If you read me weekly, you probably know I’m a proponent of micropaddletails on 1/16 to 1/8oz jigheads fished around relatively deeper shoreline cover and shade (water could be from 4’ up to 15’ or so). My evidence is the stringer caught from last Sunday morning. As overnights cool ever-so-slightly over several weeks, these fish will begin moving downriver and congregating in deeper bay water, where most of the larger croaker are right now. Start probing oyster beds and deep structure with baited, small-hook dropper rigs.
The other multi-reports this week: snakeheads are slamming frogs and hitting flukes in several western shore tribs and their creek waters (Patapsco, Patuxent, Potomac especially). And largemouth bass are being taken on large worms, either Tex- or wacky-rigged, from the southern Maryland lakes to the Eastern Shore creeks, proving that the fish know, as well as we do, that autumn is around the corner. Good luck!