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): A nice, late-summer schoolie caught midriver in the Severn. Shallow running jerkbaits can be a great option, especially on sunny mornings if the fish aren’t hitting topwater with any frequency. Photo by yours truly.
Midnight showers—some incredibly intense—have defined the off-water hours of this past week and helped shape what the fish and anglers were doing during daylight. A complete mixed bag of reporting, with hits, misses, and a few slams, have come from the northern Bay to its south. Winds were mostly favorable this week with a few days starting calm then becoming gusty. Water flows/currents have been moderate to above-moderate in most systems, elevated by the rains. The coming weekend sees air temperatures dip just below the 60F mark overnight and daytime highs approaching high 70s/80.
I was on the water just a couple days this week—most recently, Wednesday early-morning in the Severn River—and the surface water temperature was exactly 80F. Other anglers noted 80- to 82-degree temperatures throughout the middle Chesapeake. Expect a slight cool-off with the coming weather. Though sunshine is predicted most days heading into next week, my hope is that we see the water start approaching the 77- down to 75-degree zone, which should help the topwater bite for a variety of species and shift fall patterns into a higher gear.
Most of the success stories this week have come at the mouths of the rivers (versus upriver a week-plus ago). This is where the larger resident schooling striped bass, in the 20” to near-30” range, have been holding. One angler reported “an absolutely epic afternoon” fishing the Patapsco with multiple topwater and jigging hookups on bass in the mid-20s. Another claimed “What a morning!” (Wednesday) after fishing the Thomas Point vicinity and catching 12 stripers, all above the 23” mark. Even Captain Tom Weaver—renowned for his prowess putting fly anglers on stripers—reported large bait balls with large schools of stripers feeding just outside the Severn’s mouth (Tolly Point perhaps?). And way south (we’re talking Virginia’s Chesapeake), several charters reported excellent bull red drum and cobia catches.
Accordingly, and with the temp swing coming, even better fishing could be ahead. Try large poppers, spooks, and shallow running jerkbaits at dawn and dusk around structure and across flats. Popping corks in slightly deeper water can draw strikes, and if you find masses of birds chasing bait and blitzes, try casting this setup around the edge of the chaos. Or have a rod with a heavy metal spoon, Kastmaster, or diamond jig ready to pitch-sink-twitch into the foray for the larger bass sitting below the smaller surface feeders.
Those live-lining spot for stripers around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge have had fewer bites it seems. This may be due to shorter windows of opportunity between the dicey weather that’s continuously rolled through.
Overall, the striper game seemed to shift a bit closer to the Bay as fish retreated to deeper water. I think we’ll see a push back upriver this coming week. The baitfish are still extremely thick in the reaches of tributaries.
Even further up and into the lower-salinity environs of several rivers, several species have been thriving and so, too, have the anglers in pursuit. This week we saw reports of largemouth bass and northern snakehead being caught in the upper Tuckahoe (Hillsboro), Choptank (Denton), Patuxent (Odenton), Patapsco (BWI vicinity), Bush (Otter Point), Gunpowder (Days Cove), and Middle (Wilson Point) rivers. Look for areas rife with grass and vegetation and cast an allotment of frogs all over the place to get the surface strikes. You can also try pitching flukes or Tex-rigged worms into holes. A Ned-rig can also get strikes.
I haven’t heard much chatter about white perch, perhaps because many anglers have been targeting Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and stripers. I’ve personally seen quite a bit of perch activity in the morning hours as they feed on minnows and small bait in the Severn’s coves and creeks. Still upriver—a good thing. The Spanish mackerel and bluefish have been on for some anglers and completely off for others. It’s a matter of finding your way into the schools. Reports a week ago indicated schools moving around the lower-80 buoys at Poplar Island southward, but I came up empty last week during a 5-hour troll trip exclusively targeting macks (going as far as Chesapeake Beach). So it goes. Will they stay through the coming week or start heading to the Atlantic? Let us know if you hook into any.
Interestly, there are still reports of cutlass fish being caught in the South River/Thomas Point vicinity, and angler Mike Watkins messaged me about making a cutlass catch in the Severn near Weems Creek! (Caught on a 5” Zman minnow while trolling for stripers in 20’ of water). Amazing…and a head scratcher, like the uptick in puppy drum we saw this far north in the Bay/tribs just a couple weeks ago. Rare but not unheard of, I suppose.
And, how about the beautiful swimmers? Blue crabs are fairly numerous in all the tributaries. Recent reports of 1/2-to-full bushels being pulled out of the Magothy, Severn, South, Wye, and Sassafras. Trot-lining chicken necks seems to be working well. Haven’t heard of as many folks running razor clams. Odd. Those with dock pots are pulling about 2 to 6 crabs per trap on overnight soaks. If you have a holding pot to keep them in, you’ll have a feast worth of crabs within a week. Good luck!