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 river schoolie striper caught on a 1/2oz bucktail jig near a dock in the middle Severn River this week. Photo by yours truly.
A pleasant and quite classic week of weather and angling is what October is all about—it was a good one, but as the week behind us leads into the weekend, we’ll see a cold front develop from the west bringing strong winds, which could disrupt the fisheries a tad. Expect small craft advisories Friday through Sunday.
We’re also approaching the first quarter of the moon and the tidal cycles are mild during daylight. Stronger tides will be occurring overnight these next few days. Surface water temperatures still hover in the mid-60sF, so there’s plenty of movement between baitfish and most of our beloved species in the middle Chesapeake.
All this said, if fishing is in your forecast this weekend, consider working through the mid-Bay rivers, where the wind and wave influence isn’t as strong as on the main Bay. There are plenty of schooling striped bass and larger rogues throughout most of the tributaries as they continue feeding heavily on peanut bunker and minnows. The river fish generally don’t exceed 25”, but we saw a few reports of larger fish taken this past week (Severn, South River, Choptank, and Chester). The past three Octobers, I’ve personally logged catches up to 28” at sunrise by casting jerkbaits along shallow flats that drop sharply to deep water. Expect 17–23” in most cases, but the action could be consistent if you stick to a plan, whether that be casting topwater or subsurface around points at dawn or dusk, jigging under baitfish, jigging near current and eddies at structure, or trolling lures (light tackle, tandem rigs, umbrellas, spoons).
In the main Bay this past week…lots of birds, huge blitzes, bigger fish. The Bloody Point/Poplar Island and Patapsco vicinities continue to produce nice fish, with good reports coming from the charters. Big spooks are drawing in fish when the water is calm. The saltwater fly game is also picking up with large Clousers and Deceivers getting hit. Try an 8- or 9-weight outfit if this is your pursuit. Captain Tom Weaver has been showing nice reports of clients catching stripers on the fly this week.
Folks are also live-lining spot, perch, etc. with success. A 30”-class fish was taken at the Sewer Pipe a couple days ago. Plenty of mid-20s have been picked up at the Bay Bridge pilings, especially toward the eastern side of the shipping channel. And trolling large setups along channel drops is also popular. Of note, Tiki Lee’s Rockfish Invitational was held last weekend and the winning striper was a 30.98-pound brute caught by The Chief, which took home a cool $100K for the catch.
White perch fishing is still quite good. Surprisingly, I’m still seeing quite a lot of fish in the creeks upriver (Severn). On Friday morning, I found a nice school of 9–11” fish in Stevens Creek. On Sunday, I caught several 8” during after-dinner casts in Valentine Creek. All caught on micropaddletails tipped to 1/8oz jigheads. They remain a worthy catch if fish tacos are on your mind. Increasingly, we’re hearing reports of yellow perch and pickerel in the mix (Marshyhope Creek on the Shore has been quite active). The water temperature is still a smidge high for both species to kick into late-fall feeding mode, but we’re getting close. Once the surface temps dip below 60F and inch close to 55, it should be game on! (Reminder, the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland annual Pickerel Championship begins Nov. 1st, so sign up now at ccamd.org/pickerel-championship.)
Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has been busily stocking brown, rainbow, and golden trout at many regional parks, creeks, and riversheds. And folks are catching them! This week, DNR stocked locations in Western, Central, Southern, and Eastern Maryland. Check DNR’s trout page for exact days, locations, and species stocked. Now is a great time to fly cast for the species or take light spinning gear for a, well, spin. Go small with nymphs, tiny panther martins, or for a near-guarantee, use Berkley’s Powerbait Trout Bait mushed on small #10 or so hooks. And bring a second outfit with you to target largemouth bass, especially with small crankbaits worked along sunny shorelines and laydowns. Many of the same waters hold the fish and they are bulking up before winter. Good luck!