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): White perch are reluctantly starting to move downriver from the upper creeks of middle Chesapeake tribs. This one hit a firetiger Rapala Countdown on Saturday evening, 10/21, in Valentine Creek (Severn River). Photo by yours truly.
The full moon approaches Saturday with strong tides, the forecast calls for calm winds and waves the next two days, and water temperatures remain in the mid-to-low 60s. This makes for prime feeding conditions in the middle Chesapeake Bay region, especially at night. The daytime bite between sunrise and set could be tougher though. By early next week, a cold front will push westward into the region and small craft advisories may be needed.
Reports from many recreational anglers and several charter captains have focused on a great jigging bite in the Eastern Bay vicinity for striped bass upward of 30 inches. This week has seen a very good bite between Bloody Point and Poplar Island and into the EB. Anglers have been jigging up fish by working 1–2oz heads with 5–7” plastics (BKDs, paddletails) below the bird blitzes in 20- to 40-foot depths. Skirted jigheads can offer the fish a more enticing look and you may want to enhance the offering with ProCure or garlic Spike-It. Anglers have also found success in shallower water around Thomas Point and the lighthouse, especially at dusk with topwater plugs.
The Bay Bridge pilings continue to offer a mid-20” class of stripers, with consistent catches by means of live-lining spot. Finding spot, however, has been a bit of a trick with the temperatures continuing to dip and the baitfish becoming scarcer. Of note, black sea bass have been in the mix for a few anglers rigged to catch bait, so targeting them with bottom rigs could be a nice alternative to finicky striped bass. (Side note: I personally worked the shoreline at Sandy Point State Park last Wednesday evening, casting Smack-Its and Salt Pros, hoping for a rogue striper to hit. The only fish caught was a small Atlantic needlefish who outdid himself going for a lure he had no business trying to eat. Go figure.)
In the middle Bay rivers (Magothy, Severn, South, Chester, Miles/Wye, Choptank), anglers should plan to work the shallow shorelines, sandbars, and structure during morning and evening hours for schoolies. Poppers, walkers, and jerkbaits have been go-to lures lately. Areas with adjacent, sharp dropoffs are excellent target areas, so check your charts. Swim-jigging 1/4 to 1/2 oz bucktails (tipped or not) around deeper docks/piers/pilings can also produce larger river stripers.
Those fishing the rivers accordingly this week have been catching more and more pickerel. The fish are becoming increasingly active, especially in the creeks and coves. Numerous Severn River pickerel have been entered this week into the Severn River Rod & Keg Club’s annual derby, though none larger than about 21” to date. More and larger fish will start feeding with abandon when water temps approach 55F. By then, expect the white perch bite to all but have completely died. Until then, you can still pick them off in the creeks and downriver in deeper water. By late-fall, the white perch will have moved into deeper Bay locations to overwinter.
A brute species that’s bulking up right now is the blue catfish. Reports from the middle Patuxent (Jackson’s Landing vicinity and south) have been dynamite, with numerous 20-pounders caught, and a few nearing 30lb. Fish-finder rigs holding bottom with lead and a 8/0 circle hook with fresh cut bait is simple and effective. Dropping into a hole, usually found at the bends in rivers, can be the ticket. Once the bait scent is picked up, blue cats (and channels) will swarm toward it. Hang on! Other known havens for the blue cat include the mouths of the Middle, Patapsco, Magothy, and Choptank rivers. The Potomac river in the D.C. vicinity is also prime habitat.
Largemouth bass, crappie, and panfish are still in fall feeding mode. A near 6-pound fish was just pulled from the Annapolis Waterworks Park impoundment. There are a few bigs in this water. Frogs pulled across dying vegetation or working weedless flukes, worms, and the like could draw strikes from bass. Near cleaner (no veg) banks, rocks, and laydowns, try pulling small square-bill crankbaits across the structure. This is a prescription for just about any water in the region holding bass. Aggressive feeding strikes can be exciting. Good luck!