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): A beautiful schoolie striper jigged up at the Severn River Route 50 Bridge this past Sunday, 11/5. Photo by yours truly.
The week’s middle Cheapeake angling scene has been pleasant, near picture perfect, and fairly settled weather-wise. Save for a couple quick blowers passing through with sweeping winds up to 25 knots on the main Bay, most days have had relaxing puffs in the 5–10 knot range. There’s been nary a drop of rain, too. As you can imagine, boat traffic—even for this time of year—has been above average, especially this past weekend.
With reports of a major gull blitzes still occurring in the Pooles Island, Patapsco, Eastern Bay, and Choptank vicinities, it’s small wonder why the charters and rec boats are condensing in those areas lately. There’s a good striper bite with very good fish in the mid-to-upper 20s most mornings and evenings. When you’re in the blitz, you can throw just about anything and get a bite: jig-n-pigs, lipless cranks, Xraps, big Clouser or Deceiver flies if slinging line is your game…you name it. Have a light tackle jigging setup with heavier heads rigged (1–2oz) to get under the schools for the larger fish lurking deep. This deeper bite can remain active during high-sun, too, as long as there’s current where you’re fishing. This means paying attention to the tide cycles and wind patterns. And good news, with the new moon incoming this Monday, the tides will be running strong with the most water moving overnight.
At Sandy Point State Park, groups of anglers show up after the sun sets and fish deep into the night, hoping to pluck the larger stripers roaming the shallows and feeding. I spoke with one angler on such an outing last Wednesday. He lasted until 3 a.m. the evening before we met and connected with several mid-20s…so he said. I did not have such luck (but only stayed ’til 7:30 p.m. on my visit).
Also tried bottom fishing with chunk bait at Sandy Point for blue catfish, but no luck. The blue cat reports have been solid in the Potomac/Anacostia rivershed, Patuxent at Jackson’s Landing south, the Choptank, Nanticoke, and the Eastern Shore’s darling tributary…the Marshyhope. Last weekend, the 2nd Annual Madness on the Marshyhope Invasive Catfish Tournament & Food Festival was hosted by the Town of Federalsburg and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. More than 50 registered anglers boated 198 blue catfish, with the winning/heaviest fish coming in at 26.9 pounds. Use the freshest bait possible (bunker, panfish, gizzard shad, eel).
River jigging has been my best bet lately for striped bass. Similar light tackle principles in slightly shallower water. I found a few nice stripers recently, from 19–22” at a few consistent locations within the Severn River. The Route 50 bridge pilings continue to produce (Navy Bridge could, too). I used a 1oz head with 5” paddletails in color-combos of white/silver/chartreuse. When that bite dies off, I move to deep water docks and pitch 1/2oz bucktails around and under them. This has been a go-to, productive pattern. Last Sunday was very good in this regard (both bridge and dock patterns).
The pickerel fishing is picking up. Lots of fish are being caught in the creeks, saltponds, and grassbeds of the Severn and Magothy rivers by enticing them with all-manner of spinners, paddletails, or combo of both. The jerkbait bite hasn’t been as effective yet. The water temperature has hovered around 57F and there’s a slight warm-up Thursday/Friday. When there’s another cooldown and that temp dips to the low-50s, I believe jerkbaits will pick off more fish.
Bonus: I’m seeing the largest white perch of the year still in the upper and middle Severn creeks, having caught a consistent number of 10-inchers, and one going 12.25,” this past Saturday afternoon. Amazing. And the autumn yellow perch bite is just starting. It will improve with colder weather.
Black sea bass remain a hot ticket for anglers willing to target them in the middle Chesapeake, especially at the Bay Bridge pilings. Most of the fish are under the 13” creel size, but anglers are picking through the littles for a few keepers. Baited top/bottom rigs that reach deep, or even slim-n-heavy diamond jigs or spoons, can pull these fun fish up. Good luck!