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): Fallfish are a wonderful winter option, found in many small creeks and streams with moving water.
The deep freeze is upon the region. Like much of the northern east coast, Maryland’s middle Chesapeake Bay region has experienced consistent below-freezing temperatures for much of the week, which has iced over creeks in most tributaries and all freshwater environs. This has made fishing a challenge, especially for boaters locked in the ice.
The open water of the bay is fishable but accessing it is difficult for smaller vessels. Those with larger, capable boats are still pursuing the migratory striped bass bite. Charter captains from Annapolis down to Point Lookout reported client catches here and there over the past several days, although most boats had to search hard for the fish—covering 70 plus nautical miles was not uncommon.
Striped bass remain deep and tight to bottom, generally in the 35—70’ depths. Vessels are trolling along the eastern side of the shipping channel with deep tandems or umbrella rigs. The mouths of Eastern Bay, Choptank River, and Little Choptank are options. Those fishing the western side of the bay, generally search the Cedar Point to Point Lookout region. If you want to jig the fish up with 2oz heads and large plastics or heavy spoons, you’ll need to find the fish with your electronics and drift over/around them while bouncing your offering along bottom.
Warm-water discharges can also hold fish. Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant is, perhaps, the most well-known. Other discharges include Brandon Shores in the Patapsco River, Chalk Point in the Patuxent, and Morgantown in the Potomac. These areas could also produce blue catfish, which is another viable species to target in winter. The larger, wider water of the Potomac may have good bank-fishing options still in the D.C. area down to the mouth. Heavy lead up to 10oz and big chunk bait on 8/0 to 10/0 circle hooks can draw in the catfish.
Other than the weather, the most notable news from the region this week was the state record rock bass caught by Thomas Over, Jr., in the lower Susquehanna River while fishing deep for yellow perch. The 1.0-pound bass pulled up with a tandem perch rig with small jigheads tipped with 1.5” tubes. Pretty neat catch!
Yellow perch and pickerel are ideal species to target right now, however many of the creeks they hold within are iced over. If you can access any that are fishable, try deeper diving jerkbaits around cover, docks, laydowns. The outside edges of bends in a river are great places to try for perch (and catfish!).
Moving water may be your best bet, overall, to find some winter fish. Wading central and western streams for trout, fallfish, and smallmouth bass is a wonderful winter activity, provided safety and care are taken. Maryland DNR has taken a break from stocking trout this week, but do continue to check the department’s trout stocking page for updates. Tailraces behind dams are another option for moving water. The Little and Middle Patuxent, western Patapsco, and Monocacy rivers are good options to try. We drove over parts of the Monocacy en route to western Maryland yesterday (for skiing), and the water was moving quite well. Good luck!