You are currently viewing Weekly Fishing Report

Weekly Fishing Report

  • Post category:Reports

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 to share updates and photographs of your recent catches for potential inclusion in next week’s column. The leading photograph (above): Chain pickerel caught in the north Severn River this week. The species is a reliable target in mid-winter.

Some rain, dustings of snow, strong winds, mild temperatures, then freezing temperatures. February has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at us, weather-wise in the middle Chesapeake Bay region. Last weekend was fair and many anglers took to the water, but in the time since, the region experienced a front that pushed temps back down into the 20–30s with winds gusting upwards of 25 knots. Unless you own a boat that can handle waves over 2–3 feet and whitecaps, you probably weren’t on open water.

This weekend looks like another couple days of small craft advisories, flurries, and a low pressure system keeping things cool, but by early next week another front will blow in and temperatures are predicted to increase. We’re at the first quarter of the moon with the most tidal influence to occur during daylight hours. What does all of this mean for fishing?

Water conditions in the upper Pax were muddy and steady flow. No yellow perch yet in the Davidsonville vicinity.

With the recent precipitation, the water I’ve been on, including the upper Severn River and the way upper Patuxent River, has been very muddy. You can see the dirt and your lures skimming through it—that kind-of-muddy. On this week’s outings, the target species was yellow perch and I didn’t find any holding in the spots I specifically fished. With abysmal clarity and above average water flow, fishing these parts of water was a bit challenging with the small offerings I tried (ranging from 1/16 ounce stump jumpers to 1/8 ounce jigs with tiny plastics). Heavier lead was probably needed. 

That said, further downriver—particularly in the Patuxent—we saw reports of neds holding in the big, deeper bends at Jug Bay. Launch at Jackson’s Landing and head upriver about one mile. Fish are being pulled up and yellow perch are just about at their start of spawn. Hillsboro on the Eastern Shore was also productive recently. Traditional spawning grounds (and therefore more popular fishing holes) will start to see more fish and anglers. These include the aforementioned waters, Red Bridges at Greensboro, Beachwood Park on the Magothy, Bacon Ridge on the South River, Allen’s Fresh off the Wicomico, and the Marshyhope at Federalsburg, among other headwaters in Chesapeake tribs. 

Chain pickerel also offer any angler with cabin fever a target species. Their aggressive strike can be triggered with small square bill crankbaits, jerkbaits, inline spinners, vibrating jigs, and other flashy offerings. This time of year, they tend to hold near cover that has soaked in any sun. Look for laydowns, riprap, and grassbeds in water up to five feet deep along sun-exposed shorelines. Later in the day can be better and with the higher tides arriving in the afternoon for the week ahead, fishing for pickerel could be prime. I almost always have success fishing for them in the Severn River’s many creeks, as do many anglers plying rivers northward in the Bay, including the Magothy. The Eastern Shore’s millponds (I absolutely love Unicorn Lake) are excellent pickerel waters, too. 

Striped bass have been challenging to locate. The entire middle Chesapeake is fair game to find them, but prepare to put in many miles searching deep water with electronics. The eastern side of the shipping channel is usually worth targeting first. On the western side, the area from Point Lookout up to Cedar Point will hold fish. Both areas are vast, but give you some space to key in on. A few reports of rogue brutes being in caught in shallower water just inside river mouths have come in. Reportedly, a first push of bait into rivers occurred in the Potomac, but confirmation is scant. 

What’s not scant are the reports of blue catfish. This has been the species-du-jour for many days this month. Anglers from the Bush River to the Choptank to the Potomac are experiencing excellent fishing for these heavy invasives. Most fish are in the 10- to 15-pound size with some 20s and 30s mixed in. They hug bottom in deep water. Fresh cut bait on bottom rigs will draw them in; once the fish find your baits, they seem to come in droves. Channel and flatheads might hit, too. 

Haven’t seen any reports of northern snakeheads this week (there were a few last week). I suspect water conditions may have turned off the bite for a smidge. Better conditions and a slight warm up this coming week might get them moving a bit more ahead of their spring spawn.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources continued to stock a mix of rainbow and golden trout in tidal and nontidal waters. No browns yet. This week focused on stockings in the mid and upper Eastern Shore (Tuckahoe and Unicorn Branch!) and north of Baltimore on the western side. The Department’s Trout Stocking webpage has all the information. Fly casting for them can be great fun. My recent catches in the Little Patuxent came by sinking and short stripping white or black buggers fished on a 5wt. Spincasting anglers caught them with tiny inline spinners or pinching a nub of trout powerbait on a small No. 8 or 10 hook. Your mileage may vary depending on the water you hit and when. Once a stocking occurs, that water will usually get hammered by anglers. Within two or three weeks of the fish dump, the bite might be all but completely dead.

And speaking of trout, the big news this week was of a new Maryland state record rainbow caught in the Devil’s Backbone section of Antietam Creek, south of Hagerstown. The 17.44-pound trout was caught by angler Jean-Philippe Lartigue with a long, 12-foot crappie-style rod, spinning reel, 8-pound test monofilament line, a small split-shot weight, and a No. 8 hook baited with a natural worm bait. It’s an eye-opening catch that will surely draw anglers region wide to the Central Maryland trout streams. Good luck! 

This report appears within On The Water magazine’s weekly collection of Chesapeake Bay fishing reports.