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Weekly Fishing Report

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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): Beautiful, little fallfish recently caught on the upper Patuxent River. Sometimes these little fighters can be saving grace on recon trips for other species.

The middle Chesapeake Bay region has been rather uneventful overall. Stable but cold weather and water temperatures have settled the fishing into typical late-winter patterns, with many species hunkering down in bottom dwelling, pre-spawn mode. Fishing can be challenging, but it can be done, and we’ve seen several productive reports.

In terms of yellow perch, a kinda, maybe, sorta slight uptick in fish activity has been reported in the likes of the Jug Bay/Wayson’s vicinity of the Patuxent on the west side, and the Marshyhope on the Eastern Shore. I fished Queen Anne’s Bridge (way north of Wayson’s) early Friday morning and there was no sign of perch, yet. Just a few fallfish. 

Perch may still be a touch south of Hillsboro on the Tuckahoe or Red Bridges on the Choptank. And have the fish moved up to the Severn headwaters yet? I plan to find out this coming week. Temperatures are expected to climb through the weekend and carry into the following week. This could get neds moving up and into their preferred spawning grounds. It’s an “any day now” situation. Be ready with small offerings like darts and spoons, stump jumpers, stingers on 1/16 or 1/8oz jigheads, or tiny Kastmasters. 

White perch will also start staging in the coming weeks. March is when they’ll move into many of the same waters the yellows have been. By then, the largemouth bass and northern snakehead (ahem, Chesapeake Channa) will start to fire up pre-spawn mode in many of these same tributaries (and small lakes/millponds). And then the American and hickory shad will have their turn, in April. That’s a report for another day. 

Striped bass have been difficult to locate and catch, lately. Just a few reports of a good bite in deep water, down in the Point Lookout vicinity. And a couple reports from anglers fishing the shallow water night bite on an outgoing tide. I think the Tangier side of the Bay is where this bite is happening. By mid-March the bass will start to needle their way toward spawning grounds and their movement should trigger “wave two” of the great striper bite the region experienced in December/January. 

This week, we also saw a couple captains having to save trips by abandoning the open water striper bite (lack thereof) and heading into the rivers to fish for chain pickerel. Not a bad plan B, especially if you strip Clousers and streamers on the fly for them. The pickerel are reliable targets right now and generally can be tempted to strike near deep cover, such as tree laydowns, docks, and riprap. Throwing jerkbaits, small chatters, and inline spinners is also very effective. Sometimes, just probing and covering water with a small shallow-diving crankbait will get slammed—especially the second or third day into a temp warmup. 

Lastly, I’ll touch on blue catfish. Enough can’t be said about how invasive this species is and why we need to harvest every cat pulled up. Don’t throw them back, please. The good news is they are quite catchable right now in the deeper water near river mouths, especially the Bush, Magothy, Choptank, and Potomac. They’ll also move upriver as the water begins to slightly warm in the coming weeks. Bottom rigs with fresh chunk bait should score you some hits if you dedicate the time to patiently wait for the fish to find your offering. Good luck!

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