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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): A beautifully clean and healthy channel catfish, caught from the Patuxent River this week on a drop-shot rig with a Gulp minnow.

It’s been a dynamite week of fishing for a variety of species in the middle Chesapeake Bay region. Everything from night stripers to perch (yellow and white), catfish (blues, channels), largemouth bass, northern snakehead, crappie, bluegills…you practically name it…have been biting one day or another. Though the weather has been up and down in terms of rainfall versus sunshine, we’ve seen temperatures holding around the 50F mark most days. This weekend, a low pressure system will move over the region bringing rain (thunderstorms?) and potentially gale force winds on Saturday into Sunday before tapering off. Staying true to March weather patterns, a high pressure system will then take over early into the week with plenty of sunshine. 

But those pesky winds will still be reaching velocities that could require small craft advisories and make fishing difficult. Nonetheless, a new moon arrives Sunday and with it, favorable tide cycles with peak floods hitting in the early-afternoon hours each day next week. Most tributaries should see high water marks midday, which could bode well for fishing shoreline cover for the likes of chain pickerel, bass, and early-season snakehead. The latter two species should start feeding aggressively as they get their energy stores ready for spawn in the months ahead. 

We’ve seen some good reports of the night striped bass bite this week, which tends to be in water less than 30 feet as the fish move shallow in search of baitfish and smaller species that have been getting active in the tributaries. Angler Eddie Weber (@severn.river.angler) caught a few fish this week in the mid-20-inch range, at night on soft plastics in the Severn. The Patapsco has also produced nice size fish at night through dawn. Make sure your nav lights are in good working order if you plan to fish at night.

Charters continue their winter success in open water, taking clients on long tours of the mid-Bay in search of trophy stripers. Most trips are successful, if success means one or two big fish. Folks gravitate to the warm water discharges, but also have started to search the major points of the Bay that jut toward the channel edges (Bloody, Thomas, Sandy to name a few). The stripers will continue their push to major spawning rivers, including the Potomac, Patuxent, Choptank, Chester, and the Susky Flats. You can try intercepting them at the aforementioned points or river mouths and open water reefs. Jigging is popular (1.5 to 3 ounce heads with 7 inch plastics is about right for most conditions right now), but to cover more water, some folks are deploying trolling spreads (tandems rigs especially).

Remember, there’s only about 3 weeks left until the April 1st through May 15th moratorium on striped bass fishing. (No trophy season.)

On light tackle, these little channel cats offer a fun tussle.

Most of the local fishing I concentrated on this past week has been along the Patuxent River, particularly the lower Anne Arundel vicinity. Several recon trips in search of yellow or white perch came up empty, but channel catfish were active and hit my drop-shot rig tipped with Gulp minnows. Still a fun tussle on light tackle with 6-pound test line. I have found the Patuxent watershed north of Wooten’s Landing difficult for yellow perch (they hang in Jug Bay), but very good for white perch by mid-March. Shad will move up by late-April. 

For white perch, now is the time to try fishing the region’s many saltponds that line our tributaries and even the Bay proper. Any marsh that dips into and becomes a small pond or lake can hold white perch this time of year. The South, West/Rhode, Severn, and Magothy have several such ponds, and the entire Eastern Shore is littered with them. Small jigs, beetle-spins, nungessers, and the like should catch ’em up. We had a very good white perch report this morning from one such pond, which shall remain nameless. (Sorry folks.)

Most of the yellow perch reports are suggesting that the fish are finishing up their spawn, some even post-spawn. This is the case in the Tuckahoe and Choptank on the Shore—usually a good indicator of how the spawn is going overall. In about a week and change, expect the largemouth bass and northern snakehead bites to start heating up. Both will feed aggressively as they begin pre-spawn staging. Might be a little early for topwater, so try beefy inline spinners or flukes/paddletails on weighted swimbait hooks or chatter-style lures. (You’ll find me at the Governor Bridge Ponds.) Good luck!  

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