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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 gorgeous late-season pickerel caught this week on a Rapala X-rap in the Severn River.

It’s been a week. A very good week across the middle Chesapeake Bay region, as the weather cooperated with angling ambitions and fish were caught. Lots of fish. So, good news all around. Reports have come in from both sides of the Bay Bridge, from multiple locations for multiple species. It’s a special time for fishing and it should only continue to improve overall as we march toward spring. 

That said, we do have a couple fronts developing over the region, one of which pushes over us Friday into Saturday and another early next week. A touch of rain and high winds will make fishing open water a bit challenging for small craft. But protected coves and creeks on many of the tributaries should be fishable and fun. Surface water temp was up to 53.9 where I fished this morning, so watersheds are becoming increasingly active.

White perch are running well in their known habitat/watersheds. They’re in salt ponds on the western shore (we got another solid report from the South River vicinity), and are pushing up tributaries. They were caught at Red Bridges at Greensboro this week off the Choptank; ditto for the Upper Marlboro stretch of the Patuxent. Any day could be a good day to try for them. I especially like using a trusty “spring setup”—that is, a 1/16 ounce shad dart with a trailing nungesser spoon of the same weight. Other go-to options are micropaddletails on light jigheads, or live bait under a bobber (grass shrimp or minnows). Small spinners, stump jumpers, and beetle spins can also be effective. 

The yellow perch have finished their spawn in most tribs now. They’ll head downriver and hunker down for a bit before feeding with any regularity soon. But you might find them around deeper docks and cover in coves and creeks of popular tributaries such as the Susquehanna, Magothy, Severn, Choptank/Tuckahoe, Nanticoke/Marshyhope, and the upper Potomac. 

And the shad? Though it’s a touch on the early side for them, the first official report from Friends of Fletcher’s Cove came this past week. A few hickory shad were caught on darts of varying colors and weights. There was also a nice report from Mason Springs this week (@ericp132 on Instagram caught no less than 20!). By the time the dogwoods bloom in about one month, shad runs of hickory and American will be peaking in their known Chesapeake spawning rivers (Potomac, Patuxent, Choptank). 

Another frisky pickerel that went for the X-Rap during this week’s outing. A steady, medium-pace retrieve got the bites.

There’s still a very good chain pickerel bite in many of these same rivers. I spent a full morning this week catching my lot on a Rapala X-Rap jerkbait (XR10 in olive green), fishing laydowns and docks in creeks of the mid-Severn. A medium pace retrieve did well. The fish were frisky ahead of the front that’s coming. It was likely my last targeted outing for pickerel of the season. 

If you want to catch eater-size blue catfish, now is the time! They are feeding well throughout the watershed. The deeper water near the mouths of many rivers seems to be the ticket. The Bush, Magothy, Severn, Choptank have had fish caught this week. I personally saw bait soakers at Sandy Point State Park catch fish off the bank/point on Tuesday evening. Top/bottom or Santee Cooper rigs with fresh chunk bait or chicken should get them to bite. Try fishing a moving tide cycle. Another popular spot is Fort Smallwood Park on the Patapsco; be advised the area in front of the rock armament is closed due to construction. However, it is slated to reopen in “Spring 2024” so maybe any day now, we’ll get notification of the park fully reopening. The park’s boat ramp/fishing pier, playground, and pavilion are still open. 

There are 16 more days to try for your trophy striped bass before the April 1–May15 moratorium. Most of the Chesapeake’s main stem is open to catch-and-release fishing right now, but spawning rivers are off limits to striper fishing of any kind. Refer to the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources maps for reference. Those that are catching, report the fish from anywhere between 3 feet of water to 70—from the shallows to the depths of the channel. It’s wide open sport. You may want to target shallow water, dock lights, and flats at night (check @severn.river.angler on Insta), and the channel edges near popular points by day (Bloody Point leading into Eastern Bay always seems active with boats). Warm-water discharges are also worth checking. Jigging remains popular in the deeper water, while plugging in the shallows has landed some hefty fish (shout out to @scottkemm). 

We’re seeing a lot of largemouth bass being caught in many of the reservoirs, lakes, and millponds that dot the region. Also the fresher environs of the upper Patuxent, Tuckahoe, and Marshyhope. Paddletails, weedless or otherwise, have gotten strikes. According to my notes from the past two years, these next couple weeks of March should be for very good bass fishing. More and more northern snakehead are also being caught. The middle-Potomac on the west side and the Blackwater region on the east are starting to fire up ahead of the spawn. 

And Maryland’s DNR has been busy stocking, stocking, stocking a mix of rainbow, golden, and brown trout across the state leading up to opening day, which is March 30th. From the Western counties to the Eastern Shore, thousands of stockers are being released into creeks, river runs, lakes, ponds, etc. Check the Department’s Trout Stocking page for the latest information. And now is a great time to get up to snuff on your fishing licenses and trout stamps (required). Good luck!  

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