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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): Yellow perch are becoming increasingly active in multiple rivers throughout the Chesapeake watershed. This Patuxent River perch hit a small stinger on a 1/16oz jig head. Caught this past Friday morning, 11/10.

The new moon arrived and with it, stronger tidal cycles. The weather has been frigid in the middle Chesapeake Bay. The winds have howled. Water temps are holding at about 56–57F. And the fishing has been solid.

Anglers continue working birds throughout the main Bay, looking to catch stripers feeding on the peanut bunker spilling out of the rivers. The mouths that flush into the Bay are excellent staging areas to target bass. Jigging is the technique most employed, with light tackle setups, heads at about 1oz, and a selection of plastics…5-inches, 7, and up. You’d be hard-pressed to find better color combos than those of white, silver, and chartreuse. “Hot rig” with scent and maybe use a skirted jig for some extra flair. The most trafficked areas continue to be the Bay Bridge and points south, including the Severn, Magothy, Eastern Bay, South, West/Rhode, and Choptank. Try to find depth and contour changes near the channel edges.

A good number of boats are trolling with umbrella and tandem rigs. This is the time of year to potentially hook into 30-plus-inch striped bass. The striper migration down the Atlantic coast continues. Right now, the Jersey beaches are producing stud catches for surf casters. Many of those fish will make their way down, around, and up into the Chesapeake Bay over the next several weeks. Big trolling could become big producing. A bit further south toward the Solomons to Potomac region is a good bet to work your vessel or hire a charter.

Attention is also turning to river fishing for pickerel and yellow perch. The bite for both species is starting to get hot in the Severn River, which serves as a measuring stick for the watershed. In fact, I propose that the yellow perch fishery continues to show incredible improvement year over year. I’ve personally had increasing catches the past two seasons, and if early success this year is any indication, then ’23 into ’24 will be even better. This week alone, the Severn produced multiple 13” perch and a bunch of 12s for several anglers, myself included. Those are good size neds for this region. I also visited the way upper Patuxent River specifically to see if the perch would be active, and they are. Marshyhope and Tuckahoe on the Eastern Shore are also producing. Most fish were caught on light setups with inline spinners or small jigs with 2” stingers or minnows.

This healthy pickerel hit an inline spinner worked along a grassbed in the Severn River last Sunday.

Pickerel are also hitting inlines and soft plastics—the key, thus far, in this early part of the season is to have some flash and keep the lure moving. Look for grassbeds and/or structure like laydowns, docks, etc., especially on a high tide. Both pickerel and perch tend to inhabit the same areas, so if you start hooking into one species, chances are you’ll hook into the other.

The Coastal Conservation Association Maryland Pickerel Championship is underway and continues through February 29th. On the iAngler tourney app, we’re already seeing a number of pickerel entries, with the largest so far, a 26”-plus fish. The tournament is open to anglers of all ages and all tidal and non-tidal waters of Maryland are fair game.

Trout and, especially, smallmouth bass are attracting anglers to several feeder rivers, including the Little and Middle Patuxent at Savage, Patapsco near Avalon within the state park, and the Susquehanna River. Fly casting is a fun way to hook into the fish, which tend to run less than 12.” The Gunpowder River has also seen action with anglers hoping to hook into trout.

And big, blue catfish are feeding hard. We’re seeing many successful bank anglers in the D.C. vicinity. Boating for blues is hot further down the river. And the Jug Bay area of the Patuxent is loaded with them, with folks either fishing from the pier or launching at Jackson’s Landing or Selbey’s Landing. Good luck!

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