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 email@example.com to share updates and photographs of your recent catches for potential inclusion in next week’s column. The leading photograph (above): Don’t forget about crappie! In the middle Chesapeake’s rivers, crappie are still feeding before winter sets in; this one hit a 2” stinger on 1/16oz head in the upper Patuxent River a few days ago. Photo by yours truly.
Happy Thanksgiving! Autumn fishing has reached a zenith, save for a day here or there when the heavens opened up with rains or gusty wind. Recreational anglers and charters have been on the water with abandon and are catching a wide variety of species, from crappie and largemouth bass to the striped variety, and toothy species from pickerel to tautog. It’s been an amazing week!
In the middle Chesapeake Bay region, from the Bay Bridge down toward Chesapeake Beach and beyond to Solomons, larger stripers in the 30” class continue to be jigged up among lots of teens and 20s. Boats working the Bay with electronics are finding the fish over reefs and along the shipping channel edges. Popular regions are Eastern Bay, the Choptank’s mouth, between Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant and Taylor’s Island, and the Cove Point Hollow. They’re scattered and it takes time and effort to find them, but when you do, the rewards are worth it.
Sometimes, you’ll luck into a sea of birds and blitzing fish, and we’ve seen a few videos from charters captains as such. Most folks are tossing 1–2oz jig heads tipped with 5–7” plastics on light tackle gear and enticing bites with snap-jigging. Others more inclined to the fly, are using 9wt outfits with big, sinking Clousers or Deceivers to get down in the water column.
Trolling remains popular among larger vessels and we’re seeing more success with umbrellas than tandems, but the approach still remains a “flavor of the day” type of deal. Most boats troll both.
And we’re still seeing reports of anglers working baited bottom rigs (bloodworms or Fishbites) around structure (Bay Bridge pilings) and reefs for black sea bass. Amazing that this bite has reached the middle Bay with such consistency this season!
When the weather made the Bay a bit more hazardous than comfortable, as it did on Sunday and Monday, anglers ventured into the mid-Chesapeake rivers, like the Severn or Magothy, to fish for pickerel. The pickerel bite is hot right now and will remain so through winter. Surface water temperatures in the region are hovering around the 55F mark and continue to dip, which is ideal for the fall bite. Personally, I’ve found spinners most effective right now to entice bites; quarter-ounce Mepps Aglia Streamers (single hook). Others have used tail spinners screwed into soft-plastics. And still others have had great success on the fly. Similar deal as the stripers but on lighter outfits in the 5–7wt range.
The key is catching the tide at its peak, which has been a bit challenging the past several days with low slack falling in the middle of the morning. Afternoons can be good, however, especially along south-facing shorelines warmed by the sun. Look for grassbeds and structure and fish the edges. Bonus–you’ll likely hook into yellow perch which are feeding hard right now and balling up ahead of their early-winter spawn.
In fresher, feeder waters—like the way upper Patapsco, Gunpowder, Little and Middle Patuxent, and many of the region’s reservoirs and small lakes—large and smallmouth bass, crappie, and a mix of other panfish and trout are being caught. Sizes have been excellent too, with larger specimens feeding hard. Folks are using micro-finesse techniques for the crappie and trout, and upsizing to larger plastics, chatterbaits, and crankbaits to work around laydowns, points, and significant depth changes for bass. Jig ‘n pig or, even, a Ned rig can be effective when the fish are hugging bottom.
And if chowder-worthy tog are on your mind, head “downy ocean hon!” Around Thanksgiving and into December, I try to make a day-trip to Ocean City for some tog ‘n striper action at the inlet and beaches. It’s a great time of year—quiet mornings, good fishing. The striped bass moving down the eastern seaboard from the Jersey shore offer the chance to hook into something sizable, while the tog bite deep by the jetty rocks is predictably good. Bring a couple outfits to sling heavy plugs and jigs. For even larger tog, head offshore on a charter to the wrecks and artificial reefs. There are great beach/ocean reports and resources at fishinoc.com. Good luck!