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): A gorgeous 13” yellow perch caught this week off a shallow grassbed in the Severn River with a #3 Mepps Aglia Streamer (single hook). Photo by yours truly.
The amazing run of inbound ocean stripers to the middle Chesapeake Bay continued well into Christmas week and charter captains are happily filling their boats with anglers through the New Year’s holiday. This is a fantastic time to target brute-size striped bass in the 40–50” class with light tackle techniques. The winter catch-and-release fishery is very good and most boats are hovering in the lower-80s and 70s buoys from Chesapeake Beach south. Some anglers got into a good bite in the North Beach vicinity, but by-and-large the bite has been south of there. The mouth of the Potomac River/Point Lookout has also produced good reports this week.
Boats outfitted with radar are using it to track large swaths of feeding birds and running to those spots. During periods of heavy fog this week, radar was a key tool. This is open Bay fishing, so care and consideration is important on the approach. You’ll likely encounter a number of other vessels. There has been action from top to bottom of the water column, so everything from topwater plugs to heavy jigs are catching fish.
Some boats, however, are staying outside of the fleet and catching on a drift over wolf packs away from the frenzy. Most of the sonar screens I’ve seen this week are showing the fish hugging bottom in water that’s 45’ to 60’ deep. Bouncing 2–3oz jigs tipped with 4–7” plastics along bottom is most folks’ preferred technique.
With all the striper action this week, I haven’t seen much reporting on other Bay species, such as black sea bass or white perch, both of which provided good action around the Bay Bridge pilings and mid-Bay reefs recently. Baited Sabiki rigs worked deep around structure could probably pull up some good fish though.
In the north Bay, anglers have targeted walleye in the Susquehanna vicinity, as well as blue/channel/flathead catfish. Bottom baits and lures can entice the fish. We’re also seeing pre-season trout stocking and angling success in a number of areas. There’s been a few rainbows pulled from the Middle and Little Patuxent and western Patapsco, and some holdover stockers (rainbow, golden, brown) from the lower Western Shore ponds.
Most of my own fishing has been in the Severn and Patuxent rivers, targeting yellow perch, chain pickerel, and other small species. This week I found most of my fish at either shallow grassbeds in 2–3’ of water or 4-5’ depths just ahead of shallow flats at the ends of creeks. Anything with flash has gotten the most bites for me (inline spinners especially). A few fish bit micropaddletails on 1/8oz jigheads, and a couple larger fish hit 4” jerkbaits.
There are still resident schoolies in the systems but most have moved downriver to the deepest water. Two New Year’s ago, I completed a Severn Slam (yellow perch, pickerel, striper) and here’s hoping for a repeat this weekend. May your own fishing also be productive. Good luck!