Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report- April 13, 2023

Blue cats and channel cats bite well throughout the bay, black drum are caught off Assateague Island and Ocean City beaches, and shad continue to run the rivers.

Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle — Baltimore, MD

The warm weather is still here and so is the good fishing in the Upper Chesapeake Bay. The rivers and bay water temps have climbed into the mid 50’s. Shad fishing continues to improve throughout the Susquehanna River with lots of hickory shad and some American shad too. Blue cats and channel cats are still being caught throughout the bay, and there are still good reports of snakeheads being caught throughout the rivers and tributaries along with lots of white perch showing up too. Shad can be caught on Shad darts and small spoons in tandem like your Nungesser spoons or Tony Accetta spoons. Catfish are being caught on cut bait or scented bait. Snakeheads can be fun on top water baits like your weedless frogs, or by using Mepps spinners, chatterbaits or a weedless fluke. Perch are being caught in abundance on live bait like lug worms or night crawlers.

Jeff Reinsfelder with a nice shad from the Susquehanna River this week.

The Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle Fishing Report is written by Tochterman’s team member, Kevin Trupia.

Maryland DNR Fishing Report

Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Keith Lockwood, fisheries biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Upper Chesapeake Bay

Much of the fishing in the upper Bay is focused on catfish and white perch. There are flathead catfish holding in the Conowingo Dam pool, and they can be caught on heavy surf fishing type tackle and casting cut bait into the dam’s turbine wash. Blue catfish can be found in the dam pool, the lower Susquehanna River, and tidal rivers south to the Magothy and Chester rivers. Channel catfish are spread throughout the upper Bay. All can be caught on fresh cut bait, chicken liver, or scented baits.

Tony and Finn Vachino admire a blue catfish caught near the mouth of the Magothy River. (Photo by Patrick Miller)

Hickory shad are increasing in numbers in the lower Susquehanna River near the dam pool and there are reports of a few American shad being caught. Shad darts and small flashy spoons and colorful flies are good lures to use and they are often rigged in tandem. Spawning runs up Deer Creek and Octoraro Creek may occur soon with warmer water temperatures. The first white perch moving into the lower Susquehanna were reported this week, this fishery will gain more speed in the next couple of weeks.

Water temperatures in the Elk River are warm enough this week for striped bass to begin spawning. Striped bass spawning in the lower Susquehanna and Susquehanna Flats will start very soon. Remember that striped bass fishing of any kind is prohibited during this spawning season.

White perch are steadily moving down the tidal rivers in the upper Bay and can be found in middle river sections. Fishing with pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig in the channel areas is one of the best ways to target them.

Middle Bay

Fishing for blue catfish is good in the lower Choptank River from the Dover Bridge area to the town of Choptank. Channel catfish will also be a large part of the catch. Channel catfish can also be found in the upper Severn, West River, and the Kent Island area. Anglers who have never fished for blue catfish should give it a try. The meat is white and tasty once the silver skin and red meat is removed. Blue catfish populations are exploding in our Chesapeake Bay systems, and they have voracious appetites for everything from blue crabs to sportfish.

This blue catfish caught recently in the upper Choptank River had two partially digested blueback herring in its stomach. (Photo by Keith Lockwood)

White perch can be found in the middle sections of the tidal rivers. The channels are the best place to look for them and casting out a bottom rig baited with pieces of bloodworm is the best way to target them. The post-spawn white perch are making their way down the tidal rivers headed for the summer habitat areas and should arrive at those areas by the beginning of May.

A major striped bass spawn in the Middle Bay occurred late last week during the two-day warm spell. Water temperatures rose to 60 degrees and the striped bass did what they came to do. There may be a second major spawn in the next week, but time will tell. Catch-and-release fishing for striped bass in the spawning rivers is illegal due to the stress caused by angling, especially in a mostly freshwater environment where these fish expel excess water and cannot recover well. The Natural Resources Police are monitoring the spawning rivers and anglers can face fines and license suspensions for targeting striped bass during this time.

The fishing piers at Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park are closed in both Dorchester and Talbot Counties due to structural safety concerns. Shoreline and trail access is open on the Talbot County side of the park and 270-foot pedestrian access to the Visitor Center boardwalk is open on the Dorchester County side.​ The Piers are the remains of the old Route 50 Bridge built in 1935, and has served as a fishing pier since the bridge was replaced and closed in the 1980s. Engineers working on the bridge last year determined it to be a safety hazard, leading the Department of Natural Resources to immediately close off the deteriorating structure.

Lower Bay

In the lower Bay, anglers are focusing their attention on fishing in the tidal rivers. Fishing for blue catfish is always action-packed, there are plenty of them, they are easy to catch, and they provide some excellent eating. The tidal Potomac River channel from the Wilson Bridge to the Route 301 Bridge is full of blue catfish. The Nanticoke River near Sharpstown and the Patuxent River from Benedict to Jug Bay have large populations. Blue catfish are also showing up with increasing numbers in the Wicomico and Pocomoke rivers.

Striped bass began spawning in earnest last week on the Nanticoke River. Targeting striped bass during this time is prohibited.

Post spawn white perch are moving down the Nanticoke River this week and can be found in the river and lower Marshyhope Creek. Pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig fished in the channels is the best way to target them.

Catch-and-release fishing for hickory shad in the upper tidal Potomac and Mattawoman Creek is good this week. Anglers are enjoying fishing with light tackle and an assortment of shad darts and small flashy spoons, often rigged in tandem. American shad can be found at the Fletchers Landing section of the tidal upper Potomac.

Hickory shad provide exciting light tackle and fly fishing opportunities. (Photo by Eric Packard)

Recreational crabbing officially opened April 1 and it is still very early in the season. There is a change to be noted in the bushel limit per boat with two or more licensed crabbers through June 2023. Visit the Department of Natural Resources website for information.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays

Anglers fishing on the beaches of Assateague Island and Ocean City are enjoying good fishing for black drum, which can weigh as much as 40 pounds. Clearnose skates are unfortunately chewing up baits, but catching a black drum can make it all worthwhile.

At the Ocean City Inlet and the Route 50 and Route 90 bridges, anglers are having fun catching striped bass. Most of them do not make the 28-inch minimum length but offer plenty of catch-and-release fun on light tackle. Casting soft plastic jigs and working them close to the bottom is a proven tactic. Flounder continue to move through the inlet into the back bays. Water temperatures are still a bit chilly, so an outgoing tide usually offers the best fishing.

Tautog are being caught near the jetty rocks of the inlet, bulkheads, and Route 50 Bridge piers. Sand fleas are the favored bait and the very last of the ebbing tide tends to offer some of the best fishing. There is plenty of action but tautog measuring larger than 16 inches can be hard to find.

The anglers heading out to the offshore wreck and reef sites are not having any trouble catching tautog measuring more than 16 inches. In fact, it is not uncommon for anglers to catch tautog weighing in the double-digit category.

Freshwater Opportunities

Catch-and-release fishing for smallmouth bass is good this week in Deep Creek Lake and the upper Potomac River. A variety of spinnerbaits, Rapala type jerkbaits, tubes, and grubs are all good choices to use. Rocky points and drop-offs are good places to look for smallmouth bass in Deep Creek Lake. In the upper Potomac River, the deeper eddies are good places to target.

Walleye season is open April 15 in Deep Creek Lake, and walleye size restrictions ease up on the upper Potomac River that day as well. Small Rapala lures are an excellent bait to cast along steep rocky shores in the lake, while tubes, soft plastic jigs, and small crankbaits are good choices when fishing in the deeper areas of the upper Potomac.

Trout season continues stockings taking place in multiple waters all week. April is a great month to fish for trout, especially in some of the marginal areas that become too warm during the summer months. The community ponds that are stocked this time of the year are a wonderful place to introduce children to fishing. Check out our youth fishing website for tips on fishing, including where to go and upcoming youth fishing events.

The “Victory Team” of Donizete, Miguel, Lucas, and Benjamin had a great time and formed some lasting memories while trout fishing together. (Photo by Donizete Junior)

Fishing for largemouth bass is very good as the fish build up body stores before spawning. In many areas such as small ponds and shallow waters that have warmed, males have scooped out spawning beds to attract females. Fishing for largemouth bass is catch-and-release only in non-tidal waters until June 15, and a 15-inch minimum is in place in tidal waters. Most largemouth bass fishing is catch-and-release anyway. The female largemouth bass may be found holding in slightly deeper waters close to the spawning areas or in warmer waters on the spawning beds. A variety of crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and soft plastics can be good baits for staging largemouth bass. Soft plastic creature baits are often a favorite in the shallow spawning areas.

Springtime water temperatures herald a great time to fish for crappie. They can be found in moderately deeper waters near structure. Fallen treetops, sunken wood, marina docks, and bridge piers all offer places to find crappie holding. Small minnows or marabou jigs under a bobber are a popular way to fish, but casting and slowly retrieving small lures work well also.

Fr. Jim Farmer holds up a nice crappie for a picture. (Photo by Tim Campbell)

Northern snakeheads are becoming more active in many of the tidal waters and a few non-tidal areas this week. Warmer air temperatures and plenty of sunshine are quickly warming up waters. Look for snakeheads on the sunny side of creeks, rivers, and coves holding near shoreline brush. Casting white paddletails is the best way to fish them this time of year, and drifting large minnows under a bobber is a close second.

Maryland Fishing Report is written and compiled by Keith Lockwood, fisheries biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Angler’s Sport Center Video Fishing Report – Annapolis, MD

The Angler’s Sport Center fishing report is compiled and written by Anglers Team Member, A.J. Lewis.

Upper and Middle Bay

Perch, catfish, and some pickerel are being caught in all the rivers on both sides of the bay. Catfish are being caught in the bay proper as well. We’ve had some great reports coming out of Sandy Point Park and the fishing piers at Matapeake and Romancoke. Cut bait is the best way to target the catfish in these areas, with fresh or frozen Alewife (Bunker) and fresh bait shrimp being the top bait choices. Fish the cut bait on the bottom with a standard fish finder rig and a #6 or larger circle hook. Some of the blue catfish are huge, 15lbs and larger! There are still some late spawning white perch in the upper parts of the rivers, but most are moving to deeper waters in the middle parts of the rivers. Fishing on the bottom with standard top and bottom rigs and bloodworms or Sabiki rigs tipped with bloodworms are great choices to target the white perch. Some good catches of flathead catfish have been reported at the Conowingo dam on chicken liver. Hickory and American shad continue their run. Some Anglers’ employees have had great success fishing for shad at Fletcher’s Bout House in the Potomac and at Red Bridges. Rigging small jig heads (1/8oz – 1/4oz) in tandem with a small soft plastic like the small Bust’Em Baits work perfectly for the shad. Simply cast out and slowly jig. Largemouth Bass are pre-spawn and can be found in more shallow, warmer waters in the upper portions of the rivers.

Southern/Lower Bay

Much like the Upper Bay, catfish are everywhere in the lower part of the bay. Use the same techniques listed above to target these fish. Some charter captains are even having success jigging for catfish with standard rockfish jigs! Additionally, some early red drum are being caught around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Live bait (hard crabs) is the best way to target these early arrivals. You can also jig these fish up with larger profiled soft plastics measuring 7 inches and up.


It’s still very early into the crabbing season and we have not heard much so far.  There have been some updates to the regulations for the 2023 season, so be sure to check out the new crabbing regulations on the Maryland DNR site.


Around Assateague Island, anglers will find large black drum and skates chewing well in the surf. Shrimp and crabs are working well for the drum, but a few skates are bound to interfere.
Ocean City inlet and the surrounding bridges are also seeing good fishing for keeper sized tautog! Sand fleas are working well in most cases.
Stop by Anglers and pick up your bait and tackle needs! And remember, targeting rockfish in the bay is illegal during the month of April. Trophy rockfish season begins May 1st.

Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report Summary – Annapolis, MD

The Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report is written and compiled by writer and media professional, James Houck. Find the full report at

The region welcomed successive days of warm weather this week, which has ignited a number of fisheries throughout the region. With striped bass season in a month-long moratorium (Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay), many anglers itching for a big fish bite have turned to blue and channel catfish. Yes, both species are omnipresent in the Bay, from north to south. Places to be include the Conowingo outflow and mouths of the Patapsco, Magothy, Severn, Choptank, Potomac, and Patuxent Rivers. Soaking chunks of baitfish or even chicken breast on fish finder rigs (heavy gear a la surf) should entice bites. Popular state parks to do so include Sandy Point and Fort Smallwood. Bonus: fishing at night when these species are especially active has become more comfortable with the warmer temps.

Another invasive that has hooked local anglers is the northern snakehead and the bite is on fire right now. The fish are teetering the line between pre-spawn/spawn mode and are eating most artificials thrown at them (paddletails, in-line spinners, and topwater frogs in white, chartreuse, orange, and pink). The best bite tends to be late-afternoon in sun-warmed shallower waters with wood cover and/or emerging vegetation. Try the Gunpowder, Bush, Middle, and Patapsco Rivers around Baltimore; the Mattowoman, Pomonkey, and Anacostia tribs around D.C.; the upper Patuxent at Jug Bay, and just about every tentacle of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore. Bonus, these are the same waters to target largemouth bass, which are also staging to spawn in tidal and freshwater fisheries. Now is a great time to visit freshwater millponds throughout the region for lunker bass!

A fine, pre-spawn largemouth bass caught at Governor Bridge Natural Area in Maryland’s Patuxent River watershed.

The hickory and American shad have been running strong in the Potomac River at Fletcher’s Cove and the headwaters of Mattawoman Creek. Success comes on tandem rigs with shad darts and small spoons. I visited Queen Anne Bridge on Tuesday to see if the shad had started reaching the upper Patuxent, but there was no sign of them. This run tends to be several weeks behind their brothers and sisters on the Potomac, so shad could start running there any day this week. Most shad hotspots should start popping; the dogwoods just bloomed after all (a sure sign)!

Odds and ends to take note of include: don’t forget about pickerel, which are still very active in the upper reaches of tribs, as well as freshwater lakes and ponds. I caught a 23.25″ length specimen this week in five feet of water in the upper Severn River.

James Houck with a 23.25″ pickerel caught Easter Sunday in the upper Severn River.

Crappie have started moving from deep water and are staging around wood cover. I visited an Annapolis impoundment and got my first crappie of the season on 1/16 jigs tipped with stingers. White and yellow perch have finished spawning and are moving into their summer haunts in deep water cover and oyster bars.

And surf anglers are reporting a dynamite bite at Assateague and Ocean City for black drum, which have hit their spring run. Soaking sand fleas on circle hooks tipped with Fishbites has produced well on an incoming tide, which allows the fish to swim over the sandbars to feed in the wash. The run might last one to three more weeks. After that, surf anglers will start targeting the trophy stripers that are starting to migrate out of the Chesapeake Bay and upward to feeding grounds in the northeast.

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