Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report- May 11, 2023

Trophy striper season is slow while schoolies flood Western Shore tribs; meanwhile, snakeheads and white perch dominate upper bay tribs, and large speckled trout hit the Eastern shore in numbers.

Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle Report — Baltimore, MD

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

So far the Maryland striped bass trophy season has been very slow. Many boats reported catching none, or very few undersized fish. The summer season starts in just under a week on May 16th. The new regulations for striped bass is one fish between 19 to 31 inches. No fish over 31 inches is allowed to be kept.

Blue catfish, northern snakeheads and white perch are still plentiful throughout the Upper Bay. Bass fishing has been good too throughout the tributaries of the bay, and anglers are catching with spinnerbaits, wacky worms and topwater baits. Fresh cut bait has been a good option for the blue cats. White flukes and in-line spinners are working good for the snakeheads. Grass shrimp and lug worms are working for the white perch.

Eva Brown with her first big blue cat at 37.5 inches.

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

Striped bass anglers in the Upper Bay are watching their calendars, waiting for when summer season begins on May 16. For the Susquehanna Flats and river areas, striped bass caught beginning that date must measure between 19 inches and 26 inches in length. For the rest of the Bay, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will incorporate a new maximum size of 31 inches for keeper striped bass this year, following action taken for the entire East Coast by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. This regulation does not affect the remainder of trophy season in Maryland.
Anglers who have been trolling for trophy striped bass along the shipping channel edges below the Brewerton Channel report very slow fishing success. Most are reporting a skunk on the boat (for the uninitiated, that means fishing without success) or catching a few undersized striped bass.

Blue catfish are plentiful enough for anglers to cash in on some exciting and bountiful fishing. The lower Susquehanna River, the surrounding tidal rivers within the region, and the Bay itself contain large populations of blue catfish and channel catfish. Fresh cut bluegills, white perch, menhaden, and gizzard shad tend to top the list for the best baits, but many anglers do well with chicken liver and other chicken parts, and scented baits.

Northern snakeheads are being caught by anglers fishing at the Conowingo Dam pool and the region’s tidal rivers and creeks. May is an excellent time of the year to fish for snakeheads since they are in a pre-spawn mode of behavior and feeding aggressively in open waters. Casting white paddletails is a good tactic in open water near grass, and buzzbaits are a good lure when fishing over grass.

White perch are holding in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers and can be found near structure; channels, dock piers, and rocks are good places to look for them. Grass shrimp and pieces of bloodworm are the preferred baits. As waters become more comfortable for the white perch, they can be found holding near shoreline structure in the mornings and evenings. Casting small jigs and spinners with ultra-light spinning tackle is a fun way to fish for them.

Last week’s heavy rains brought a lot of runoff to the upper Bay, including Deer and Octoraro creeks. The increased creek flows may have spurred on the last hickory shad spawning run for the 2023 season, but time will tell.

Bud Martin Sr. caught and released this nice hickory shad on Octoraro last week. (Photo by Bud Martin Sr.)

Middle Bay

In the middle Bay, fishing for trophy sized striped bass has been very slow. There are some post-spawn striped bass moving through the region from the upper Bay spawning sites. The post-spawn striped bass from the Choptank and Nanticoke rivers seem to have moved farther south. The beginning of summer season, May 16, is just around the corner. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will incorporate a new maximum size of 31 inches for keeper striped bass this year, following action taken for the entire East Coast by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. This regulation does not affect the remainder of trophy season in Maryland.

White perch have made it to their summer habitat areas and can now be found near dock piers, oyster beds, and submerged structures near the lower sections of tidal creeks and rivers. Fishing with grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm on a simple one-hook bottom rig that is fished close to structure is a good way to catch some perch. In the early morning and evening hours, casting small jigs, spinnerbaits, and spinners along shoreline structure is a fun way to catch them.

A mix of channel and blue catfish are entertaining anglers in the region’s tidal rivers this week. The blue catfish are particularly numerous in the Choptank River and are spread out between the towns of Choptank and Denton. Cut bait is very popular and the oily baits tend to attract more bites. Using live minnows or nightcrawlers, scented baits, and chicken livers and other parts also work well. Setting out a chum slick from a chum dispenser set close to the bottom can work wonders.

Lower Bay

Those elusive post-spawn striped bass in the lower Bay have been intercepted by some anglers in the lower Potomac River, the edges of the shipping channel, and in Tangier Sound. Most anglers are trolling large parachutes and bucktails along the main channel edges, but some are having good luck fishing with cut bait and soft crabs along these same edges. On the Eastern Shore, large speckled trout can also be in the mix when fishing soft crab. In the lower Potomac River, it can be difficult to get past the blue catfish, so bring plenty of bait.

Angler John Reilly caught a 25.5-inch spotted seatrout in the Chesapeake Bay on Apr 29. (Photo courtesy John Reilly)

Starting May 16, anglers will be able to fish for smaller striped bass when trophy season gives way to summer season. In the Maryland portion of the Bay, the minimum size will be 19 inches, and 20 inches in the Potomac River. Virginia waters will have a slot of 20 inches to 28 inches for striped bass. Maryland will incorporate a new maximum size of 31 inches for keeper striped bass this year, following action taken for the entire East Coast by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

The hickory and American shad spawning runs are about over in the upper tidal waters of the Potomac and Mattawoman Creek. The tidal creeks of the lower Potomac are providing good fishing for white perch this week in the lower sections of the creeks and in the river. Blue catfish tend to dominate the tidal Potomac fishery and they can be found along the river’s channel edges.

Blue catfish can be found in the middle to upper Patuxent and Nanticoke rivers this week. In many areas they are actively spawning. Various cut fish baits and chicken liver are good choices for bait. The area of the Patuxent below Jug Bay is a good place to fish this week and the Sharpstown area of the Nanticoke is an excellent place to fish for blue catfish. Channel catfish can be found in every tidal river and creek in the lower Bay.

Northern snakehead fishing is very good this week. The fish are moving around and feeding aggressively. The tributaries of the tidal Potomac, the Patuxent, and the Eastern Shore rivers are all good places to fish for snakeheads. Casting white paddletails is perhaps the most popular way to fish, but fishing with large minnows under a bobber is another good way to catch them. The Department of Natural Resources instituted a tagging program to reward snakehead anglers who catch these invasive and report the tags. Read more on the department website.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays

Striped bass continue to show up in the surf of Assateague Island this week and a few bluefish are being reported, all caught on fresh cut menhaden. At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, striped bass are being caught by those jigging with soft plastics along the South Jetty rocks and the bulkheads and bridge piers inside the inlet. An increasing number of school-sized striped bass are exceeding the 28-inch minimum. Beginning May 16, a new coast-wide maximum size of 31 inches will be in place. The Route 90 and the Route 611 bridge piers are also holding striped bass. A few large bluefish and speckled trout are also being caught by jigging with soft plastics.

The channels leading away from the inlet are the best place to drift for flounder this week, and the Thorofare tops the list. White and pink Gulp baits are popular for a larger grade of flounder; minnow and squid will always remain go-to baits.

The anglers aboard boats headed out to the wreck and reef sites are catching some impressive tautog this week. Anglers have until the season closes May 16 to get their fill of tautog fishing. The season will reopen July 1 and the daily creel limit will drop to two fish per angler per day. The black sea bass season opens May 15 with a creel limit of 15 fish per day per angler with a 13-inch minimum length.

All it took was a break in the weather for anglers to make the run out to the canyons for some exploratory fishing. Those who were trolling between the Baltimore and Poorman’s Canyons picked up a couple of yellowfin and bigeye tuna, a great start to the season. Deep drop anglers caught limits of blueline tilefish and some large golden tilefish.

Freshwater Opportunities

Trout fishing is still good in many of the stocked waters, especially the larger bodies of water. The smaller community ponds will also hold trout until warmer water temperatures become too much for them in June. In the many put-and-take streams and rivers, casting small lures is a great way to cover a lot of water and entice holdover trout to strike a lure. Small spinners, spoons, and jerkbaits are a few examples of good lures to use on spinning tackle. The trout waters that are designated as catch-and-release and have limits on the types of  gear allowed will offer good trout fishing through the summer months.

The fly-tackle-only trout management areas in western and central Maryland offer some excellent fly-fishing opportunities for trout. This type of fishing is catch-and-release and it is all about fun. Other species that can be targeted with fly fishing gear include largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish, and even tidal species such as striped bass and white perch. Check out the website for Maryland’s Fly-Fishing Trail to find various locations for fly-fishing.

Fishing for largemouth bass is about as good as it gets; the fish are hungry after spawning. Water temperatures are still cool enough that the largemouth bass do not have to retreat to shade in daylight, so they are feeding most of the day. Grass beds are a prime target to cast soft plastics and to work plastic frogs over the tops of thick shallow grass. Structure in the form of fallen treetops, sunken wood, and drop-offs can be good places to try spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and wacky rigged stick worms. In tidal waters, working the outside edges of spatterdock fields or thick grass during a low ebb tide can provide some good action. Also, when fishing tidal waters, northern snakeheads will often be part of the mix.

Angler Elvin Molina caught a 21-inch largemouth bass in Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Park, Silver Spring on May 6, 2023

Bluegill sunfish are often the first fish our younger anglers catch but using a very light fly rod and floating ants or rubber-legged bugs can offer a lot of fun to our older anglers. The fishing rodeo season is well underway in many parts of Maryland and offers some great fun for our younger anglers and good family time. Check the Department of Natural Resources website and see what fishing rodeo events will be near you.

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

Angler’s Sport Center 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

We’re still seeing white perch slowly move back into their summer spots. You can find them in the shallow parts of rivers around structure such as docks, or submerged logs. Small spinners such as a Bert’s Perch Hounder or a smaller Mepps inline spinner will hook you on TONS of perch! Schoolie sized rockfish are being found all around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It’s an excellent place to troll! Captain LJ, creator of G-Eye Jigs, informed us that you can even find nice sized rockfish in shallow waters, no more than 5 feet or so, using smaller paddletails and jigs. People are reporting a good mix of blue and channel catfish around Sandy Point and the Bay Bridge! The sizes include anywhere from 5 pounds to 50 pounds! Anglers are catching them on baits like soft crab, bunker and even bloodworms! There’s also a decent amount of perch mixed in around the Sandy Point area as well, so it’s a good all around fishing area for multiple species!

South Bay

The Red Drum are in full force! Lots of Anglers are reporting catching them on shrimp, mullet and even squid! Some hotspots include Latimer Shoals and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. If you’ve got the itch for some catfish, the Potomac is perfect for you. It’s packed with a good mix of channel and blue catfish. Anglers have reported very good luck with a simple jighead and paddletail. Around Fletcher’s Boathouse is where you’ll easily find some “big ol’ 50 pounders”. As was reported last week, most of your trophy rockfish are going to be found more towards the center of the south bay. Trolling is always your best bet! White perch are moving towards the shallower water and piling into channels just before the rivers. If you’re targeting them, we recommend a Chesapeake sabiki rig tipped with baits like soft crab, bloodworms or Fishbites!

Additional Info.

Trophy Rockfish Season is live! We have a great selection of trolling combos, planer boards, umbrella rigs, tandems rigs, and so much more. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are here to help you select the best equipment and bait to fit your specific fishing needs.

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

Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report – Annapolis, MD

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

Mild and mostly sunny weather has dominated the Chesapeake Bay region, making for a prime week of fishing. Multiple species are active, and anglers have been thick on the water and along the banks for them. The weekend saw several catch-photo-release tournaments, which are becoming more commonplace as the angling community ramps up conservation efforts, especially for the Bay’s prized striped bass. 

Sunrise schoolie stripers have turned on in the Chesapeake Bay’s middle tributaries this week.

The pre-eminent Boatyard Bar & Grill Opening Day Rockfish Tournament, based in Annapolis, was held May 6th (technically a few days after opening day). For 20 years, this tournament has inspired others as an ethical catch-and-release event. Fifty-nine registered boats chased trophy sized stripers throughout the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay, mostly by trolling tandem rigs or larger umbrellas, with shad bodies. This is an effective way to cover water and hook into fish. First place winner/angler/captain Andrew Wendell caught a 44.5” striper. Second place was a 40.5” specimen caught by 12-year-old Dylan Cinque, and the third place team, PYY Fishing, delivered a 39” entry. Congrats to all!   

Meanwhile, light tackle anglers are reporting a very active schoolie bite throughout several of the Western Shore tributaries (South River!), the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant warm-water discharge, and Eastern-side islands. The lower half of rivers and even the shallower water around points in the Bay have been hot with 20-fish mornings not uncommon. Most schoolies are reported in the 17–24” range, with a few inching upwards of 30. Marking and jigging 6” plastics or trolling hard baits has been key. The sunrise topwater bite will likely pick up in just a couple weeks as the water continues to warm.     

The chance to hook into a 40-plus” class of fish in the middle-Chesapeake is dwindling though, as the post-spawn migration continues southward, out the Bay’s mouth, and up the East coast. Coastal surf anglers have almost entirely switched gears from black drum, to focus on striped bass right now, and many are showing off their prized catches at Assateague, Ocean City, and the Delaware beaches. Fish finder and high-low rigs baited with sandfleas, bunker, and Fishbites are simple and continue to catch big fish.  

High Octane Custom Baits hosted its 3rd Annual Snakehead Slam Team Tournament, also May 6th, which saw anglers throughout the watershed paired together and catching numerous, large fish. Several anglers broke their personal best catches, with fish in the 13-pound range. If you’re on the hunt for a “pb” snakehead, waters to target include: the Mattawoman, Pomonkey, and Anacostia arms off the Potomac; the Patapsco, Middle, and Gunpowder rivers near Baltimore; and, of course, the entire Blackwater region on the Eastern Shore. One angler reported a nice-sized snakehead (mid-20s) caught in the Severn River, proving that these fish are fully distributed in just about every tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. We caught ours this week in the Little Patuxent arm of the namesake river. Try topwater frogs. And slow your presentation down significantly if you’re not getting strikes.  

The first red drum are now being caught in the southern portion of Maryland’s Bay, just above the MD/VA border. Shallow water 4–8’ around the Eastern-side islands (Honga/Bloodsworth/Smith vicinity) is where fish are pressing bait to feed. These grounds also offer the possibility of hooking into spotted seatrout. Swimming 4–6” inch paddletails on 1/4 to 3/8oz jigheads can catch both (plus, stripers). 

And we’re still watching the shad run. We personally enjoyed another nice outing on the Patuxent River this past week catching a few Americans, but with more hickory shad mixed in. White perch were also thick and were caught 4 to 1 versus shad. Again, we encourage anglers to try the shad bite before the run fades away as we inch closer to Memorial Day. The North East, Susquehanna, Gunpowder, Potomac, Patuxent, and Choptank rivers all have active runs of varying degree right now. Good luck! 

View the full Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report, written and compiled by writer and media professional James Houck, at

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