Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report- May 18, 2023

There's good striper fishing around bunker schools in the Bay, Atlantic beaches see good fishing for trout, rockfish and drum, and flounder fishing picks up in the coastal bays.

Maryland DNR Fishing Report

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

There are new striped bass regulations now in effect that affect anglers fishing for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters. Anglers may keep one striped bass per person, per day, with a minimum length of 19 inches and a maximum length of 31 inches. A smaller maximum size of 26 inches is in place in the Susquehanna Flats, Lower Susquehanna River, and North East River from May 18 until through May 31, then the baywide size limits apply.

In Maryland’s portion of the Atlantic Ocean and its coastal bays, which are open to striped bass fishing all year, anglers may keep one striped bass per person, per day, with a minimum length of 28 inches and a maximum length of 31 inches.
This conservation measure is necessary to meet the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s emergency action surrounding Management Plan Atlantic Striped Bass.

If you do take part in the Maryland striped bass season, please participate in our striped bass volunteer angler’s survey. The information received from anglers is a valuable resource for biologists to better understand recreational fishing for striped bass in Maryland. There are multiple species you can help with also – check the Department of Natural Resources website to search for all our volunteer angler surveys.

Upper Chesapeake Bay

Anglers have begun fishing for striped bass from the Conowingo Dam pool down to the Susquehanna Flat. Remember the slot size to keep striped bass caught there will be 19 inches to 26 inches until June 1, at which point the maximum increases to 31 inches. The catch limit is one fish per angler per day all season.

There is still a closure period for waters below the Susquehanna Flats – to avoid confusion anglers are encouraged to be familiar with the striped bass regulation map on the Department of Natural Resources website.

Anglers are still catching and releasing a few hickory shad at the Conowingo Dam, and although we had no reports from the weekend there may still be some hickory shad activity in Octoraro Creek. There are plenty of flathead catfish in the dam pool.

Many are enjoying good luck jigging with soft plastics near the Love Point rocks, the Bay Bridge piers, and along steep channel edges where striped bass can be located. Others are trolling them behind umbrella rigs or in tandem and have dropped the size of their bucktails and swim shads to medium. The shipping channel edges tend to be popular places to troll. Other anglers will try chunking and chumming near channel edges and besides catching striped bass, will be kept busy with a mix of channel and blue catfish. Anglers are reminded that they must use non-offset circle hooks when targeting striped bass with bait. Drifting cut baits or soft crab baits back towards the bases of the Bay Bridge piers is also a good way to target striped bass.

A mix of channel and blue catfish can be found in the lower Susquehanna River, the other tidal rivers of the upper Bay, and out in the Bay itself. Any type of fresh cut bait, wild shrimp from the grocery store, chicken liver, scented bait, and nightcrawlers all make fine baits. The lower Susquehanna and the Chester River have some of the highest populations of blue catfish in the upper Bay.

Northern snakeheads are entertaining anglers throughout the region this week. The snakeheads are very active and striking baits in the tidal rivers and creeks. Paddletails tend to be one of the favorite lure choices but large minnows under a bobber work well also.

Zolita Courter holds up two large snakeheads caught in Dundee Creek. (Photo courtesy of Zolita Courter)

White perch can be found in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers, usually in deeper waters during the day and shallower in the evening. Grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm can be fished on a simple one-hook bottom rig that is constructed so the baited hook is about 5-6 inches off the bottom. Use as little weight as possible. In the evenings white perch can be found near shoreline structures in the form of rocks, sunken wood, and dock piers.

Middle Bay

The long-awaited summer striped bass season is finally underway and recreational anglers can enjoy fishing for keepers that are 19 inches to 31 inches in length. Fishing will pick up when calmer wind conditions arrive.

Jigging is a great way to fish for striped bass and anglers will be seen checking out channel edges, steep drop-offs, and similar structure. Depth finders are a valuable tool when searching for suspended striped bass. Thomas Point is often a great place to start looking. Most are using soft plastic jigs in various colors but shades of chartreuse are one of the most popular colors. Metal jigs in the form sting silver and Crippled Herring type lures are being used. We received a report from an angler named John that he had good luck catching and releasing several striped bass in the South River near the bridges.

Trolling is a popular option in traditional locations along the edges of the shipping channel. Popular choices for trolling are umbrella rigs with bucktails or swim shads as trailers, or bucktails rigged in tandem. All rigs will need some weight where the striped bass are suspended deep. Spoons can also be a productive choice when rigged behind inline weights or planers.

The Choptank River will remain closed to striped bass fishing until June 1, but when it opens, casting topwater lures along the shorelines of the lower Choptank below Cambridge will entertain shallow-water anglers. In the meantime, there are plenty of channel and blue catfish in the river above Cambridge, with some of the best opportunities upriver from the town of Choptank. White perch are now being found in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers and creeks, often near structures in the form of docks, rock jetties, and oyster bars.

Lower Bay

Happy times are here for lower bay anglers who love to fish for striped bass, as the minimum size is now reduced to 19 inches in Maryland waters, with a coastwide maximum of 31 inches for all Atlantic states. Jigging is a favored method of fishing and striped bass will be found along channel edges, drop-offs, points, and the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers. The cuts through Hoopers Island are always a great place to cast across current and jig in the walk-the-dog fashion using soft plastic jigs or bucktails dressed with a soft plastic curly tail. This is one of the spots where you never know what will strike – a striped bass, speckled trout, red drum, or perhaps a flounder.

The Cedar Point rocks is another favored spot for casting topwater lures, paddletails, and jerkbaits up close to the rocks in the early morning or evening hours, and work soft plastic jigs in the deeper waters during the day. The Calvert Cliffs Power Plant warm water discharge is another popular location to drift and jig close to the bottom with a variety of jigs.

A good depth finder is an important tool when searching for suspended striped bass along deep channel edges; once found vertical jigging with light tackle is one of the most exciting ways to fish for striped bass.

(Photo by Travis Long)

Trolling is a popular option, especially on the larger boats, and they will be pulling a variety of setups. Planers and inline weights can be used to get spoons down to where the fish are holding. Tandem-rigged bucktails and swim shads are popular behind inline weights, and finally there are the umbrella rigs that are a lot to reel in but it works out fine when there is a striped bass hooked on the trailer. Swim shads and bucktails are common trailers.

The lower Potomac River offers plenty of good striped bass fishing this week; the tidal Potomac has the bonus of being able to keep two striped bass per day if they measure 20 inches to 31 inches.

Some anglers will be chunking or chumming at favorite locations and in many areas will have their hands full with blue catfish being attracted to their chum slicks or drifting chunks of cut bait. Drifting peeler or soft crab baits along channel edges and the mouths of creeks flowing into Tangier and Pocomoke sounds is a very productive way to target striped bass and speckled trout. A few black drum have been caught in the area and red drum will arrive soon.

If anyone is looking for some nonstop action, there are plenty of blue catfish to be caught in the tidal Potomac, the Patuxent, the Nanticoke, and numbers of blue catfish are increasing in the Wicomico and Pocomoke rivers. There are also charter boats that are offering blue catfish trips on the tidal Potomac.

White perch are now being found near the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers and creeks and can be caught on grass shrimp or pieces of bloodworm on bottom rigs. They will also begin to move into Tangier Sound. The mouth of the Patuxent is usually a great place to target them on the oyster bars.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays

Along the beaches of Assateague anglers are catching a variety of fish in the surf. Striped bass are being caught on cut bait, clams, bloodworms, and sand fleas. Bluefish are being caught on cut bait and sting rays seem to like all baits that are being fished.

Don Hisler caught and released this 46-inch striped bass at Assateague. (Photo courtesy of Don Hisler)

Inshore sharks are beginning to show up along the beaches; most are protected and if accidentally hooked they must be released in the water immediately; do not take any Rambo pictures of sharks hauled up on the beach. Check the Department of Natural Resources website for information on Maryland sharks. NOAA also has a website to help with shark identification and it can be found at the following link.

Striped bass fishing is very good this week near the South Jetty, around the Route 50 Bridge and nearby piers, and at the Route 90 Bridge. Casting soft plastic jigs and paddletails are the most popular lures being used. Large bluefish are showing up here and there and unfortunately will tear up soft plastic baits.

Flounder continue to pour through the inlet and fill up the back bay waters. The channels leading away from the inlet are the place to be, with the Thorofare and East Channel most popular.

The 2023 black sea bass season opened this week and reports of limit catches were common. The sea bass season will run until September 30 and then reopens October 10 to December 31. The daily creel limit is 15 fish per day at a 13-inch minimum. Tautog season is closed and will reopen July 1 to October 31 with a two fish per day creel limit and a 16-inch minimum.

Anglers heading out to the canyons are enjoying good deep drop fishing for a mix of golden and blueline tilefish, along with a few protected sharks being caught and released. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Marine Fisheries Service designed a mandatory reporting program to monitor recreational landings of bluefin tuna, swordfish, billfishes, and sharks (except spiny dogfish) in Maryland. Anglers landing in Maryland MUST report at a state-operated station, and may not use phone, app, or online options. Anglers can visit the online catch card reporting page to learn more about this program and its requirements.

Freshwater Opportunities

Anglers are enjoying some of the best freshwater fishing opportunities this week as conditions are just about perfect. Water temperatures are moderate, the weather is nice, and fish such as largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are in a post-spawn mode of behavior and feeding aggressively.

Anglers at Deep Creek Lake are finding good conditions for fishing for a mix of species. Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be found near floating docks. The largemouth tend to be in shallower waters and often near grass or shoreline structure. Smallmouth like slightly deeper waters near rocky points and those floating docks.

The upper Potomac River is clearing up and flows moderating, but anglers in small boats need to take utmost caution. Water temperatures are in the mid-60s and smallmouth bass can be found near current breaks, underwater ledges, and rock cover. A variety of lures make good choices including tubes, stickbaits, swimbaits, and crankbaits.

Largemouth bass are entertaining anglers across Maryland from the smallest of farm ponds to our largest reservoirs and tidal rivers. Cover in the form of grass, spatterdock fields, lily pads, and sunken wood are good places to target. At this time of the year when water temperatures are moderate, largemouth bass can be found in a variety of locations during a large part of the day. Shallow grass is always a fun place to use topwater lures in the form of frogs, buzzbaits and poppers. When fishing in tidal waters watch out for northern snakeheads and if you suspect a strike from one, give it a second before setting the hook – they are famous for short strikes.

Tyler Ferenschak was on a quest to catch a northern snakehead and he finally caught one on the Middle River. (Photo by Matt Ferenschak)

Soft plastics and stick worms are often rigged in many different fashions and are a great bait to use around deeper grass and structure. Jerkbaits and spinnerbaits can also be a great choice in these transition areas. The mouths of small feeder creeks in tidal waters can also be a good place to target.

This week is a great time to target crappie in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and tidal waters. Most anglers fish with small marabou jigs or minnows near deep structure. Sunken brush, bridge piers, marina docks, and fallen treetops all fit the bill.

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

Trailing into post trophy season, the rockfish bite unfortunately has slowed down considerably. Trophy season however has ended, striped bass caught in the Susquehanna Flats and river areas must measure between 19 inches and 26 inches in length. As for the rest of the bay, no rockfish over 31 inches may be kept. 

With the striped bass fishing being slow, one thing you can look forward to is fishing for blue catfish! There are plenty around Sandy Point, Matapeake, and the Magothy River. The most common bait is cut bait like alewife or herring, however, some anglers are also reporting great success with bloodworms and jigs. The Conowingo Dam has for a while been a hot spot for snakehead and blue cats! 

The White Perch are moving towards their usual summer spots using the channels in and out of the rivers! If you’re targeting them inside the rivers, you’d do best around structure under water, or around docks using small spinners or shad darts! However if you’re targeting them around the channels, your best bet is a classic Chesapeake Sibiki Rig tipped with bait or your typical top and bottom rig! 

South Bay

The lower Potomac River shows promise when it comes to striped bass and white perch! You’re going to find a healthy mix of post spawn rockfish and blue catfish. Be sure to bring extra bait or plastics as you’ll never really know what you’ll get! Areas like Fletcher’s Boat House continues to be a hot spot if you’re specifically targeting blue catfish! 

With the water temperature continuing to rise, the northern snakehead fishing is becoming better and better. A minnow under a bobber is always a safe bet, however lots of Anglers are reporting great success on your usual topwater frogs and paddletails! The Department of Natural Resources is continuing its Tagging program to reward Snakehead Anglers who catch them, so keep an eye out as it’s always a fun perk to Snakehead fishing!

Additional Info.

The new size limit for striped bass in the majority of the bay is 19 to 31 inches (not including specific areas where the limitations are different).  Remember to check the current regulations on the DNR website. 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

Cool, spring nights and warm days with spits of rain here and there have brought surface water temperatures throughout the middle Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to about 70 degrees. A bit less in the main stem of the Bay. This has helped to create as interesting bite for striped bass, among other species. We’re also approaching a new moon on Friday. Anglers regionwide are quite varied in their reports. 

Some success has been noted from the Key Bridge to the mouth of the Patapsco River. Finding schoolies pushing menhaden around ledges/drop-offs has yielded fish up to 30 inches. Jigging 5- to 7-inch paddletails or BKD-style lures has been effective. Closer to the Bay Bridge, an angler renowned for live-lining spot said it was challenging finding the small baitfish, but once he did, was able to catch stripers in the mid-20s. 

Boats are still trolling tandem and umbrella rigs between the bridge and Poplar Island with mild success. But with trophy season having effectively ended on 5/16 and the slot limit adjusting to 19 to 31 inches in the main stem, we expect to see an uptick in light-tackle techniques to target striped bass. The South and Severn Rivers, and Eastern Bay, are open to catch-and-release fishing and provide a range of habitat, points, and underwater structure to try your hand at jigging or casting lures. Kayak anglers are reporting hit-or-miss on the shallow water, light-tackle trolling bite. As more schooling stripers push in and fill the rivers, this bite (including sunrise/sunset topwater!) should improve as we inch closer to summer.  

We’re also hearing of the season’s first cownose ray bycatches. They are beginning to move into shallower tributaries for their spawn and are likely to be encountered. If you hook into one unintentionally, it’s best to either attempt to pull the hook free or cut off your line as close as possible to the ray. 

White perch are an excellent option to turn to if the striper bite proves confounding. Have an extra rod or two, and plenty of perch-happy lures at the ready, as the species is becoming increasingly abundant throughout all tributaries. Try fishing around deep-water docks, over grass beds, or the deeper oyster bottoms. Small spinners, Kastmasters, or micropaddletails are effective, as are bloodworms or grasshrimp on a small #6 hook. You might even get a surprise jumbo perch when fishing for striped bass, like we did this past Tuesday morning. Sometimes, these aggressive eaters will hit lures nearly half their size. 

White perch have reached all Chesapeake Bay tribs and will aggressively hit lures, even those cast for schoolie stripers. (Photo by James Houck)

Though the Choptank and Nanticoke rivers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore remain closed to striped bass fishing through the end of the month, fishing for other species has been consistent. The Tuckahoe arm has yielded quality largemouth bass, northern snakehead, crappie, and both yellow and white perch. Ditto for the Marshyhope branch of the Nanticoke River. Try near Federalsburg, where big bluegill are also abundant.  

Further south, between Solomons and Point Lookout, anglers are reporting puppy drum on the western side of the Bay and a few bull reds on the eastern side. Spotted sea trout are also in the mix when fishing the 4–8’ depths near shoreline. Plastics on 1/8oz up to 3/8oz jigheads have been key. Dab a bit of scent (Pro-Cure!) on your lure for extra confidence. Good luck!

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

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