Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report- June 22, 2023

Snakeheads and blue catfish are biting in the Susquehanna, striped bass and speckled trout hit topwaters in the lower Bay, and kingfish and bluefish are active in the ocean surf.

Maryland DNR Fishing Report

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

A partly cloudy week is ahead with continued warm weather and a chance of rain most of the next week. Main Bay surface water temperatures are holding in the low 70s. Bay salinity is still above average. Some areas of low oxygen are present in bottom waters from Love Point down to Bloody Point, as well as in the Potomac River near Colonial Beach. Avoid fishing below 25 feet in these areas. However, there are still plenty of cool, well oxygenated areas in the Bay to pursue Maryland gamefish, including the main Bay on the western side from Tolchester north to the Susquehanna Flats, and the area from Gooses Reef south to the Virginia line.

Upper Chesapeake Bay

Anglers are reporting good fishing for striped bass at the Conowingo Dam pool this week; flows at the dam are down so anglers are casting as close to the turbine discharge as possible. The best fishing success occurs in the early morning and evening hours while casting paddletails, jerkbaits, and poppers. The fishing for striped bass at the edges of the Susquehanna Flats has slowed down this week, most likely due to diminished cool water flows from the Conowingo Dam.

Billy Griffin caught this whopper size northern snakehead in the Middle River recently. (Photo courtesy of Billy Griffin)

Recreational boaters and anglers are advised to watch out for a prohibited entry area near Aberdeen Proving Ground. Mariners are advised that the Aberdeen Test Center will be conducting live fire exercises and operational testing of various watercraft, through October 1, 2023. The operation area includes the water near Bear Point, proceeding southeast towards Aberdeen’s K Buoy, southward along the restricted water boundary to H Buoy, westward to the mouth of Delph Creek, and then returning to the Bear Point area. Watercraft will be escorted by Aberdeen’s patrol boats, which will also ensure the area is clear of other boats. All commercial fishing, including placement of crab pots, is prohibited in this area during these exercises.


The 2023 fish passage report at the Conowingo Dam lifts has been released. A total of 10,022 American Shad and 400 river herring were captured and transported above the dam. Lift operators also removed 1,300 invasive fish, and returned 1.8 million gizzard shad to the Conowingo Dam pool.

Charter and recreational boats from the middle and upper Bay continue to form up a large fleet near the Key Bridge, Patapsco River, and Hart-Miller Island. The area continues to offer the best fishing for striped bass by live-lining spot, jigging, or trolling. These efforts are yielding a nice grade of striped bass that are usually measuring 20 inches to 26 inches in length. There is also some striped bass action at Swan Point and near the Love Point rocks for those live-lining spot or jigging with soft plastics.

Upper Bay anglers can gather up their spot at the western end of the Bay Bridge in about 15 feet of water, off the north end of Sandy Point State Park and the mouth of the Magothy River. White perch are being found in the same areas as well as the western side of the lower Susquehanna and all the region’s tidal rivers. All are being caught on bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm.

A mix of blue and channel catfish are ready and willing to go after anything that looks or smells like something to eat from the Conowingo Dam pool, down the Susquehanna River, and throughout all the upper Bay and tidal rivers. The catfish will chase down soft plastic jigs, crankbaits, or any kind of live or dead bait near the bottom.

David Springham and daughter Phoebe went fishing together after dad got off from work, and they caught this blue catfish near the Conowingo Dam pool. (Photo courtesy of David Springham)

Middle Bay

Striped bass anglers are finding some striped bass action on the east side of the Bay Bridge, near the rock piles and the bridge piers at the 30-foot drop-off. Most are drifting back to the pier bases with live spot or soft crabs on a good running tide, with good results. The best action occurs during the morning hours. Casting soft plastic jigs near the bridge piers during the early morning hours can also be productive. If you’re not chipping paint off your jigs, you’re not getting close enough to the bridge piers.

The best striped bass fishing occurs in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers. The exception might be Thomas Point and the rocks around Poplar Island. Most anglers are casting soft plastic jigs, paddletails, and poppers in the relatively shallow waters. The best action is during the early morning and late evening hours. A fair percentage are coming up a bit short of 19 inches, but there is plenty of action.

There are spot to be found in various locations, including the entrance to Whitehall Bay, the upper section of Eastern Bay, the backside of Black Walnut Point on Tilghman Island, Herring Bay, and out in front of Chesapeake Beach. Pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig is essential to catching spot. White perch may also be in the mix.

White perch are providing plenty of fun fishing in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers and creeks. They can be found in deeper waters over oyster reefs and around medium depth docks, wharfs, and piers, where they are usually holding close to the supporting structure.

Bottom-fishing party boats lately are anchoring up in Kent Narrows and fishing for white perch. Bloodworms are a popular bait for white perch, but they have become very expensive and good ones often sell out quickly, so a serious white perch angler may think of dip-netting one’s own grass shrimp, using small minnows or wild shrimp pieces from a seafood market.

Fishing for white perch with lures and light tackle is another option. A dropper rig, outfitted with small jigs works well in deep water. Small jigs, spinnerbaits and spinners work well when working shoreline structure during the morning and evening hours.

Lower Bay

Fishing for striped bass continues to be a bit tough in the lower Bay. They have been elusive in some areas, and anglers are not finding them in the usual locations. Some of the best opportunities are being reported in the lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers. The shores of the lower Potomac, St. Marys, and Patuxent rivers have been good places to cast a mix of paddletails, crankbaits, jerkbaits and soft plastic jigs for striped bass and speckled trout.

On the east side of the Bay the shores of Taylors Island, the cuts through Hoopers Island, the lower regions of the Nanticoke and Wicomico rivers, and the stump fields and grass beds along the shores of Tangier and Pocomoke sounds are good places to fish. Large speckled trout are a very common catch this week, mixed in with the striped bass. Casting Zara Spooks and similar topwater lures in stump fields during the morning and evening hours is a great way to target them. Working paddletails over grass beds is another good option, as is drifting soft crab baits on a falling tide at the mouths of marsh creeks. Red drum can also be part of the mix, some are falling within the slot size of 18 inches to 27 inches. Bluefish in the 18-inch to 22-inch range are roaming the eastern side of the Bay and being caught in a variety of ways.

Large red drum are being encountered in areas near the Middle Grounds and around the Target Ship this week. Dropping soft crab baits to them or jigging over them with large soft plastic jigs when schools can be spotted on depth finders or spotting churned water is an excellent tactic. Trolling large silver spoons behind inline weights is another option. Black drum are also being spotted in the same general areas and in Tangier Sound. Anglers are anxiously waiting for respectable numbers of cobia to move into the region.

Recreational crabbers are steadily picking away at blue crabs in all regions of the Bay. Many of the season’s first sheds that brought crabs up to 6 inches or better have been caught and crabbers are generally seeing quite a few smaller crabs in most areas. Waters in the range of 12 feet to 16 feet are offering some of the better success in the tidal rivers and creeks. In the upper Bay, the mouth of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, the Patapsco River and the Gunpowder are reporting good blue crab catches. In the middle Bay region, the Kent Island area and the tidal rivers are all about the same as are the tidal rivers in the lower Bay region. Razor clams continue to be a standout for bait but are expensive.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays

Wind and rain are the bane of surf anglers on the Assateague beaches, churning up the waters. Anglers are finding kingfish and small bluefish in the surf, but fishing success could be better. Cownose rays are on the patrol for any large cut baits meant for striped bass.

At the inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area, a mix of striped bass and large bluefish are entertaining anglers casting soft plastic jigs and Got-Cha plugs. The jetty rocks, bridge piers, and dock pilings are good places to target striped bass.

In the back bays, clear water is dictating successful flounder fishing. The search for clear water can be frustrating at times. The channel out in front of the Ocean City Airport, the Thorofare, and East Channel are good places to check on incoming tides.

(Photo by Monty Hawkins)

 

Fishing for black sea bass is good this week at the offshore wreck and reef sites, and large flounder are becoming a more common catch at some of the sites. Farther offshore at the canyons, a mix of yellowfin and bigeye tuna are being caught, dolphinfish are showing up and there have been white and blue marlin releases.

Freshwater Opportunities

Summertime trout fishing in the western region specialized management waters is very good for fly casters who can approach streams with stealth and present flies where trout are holding. Water flows are typically down during the summer months, which tends to box trout into small pockets. Recent rains this week have brought up flow rates slightly in the western region creeks and the North Branch of the Potomac.

Largemouth bass are always a summertime target species, and they are now holding to a typical summer pattern. The best fishing in the shallower waters is usually done during the morning and evening hours, cloudy days will extend that time. Casting topwater lures in the form of frogs, poppers and buzzbaits, is always a fun way to fish for them. Working spinnerbaits along the outside edges of grass beds, spatterdock and lily pad fields is a good tactic. Northern snakeheads are actively spawning or protecting fry balls but can be challenged by lures such as buzzbaits and may strike.

As the day’s sun and heat prevail, look for largemouth bass holding in shade in the form of thick grass mats, overhanging brush, fallen treetops, docks and deep sunken wood. To get wacky rigged stick worms or creature baits down through the grass can take some heavy weight. Skipping worms under docks and brush is another good tactic – allow the worm to settle and sit for a bit before giving it a twitch. The same tactic works well around deeper structure, work crankbaits, soft plastics, and craws slowly and close to the bottom.

The reservoirs are great places to fish, many allow boating, some require boating permits, some have rentals available. Many can be fished from shore and smaller bodies of water offer excellent fishing for largemouth bass and a variety of other species. The Department of Natural Resources website features a list of some of the hot spots for freshwater fishing in Maryland.

Fishing for various sunfish species is always a summertime treat, whether one is taking kids to a community pond with a bobber and a worm, or fly-casting surface flies. Casting a variety of small lures with spinning gear works well, as does casting rubber-legged poppers and floating foam ants with a lightweight fly rod. All are good summertime fun.

A mix of channel and blue catfish can be found in every tidal river flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Cut bait is one of the more popular baits with both anglers and catfish.

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

The Conowingo Dam continues to be an excellent spot for targeting catfish and snakehead. The catfish bite is especially good. Anglers are reporting success with all kinds of lures and bait, from paddle tails to cut bait. You’ll find anywhere from 10 to 40 pounders especially at the pooling just before the Dam. The snakehead bite there is fantastic as well.

Spot are being caught all up and down the Upper and Middle Bay. Some hotspots are around the mouth of the Magothy River and the western side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Vertical jigging with Chesapeake sabiki rigs tipped with lugworms is a perfect way to land TONS of spot.

Lots of schoolie-sized striped bass are being caught around the western part of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Other spots such as the edge of the shipping channel or Thomas Point are also proving to be excellent spots to get some keeper sized rockfish. Anglers are having the most success live-lining spot at the moment, however, vertical jigging is also proving to be an effective way to get on some rockfish as well.

White perch are fully in their normal summer spots. Anglers are catching them all around structure at a depth around 6 feet of water using smaller spinners. For the bigger perch, anglers are using bottom rigs tipped with bloodworms or lugworms around channel edges with some kind of structure.

South Bay

The Potomac is continuing to be an excellent place to fish for blue catfish. The mouth of the Potomac is always packed full of blue cats, with the occasional striped bass as well. The usual cut bait like bunker or paddletails prove to be very effective for catfish. Fletcher’s Boathouse is another fantastic place as well for targeting blue cats.

Anglers have been having luck with sheepshead at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel using Bottom Sweeper Jigs tipped with sandfleas or peeler crabs! The bridge also offers a great opportunity to catch red drum as the sun goes down. Anglers report success using chunked bunker or peeler crabs.

The white perch bite is excellent all over the Southern Bay. Anywhere in the shallows around structure is host to tons of perch in the mornings and evenings. Small spinners or shad darts is key to targeting the perch in the more shallow waters. Vertical jigging edges of channels with bottom rigs tipped with bloodworms or lugworms are key to targeting the deeper perch!

The southern bay offers lots of opportunities to use different techniques for catching striped bass however the bite seems to be on and off. Anglers are reporting success in areas like Cove Point or Point Lookout. Anglers are catching rockfish on anything from live-lining spot and vertical jigging on the channel edges to trolling small spoons or umbrella rigs. Captain LJ of G-Eye Jigs reports the bluefish bite is hot at Point Lookout as well!

Additional Info.

Starting July 16th, all areas of the bay will be closed for Striped Bass fishing so make sure to get your fill in before then!

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 reelchesapeake.com.

Welcome to summer! The longest amount of daylight of the year is upon us but will incrementally “ebb” shorter for the next six months. Now is the time to take full advantage of early mornings and late evenings for all angling endeavors, weather permitting. In the Chesapeake Bay region, a run of spotty, “here and there” storms have blown in wind, rain, random hail, and cooler-than-average air temperatures, making boating difficult. The remainder of this week has wind predictions in the teens, twenties, and even topping 30-knot gusts. By Saturday, the wind should settle down a smidge, allowing smaller craft to work the Bay and its tributaries.

The water has cooled down a touch in the middle Bay, so fish are quite active and summer patterns have remained reliable for catching them. It may be a touch more challenging to coax bites over the next several days, however, as the tidal cycle will weaken leading up to the First Quarter moon phase (Monday). We might be using some of that wind to our advantage after all, as it relates to creating current, which feeding fish congregate within. 

It’s no mystery that the Patapsco River has been the choice of charter vessels and many rec anglers targeting schooling striped bass. And the middle branch between the Key Bridge and Harbor Tunnel has seen the most action this past week. One angler reported counting about 60 vessels within a 360-degree view of his own boat. So, the fish are there—most being within the new slot of 19” (common) up to 31” (rare). A mix of tactics are producing at all hours: jigging soft plastics, live-lining spot, trolling tandem rigs (spoons or bucktails). 

The good news is that reports of abundant schoolies are coming from nearly every mid-Bay river. In our home waters, the Severn River, fish up to 23” are becoming the norm, even north of the Round Bay vicinity indicating a strong push by the fish searching for peanut bunker. We’ve had repeat success drifting along deep docks and pitching soft plastics on 1/4 to 3/8oz jigheads around them—even at high-noon this past Sunday/Father’s Day when the river was a washing machine with the weekend fleet of skiers, jet-skis, and cruisers. (Down-size the lure if you want a stringer of white perch.)  

When a high tide coincides with sunrise, the topwater bite can be the hot ticket at rocky shorelines, sandbars, and grassbeds with nearby drop-offs. Stripers roam the shallow water to feed just as the sun rises. Often, if you situate your vessel at the mouth of a feeder creek, you’ll see schools of baitfish exiting at dawn. The striped bass will stage there with you, ready to pounce on fish. Try walking a Coltsniper or Spook if the water is especially calm. If there’s a gentle breeze, try a 3- to 5-inch popper like a Stillwater Smack-It Jr. to entice bites. Popping corks, Rapala X-Raps, and any twitching minnow are also effective when the fish are feeding. You can try these topwater/subsurface patterns at sunset also. Popular spots in the main Bay include Thomas Point, Poplar Island, around Eastern Neck, Parson’s Island, Kent Point, Love Point, Sandy Point, and, of course, the Bay Bridge itself. 

Anglers are also beginning to report a few bluefish mixed in with the stripers, even north of the Bridge. (You may want to start swapping in Z-man paddletails/plastics, which hold up much better to the toothier bluefish, which are notorious for chomping traditional plastics easily.) The species should continue filing into the Bay well into July. And by then, perhaps Spanish mackerel. How many and how far north changes season to season, but traditionally from Annapolis south is productive. Trolling #1 and 2 planers rigged with 3” gold or silver spoons will be the ticket when the run fires up.

On the crabbing front, the reports are very mixed. Some have had very good runs in the Chester, Wye, Severn, and South rivers. Others have come up empty. It seems the first strong push of the season into the rivers, occurring 3 weeks ago, has settled down. Setting your trotlines or traps as early as possible (1/2 hour before sunrise) helps. Those that wait until late-morning (as we did one outing) have missed the action (we pulled zeros).  

Cold fronts have blown in much-needed rain and below-average temperatures across the Chesapeake Bay region, driving water temps down, but keeping fish frisky, like this 23” pickerel caught in the Severn River this week. (@reelchesapeake)

With this week’s cooler weather and water, we expect the fish to stay very active into next week. Heck, we even caught a solid 23” pickerel during this cooldown; some proof that the below-average temps have kept fish frisky. Watch the weather and tidal windows to get on the water. If and when you can, go…now. It won’t be long before the summer heat climbs and makes fishing a bit more challenging, if uncomfortable. Good luck! 

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

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