Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report- September 14, 2023

As cobia season comes to a close, anglers chase stripers around upper and middle Bay river mouths, and inshore wrecks host good fishing for flounder and small mahi.

Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report

  • Upper and middle Bay river mouths host improved striper fishing with abundance of baitfish
  • Bluefish and Spanish mackerel linger around Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds
  • Flounder and small mahi are caught around inshore wrecks
  • Cobia season closed as of 9/15.

Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle Report — Baltimore, MD

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

Striper fishing is still good at the Conowingo Dam. In the early morning and evening hours, there is reliable topwater action, but using in-line sinkers with bucktail teasers, grubs or paddletails works well too. Stripers are also being caught at the Patapsco River and north to Pooles Island. Live-lining spot or eels, jigging large soft plastics, and throwing topwater lures are all great methods for targeting these fish. 

Kevin Trupia with a healthy striped bass he recently caught in the upper Bay.

However, the most fun and productive fishing can be the big blue catfish throughout the bay and the rivers. The best approach  is to use fresh cut bait like shad or eel chunks; the fresher the better for these big brutes. As the cooler, fall temperatures start to move in, the fishing will continue to get even better. 

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

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

Midnight showers—some incredibly intense—have defined the off-water hours of this past week and helped shape what the fish and anglers were doing during daylight. A complete mixed bag of reporting, with hits, misses, and a few slams, have come from the northern Bay to its south. Winds were mostly favorable this week with a few days starting calm then becoming gusty. Water flows/currents have been moderate to above-moderate in most systems, elevated by the rains. The coming weekend sees air temperatures dip just below the 60F mark overnight, and daytime highs approaching high 70s/80. 

I was on the water just a couple days this week—most recently, Wednesday early-morning in the Severn River—and the surface water temperature was exactly 80F. Other anglers noted 80- to 82-degree temperatures throughout the middle Chesapeake. Expect a slight cool-off with the coming weather. Though sunshine is predicted most days heading into next week, my hope is that we see the water start approaching the 77- down to 75-degree zone, which should help the topwater bite for a variety of species and shift fall patterns into a higher gear. 

Most of the success stories this week have come at the mouths of the rivers (versus upriver a week-plus ago). This is where the larger resident schooling striped bass, in the 20-inch to near-30-inch range, have been holding. One angler reported “an absolutely epic afternoon” fishing the Patapsco with multiple topwater and jigging hookups on bass in the mid-20s. Another claimed “What a morning!” (Wednesday) after fishing the Thomas Point vicinity and catching 12 stripers, all above the 23-inch mark. Even Captain Tom Weaver—renowned for his prowess putting fly anglers on stripers—reported large bait balls with large schools of stripers feeding just outside the Severn’s mouth (Tolly Point perhaps?). And way south (we’re talking Virginia’s Chesapeake), several charters reported excellent bull red drum and cobia catches. 

Accordingly, and with the temp swing coming, even better fishing could be ahead. Try large poppers, spooks, and shallow running jerkbaits at dawn and dusk around structure and across flats. Popping corks in slightly deeper water can draw strikes, and if you find masses of birds chasing bait and blitzes, try casting this setup around the edge of the chaos. Or have a rod with a heavy metal spoon, Kastmaster, or diamond jig ready to pitch-sink-twitch into the foray for the larger bass sitting below the smaller surface feeders. 

A nice late-summer schoolie caught midriver in the Severn. Shallow running jerkbaits can be a great option, especially on sunny mornings if the fish aren’t hitting topwater with any frequency. (@reelchesapeake)

Those live-lining spot for stripers around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge have had fewer bites it seems. This may be due to shorter windows of opportunity between the dicey weather that’s continuously rolled through. 

Overall, the striper game seemed to shift a bit closer to the Bay as fish retreated to deeper water. I think we’ll see a push back upriver this coming week. The baitfish are still extremely thick in the reaches of tributaries. 

Even further up and into the lower-salinity environs of several rivers, several species have been thriving and so, too, have the anglers in pursuit. This week we saw reports of largemouth bass and northern snakehead being caught in the upper Tuckahoe (Hillsboro), Choptank (Denton), Patuxent (Odenton), Patapsco (BWI vicinity), Bush (Otter Point), Gunpowder (Days Cove), and Middle (Wilson Point) rivers. Look for areas rife with grass and vegetation and cast an allotment of frogs all over the place to get the surface strikes. You can also try pitching flukes or Tex-rigged worms into holes. A Ned-rig can also get strikes.

I haven’t heard much chatter about white perch, perhaps because many anglers have been targeting Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and stripers. I’ve personally seen quite a bit of perch activity in the morning hours as they feed on minnows and small bait in the Severn’s coves and creeks. Still upriver—a good thing. The Spanish mackerel and bluefish have been on for some anglers and completely off for others. It’s a matter of finding your way into the schools. Reports a week ago indicated schools moving around the lower-80 buoys at Poplar Island southward, but I came up empty last week during a 5-hour troll trip exclusively targeting macks (going as far as Chesapeake Beach). So it goes. Will they stay through the coming week or start heading to the Atlantic? Let us know if you hook into any. 

Interestly, there are still reports of cutlass fish being caught in the South River/Thomas Point vicinity, and angler Mike Watkins messaged me about making a cutlass catch in the Severn near Weems Creek! (Caught on a 5-inch Z-Man minnow while trolling for stripers in 20 feet of water). Amazing…and a head scratcher, like the uptick in puppy drum we saw this far north in the Bay/tribs just a couple weeks ago. Rare but not unheard of, I suppose. 

And, how about the beautiful swimmers? Blue crabs are fairly numerous in all the tributaries. Recent reports of 1/2-to-full bushels being pulled out of the Magothy, Severn, South, Wye, and  Sassafras. Trot-lining chicken necks seems to be working well. Haven’t heard of as many folks running razor clams. Odd. Those with dock pots are pulling about 2 to 6 crabs per trap on overnight soaks. If you have a holding pot to keep them in, you’ll have a feast worth of crabs within a week. Good luck!

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

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 west side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge offers plenty of opportunities to catch tons of spot, croaker, white perch and even striped bass. The preferred method for catching smaller specimens is bouncing either a bottom rig or a Chesapeake sabiki rig off the bottom near the bridge pilings.

Areas around Podickory Point and Sandy Point are packed with live-line worthy spot. Anglers are stocking their livewells with spot and taking them to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for striped bass. The favored technique to load up on spot is using a bottom rig or a Chesapeake sabiki Rig tipped with artificial or live bait!

Anglers are also finding success live-lining spot around the mouth of the Patapsco River. The early morning hours or late evening hours are your best chances to get on the slot-sized striped bass.

Mackerel and bluefish are still being caught throughout the middle Bay area! Anglers are trolling around 5 knots with a smaller Clark spoons under either a #1 or #2 planer!

South Bay 

The Target Ship is proving to be an excellent spot to get on some bull red drum, cobia, bluefish and Spanish mackerel! Trolling at a speed of 5 knots will net you tons of good sized bluefish and mackerel! Anglers are having luck using live eels while site casting for cobia and bull red drum! There are some breakers that you can see on the surface, which is the perfect way to target the bigger reds.

The Honga River is an excellent place to catch striped bass, speckled trout and bluefish this week! Anglers are having luck jigging a ¼-ounce jighead with a 5-inch soft plastic! The Bridge off of Hoopers Island Road is the perfect hotspot for slot sized striped bass in the early morning or later evening hours.

Areas around Smith Island are perfect for targeting slot-sized striped bass too. The favored method is to use a ½-ounce jighead with a 7-inch soft plastic in the mornings or evenings. Don’t forget to stop at Smith Island and get yourself a tasty Smith Island Cake!

As the water temperatures drop, speckled trout and striped bass can be found in the grass beds of the Pocomoke Sound area. Anglers are having the most luck using smaller jigheads, around a ¼-ounce with a 5- to 7-inch paddletail. Anglers are reporting pink plastics are the most effective way to get on the bigger rockfish.

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

Maryland DNR Fishing Report

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

Lower Bay

A mix of bluefish and Spanish mackerel are providing much of the exciting fishing action in the lower Bay this week. Troll a mix of small Drone and gold Clark spoons behind No. 1 planers along the main channel edges of the Bay and the mouth of the Potomac River near Smith Point. The mouth of the Patuxent River near Cedar Point and the channels of Tangier and Pocomoke sounds are also excellent locations to look for bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Anglers fishing for cobia are seeing some better catches as the last week of the 2023 season winds down and closes on September 15. Anglers are having good success trolling surgical tube lures and fishing live eels in the back of chum slicks. The areas around the Target Ship, the Mud Leads, and Smith Point are being reported as good places to fish.

Large red drum are being spotted this week at various locations on both sides of the Bay. Observant anglers watching for slicks or large marks under breaking bluefish and Spanish mackerel are finding the drum and having success by jigging with large soft plastics or spoons.

Large sheepshead are being caught in the lower Bay near the Target Ship and the concrete target platforms on the western side. A variety of baits in the form of fiddler crabs, small mussels, and peeler crabs can work well. Sheepshead are attracted to underwater structure because of their fondness for barnacles and small mussels.

Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays

Surf anglers along the Assateague beaches are enjoying fun fishing for a mix of kingfish and spot by using bloodworms or artificial bloodworms-scented baits. Flounder are being caught on strips of squid and spot, Bluefish are being taken on cut spot or mullet.

At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, anglers are catching sheepshead near the jetty rocks and bridge piers on sand fleas. Anglers casting soft plastic jigs and Got-Cha plugs during the morning and evening are catching a mix of bluefish and striped bass. Other anglers are having good luck drifting cut baits from the Route 50 Bridge and inlet bulkheads and jetties.

Flounder fishing is good this week in the Ocean City Inlet and the back bay channels leading there. Drifting Gulp baits and live spot or finger mullet are catching the largest flounder. Traditional squid and minnow baits work well.

Outside the inlet anglers are finding flounder on many of the inshore lumps and near the inshore wreck and reef sites. Sea bass and small dolphin are being caught at the offshore wreck and reef sites and wherever they can be located. The small dolphin can often be found in large numbers and catching a daily limit of 10 on spinning gear and small jigs is common.

Farther offshore at the canyons, anglers trolling are finding good numbers of white marlin, a few sailfish, and plenty of small dolphin. Wahoo are being caught along with yellowfin tuna. Those choosing to deep drop are catching a mix of blueline and golden tilefish.

Freshwater Opportunities

Flow conditions in the western and central streams, creeks, and rivers continue to be low, and in many places warm water temperatures prevail. Trout anglers who know how to fish during the summer months are enjoying the cool shade of the mountain waters and the trout that are feeding on terrestrials and various hatches. Stealthy approaches and light tippets tend to up the odds of fooling trout. The North Branch of the Potomac, the Youghiogheny River, and the Savage River are just a few of the special trout management waters that offer fun and exciting catch-and-release action.

The upper Potomac River continues to experience low flows and warm water temperatures. Anglers are able to wade out into the shallower parts of the river, being careful not to lose footing on submerged rocks. The best fishing occurs during the early morning and late evening for smallmouth bass. Casting tubes, twitch baits, poppers, and soft plastic jigs are good choices for lures to target the deeper pools and moving water.

Fishing for largemouth bass remains good, from the smallest of farm ponds to the large reservoirs like Deep Creek Lake and the Baltimore City reservoirs of central Maryland. There is plenty of excellent fishing for largemouth bass. Everyone has their familiar fishing spots, but it can be fun to put a little adventure in traveling to a new location. The Department of Natural Resources’ Freshwater Hotspots webpage can provide an overview of some new areas you might consider exploring.

Warm water temperatures and bright sun continue to force largemouth bass to hold to a summertime mode of behavior. The best times to fish for them are during the morning and evening hours in the shallower areas where they tend to do most of their feeding at night. Deeper grass beds, deep water, sunken wood, and shade in the form of fallen treetops, docks, and overhanging brush are good places to target during the day. As the waters cool later this month, largemouth bass activity will extend more through the day.

Fishing in the upper reaches of the tidal rivers is very good and northern snakeheads will be a large part of the mix for anglers targeting grass beds. Noisy lures in the form of chatterbaits, buzzbaits, and soft plastic frogs are good choices for snakeheads. The tidal Potomac and lower Eastern Shore rivers are very popular for northern snakehead fishing, but places like the Middle River, the Bush, and the Patapsco are producing excellent northern snakehead fishing.

Daniel Hubbard caught this big northern snakehead on the Patapsco River. (Photo courtesy Daniel Hubbard)

Blue catfish offer plenty of action this week. Every tidal river within the Chesapeake Bay watershed has a population of them. The tidal Potomac has the greatest amount, followed by the lower Susquehanna, the Chester, the Nanticoke, and the Choptank rivers. Generally, the blue catfish are holding in the middle to lower sections of the tidal rivers this month. Fresh cut bait of menhaden or gizzard shad are perhaps the most proven baits but any cut fish, chicken liver, or scented baits will work.

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

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