Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report
- Bluefish and Spanish mackerel blitz in the middle Bay.
- Striped bass fishing slows during this late-summer heat wave.
- Coastal bays give up flounder and sheepshead.
- Puppy drum and speckled trout take topwater plugs and soft-plastic paddletails in the lower Bay.
Upper Chesapeake Bay
Anglers fishing the Conowingo Dam pool are casting a mix of topwater lures, jerkbaits, and paddletails for striped bass. The dam pool also holds large populations of flathead and blue catfish that can be caught on fresh cut bait. Farther down the Susquehanna River, blue catfish tend to dominate the fishing scene.
Striped bass continue to hold near Pooles Island and the mouth of the Patapsco River. Spot are easy to obtain in the upper Bay, so using them for live-lining is the most popular way to fish striped bass. The bridge piers at the Key Bridge are also a good place for live-lining or jigging. Some anglers are fishing with live eels, which will become more popular when water temperatures drop and the spot move out of the region.
The channel edges at the mouth of the Patapsco provide a good place to jig for striped bass, and anglers are enjoying good action within the harbor by casting soft plastic jigs, topwater lures, and paddletails near commercial piers and old piling fields.
Anglers are finding striped bass holding near the Love Point rocks, where using spot for live-lining and jigging are effective, and also the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers at daybreak, where casting a mix of poppers and paddletails along the shorelines is popular.
Fishing for striped bass in the middle Bay has been challenging due to the recent heat wave. The mouth of the Choptank River, Eastern Bay, the Poplar Island Rocks and bay shorelines offer the best opportunities, before dawn with a mix of poppers, jerkbaits and paddletails. Once the sun clears the horizon, the fishing tends to shut down. Fishing at the bases of the Bay Bridge piers has been the same time schedule for those fishing with live spot and eels, cut baits, or soft crabs. Casting soft plastic jigs near the pier bases is another good option for anglers, but again is limited to the morning.
Fortunately for middle Bay anglers there are plenty of bluefish and a scattering of Spanish mackerel to be found. Trolling is the most popular way to fish for them with small Drone and Clark spoons pulled behind No. 1 planers. When breaking fish can be spotted, casting small heavy metal jigs or Got-Cha lures into the swirl of fish is a good way to enjoy some light-tackle action.
Additionally, blue catfish are holding in the middle to lower sections of the Choptank River and can be caught on cut bait. All the tidal rivers in the middle Bay hold channel catfish, and blue catfish can show up at any time.
Anglers continue to work the shallower waters of the Bay and tidal rivers this week with topwater lures, jerkbaits, soft plastic jigs, and paddletails, searching for striped bass but often catching a mix of speckled trout, bluefish, and puppy drum. With the appropriately sized lure, the puppy drum can be slot-size.
A mix of Spanish mackerel and bluefish are providing plenty of fun fishing opportunities along the channel edges of the lower Potomac River near Smith Point, Point Lookout, Cedar Point, the eastern side of the shipping channel, and Tangier Sound. Small Drone and Clark spoons pulled behind No. 1 planers has been the most popular way to catch them, although it’s not uncommon to come across breaking fish.
Fishing for spot is at its zenith this week – they are large and heavy-shouldered and provide some excellent fun fishing and eating. The first major cool front in September may send them on their way, so load up family and friends and get in on the action. The mouth of the Patuxent River holds the largest population of spot, and pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig are all that is needed to catch them.
Anglers fishing for flounder are catching them in Tangier and Pocomoke sounds as well as the Point Lookout area. The hard shoal waters near the channels tend to be the best places to give drifting for flounder a try. Gulp baits on a jig head or fresh finger mullet, large minnows, and silversides are reported to be the best baits.
Large sheepshead continue to be caught by anglers fishing at the Target Ship with peeler crab, clams, and fiddler crabs. Large red drum are being caught by anglers trolling large spoons near the Target Ship area and a few cobia are being caught by those chumming and drifting with live eels in their chum slick.
Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays
Surf anglers have been dealing with high tides and flooding conditions along the beaches of Assateague recently, but conditions look favorable this week. Fishing for a mix of kingfish, spot, flounder, and bluefish should resume. Water temperatures are still warm so often the best fishing is during the early morning hours.
At the Ocean City Inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area, fishing for striped bass and bluefish has been good for those casting soft plastic jigs, Got-Cha lures, or drifting cut bait. Flounder are also being caught along with a few sea trout. Sheepshead are being found near the jetty rocks and bridge piers and are often of impressive size, sand fleas are a popular bait.
The back bay channels are providing good flounder fishing this week and boat traffic is down. The largest flounder are being caught by drifting live spot or finger mullet and white or pink Gulp baits.
Outside the inlet, fishing for sea bass, flounder, and small dolphin has been very good at the offshore wreck and reef sites. The boats heading out to the canyons and trolling are doing very well with white marlin catches and a few sailfish. Bigeye tuna and dolphin are helping round out the daily catches.
The upper Potomac River offers anglers the opportunity to wade out from shore in some locations to cast for smallmouth bass during the morning and evening. Since water levels are down and the water is very clear, a stealthy approach, long casts and light lines will improve fishing success. When fishing the catch-and-release or trophy trout management waters, the same tactics will also work well.
The Baltimore and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission reservoirs in central Maryland are exceptional places to fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass and a mix of other freshwater species this week. The tidal rivers of the Chesapeake also hold populations of largemouth bass that provide excellent fishing opportunities.
Northern snakeheads are moving off their protective vigil over fry balls and are becoming more interested in feeding and building up body reserves. They are still holding in thick and shallow grass beds so topwater lures in the form of buzzbaits, chatterbaits, and soft plastic frogs are good choices for lures.
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
White perch, spot and croaker are still being caught in large numbers inside the tidal rivers of the upper Chesapeake Bay area. Casting small spinners or shad darts past shallow structure such as docks, reefs, mussel beds or fallen trees is an excellent way to catch tons of these fish in shallow water. To catch perch, spot and croaker in deeper water, anglers have the best luck jigging with bottom rigs or Chesapeake sabiki rigs tipped with either live or artificial bait.
Live-line worthy spot are being found all along the western part of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and in concentrated areas around Podickory Point. Anglers are filling their livewells and heading towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge pilings to live-line for striped bass.
Bluefish and Spanish mackerel are being caught all over the Middle Bay area. Anglers are trolling small Clark spoons under either a #1 or #2 planer, as it’s the most effective way to get some big fish. Bluefish and Spanish macks can also be caught by casting lures into areas where gulls are seen diving into the water for bait fish, or where fish are seen breaking the surface.
The Conowingo Dam Pool is still offering some excellent striped bass and catfish action. Anglers are catching them on anything from topwater and paddletails to cut bait such as soft crab or bunker. Moving down the lower Susquehanna River, anglers are having luck casting along the shorelines and into more grassy areas for some of the bigger blue catfish from smaller watercraft like kayaks.
Areas around the lower Potomac River, Point Lookout, and Cedar Point are proving to be excellent places to target bluefish or Spanish mackerel! Trolling smaller Clark Spoons under a #1 or #2 Planer is one of the most effectives way to find larger fish. Casting into breaking fish or diving gulls is a very effective way to get hooked too.
Sheepshead and slot-sized red drum are being caught around the Target Ship using cut bait such as soft crab or cut bunker. Cobia are also being caught around the Target Ship using large paddletails or live eels.
The mouth of the Potomac River offers opportunities to get striped bass, blue catfish and speckled trout! Anglers are casting smaller paddletails and topwater lures early in the morning around shallow stretches of shoreline. Blue catfish can be caught all along the shoreline, especially around Fletcher’s Boathouse!
White perch are found inside all the Lower Bay area rivers. They’re a fun substitute when the fishing for other species has slowed down. Casting small spinners or shad darts and retrieving past shallow structure such as reefs or docks will net you plenty of white perch. Deeper structure, however, such as drop-offs or channels, are home to the bigger perch. Anglers report the best luck using bottom rigs or Chesapeake sabiki rigs tipped with either live or artificial bait.
The Angler’s Sport Center fishing report is compiled and written by Anglers Team Member, A.J. Lewis.
Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report – Annapolis, MD
Classic Maryland weather has been tricking us. We always get played this time of year. A cold front passes through, there’s a dip in temps, and we think we’re entering autumn. False fall. Then, a brutal heat wave. A week ago, I wrote of emergent fall patterns, birds, blowups, and wisps of cooler weather. Well, this week has been painfully hot and full of sunshine, which has pushed the bite downward in the water column. This is what we’re seeing firsthand in the middle Chesapeake river systems and even the open bay. Midday temperatures have had real-feels above 100F, while overnights have hovered in the 80s. This has slightly raised our surface water temps back into the high-70s/low-80s, making for less-than-ideal striper fishing overall. Even less-sensitive species are challenged. There’s still fishing to be enjoyed, but less so (maybe not at all) when the sun hits high-noon. This should change by the weekend, when flashes of rain pop through the region.
What we’ve seen are late-summer/early-fall patterns—primarily topwater or mid-morning swimming—having extremely narrow feeding windows at dawn and dusk; about 15 to 20 minutes before you have to work harder at finding and enticing the fish. Cloud cover was zero percent most mornings this week and the tides were slightly weaker. Wind has been mostly stable, under 15 knots. Flows and currents have been fair at best. Only around large structures and major points, sandbars, etc. is the current moving with noticeable velocity that would draw feeding fish.
Baitfish do remain abundant and have been the focus of the schooling striped bass, who are chasing them through the more open river stems and channels. Surface blitzes in the rivers last about 20 seconds before the fish dive back to deeper water—you’ll be lucky to catch from them (we threw XRap-style lures around the disappearing blitzes with limited success). A week ago, those mini-blitzes were upwards of a minute, making for fun “run and gun” style fishing. Now, a better bet may be slow trolling the shorelines in 4- to 12-foot depths quietly (kayaking or troll-motor) with 3- to 5-inch paddletails on light jigheads, lipless cranks, or shallow-diving minnows. All the mid-bay rivers are holding schoolies with plenty of 17- to 21-inch-plus size fish, which are fun on light setups.
Larger stripers in the mid-to-high-20s are certainly in the bay itself, but you’ll have to roam vast expanses to find the schools and plan to jig deeper water and major dropoffs on either side of the shipping channel. The Bay Bridge does remain popular for livelining spot, especially the eastern side. Your dawn and dusk options for topwater and shallower swimming (even fly fishing) include major points, like Fort Smallwood, Bodkin, Love, Sandy, Tolly, Thomas, Bloody, etc., and islands near river mouths like Hart Miller, Eastern Neck, Gibson, Poplar, and Tilghman. The further south you venture, your odds of hooking into bluefish, Spanish mackerel, red drum, and maybe even a cobia increase. These species have pushed more into the mid-bay recently though they may not stay for long.
White perch fishing has been good in the back ends of creeks within the rivers. They’re still holding in many upriver spots. No major push downstream yet, but that could begin in the coming week or two if temps start to consistently dip.
Snakehead fishing has been good in the “Baltimore rivers” and southward into the Patuxent and Potomac watersheds. The Blackwater system is also producing. Just know that as we near summer’s end, many of the Shore’s tribs have been fished hard for months—especially bowfished—so it’s not uncommon to come up empty, as crazy as that sounds. Regardless, the fish should start fall feeding mode soon, making for even more exciting action. Same with largemouth bass who’ll begin bulking up to overwinter. Expect the bite to really ignite with the next, significant cold front. Topwater frogs will remain an excellent first choice when fishing around dying pads and weeds. Wacky worms and colorful crankbaits, especially those imitating crawfish, can be deadly around hard cover, rocks, etc. (craws will be hitting their fall mating cycle soon).
With this week’s super high temps, I did see several similar reports of anglers heading to the shaded, shallow, flowing, and cool water creeks in the central Maryland region to fish for smallmouth bass. There’s respite in creek fishing and some great smallmouth up to the mid-teens can be taken from the upper Potomac, middle Patuxent, western Patapsco, and Monocacy rivers. Throw small grubs, tubes, worms, or even inline spinners. You may even hook into a holdover trout. Good luck!