Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report- February 23, 2024

Perch, pickerel and catfish keep anglers busy in Bay tributaries, and striped bass are found feeding in shallow water at night.

Maryland & Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report

Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report – Annapolis, MD

The Reel Chesapeake Fishing Report is written and compiled by writer and media professional, James Houck. Find fishing reports and more at reelchesapeake.com.

The middle Chesapeake Bay region has been rather uneventful overall. Stable but cold weather and water temperatures have settled the fishing into typical late-winter patterns, with many species hunkering down in bottom dwelling, pre-spawn mode. Fishing can be challenging, but it can be done, and we’ve seen several productive reports.

In terms of yellow perch, a kinda, maybe, sorta slight uptick in fish activity has been reported in the likes of the Jug Bay/Wayson’s vicinity of the Patuxent on the west side, and the Marsheyhope on the Eastern Shore. I fished Queen Anne’s Bridge (way north of Wayson’s) early Friday morning and there was no sign of perch, yet. Just a few fallfish.

Perch may still be a touch south of Hillsboro on the Tuckahoe or Red Bridges on the Choptank. And have the fish moved up to the Severn headwaters yet? I plan to find out this coming week. Temperatures are expected to climb through the weekend and carry into the following week. This could get perch moving up and into their preferred spawning grounds. It’s an “any day now” situation. Be ready with small offerings like darts and spoons, stump jumpers, stingers on 1/16 or 1/8oz jigheads, or tiny Kastmasters.

White perch will also start staging in the coming weeks. March is when they’ll move into many of the same waters the yellows have been. By then, the largemouth bass and northern snakehead (ahem, Chesapeake Channa) will start to fire up pre-spawn mode in many of these same tributaries (and small lakes/millponds). And then the American and hickory shad will have their turn, in April. That’s another report for another day.

Striped bass have been difficult to locate and catch, lately. Just a few reports of a good bite in deep water, down in the Point Lookout vicinity. And a couple reports from anglers fishing the shallow water night bite on an outgoing tide. I think the Tangier side of the Bay is where this bite is happening. By mid-March the bass will start to needle their way toward spawning grounds and their movement should trigger “wave two” of the great striper bite the region experienced in December/January.

This week, we also saw a couple captains having to save trips by abandoning the open water striper bite (lack thereof) and heading into the rivers to fish for chain pickerel. Not a bad plan B, especially if you strip Clousers and streamers on the fly for them. The pickerel are reliable targets right now and generally can be tempted to strike near deep cover, such as tree laydowns, docks, and riprap. Throwing jerkbaits, small chatters, and inline spinners is also very effective. Sometimes, just probing and covering water with a small shallow-diving crankbait will get slammed—especially the second or third day into a temp warmup.

Lastly, I’ll touch on blue catfish. Enough can’t be said about how invasive this species is and why we need to harvest every cat pulled up. Don’t throw them back, please. The good news is they are quite catchable right now in the deeper water near river mouths, especially the Bush, Magothy, Choptank, and Potomac. They’ll also move upriver as the water begins to slightly warm in the coming weeks. Bottom rigs with fresh chunk bait should score you some hits if you dedicate the time to patiently waiting for the fish to find your offering. Good luck!

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

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. 

Stocked trout are biting well this week! Pictured here is the son of Angler’s employee, Andy, smiling with a few golden trout he helped his dad catch.

Upper and Middle Bay

Anglers are actively pursuing yellow perch as their numbers increase on the eastern side of the middle Bay area. Prime locations like Hillsboro, the Magothy River, and Greensboro are currently offering the best opportunities to land quality perch. A promising technique is to fish with live minnows under a bobber, and we have an ample supply of them here at Anglers Sport Center. Additionally, tandem rigs with shad darts or small spinners are proving to be excellent options for a successful yellow perch outing! Though they aren’t in big numbers yet, with these upcoming warmer temperatures, expect the action to improve drastically as they move in to spawn.

Catfish prove to be an excellent winter fishing option, offering enjoyable and versatile angling experiences. Particularly, the invasive blue catfish can be found around channel edges near the mouths of various tidal rivers in the Chesapeake Bay. Hotspots include the mouth of the Susquehanna River, Choptank, Nanticoke, and the mouth of the Magothy River, teeming with these fish. While cut bait like alewife or soft crab remains a favorite, catfish also readily bite on nightcrawlers and soft plastics.

This week, the striped bass bite has presented challenges due to decreased activity of baitfish and birds. For better success, focus on locating baitfish around the larger channel edges, where a significant number of trophy striped bass are still being caught. Anglers are employing a combination of techniques, including jigging and trolling, with jigging proving to be the most targeted, effective approach. Anglers are having considerable luck leaving from key areas such as Solomons or Chesapeake Beach with a strong bite in the morning and an even more explosive one just before sun down. Reminder to get your fill of these trophy fish, because starting April 1st striped bass will no longer be legal to target until May 15th, effectively eliminating the trophy season. Areas like the Susquehanna Flats will be closed through the end of May.

South Bay

Fishing in the southern bay area has slowed down, but there are promising opportunities in areas like the Potomac for blue catfish enthusiasts. However, venturing into deeper waters can yield a decent amount of white perch. These fish can best be targeted using a simple bottom rig tipped with bloodworms or nightcrawlers. Often found in schools, once you catch one perch, there’s a good chance of reeling in plenty more.

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

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