Fishing Report for the Chesapeake Bay & Surrounding Area
Spring is officially here! Warmer temps and sunnier days have many taking advantage of spring break with a little time on the water. Fishing of late has been great for a variety of species and will continue to get better over the next few weeks. Now is one of the best times of the year to get out there with friends or family to go fishing. With so many species available right now combined with decent weather and the start of the Trophy Striped Bass season, it can be hard to decide what to target when you head out.
Trophy Striped Bass
Trophy Striped Bass season opened April 15th and was relatively slow going for trolling anglers. Boats down in the lower bay seemed to have the most success just outside of the spawning rivers, The Patuxent and The Potomac. This may be due to the water clarity being relatively poor in the upper bay region due to cold stained water released from Conowingo Dam last week. Trolling chartreuse daisy chained or tandem rigs seemed to produce the best in the 35′-65′ depth range in these areas. Focusing on the shipping channel ledges between Cedar Point and Smith Point will be popular trolling areas. Chumming and cut bait seemed to produce the most fish especially in the middle bay regions near Podickory Point. Surf casters off Sandy Point and Matapeake Pier reported good success with either bloodworms or cut bunker and fish finder rigs while those jigging the bridge had varied success with smaller fish. We anticipate the trolling to pick up over the next few days once water clarity gets better and temps continue to rise.
Perch fishing has been great lately. With the spawn over, you’ll find most of the males hanging out in the backs of the creeks and tidal rivers in the area. The majority of the Perch are going to be found in deeper holes holding tight to structure. They like structure such as sunken trees, bridge pilings and rocky bottoms. If you’re fishing for them in the creeks and rivers, look to use shad darts with blood worms or minnows. If you’re fishing the bridge pilings, look to use top & bottom rigs with blood worms or nightcrawlers. Some popular spots of late have been Beachwood Park in the Magothy river, Jonas Green Park in the Severn river as well as Tuckahoe Creek on the eastern shore or the Choptank near Greensboro.
The Shad run is in full effect right now. We’ve seen really productive shad fishing in several different spots around Maryland. Some of those spots are between the Conowingo Dam and the Susquehanna Flats, Fletcher’s Boat House in the Key Bridge area, as well as the creeks off the Patuxent in the Crofton area. On the Eastern Shore you can find Shad in Tuckahoe Creek as well as near Red Bridges. Smaller Tony spoons as well as Shad Dart/Spoon tandem rigs tipped with blood worms or minnows will do the trick for Shad. Rooster tails or smaller spinner baits will also work.
The Maryland DNR’s Trout stocking program has once again proved to be beneficial for Trout fishing in the area. The Put & Take areas have been producing great quality Trout for the past few weeks. Maryland DNR will be done with the stocking schedule in early June which can be found here. Some of the more popular spots have been Gunpowder Falls in Baltimore County as well as Bear Creek in Garrett County. Some areas that still have large quantities of Trout to get stocked are the North branch of the Potomac River with 3,400 and Big Elk Creek in Cecil County with 3,900. To catch them, look to use Berkley Trout bait with #12 treble hooks and a split shot about 12″ up the line. You can also use a small spinner bait or rooster tail to catch big Brown or Palomino Trout.
Fresh Water – Largemouth, Smallmouth, Snakehead
With warmer temperatures on the horizon, the Largemouth Bass spawn will soon follow. Water temps are in the mid 50ºs and most of the Bass are in the pre-spawn mode. Bass are moving in and out of the shallows to feed and prepare their spawning beds. Focus on shallow points with drop offs to deeper water close by. Bass will use these areas to pin bait in the shallows and if you’re presenting the right bait, you’re sure to get bit! Look to use slow sinking jerk baits and in clear water they should be natural colors. If the water is stained or murky, look to use brighter colors like chartreuse. On rocky bottoms, a jig with a craw trailer will look like a crawfish which Bass love to snack on! Anglers are reminded that Largemouth bass in fresh water are catch and release only until June 15th.
In areas such as Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge you can target a variety of species including Largemouth Bass and Snakehead. There are no restrictions when it comes to Snakeheads so you may catch and keep as many as you like and there are no size limits. This species is an invasive one and DNR asks that any angler that catches and keeps a Northern Snakehead, kill it instantly by removing it’s head, gutting it or removing it’s gill arches. Snakeheads can be caught a variety of ways including minnows, topwater prop baits like the Whopper Plopper, as well as spinner baits or rooster tails.
Here is some information straight from DNR’s website regarding the Northern Snakehead species:
It is against Maryland, Virginia, and federal laws to possess, import, or transport live northern snakehead.
If you catch a snakehead and want to keep it, you must immediately kill the fish by removing its head, gutting it or removing its gill arches. Anglers are encouraged to catch and keep northern snakeheads year round. There is no minimum size or creel limit for snakeheads.
DNR asks anglers to report snakeheads caught outside of the Potomac River and its tributaries or upstream of Great Falls. Send catch information to email@example.com or call 410-260-8300 to help DNR track the range of the species.
If you catch a northern snakehead with a blue or red tag, please report the tag number and the location, date and time of day when the fish was caught to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at 800-448-8322.
OC Surf Fishing
If you’re traveling to the ocean right now, you will find some nice Bluefish and C&R Striper action. Anglers fishing off the beach and in the inlet are catching nice Bluefish with cut bait or a Spro Bucktail with an otter tail trailer. We’re hearing from 140th street up through the Delaware Beaches have been great areas to target Bluefish in the surf with cut bait. For all the regulations on surf fishing in those areas, please visit the DNR page to learn more here.