Mid Winter Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report
The weather so far this year has been pretty up and down and has been much warmer than in year’s past. With the mild winter, we’ve seen water temps hovering in the low to mid 40s which has provided anglers with some pretty decent opportunities to get out and shake off the winter blues and catch some nice fish. We’ve heard pretty good reports coming from several of our staff that the winter Perch bite is on and strong! Pickerel have also been very active in/around structure in the creeks and rivers off the main bay. The bite has been so good over the last couple weeks that many have asked us if the Perch spawn is on but we think that it may just be happening in stages depending on your location and should really take place in the next several weeks.
As far as the Perch fishing goes, we’ve seen great things coming out of the Western bay area, specifically in the Magothy, Severn and South Rivers in deeper holes ranging from 5-20′ of water looking for that hard bottom or subsurface structure. Other hot spots in the Eastern Bay area are the Wye, Miles and Chester rivers in that 5-20′ range. Further south we’re seeing good fish being caught in the Honga and Nanticoke rivers. Being that the water temps are in the low 40º range right now, you’re looking to fish slow, and on/near the bottom. Popular rigs are the float & shad dart combo tipped with either a blood worm, minnow or grass shrimp (if you can find them). Make sure the distance between the float and the shad dart will get the shad dart close to the bottom if not on it. Another one of our favorite rigs is a tandem rig made with a three way swivel with a VMC Hot Skirt jig tipped with a grass shrimp and a tony spoon on a 12-18″ leader tipped with a minnow. This should be fished slow and just off the bottom. The trick is you want to have as much action as you can with as little retrieve as possible. Remember, the fish are lethargic and don’t want to chase bait down so you want to fish as slow as you can and wait for that slight “tap” to let you know you’ve hooked into one.
As far as the Pickerel go, we’ve seen some nice fish being pulled out of the same rivers in 4-10′ of water. You’re not going to find many Pickerel in a single spot so work the structured areas in the shallower water and move along after 5-10 minutes. Pickerel are very aggressive and will strike at pretty much anything so grab your light tackle spinning rod and fish with tony spoons tipped with a minnow, smaller jigs with soft plastics, inline spinner baits like Mepps or other spinners like Capt. Berts. You can also throw the glow skirt spinners tipped with Gulp Alive Jiggin Minnows with pretty good success. The trick is to work your baits slower than usual and target structure. These fish are going to be holding tight to structure waiting to ambush bait.
Bass fishing in the winter is a good time to land some monster fish. Again, the trick is to be extremely patient as these fish are super lethargic and basically sitting on the bottom waiting for something to swim into their mouths. The best places to find them is in deeper water or in/around deeper structure. You’re going to want to use slow moving baits. You’ll want to use Jigs, slow sinking Jerkbaits as well as dropshotting soft plastics like a worm or a creature bait as these will be fished VERY SLOW and on/near the bottom. Winter Bass will nearly always be schooled up and just sitting there waiting for bait to ambush. Once you find the school, it’s relatively easy to get it fired up if you’re fishing slow sinking jerk baits giving the bait a good 3-10 second dead stop pause so the fish have time to come up from the bottom.
Winter is a tough time to target those Striped Bass in the Chesapeake Bay. The fish are in the deeper waters and aren’t aggressively feeding on anything with much consistency. Your best best for catch and release are to target fish in the deeper holes with jigs and/or live bait such as blood worms and cut bait if you can find any. Warm water discharges near water treatment plants and such offer anglers a good opportunity to throw jigs with soft plastics with relatively decent success as these fish will school up looking for baitfish in the warmer waters.
We here at Anglers Sport Center wish to provide you with the best experience possible whether it is in our store, on our website or in our fishing report videos on Youtube. We have been working hard in our store to provide you with the best shopping experience possible. We’ve rearranged our fishing department to provide ample room for our increasing freshwater tackle options as well as improving our Reel Station to better serve you. Now is a great time to bring in your rods/reels to be serviced before the Spring fishing season starts! We invite you to come check out our improvements in store and until then, tight lines!