No matter where you live in Chesapeake Country there are sure to be plenty of bridges nearby, and hopping from one to the next is a great way to find a solid bite — especially during the winter months when many anglers have winterized their boats. In most cases bridges offer access to shorelines on either side, some have fishing areas on the bridge itself, and since bridges are usually built at narrow chokepoints they tend to have deeper channels and stronger currents than surrounding areas. Ready to try some bridge hopping this December? Here are three prime species to target and the ways to do it.

angler with a catfish
Catfish are a prime target when bridge-hopping.


Catfish can be found at just about any bridge crossing a Bay tributary, river, or reservoir. The tactics are as simple as it gets: toss out a piece of cut bait (chicken breast or liver works fine if the bait shop’s closed) on a weighted fishfinder-style rig with a circle hook, and let it sit on bottom until a fish swims away with it. Aim your casts for the deepest holes or channels within range. Tip: Bridges with strong currents often have scour holes directly behind the pilings where the cats may congregate.

angler holds a yellow perch
Live bull minnow can’t be beat when it comes to fooling those yellow perch. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard.


Yellow perch fishing picks up as it gets cold, and these fish are attracted to bridges due to the deep waters and plentiful structure. Try casting bottom rigs baited with live bull minnow and set your rods down with some tension on the line so you can watch for bites. Aim for the deepest water possible on low or falling tides, and the edges of the channel on rising tides. When you see the tip do one or two slow dips, pick the rod up and drag the weight just an inch or two across bottom. If you feel weight set the hook. If not, pause and see if the perch tries to eat the minnow again, because often they will.

Snakehead fish
Snakehead will still bite in the chill, though tempting them with live bait is usually necessary. Photo courtesy of Caz Kenny.


Snakeheads, in December?! Yup, though the bite may not be as furious as in warmer months of the year they will still eat. The trick to getting them on the line is to leave the artificials in your tacklebox and use live minnow, instead. In shallower waterways look for bridges with a channel running through that’s at least three or four feet deep, and set your bobber so the minnow is dangling just a few inches above the bottom. The edges of the channels and/or structure like fallen trees are good targets to cast for.