Fishing reports published in print are generalized and weeks may have passed before the report gets into your hands, so for timely up-to-date reports, visit our Fishing Reports online. Current reports will be published every Friday by noon — just in time for your weekend fishing adventures. In the meantime, here’s our monthly prognostication.
COASTAL FISHING FORECAST
Yeah, it’s getting a bit chilly out there. Offshore anglers may still get a shot at day-timing for swordfish or deep-dropping for tilefish if the winds give us a break this month, but otherwise the bluewater action is more or less on pause for the winter. Not so inshore, however, as both sea bass and tautog should remain active on the wrecks and reefs from Delaware clear down through Virginia waters. And if we get lucky, we might also get a shot at ocean-run stripers inside the three-mile limit or perhaps even from the beaches — only time will tell.
FRESHWATER FISHING FORECAST
When December hits, many anglers turn their focus towards pickerel fishing. Both the Chesapeake Bay tribs and the Eastern Shore millponds should be red-hot by the time you read these words. If you need some motivation to get off the couch and onto the water once December has hit, join the CCA Winter Pickerel Championship — it’s a ton of fun and runs through February, so there’s plenty of time to join in and score big. (Go to CCA or check it out on the iAngler app).
You want more options? Don’t worry, there are plenty: both stocked and wild trout will be feeding hard this month, the catfish won’t stop slurping up baits, and crappie should be willing to hit through the month, too.
WAY NORTH FISHING FORECAST
There should still be a shot at finding a striper before the December 11 closure, and yellow perch could be showing up in the Perryville area soon. Catfish fishing will likely prove most reliable, though, and if you set up shop anywhere within sight of the 95 bridge you should have no problem tugging up one after another.
UPPER BAY FISHING FORECAST
Striper anglers may be able to get in a few last licks up to December 10, the final day of the 2023 season, but after that angling on the Upper Bay will be focused mostly on white perch, catfish, and pickerel. For several seasons running the tribs north of the bridge have been on the upswing when it comes to pickerel, too, with fish over 25” reported on a regular basis and a few hitting 27” showing up from time to time as well. Will some lucky angler tie into a 28-incher this December? It could happen, people, it could happen.
MIDDLE BAY FISHING FORECAST
We’ll all be sad to see rockfish go out of season, but very, very glad that it will remain legal to catch and release them through the end of the year. Meanwhile, there should be white perch over deep structure ready to hit baited bottom rigs and jigging spoons. Added bonus: will those sea bass keep biting? Look a little deeper than you did last month and there’s a good chance the answer is yes.
LOWER BAY FISHING FORECAST
In Maryland waters December 10 may mark the last day of the striper season, but on the Potomac and in Virginia it continues until the end of the month. Will it get chilly out there? Yup! But a red-hot winter striper bite should be more than enough to keep you warm.
TANGIER, POCOMOKE, AND LOWER SHORE FISHING FORECAST
While the lower Eastern Shore waters can grow a bit quiet at this time of year, the tributaries in this zone just get better and better. Spectacular crappie, bass, catfish, and pickerel fishing will likely kick in during the month of December — and get better and better as winter sets in.
WAY SOUTH CHESAPEAKE FISHING FORECAST
Depending on how chilly it gets, at some point this month this zone will be the last on the Bay where redfish and speckled trout remain an option. With stripers in the mix through the end of the month as well, the lower sections of the southernmost tributaries have a lot to offer. If, that is, you can resist the draw of the CBBT, where tautog will surely be biting. Flounder could be a possibility, too, as in the past couple of years they’ve showed up with surprising regularity well into the final month of the year.