For timely, up-to-date fishing intel, visit our Fishing Reports pages. Current reports will be published every Friday by noon — just in time for your weekend fishing adventures. For the long view over this next month, however, here's what's likely on the horizon.
Uh-oh… it’s getting a bit chilly out there. Offshore anglers may still get a shot at daytime deep dropping for swordfish or deep-dropping for tilefish if the winds give us a break this month, but otherwise the deep will likely be growing rather quiet for the near future. Not so inshore, however, as both sea bass and tautog should remain active on the wrecks and reefs from Delaware clear down to the NC boarder for a while yet. The bigger question on everyone’s mind: will we get a decent shot at ocean-run stripers inside the three-mile limit this December? Predicting the answer to that question is an impossibility because that fishery can be so darn erratic and we're not even going to take a guess on that one, so keep your eyes on the current reports.
When December hits, freshwater anglers in these parts know it’s time for pickerel fishing. Both the Chesapeake Bay tribs and the millponds should be red-hot by the time you read these words, and live bull minnows, slow-trolled crankbaits, Roadrunners, and similar blade-baits will all get ‘em on the line. If you need some winter motivation, try joining in the CCA Winter Pickerel Championship — it’s a ton of fun and there are some uber-cool prizes up for grabs. In most of the ponds and lakes you’ll still find bass and crappie somewhat active as well, though as the waters chill out their activity level will continue dropping.
Trout anglers in Maryland and Virginia should still have some fall stockers to fish for this month, as well as the “real” thing in the western rivers and streams. Note that last month Virginia also amped up its catfish stocking efforts, planting over 80,000 whiskered critters in more than 120 waterways in the state. Speaking of catfish, remember that as some forms of fishing slack off this month the catfish bites in the western shore tribs, particularly the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James, provide action — and possible shots at monsters — no matter how chilly it gets outside.
December is a month of transition in these waters. At the start there should still be a shot at finding rockfish on and around the flats, and when they go out on the 10th the yellow perch may or may not have begun showing up in the Perryville zone. There is, however, one constant: yup, catfish again. Whether you’re fishing from shore or from a boat, these critters can be depended on to continue hitting cut fish or chicken livers through the month.
Striper anglers may be able to get in a few last licks before the season closes down on December 10, but after that angling on the Upper Bay will be a story of white perch and catfish. The tribs are a different story, though. Let’s remember that pickerel have been on the upswing in recent years, and by all indications the Magothy and the creeks between it and the Patapsco should produce very nice fish in very good numbers this season.
December 10 will be a sad day, when rockfish go out of season… but the bright side is that it remains legal to catch and release them through the year. Meanwhile, there should be white perch ready to hit bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or tandem rigs with a spoon on bottom and a streamer up top, jigged deep over structure.
In Maryland waters December 10 may mark the end of the striper season, but on the Potomac and in Virginia it continues until the end of the month. It will start getting tough out there, but should remain do-able as long as the weather allows. Another option: head up one of the rivers (the Potomac, Rap, and James are all prime) and sink cut fish on bottom. Not only will you likely get a bite, there’s a good shot at catching 30- or 40-plus-pound cats in all of these rivers. Check out Tidal Blue Cat Behemoths to get the skinny on this fishery.
By now most of the fish will likely have shuffled out of the shallows in search of deeper pastures, and much of the attention in this neck of the woods turns to the tribs. But that’s not a bad thing, because heading up the Pocomoke or Nanticoke can produce some spectacular crappie, bass, and pickerel fishing in the month of December. And don’t forget about the opportunity presented by the millponds on the lower shore — they’re chock full of fish, too.
Depending on how chilly it gets, at some point this month this zone will be the last on the Bay where you can still catch reds and speckled trout in numbers worth pursuing them. But last year that bite was solid right into mid-month and reds started popping up again just a couple months later, so all bets are off until we see just how cold it gets. If we get lucky those fish could potentially be caught, particularly in the inlets (think: Lenser Bridge), right through the end of the year.
Out at the CBBT, meanwhile, there will be solid prospects for a smattering of species including tog, flounder, and stripers. We note that mid-month last year flounder were running surprisingly strong, and although it may get painfully cold, the night bite for those stripers tends to rock it at this time of year.
Well, that's what we're thinking is likely this month, anglers. Of course, every winter is different and one or all of these predictions could cause a face-palm a month from now. Remember: the up-to-date stuff can be found in the weekly reports. And for those of you who don't plan on fishing in December we can only ask, why not?? You have a jacket and gloves, don't you? One of the best things about living here in the Mid-Atlantic region is that we have fishing options year-round, and December is a great time to hit the water whether you want to load a cooler or just enjoy the outdoors. So c'mon - let's go fishing!