We all know printed fishing reports are generalized and weeks have passed before the report gets into your hands, so for timely, up-to-date reports, visit our Reports section. 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
As the dog days of summer set in, all bets are off on the pelagic front. In recent years we’ve experienced everything from solid chunk bites on the lumps, to so-so action, to little love from the tunas, and what July of 2022 will bring we simply can’t predict. We can say one thing for sure, however, and that’s that by now the mahi should be firmly established at the floats lining the shelf’s edge. Bailers should have little problem hooking up, and trolling the line with small baits should prove thoroughly productive as well.
Inshore anglers should be seeing a solid mix of flounder and sea bass on the wrecks and reefs right about now, and we note that in recent seasons July has been prime time to target spadefish at the Light Tower and similar nearshore structure. On the beaches, expect to find a smattering of panfish on bloodworms, Fishbites, and squid, with some bluefish mixed in as well.
FRESHWATER FISHING FORECAST
It’s getting hot out there, people, and you know what that means: pond and reservoir fish are likely heading for cool deep-water haunts while the sun shines and will be hunting the shorelines during the cooler hours of the day only. But snakeheads? They’re going to have a big, fat bullseye painted on their backs. Topwater should be in full swing and you’ll want to pull those frogs and mice through thick, heavy cover right about now.
WAY NORTH CHESAPEAKE FISHING FORECAST
REMEMBER: Rockfish are closed July 16 through 31 including targeted catch and release. As the summer options shrink a bit, however, if the past is any prediction there will be enough active catfish to keep any angler dropping cut bait to the bottom in a hole or channel busy. Very, very busy. We’ll also point out that this can be a great time to target snakeheads in northern waters of the Bay.
UPPER CHESAPEAKE BAY FISHING FORECAST
REMEMBER: Rockfish are closed July 16 through 31 including targeted catch and release. Fortunately we can keep ourselves busy with the ever-present catfish wandering our waterways these days. Many anglers looking for a fresh fish dinner will likely turn their attention to the perch in creeks and tribs, but remember that at this time of year the bite on shell bottom in areas like Belvidere Shoals can be epic for a mix of perch and spot on Chesapeake Sabikis tipped with bloodworm or Fishbites bits.
MIDDLE BAY FORECAST
REMEMBER: Rockfish are closed July 16 through 31 including targeted catch and release. Catfish should be plentiful as long as salinity levels don’t spike to unusual numbers. Hopefully, this summer we’ll have a more consistent white perch bite, too; look for them around docks and shaded areas once the sun’s high in the sky.
LOWER BAY FORECAST
REMEMBER: Rockfish are closed July 16 through 31 in Maryland waters, including targeted catch and release, and remain closed in Virginia waters. Fortunately, there are plenty of options throughout the Lower Bay at this point. Cobia and bull redfish will both be hot prospects in areas like the Target Ship and The Cell, smaller reds and speckled trout should be available in the tribs and shallows, and last season we also saw a few barely-keeper flounder and croaker for bottom fishermen in the Rappahannock. Hopefully, those fish and their smaller siblings will return this month with a little more meat on their bones.
TANGIER, POCOMOKE, AND LOWER SHORE FORECAST
REMEMBER: Rockfish are closed July 16 through 31 in Maryland waters, including targeted catch and release, and remain closed in Virginia waters. ALSO REMEMBER: With so many options to choose from in this neck of the woods, there’s plenty of other fish to go after! Though the heat of summer may bring a drop-off in the speck action there are certain to be some around, and last summer was the first decent one for flounder in quite some time (with the ESVA inlets and trib mouths proving most productive). We should also be seeing some Spanish mackerel start showing in good numbers up right about now, mixed with bluefish chopping through bay anchovies in open waters.
WAY SOUTH AND VA FORECAST
While cobia will probably be the headline fish through the month, July is also a great month to enjoy a variety of action around the CBBT and other area structure: sheepshead, triggerfish and spadefish, flounder — you name it. Trollers, meanwhile, will surely have plenty of mackerel, blues, and cutlassfish to keep the rods bent. If this year is like 2021 we should also see a nice mix of bottom fish by now and hopefully those big roundhead will return in solid numbers. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with another bloodworm shortage this year. Ugh!