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.

fishing forecast chesapeake bay
Those big bull reds are on their way back into Chesapeake Country — and Hunter will be ready for ‘em. Photo courtesy of Scott Heinz.


Surf fishermen casting mullet and bunker chunks into the suds will likely still be seeing a few big striped bass pop up here and there as May begins, along with a shot at red drum. Meanwhile, anglers up and down the coast will be counting down the days in May until the 15th arrives and black sea bass come back into season. They should be available in good numbers on the inshore wrecks and reef sites from the moment the season opens up. And anglers with offshore-capable boats will be eyeballing the SST charts all month long. Will we get a blast of tuna heading up the coast this month? We can’t predict it with any assuredness, but it’s a good bet that they’ll be in the reports so keep a sharp eye peeled.


May is a magnificent month for freshwater aficionados, with a long list of options. At the beginning of the month crappie and bass should be moving shallow to nest, snakeheads will be fully awake from their off-season slumber by this point, and there should be some leftovers from the trout stockings. By the end of the month post-spawn fish will be feeding hard to restore their body weight, chances are there will be a topwater bite going for the snakes, and while stocked trout action may begin to slow as the fish get caught out there should still be a good bite happening in the western portions of our region.


The entire Way North zone will be closed for rockfish through May this year, but there’s still going to be plenty of action to focus on. Blue catfish will, of course, provide the steadiest bite and the shot at the largest fish possible. Out on the Flats and up the rivers, meanwhile, snakeheads should be transitioning into summer patterns as weed growth expands and the waters warm up a bit. And don’t forget that last spring, mid- to late-May was red-hot for bass anglers on the Flats.


Countless Upper Bay anglers will be watching the calendar for the 15th to arrive, when the striper closure ends and we can target rockfish once again. If history is any indication look to find the fish near the Bay Bridge and the mouth of the Chester when the season kicks off. (Usually we’d add the mouth of the Patapsco but with everything going on up there…) Meanwhile, white perch should be moving into their summering haunts in the creeks and rivers and snakeheads should be providing some action in the Baltimore-area creeks and rivers to the north.


Yes, here we’re waiting for the rockfish to come back in, too! It’s the longest we’ve had to wait in a number of years, but when it’s over some traditional mid-May hot zones include the Bridge, Eastern Bay (note that much of Eastern Bay is catch and release only through the month), Poplar Island, the shallows downriver of the closed portion of the Choptank, and the lower Patuxent. As we wait for the rockfish to come into season there should be white perch available in the rivers and creeks, and at some time this month we’d expect to hear about the specks showing up in areas from the Tangier up to the Choptank or thereabouts.

angler releasing a trophy rockfish
Our intrepid reports editor Dillon Waters releases a cow he reeled up while fishing with Griffin’s Guide Service.


Anglers in this neck of the woods will be counting the days to rockfish, too, but this zone will have more options developing through May than northern areas. Speckled trout should show up this month, and this is a great time to target them because while their numbers may not be huge as of yet, the early catches are often bigger fish. Redfish should be heading this way, too, and by the middle of the month last year there was a nice mix of all these species from the Rap on down.


Specks and reds! Specks and reds! Specks and reds! Oh, and rockfish? They remain catch-and-release through the month inside the confines of the Tangier, but will open mid-month elsewhere. Black drum should also be showing up this month; last year oyster rock in the Pocomoke was the ticket for finding these big brutes in May and they were anxious to chow down on chunks of peeler crab.


By the time May arrives just about anything can happen this close to the ocean, and last May flounder, bluefish, and mackerel had appeared to add to the angling choices. Of course, the big news this month will likely be the drum fishing. Bull reds should invade in earnest at the CBBT and nearby shoals and reefs, with black drum also in the mix. Sheepshead should begin appearing in good numbers as well.