Freshwater Fishing Report, April 2024

Freshwater Fishing Report, April 26 Update:

Spring has brought us many fishing opportunities throughout the region that anglers are continuing to enjoy. Despite a cooldown this week, the bite stayed hot in many areas. We had reader reports come in from Deer Creek and the dam pool at Conowingo that the shad were thick last weekend, but that it was difficult to get them to bite. Hopefully by now they’ve decided that the conditions are right to start snapping. Reports from the Potomac were better, with FishTalk Intern Adam Greenberg reporting that red/white darts tied in tandem did the trick. While shad fishing is good now, we will start to see schools of shad head from their spawning grounds back to the ocean. If you haven’t gone out to fish for them yet and still want to catch some, make sure you do soon. You can find detailed shad reports from the Flethcers Cove area by signing up for the Friends of Fletcher Cove Shad Report.

fly fishing for bluegills
Lakes and ponds are coming alive with action and just about all species are willing to bite at this point. Beautiful bluegill photo courtesy of William Meyer.

Contributor Eric Packard said the bite was on at St. Mary’s Lake this week, and casting twister tails, jerkbaits, and Wacky Worm rigs all produced plenty of bites. The catch range included a great mix of bass, perch, pickerel, crappie, and bluegills. Intern Adam hit a central-Maryland lake this week and reported seeing snakeheads that refused to eat his frogs, but largemouth were visible bedding and quick to strike Ned rigs. Damien Cook of Lowland Outfitters reports that big snakeheads have been biting over the past few weeks on the Eastern Shore. A lot of fish are being caught on weedless inline spinners and once temperatures rebound to warmer daytime highs, topwater frog will be a good option. We also received good snakehead reports form the D.C. area. Anglers fishing in the tidal basin have been catching some very big snakeheads and bass this week. Weedless worms and spinnerbaits produced snakeheads up to nine pounds and a few bass up to three pounds for one angler. Crappie action in the District is also picking up with a lot of fish biting in the Washinton Channel around the marina docks. Other tidal areas including the lower Susquehanna and Pocomoke rivers have also been noted for solid crappie action this week.

Freshwater Fishing Report, April 18 Update:

The weather is warming, and the fish are biting as we get into the heart of spring. We had multiple reports from readers, contributor Eric Packard, plus FishTalk intern Adam on the shad front this week. The bottom line: get out there and get out there fast, because in many of the area’s waterways it’s peak action. Fletcher’s, the upper Patuxent, Mason Springs, you name it, hot reports came in from around the dial. Last weekend we had a reader check-in after fishing at Fletchers Cove in one of the rowboats. They anchored up just south of the cove and found steady action for big hickory shad and even some American shad. Their biggest fish of the day was a 22-inch American shad that put up quite the fight in the rolling current of the Potomac. River conditions have dropped below five feet on the upper Potomac and conditions should be good for getting out this weekend. It is helpful to check the USGS flow gauge near Little Falls before heading out so you know what the current river conditions are like.

freshwater fishing
Dylan hooked into this beautiful trout in Deer Creek - WTG, Dylan!

Contributor Eric Packard paid a visit to Lake Anna midweek and reported a wide range of species were biting including bass, crappie, white perch, and channel cats, plus they also picked up a freshwater striper. However, both their numbers and their sizes were on the small side and they talked with several other anglers who reported just catching small crappie. Another angler fishing in various ponds in southern Maryland reported that crappie fishing is great right now as we get into the time of year when they are spawning. These fish are starting to move into shallower water and can even be sitting along the banks on beds in some areas. Live minnows under a bobber are working great along with small soft plastic twisty tails on jigheads. St. Mary’s Lake is a prime destination for crappie anglers and if you can fish it from a kayak, there is a lot of underwater structure that the fish school up around. Anglers fishing in D.C. are having luck with crappie around the bridges and marinas near the Washington Channel. Again, live minnows are working best. Bass fishing has also picked up in D.C. and surrounding areas. Water temperatures are around 60 degrees in many freshwater locations which means bass will be on their beds. If you enjoy bass fishing, now is the time of year you won’t want to miss.

Freshwater Fishing Report, April 12 Update:

It finally felt like spring this week after a chilly start to the season. Temperatures made it into the 70s this week which brought out many anglers to fish. FishTalk’s own Zach Ditmars and Eric Packard both made it to Mason’s Run at different times last weekend, and both reported good action on hickory shad with dozens being caught in a few hours of fishing. There was no apparent pattern to the lure preferences as different colored darts and spoons both worked, but Ditmars mentioned that small jigs with fuzzy bodies seemed to work particularly well. Packard had a slower bite but still caught a few in the upper Patuxent in high, muddied waters, where using black (even darts colored black with a sharpie marker) did the trick. He also hit a farm pond where bass were biting strong on wacky worms.

angler with a black bass
Lindsay found the bass biting at a Delaware pond this week.

FishTalk Intern Adam Greenberg reports that crappie were biting in the Miles, but they were more hand-sized than pan-sized. White and chartreuse tube jigs suspended under a bobber got them biting. There was a report from an angler who fished in a southern Maryland lake this week without much success. Despite the warm temperatures, the bass didn’t seem to be very active. They caught two bass during a three-hour afternoon trip. One came on a chatterbait and another came on a small crankbait. They didn’t see any bass on their beds but noticed Ospreys diving and catching smaller looking fish in the shallows. If these warm temperatures persist, we can expect largemouth bass to push onto their beds in the next few weeks. Bed fishing for bass can go two ways. Sight fishing for them is very exciting when they are willing to bite, but when they have lockjaw, it can be very frustrating.

Snakeheads were much more active this week and we should see them return to their status as a reliable freshwater target now that water temperatures are quickly rising. Captain Mike from Apex Predators guide service had good luck this week catching snakeheads on the Potomac. He said the big ones were willing to bite and topwater frogs got some nice blowups. The snakehead bite also picked up on the Eastern Shore with successful reports coming from Blackwater and the lower shore millponds. The sunny and warm afternoons will still be your best chance to find actively feeding fish. The season is changing and we couldn’t be more excited for all the great fishing opportunities coming our way.

Freshwater Fishing Report, April 5 Update:

The weather this week made for tough fishing conditions across the region. The good news is that there are an abundance of freshwater fishing opportunities to take advantage of. FishTalk Intern Adam Greenberg reports a few largemouth bass were biting in local ponds over the weekend, but only on Senkos fished very slowly. He also noted that the upper Potomac was running high and muddy, as many area rivers surely have been with all the recent rains. Downstream a bit at Fletcher’s, however, shad were willing to smack weighted spoons and then decided they wanted a fast retrieve up near the surface, which led to catching about 20 fish in just two hours of casting. Shad have been running strong in most of the southern tributary areas that see a run and are now also beginning to make a serious showing up in the northern areas. Last weekend readers reported getting good numbers up in the Way North zone and feeder creeks to the Susquehanna should be producing; green darts were mentioned as the ticket in those areas.

shad caught in the river
Henry found some shad willing to bite in the river!

The forecast is calling for warmer temperatures next week which could kickstart some bass moving into spawning mode creating beds. The warm and sunny afternoons will be your best bet for fishing the shallows searching for a big fish. The warmup should also increase snakehead activity. The warm week we saw in mid-March led to a lot of snakehead anglers catching their first topwater fish of the year. If we get a few warmer days in a row, look for that pattern to develop again. The thick grass beds have yet to develop, so look for these fish near fallen trees, sunken wood, and other hard structure. The mouths of feeder creeks are also areas you won’t want to overlook this time of year.

A lot of anglers took advantage of the opening days for trout season. There are still a ton of fish in the stocked locations and all closure areas are now open. Trout opportunities are available in most of Maryland and Virginia as both agencies have been stocking fish throughout this winter and spring. Visit the Maryland DNR trout stocking website and the Virginia DWR trout stocking website for more information. We checked in with Mossy Creek Fly Fishing who let us know that most of the mountain streams and the bigger rivers are running high after all the rainfall. It will be good to check the USGS flow gauges before hitting the water so you know what stream conditions to expect. Mossy Creek said to be prepared to fish nymphs and streamers until the creeks clear up. If the weather holds next week, conditions should be good to catch some of our freshwater favorites.If you haven't chased stockers in a while here's the rundown on catching them with the float-n-fly technique: