Freshwater Fishing Report, June 2023

Freshwater Fishing Report, June 30 Update:

Multiple days of storms have finally rejuvenated many of our freshwater fishing locations. The rain helped to increase oxygen levels and likely made many fish more active. Largemouth bass have moved into their typical summer patterns, so the best shallow-water fishing occurs during the morning and evening hours. Contributor Eric Packard reports that better-than-expected action on bass continues in area ponds and lakes, thanks no doubt to the cool late spring and early summer we’ve been enjoying. The fish are still up around shoreline structure and wacky worms and Mepps #3 spinners both proved effective this week.

blue cat in the patuxent
Max tangled with this mega-cat in the upper Patuxent River.

Snakeheads around the region are entering spawning mode, which may make it tough to entice a bite at times. However, this is the time of year that you want to look for fry balls. Snakehead parents will aggressively protect their young, so if you can cast a lure on or around a fry ball, you’ll likely get a reaction bite. Topwater frogs and other weedless soft plastics are popular to throw in these scenarios. Vegetations such as lily pads, submerged grasses, and spatterdock fields are common locations to find them in the summertime. They are known to hangout in some of the thickest vegetation around, so don’t overlook those areas. Snakehead spawning typically peaks in early July and we are just starting to get reports of activity in areas like Blackwater, the Potomac, and on the Susquehanna Flats.

The upper Potomac River received a slight bump in water levels earlier this week but is leveling off again to low flow conditions, which are ideal for wading and fishing for smallmouth bass. The early morning and late evening hours offer the best fishing opportunities. Mossy Creek let us know that if you are a brook trout fisherman, now is the time to get out to the streams. They saw some good water flows in the mountains at the beginning of the week and expect the brookie fishing to be good for the next couple weeks if water levels stay up. The recent rains have recharged some of the groundwater which has the spring creeks in better shape. Even with the bump in water, brook trout will likely still be close to some of the community pools where the fish hang out when the water is down. Terrestrial insects like ants and beetles are making more of an appearance and the trout are homing in on them. Dry fly fishing should be good for the foreseeable future so make sure to get out and take advantage of it.

Freshwater Fishing Report, June 23 Update:

It has been a very dry start to summer and drought conditions are prevalent throughout most of the region. Luckily, we have been getting some much-needed rain during the latter part of the week. The extended forecast appears to call for more rain which should help replenish our waterways. I was able to get out with a close friend over the weekend to fish a southern Maryland lake targeting largemouth bass. We noticed the water levels were very low due to lack or rain. Over the course of three hours, we landed around a dozen bass and one crappie between the two of us with over half of the action happening during the last half hour of daylight. The fish were biting weedless jigs dressed with soft plastic crawfish baits. The darker colored baits caught more fish, although a white fluke did produce a four pounder. Most fish were up shallow near submerged wood and required a finesse style of fishing to get them to bite.

largemouth bass in a pond
Largemouth bass have been htting well throughout the region. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard.

Contributor Eric Packard spent some time wade fishing a southern Maryland pond before the rain moved in this week and had luck catching some small bass. The fish were hitting a wacky rig and a Mepps number three spinner.

Snakehead fishing has been good all over the region with the Potomac and Blackwater being hotspots for anglers. One kayak fisherman in the Potomac had a great day catching 19 snakehead and six bass while throwing topwater frogs and chatterbaits near grass fields. They noted that the water quality was very clear which made it easy to spot some of the fish. A pair of anglers fishing the upper Patuxent on Thursday reported that water levels were very high but turbidity wasn't horrible, and they had several topwater blow ups on frogs (though they were unable to connect with the snakeheads and landed only bass). They also noted seeing their first fry ball of the year. Another popular technique is to toss out live minnows under a bobber. Snakeheads love this bait and it’s a relaxing way to fish for them. Just make sure your gear is adequate because it is becoming more common to catch snakeheads weighing double digits. 

Panfish like bluegill and other sunfish species are now very active in all of our local ponds and lakes. They are easy to fish for and can usually be caught fishing pieces of worm under a bobber or by throwing small jigs. Targeting them can be a great way to get lots of action or even introduce a new angler to the sport.

Freshwater Fishing Report, June 16 Update:

We are finally seeing stable weather and most anglers are finding fish in their summertime patterns in our freshwater locations. Contributor Eric Packard says the freshwater bite has provided more action than hitting many local areas of the Bay lately, and a day at St. Mary’s Lake produced 17 bass, four perch, six pickerel, and five crappie. Small gray/silver jerkbaits and red square-bill crankbaits did the catching. We also received multiple reader photos and reports of surprisingly good bass fishing this week, perhaps a result of the relatively cool weather. Whatever the reason, they’ve remained in a serious spring feeding mood.

nice bass while fishing
William got this beaut while casting a four-weight!

In rivers like the Monocacy, Susquehanna, and Potomac, low water levels have made smallmouth bass fishing tricky. If you can get to where the fish are without spooking them, you should be able to land a fair number of fish. Low light periods of the day have produced a good topwater bite but the low and clear water requires long casts so that you don’t spook the fish. In deeper holes and slackwater stretches of the rivers, tube jigs, senkos, and crankbaits are catching fish. Deeper downstream areas of these rivers have been exhibiting a steady catfish bite for channels, blues, and flatheads. Any readily available cut bait paired with a fish finder rig will work for targeting the cats

Freshwater correspondent Jim Gronaw reports that the recent drought conditions have made fishing difficult in many locations. Bluegill and other sunfish species are struggling with low water that has left some spawning beds high and dry. Nonetheless, these fish are still eagerly biting on nightcrawlers and meal worms. Jim let us know that the largemouth bite has been best in the early morning sand late evenings where the bass are willing to hit soft plastics or topwater baits. Crappie fishing is still good at deeper, offshore locations like sunken trees or rock piles. Docks and bridges can also offer some fun angling for these fish. As is the theme with a lot of summertime fishing, low light conditions are usually prime time. Hair jigs, twisty tails, small crankbaits, and live minnows will usually catch them along with other species.

Freshwater Fishing Report, June 8 Update:

The upper Potomac and other rivers are running very low this week due to lack of rainfall. This has made for some excellent wading and kayaking conditions. Smallmouth bass have been the main target for anglers and there has been a good topwater bite when the sun is low or on overcast days. The smokey haze from Canadian wildfires has also extended topwater bites later into the morning. Poppers and buzzbaits are popular topwater lures while tube jigs and jerkbaits are the go-to subsurface options.

dillon with a big snakehead
Our intrepid reports editor Dillon Waters scored a 29.5-inch snakehead this week - WTG, Dillon!

Snakehead anglers have been finding success all over our region and the bite should continue to be good now that summertime weather has returned. The only catch is that snakeheads are starting to spawn so they may be more focused on that rather than eating in some areas. If you see a fry ball, throwing a topwater frog through the fry can usually get a reaction bite from the parents. The reports editor took a quick trip to the upper Patuxent in search of snakeheads and was able to catch his personal best fish while casting around the pools of slower moving water. The fish was 29.5 inches long and weighed eight and a half pounds. It was caught on a large bladed spinnerbait paired with a six-inch Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad paddletail. It was the only fish caught in about an hour of fishing, but carp were splashing around everywhere and likely spooked many of the fish close by. Another snakehead angler fishing on the Western Branch of the Patuxent caught a snakehead that measured into the upper 20s on a Z-Man chatter bait.

Contributor Eric Packard says there was a good blue catfish bite in Mallows Bay last weekend, and there’s no reason to expect anything but solid action from most of the waterways these beasts frequent. They were hitting strongly enough that they were striking his chatterbaits, and bait anglers nearby looked like they had plenty of bent rods. Anglers fishing the upper Patuxent near Jug Bay have been catching plenty of three-to-five-pound blue cats on cut bait with some bigger cats weighing into the double digits. Fishing for largemouth bass, meanwhile, is great this week in the ponds, reservoirs, and fresher tidal waters. The bass are shifting to their typical summer mode of feeding from early evening to late morning. These hours will constrict as water temperature and daylight hours increase.

Freshwater Fishing Report, June 2 Update:

Most fish in our local ponds, lakes, and reservoirs are still active throughout the better part of most days. Most will be hanging in shallower water but any submerged structure could be holding fish nearby. Contributor Eric Packard says the bass in his local ponds are acting feisty, trying to pack the pounds back on after spawning. A morning trip to Indian Creek this week produced six largemouth in just two hours of fishing with a wacky rig doing the catching. Packard also got out to fish St. Mary’s Lake and found steady action there as well. He caught 17 crappie, 12 largemouth, six pickerel, two bluegill, and two yellow perch with most fish being caught on small crankbaits. Though it's been a bit chillier in the western parts of the region, we did also get a report of fast action at Deep Creek Lake this week with "everything" biting and nine different species being caught including the below walleye.

walleye fishing
Ellen scored a walleye at Deep Creek Lake. Photo courtesy of Bill Rader.

Snakeheads are providing steady action throughout the region this week and the topwater bite is producing some big fish. The Blackwater area is considered the epicenter of snakehead fishing but chances are, you won't have to drive very far from where you live to find some of these fish. The snakeheads have continued to expand their range in Maryland and can be found in just about any body of water connected to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Notable rivers with high populations of snakeheads include the Susquehanna, Gunpowder, Patuxent, and Potomac. Focus your fishing efforts on areas with grass beds, lily pads, or spatterdock fields. The snakeheads will be in lurking both in open water and in some of the thickest vegetation you can find. Topwater frogs can produce some vicious strikes, just make sure to wait a few seconds before setting the hook to make sure the fish has the lure. Soft plastic flukes, chatterbaits, and Mepps spinners are also some top producing baits. Make sure you have the proper gear when targeting these fish because they can grow upwards of 15 pounds.

Smallmouth bass are biting in the regions rivers and many anglers have been reporting days with double digit catches. One angler fishing the Monocacy River found success while wade fishing this week. He was able to catch 27 smallmouth bass and one rock bass. Most of the smallies were on the shorter side except for two big, post spawn females. One fish was 18 inches and weighed two and a half pounds, the other was 19 inches and just over three pounds. Another angler fishing the Susquehanna caught a few nice smallies in the 15-18-inch range while throwing a five-inch white swimbait. Low and clear water conditions in the rivers are perfect for throwing topwater baits. Poppers and frogs have been working especially well and some anglers are reporting getting three to four strikes per cast when the fish are really fired up.

While most of the put and take trout fishing action has winded down, the western trout streams are primed with insect activity that anglers should take advantage of. Mossy Creek Fly Fishing reports that little yellow stones, green drakes, and sulphurs have been thick lately. Water levels have been running low, so it shouldn’t be hard to find fish as they are stacked up in the deepest runs, pools, and riffles. Mossy Creek recommends using a stealthy approach on the trout waters right now as everything has been running crystal clear. Tricos have been thick on the hot mornings on the spring creeks. Look for these bugs emerging early at daylight and the spinnerfall starting around 8am. Right now, the trico swarms will be 20 to 30 feet above the creek. Tricos will generally be thicker around riffles and faster flowing water. While searching for fish out west, you will be amazed at the beautiful scenery surrounding you. It’s a fishery you won't regret visiting.