Freshwater Fishing Reports

Mid-Atlantic Freshwater Fishing Report, 12/14/2018 Update:

Two targets that are hot on every freshwater angler’s radar at the moment: pickerel and crappie. The pickerel have been all over the place in many of the tidal rivers due to the vegetation failing under the colder temperatures. They’re able to hunt about without much cover, so expect them in unconventional places, such as sparse lily pads or generally close to shore. They’re being caught on all sorts of crankbaits and small spoons (bull minnows are a great option as well), and can be found in almost every part of the region. The Magothy, Tuckahoe Creek, Wye Mills, Unicorn Lake, and the Choptank are all prime places to seek out those toothy critters. FishTalk team members Zach Ditmars and Lenny Rudow hit the Eastern Shore millponds last weekend and found pickerel up to 25 inches ready to rumble (big bull minnow on a shad dart were the top offering), mostly off the weedbeds and in open water, but crappie bites were mysteriously absent.

pickerel fishing with minnow
Vadim found the pickerel biting strong last week, in the Eastern Shore millponds.

Nymphing season is in full swing for trout anglers, and the Gunpowder and Savage rivers are both doing very well in terms of CFS discharges and currents, allowing fly anglers great winter opportunities to lay into some cold-season trout. Same goes for the western Virginia rivers although last week’s precipitation did make things a bit more difficult in some areas. The largemouth bite, meanwhile, has begun to dwindle, leading many anglers to begin switching to deeper tactics. Expect the takes to be subtle and light at times, so keep sensitive gear at the ready. Contributor Jim Gronaw notes that in northern parts of our region, skim ice is now making it difficult to fish many lakes and ponds.

Out in western Maryland there are already some reports of ice at Deep Creek Lake, but it is still nowhere near safe to walk on. If it breaks up or you go to open areas, the warmer temps coming up in the weather forecast could point to some nice walleye and yellow perch fishing when the opportunity presents itself. But don’t be too quick to break out the ice fishing gear. The walleye presently are on the bottom off points and sharp drops and biting lip-hooked minnows on small jig heads.

Reports from Lake Anna are of fish mostly hanging deep, with jigging spoons and deep-diving crankbaits taking a mix of stripers and bass. The upper western shore rivers in Virginia are also are a good bet for bending a rod right now, with strong catfish bites reported in the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James – there was word this week of a 60-plus pound blue coming from the Rap, for an angler hearty enough to go night fishing in this cold weather.


Mid-Atlantic Freshwater Fishing Report, 12/7/2018

Anglers will need to change up the pace and approach for those freshwater targets, as water temps continue to fall. Northern areas of the Susquehanna are still rather riled up from all the rain and high flows. Stillwater is a better bet, and though largemouth all over DelMarVa are getting ready to hibernate with this cold front signaling the last call for dinner, crankbaits and jigs offering up a sizable and appetizing meal will entice a few bucketmouths before the snow begins to fall. Keep your lures slow, and look deep; last week the fish were staging in eight to 15 feet of water at drop-offs and points. In Eastern Shore millponds and western shore lakes pickerel are moving into full view and becoming a prime target as these fish enjoy the cold. We heard of good bites around the Pocomoke complex, Elk creek, St. Mary’s Lake, and Deep Creek Lake (as well as your local ponds and waterways). These guys are great to after with large baitfish flies. But in most places they have abandoned the shallows for slightly deeper areas especially early in the day, where the easiest way to get them on the line is using large bull minnows (or shiners in the lakes) to allow the big predators to strike a proportionate meal.

fishing for pickerel
Eric Packard got an early start in the CCA-MD winter pickerel tournament, catching numerous fish up to 24 inches recently.

Another species that’s been on everyone’s mind in these same waters has been the crappie bite, which is phenomenal. Several large crappie have been caught on small spinnerbaits, particularly the upper Potomac, where many reports have come in. We also heard about nice crappie showing up this week from around the bridge pilings in Lake Anna, although the striper bite around The Splits is still headlining the action, there. In the Maryland reservoirs, especially Loch Raven, we heard reports of some big pike and pickerel striking jumbo shiner and crankbaits fished from shore. And out at Deep Creek, the walleye, perch, and smallmouth bites have more or less replaced largemouth bass as main targets, as cool-water species take over the action. Again, big shiner are the ticket, especially when fished near rocky drop-offs and points.

The trout streams of Maryland and Virginia are another good bet at this point in the season for those anglers looking to brave the cold for some fly rod action. The Gunpowder and Savage are fantastic spots to hit, with rainbow trout feeding in full force and willing to bite nymphs. They’re also putting the hurt on brookies in the Shenandoah region.

November 2, 2018
Mid-Atlantic Freshwater Fishing Update, 11/30/2018: Between the chill and the rain, freshwater fishing took a bit of a hit in many areas the past week. Contributor Jim Gronaw noted that the temperatures and high, muddy water has made fishing … Read more...
October 5, 2018
Mid-Atlantic Freshwater Fishing Report, 10/26/2018 Update: The cold surge this week has been putting the damper on some sorts spots recently, while turning on others. The morning bass bite on topwater will still get you some action, but the real… Read more...
September 7, 2018
Mid-Atlantic Freshwater Fishing Report, 9/28/2018 update: The high, muddy water is still a problem for many freshwater spots in the Mid-Atlantic, but there are some places you can check out. Reservoirs and lakes that don’t have a large flow remain… Read more...