Freshwater Fishing Reports

Freshwater Fishing Report, May 24 Update:

It was a beautiful week to get out and fish across the region as warm temperatures returned. A reader checked in after hitting some ponds in southern Maryland this week. They said that the bass fishing is still great right now and they are eager to hit soft plastic creature baits. Most of the fish have pushed up into shallow water and are holding close to fallen trees in the water. They caught fish ranging from two pounds to seven pounds on their most recent trip. The crappie fishing around the region is also as good as it gets in many rivers and reservoirs. In most waters, you will want to search for the crappie in relatively deep water near structure. Dropping down small jigs or live minnows will usually get crappie biting if they are in the area. Contributor Eric Packard visited Triadelphia reservoir recently and reported the bass were biting strong on jerk baits and he also picked up a smallmouth, a walleye, and a white perch. He noted that the fish were in transition as opposed to holding to a tight pattern and he caught in the backs of coves, off points in the main lake, and at the cove mouths.

a whiper caught in maryland
Bill fly fished his way to a rare Baltimore County hybrid striper this week!

The tidal Potomac in D.C. is a great place to target crappie, especially in the Tidal Basin and Washington Channel. An angler fishing around the basin this week caught a mix of crappie, bluegill, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and white perch all on small twisty tail grubs. FishTalk intern Adam Greenberg reports that as of last weekend the upper Potomac was still high and fast from all the rain we’ve been having, and fishing was a bust. Thanks to a stretch of decent weather things should have settled out by now.

Trout fishing is slowing down around the region. Not so much for lack of fish, but more so because of the increase in other fishing opportunities. There are still plenty of trout around, but the stocked fish are spread out at this point. Covering water by casting small spoons and spinners is a great tactic right now. The Maryland DNR trout stockings are complete for this spring and their final stocking numbers are out. The agency placed 219,000 rainbow, golden, and brown trout in 119 water bodies from December to May. Stocking will start up again this fall. Over in Virginia, the DWR is still conducting stockings in the state and there are still plenty of opportunities to trout fish well into summer. The cold-water mountain streams of Western Maryland and Virginia hold excellent fishing for trout all summer long. Fly anglers are taking advantage of the numerous aquatic and terrestrial insect hatches that are happening this spring. Mossy Creek Fly Fishing let us know that the spring creeks are fishing well right now for streamer anglers and dry fly fishing has been good when water visibility is three feet or more. Little yellow stones are also all over the mountain streams and green drakes are on the way. Don’t miss out on good fishing while the streams are flowing, full, and strong. Visit the Maryland DNR trout stocking website and the Virginia DWR trout stocking website for more information.

Freshwater Fishing Report, May 17 Update:

The recent rain has not made things easy for anglers, but that isn’t enough to keep us off the water. The spring fishing has been good and we are seeing that trend continue. Snakeheads, now named Chesapeake channa, are being caught in the various tidal tributaries on both shores of the Bay. These fish are in various stages of spawning, and we may start to see fry balls pop up soon which will allow for more sight fishing opportunities. The fish are pushing up into the shallows where vegetation has come up. Topwater frogs are working well on warm days, but the recent cool spell has slowed down the topwater bite quite a bit. The fish are still willing to hit chatterbaits or spinners paired with paddletails. In most locations, sunfish are spawning in the shallows near shorelines. Small panfish jigs are popular artificial lures while nightcrawler is a go-to live bait. When fishing with nightcrawlers, using small hooks floated under a bobber is a great way to be able to make precise casts.

kids first bluegill
Leo caught – and released – his first fish ever while fishing with his dad and grandfather at Fort Ritchie.

Many freshwater species are moving into their summertime patterns as we are past many of the spring spawns. Contributor Eric Packard hit Triadelphia Reservoir late this week on his kayak and found a good bite for a few different species. He was able to catch 12 largemouth bass, a white perch, a smallmouth bass, and a walleye. All fish were caught on either jerkbaits or paddletails on 3/8 ounce jigheads. Packard noted that there didn’t seem to be much of a pattern as he caught fish in the backs of coves and out on the main lake along points at the mouth of the coves. We had a reader write in to let us know that the bass bite in a southern Maryland pond was spectacular this week. The fish were up shallow hanging close to fallen trees in the water. White and pink colored flukes caught multiple three-to-four-pound fish with the biggest of the day weighing around seven pounds. They also caught a few big crappie on the same lures. Waters are now warm enough that topwater lures are a good option for bass fishing in the shallows. Frogs, Whopper Ploppers, and spooks are all popular options to entice a surface bite.

Freshwater Fishing Report, May 10 Update:

A few showers couldn’t slow down the great spring bite we have been experiencing. If you are looking to catch snakeheads, now is a great time to get out for them. Water temperatures have warmed enough that anglers are starting to see spawning activity already. Topwater fishing is also becoming a reliable tactic to target them as they are pushing into the emerging aquatic vegetation that is coming up. Apex Predators Guide Service has had a lot of luck with the snakeheads lately on tributaries of the Potomac. Topwater baits are working in the shallow water and subsurface lures like chatterbaits are working well for casting along marsh edges. These tactics will work almost anywhere you can target snakeheads in our region.

smallmouth bass fishing in maryland
Billy had a great day on Potomac River smallies.

Crappie fishing is a very popular springtime activity for anglers. These fish are a schooling species and can be found grouped up near structure. You will want to fish around fallen trees, bridges, docks, and anything else they could use for cover. An angler fishing a few southern Maryland ponds reported that the crappie bite was hot this week. They caught most of their fish using live minnows floated under a bobber but said small twisty tail grubs were also catching crappie along with bluegill and green sunfish. They also mentioned that bluegills are on beds in a few of the ponds they stopped at. You can sight fish them fairly easy while they are on beds, but it may be hard to get them to bite. They caught them using size eight hooks tipped with small pieces of nightcrawler. Casting out the worm and slowly bouncing it along the beds enticed the bluegill enough to bite.

Smallmouth anglers should be looking to hit the water as we approach their spawn. Contributor Eric Packard says the upper Potomac smallmouth fishing was great until all this rain hit, and on a trip last weekend he and a friend caught 15 in an afternoon. Crayfish-pattern crankbaits and Ned rigs were both good bets. Reservoir fishing has also been good as bass are spawning and various other fish are active. One angler reported in after a successful day fishing at Rocky George Reservoir. They caught a few largemouth bass on swimbaits, a pike, and a tiger musky. The musky hit a dead bluegill that they had cast out on the bottom. A Maryland musky is a great accomplishment!

Freshwater Fishing Report, May 3 Update:

Snakehead fishing has picked up the pace with the recent warmup, and we had reader reports of success from both the east side and the west side. Some were caught on topwater frogs, but we also heard flukes and spinnerbaits were effective. Many tidal tributaries around the Chesapeake Bay region are seeing the emergence of aquatic grasses and the snakes are moving into these areas. The tributaries of the Potomac River have been a hotspot in April with a lot of snakeheads caught on topwater frogs during this latest warm stretch. Other productive zones have been the lower Susquehanna, tributaries in D.C., and the Blackwater region. If you are fishing areas with hard structure or open water, moving baits and live minnows are a great option. When fishing in thick cover, weedless soft plastics and topwater frogs will be the best option. The snakehead bite is finally becoming more consistent with warmer weather and spawning activity has already been seen. Fry balls will start showing up soon which will offer an exciting way to target these fish.

monster flathead catfish
Okay Christopher, we know those flatheads get big but SHEESH!!!

Contributor Eric Packard reports that the reservoir bite remains in fine spring form, with excellent numbers of largemouth bass hitting on wacky worms. Jerk baits and jigs also picked up plenty of fish including pickerel and crappie. FishTalk intern Adam Greenberg opted to hit the Potomac above DC instead of reservoirs this week and said the water is getting low and slow, so wading the rivers in our region will be a good option soon. He also said that smallmouth hit jigs with crawfish trailers and white chatterbaits. Up on the Susquehanna River, Captain Kayla Haile of River Queen Guide Service reports that the smallmouth fishing has been great. Lots of fish are in pre-spawn mode and will soon be spawning as the warm temperatures are heating the water quickly. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and Ned rigs have been producing best. Get out and fish this hot bite now because Captain Haile says that there is usually a lull period while the fish have their minds on spawning.

January 5, 2024
Freshwater Fishing Report, January 26 Update: Hopes of an ice fishing season have been dashed by the warmup and rain; the latest we heard from the southern PA lakes was that it never got much past four inches in most areas. Deep Creek had frozen… Read more...
December 1, 2023
Freshwater Fishing Report, December 29 Update: Old Saint Nick visited us this week and hopefully you found some new fishing gear under your Christmas tree to try out in the New Year. 2024 is just around the corner but there is still time to catch… Read more...
November 3, 2023
Freshwater fishing report, November 24 Update: The colder months will make fishing slow for some species, but one fish that get very active in the colder weather are chain pickerel. Contributor Eric Packard has been targeting pickerel quite a bit… Read more...