Lower Bay Fishing Reports

Coastal Fishing Reports presented by The Tackle Box

Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, October 15 Update:

Although the Spanish mackerel population is dwindling as the season winds down, the Middle Grounds is still holding a decent population of fish that trollers are enjoying of action from. Sticking to small Clarks, small Drones, and Hard Head Custom Baits Bombers has been a popular choice. Although the bulk of the bite has shifted to stripers, mackerel also continue to be caught under breaking fish and working birds that are peppering the mouths of the rivers, too, especially the Potomac and the Rappahannock. Many anglers are seeing the bulk of their action coming from casting metal lures through the mix and reeling quickly. Some boats have also been trolling with mixed results including solid numbers of small but eating-sized snapper blues.

striper on jig
Stripers are the main target for many right about now, and they aren't disappointing.

Striper fishing has primarily focused on the channel edges, with liveliners and jiggers doing well. There are still enough spot for effective livelining from the Rappahannock down (their numbers are thinning up north by the day, though some are still available) though liveliners inside the river mouths are encountering catfish as a barrier to catching stripers, often hooking up with multiples throughout the day. A big plus is the cats have been FAT. They’re offering a good fight, and the Tackle Box heard of a few in the 30-inch range this week. Tossing jigs mostly eliminates that issue and white five- to seven-inch plastics are drawing striper bites when cast to structure in the trib mouths up and down the western shore. Many are throwbacks (one reader reported a 10-to-one ratio) but plenty of fish in the low-20-something range are around, too.

Speckled trout are still around, although their numbers are dropping off in northern areas, and some reds are still popping up too. The Rappahannock downstream of the 301 bridge was noted by a couple of readers as producing a mixed bag of specks, reds, and stripers fit for the cooler. Five-inch soft plastic paddle-tails and flukes were the ticket and one mentioned fresh shrimp drew a number of bites including a slot red.

Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, October 8 Update:

*We apologize for the light reports this week, but due to exhibiting at the U.S. Powerboat Show in Annapolis (come see us this weekend at booth F7) and some personal matters we have not been able to gather as much intel as usual. Stay tuned for next week’s reports!

Eric Packard visited Mallows Bay on the Potomac and reported that most of the area and the burning basin was weed choked and covered with algae. Despite the conditions he managed to catch some largemouth bass and 2 snakeheads on a topwater Snakehead Outlawz Slayer Ratz, while getting several other blowups as well. He also fished Mill Creek this week with friends Darren Reinhart and Julian Tsai and saw that peanut bunker were everywhere. Four hours of fishing produced 7 bluefish, 22 striped bass, and a lizardfish. All fish we caught on 1/2oz jig with 4” paddle tails.

Tackle Box reported that Rockfish and bluefish have been very active this past week as cooler temperatures have encouraged the fish to school and feed up for the coming winter. Good catches of bluefish have been made from the shore by surf casters in the Potomac around St. George Island and in the Patuxent at Cedar Point. The blues are also breaking in the bay and rivers and can be caught on most any shiny lure.  There are a lot of 10 to 12 inch blues feeding on peanut bunker on the surface.  Metal jigs fished below the breaking feeding juveniles can result in hook-ups of bigger blues, rockfish and an occasional bull redfish.

menhaden fish
The spawn of menhaden this season seems excellent. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard.

The big reds are still around and both catches and sightings were reported all week. Rockfish are very active for lure casters and trollers in all areas.  Trollers have found stripers in the 20 to 28 inch range off Piney Point, Breton bay and Ragged Point.  Catfish are competing for the lures meant for the rockfish, and they can easily weigh eight to twenty pounds.  Some have reported eight out of ten fish landed have been catfish in the deeper waters of the Potomac.

The cooler transition to fall weather combined with murky water due to wind and weather has slowed the perch and spot bite in the Patuxent.

Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, October 1 Update:

Captain Nathan from Beach’s Chesapeake Charters checked in to prove that there are some monster bull red drum being caught in the Lower Bay. Finding birds and working your jigs or spoons down deep under the frenzy is the top way of finding ‘em. We also had two reader reports of 40-plus-inch redfish, both one-offs, caught in the general vicinity of the state line.

big bull redfish in lower bay
Yes, there are still big bull reds around! Photo courtesy of Capt. Nathan Beach

Rockfish reports from the lower Potomac continue to be good for fish in the 20-something inch range, with The Tackle Box noting that both trollers (pulling small umbrella rigs and tandems) and casters (jigs and topwater in the shallows) are catching. They also pointed out that the number of small blues can make it difficult to use soft plastics at times. As the Virginia season opens up on Monday we’d expect to begin hearing more—a lot more—about the striper bite from the Rap down. A reader fishing the lower York for specks mentioned that he reeled in and released a couple of rockfish that would have been legal if the calendar said so.

Another reader checked in after a two-day foray on the waters of the Piankatank and Milford Haven, and said the speck bite casting 3.5-inch fluke lures rigged Texas style was good but the bulk of the fish were on the small side and many were sub-legal. Though reports of reds have been decent from the area in recent weeks, just one slot and one undersized drum (plus lizard fish) were in his mix.

September 3, 2021
Lower Chesapeake Bay fishing Report, September 24 Update: The Tackle Box checked in to let us know that in the Potomac the rockfish have responded to the beautiful September weather by turning out in good numbers and size for both trollers and lure… Read more...
August 6, 2021
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, August 27 Update: HOT WEATHER ALERT! Hey, FishTalkers! Our region is in the midst of another hot, hot, hot spell! We want to pop in and remind you to please keep undersized fish in the water when releasing them… Read more...
July 2, 2021
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 30 Update: Some more flounder reports have come in for the Lower Bay region, a development which we certainly hope to see continue. Point Lookout in Cornfield Harbor, the lower Rappahannock, and The Cell… Read more...