Lower Bay Fishing Reports

Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 19 Update:

Another major heatwave returned to our region this week as temperatures soared into the upper 90s and pushed over 100 degrees at times. This heat can and will shut down many bites once the sun gets up as fish will be loafing for most of the day. Fishing early and late has been best, especially in the shallows. Deeper water structure has been holding fish that can be caught throughout the day and species that seem to not care about the heat as much include bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. Reader reports of some very nice chopper bluefish action have come in from the area of the Target Ship and the mouth of the Rappahannock. Some fish are pushing up beyond five or six pounds with trolled spoons providing the bulk of the action. A reader jigging near the target ship reported a hot bluefish bite with fish up to 30 inches. They said that some of the blues were cutting through their lines, so make sure to use heavy leader when targeting them to avoid losing tackle. The Tackle Box also let us know that Spanish mackerel have made their way to the mouth of the Rappahannock, which means they should soon push farther north as well.

big bluefish in the lower bay
Chopper blues are in town! Photo courtesy of The Tackle Box.

Cobia have been offering steady action in the Lower Bay and Smith Point has been a hotspot. Many charters and recreational boats boxed their limit of cobia this week. Chumming, trolling, and live lining are the preferred methods right now, but on calm days sight fishing can be very effective. Windmill Point and the Target Ship are also zones that have been holding cobia. Wrecks and other hard bottom structure are now holding sheepshead. A boat fishing in the Rappahannock caught two fish over five pounds on fiddler crabs and also landed a big black drum.

Puppy drum have been plentiful in the shallows of the Lower Bay tidal rivers and their tributaries. Lots of under-slot fish are being caught alongside in areas that tend to hold white perch. There are also a lot of slot size fish around that have been willing to hit paddletails and other soft plastics, plus some speckled trout, stripers, flounder, and cutlassfish. Anglers in the Rappahannock are reporting a hot topwater bite from five to seven in the morning and one angler caught a 25-inch speck on top this week. Shallow structure in the form of docks, pilings, bridges, grass beds, and rock piles are all holding fish. Seek out these areas and aim to fish them during a moving tide for the best results.

The striped bass summer closure in Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay is now in effect until July 31st. Anglers who are looking to catch and release striped bass can in PRFC waters of the Potomac River or in Virginia waters. Note that only catch and release fishing is allowed in these waters, but also note that mortality is high in the heat and targeting them in specific isn’t encouraged. The striped bass season will reopen in Maryland the first of next month and will remain open until December 10th. Striped bass season reopens in the Potomac on August 21st and will remain open until December 31st and striped bass season in Virginia will reopen on October 4th and remain open until December 31st.

Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 12 Update:

It is still scorching hot outside as the dog days of summer set in across the region. Fishing trips are best planned early in the mornings and late in the evenings to avoid the excessive heat. The big news recently has been an above average cobia bite for this time of year as they have seriously picked up the tempo in the Lower Bay, with Windmill Point area a standout and multiple readers reporting limit catches on bunker chunks and live eels fished in chum slicks. There also have been more fish showing up near Smith Point, with Contributor Eric Packard reporting a 49” on bunker chunks, and some confirmed catches now coming in from the Target Ships as well. Most boats are anchoring up at these hotspots and throwing out a chum bag while chunking bait to attract fish to their slick. Big pieces of bunker chunks, live spot, and live eels drifting in the direction of the chum slick has enticed many cobia and a lot of rays into the net. Trolling rubber tubes is another popular technique for cobia, red drum, and bluefish. Hoses of 24 inches are standard and popular colors include red, yellow, and pink.

kids with a big cobia
Riley, Hunter, Maverick, and Walker got in on the cobia action! Photo courtesy of The Tackle Box.

Contributor Eric Packard reports two keeper flounder and a throwback while fishing Point Lookout (as well as a bluefish) last weekend. Another reader fishing with a few anglers at the mouth of the Potomac also reported catching a keeper flounder that was 20-inches. Their crew also boated two 16-inch fish, a 12-inch fish, and lost what looked to be a keeper at the boat. A return trip produced only a couple of throwbacks so every day is different, but it has been a while since flounder have been reasonably targetable this far north in the Chesapeake Bay and there seems to be some around this year, which is exciting.

In the tributary shallows, rockfish, red drum, and white perch have been common. The best fishing is in the early morning before the sun gets high and the heat cranks up. Small bluefish have also been common with lure casters and trollers both catching fish. There are a lot of small fish in the 10- to 15-inch range around, but some bigger ones have been pulled up as well. We are still waiting for Spanish mackerel to move north of the mouth of the Bay in numbers, which should be sometime this month. Scattered reports have come from the Rappahannock and areas south. The hot water and high salinity right now is particularly favorable for mackerel so hopefully they’ll continue pushing into the Bay.

Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 5 Update:

The variety of species in the Lower Bay continues to provide lots of action for anglers despite the summer heat. We had a brief cool down in the beginning of the week before temperatures rebounded as we go into the weekend. The brief cool snap seems to have helped the bite and FishTalk contributor Eric Packard had a successful trip on the lower Potomac this week. Packard was fishing on his kayak and had a few surprise catches of flounder, and not all shorties either. He caught a 16, 18, and 18.5-inch flounder using a Gulp! bait on a ¼ ounce jighead in nine feet of water. He also caught three speckled trout up to 24 inches and a bluefish. That’s a great day on the water. Specks, reds, rockfish, and bluefish have all been common catches this week in the tribs of the Lower Bay zone with a good number of slot puppy drum still biting, too. Early morning has offered the best bite, but fishing during a moving tide has also led to decent results regardless of time of day.

cobia caught in the lower bay
Greg tied into the cobia below the Target Ship. Photo courtesy of The Tackle Box.

The Tackle Box let us know that cobia reports were very good this week from Windmill Point up to Point Lookout. Most fish have been caught by live lining eels or by anchoring up and chumming. The better action, and seemingly bigger fish, have been around Windmill Point. We saw several fish over 50 inches caught there this week and one fish that was pushing 58 inches. Contributor Eric Packard was also out for cobia this week and caught a 49 incher aboard the Fishamajig with captain Dennis Fleming off Smith Point. Another boat fishing out of Point Lookout had an action-packed day, losing a keeper cobia at the boat, pulling the hook on another, and finally landing a 41-inch fish. All hits were on live eels. The cobia action should continue to improve as we move later into the summer. If you need a refresher on chumming for cobia be sure to see our latest video, How to Fish for Cobia on the Chesapeake Bay.

December 1, 2023
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 29 Update: We hope that everyone had a great Christmas and got some new fishing gear to try out in 2024. We have some great bites going into the New Year with some of the best striped bass action you… Read more...
November 3, 2023
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, November 24 Update: The great fishing in the lower Bay is just one of the many things we have to be thankful for. Good news for anglers is that the rockfish bite seems to have had a slight uptick in action with… Read more...
October 5, 2023
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, October 27 Update: Fall is here but summer is trying to take one last stand as near record high temperatures have set in late this week. The warm weather will continue through the weekend and it is looking to be… Read more...