Middle Bay Fishing Reports

Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 19 Update:

The Angler in Chief says the summer pattern of “fish early, fish late” remained as the rockfish shutdown began (it remains in effect through the month), but more redfish were showing up in the rivers and he had a slot fish on the boat in the South last weekend. Several readers also reported an improving white perch bite in shaded areas with the best action on Perch Pounders and grass shrimp on shad darts fished under floats. To get any action, however, darts had to be placed in the shade itself and when fishing piers, underneath the pier with the fish mostly unwilling to move into the sunshine to take a bait. Contributor Eric Packard said the cutlassfish were biting in the lower Patuxent along with small puppy drum and spot. It was around this time last year that the cutlassfish started to show up around the mouth of the South River. If the same numbers of fish push that far north this year, you won't want to miss out on the fun action they provide. Plus, despite their gnarly appearance, they are a delicious fish to eat.

redfish in the south river
Andrew tied into this red on a white paddletail.

The Tackle Box let us know that the Middle Bay tidal rivers are very productive for bottom anglers right now as spot and croaker are covering the river bottoms. The only “bad thing” is that many of the fish are on the small side, so it takes some time to weed through the shorties to get eating size fish. This of course could be viewed as a good thing if you just want to have steady action and aren’t worried about filling a cooler. Bloodworms are always good bait, but with their high prices, Fishbites may be a better option for some as they are more affordable and stay on the hook longer. Flavors of bloodworm, clam, and blue crab all work great for getting spot, croaker, and perch to bite.

Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 12 Update:

The mid-summer heat has been relentless as temperatures have been consistently in the 90s as of late and water temperatures have crept up into the upper 80s. The AIC says rockfish-wise most areas of the Middle Bay remain in a midday slump thanks to the heat, with almost all the action taking place at the very beginning and very end of the day. On a recent trip fishing Poplar and then the South River from 5:30 to 7:00 in the evening there were zero bites, 7:00 to 7:30 there were a few gentle nips, then between 7:30 and dusk the rockfish started smacking four-inch pearl paddletails with abandon. Reader reports from the Choptank were similar this week, with multiple anglers saying they had a wide-open bite from sunrise until about 8:30 a.m. and then the light switch flipped off. Again, pearl paddletails were ID’d as effective. FishTalk intern Adam Greenberg backed these reports up, reporting that he’s had some good mornings and evenings in the Choptank, but the mid-day just isn’t happening. He also noted that a speck showed up in the catch tossing a four-inch paddletail one evening.

big bull redfish near solomons
Eric encountered a very nice surprise in the Middle Bay - WooHoo!!

In a very interesting report from the Solomons area a reader spotted a school of bull redfish on the surface, then confirmed their identity by catching three. This is very early for reds of that size to be so far north, but with the weather and the rising salinity we may be in for a treat in the Middle Bay this season so keep those eyes peeled. Also in the Solomons area, Contributor Eric Packard reports that the cutlassfish are back in strong numbers inside Mill creek. He caught three from a pier during a quick morning of casting and a kayak angler working the same vicinity had nine. A day of reef fishing split between Tilghman Reef, Gooses Reef, and the Airplane Wreck in the Choptank produced tons of spot, some small croaker, small blues, sand perch, toad fish, and sea bass including one keeper-sized fish, for the combined crew of FishTalk and CCA-MD. They were checking out the different reef ball sites and found the best bite in water 20’ or less, on Chesapeake Sabikis baited with Fishbites bloodworm and shrimp bits. A keeper Mid-Bay sea bass in July is hopefully a sign of good things to come once fall arrives.

Crabbing report: The AIC (on the South) and Greenberg (on the Choptank) both say crabbing has become slower recently than it was in the past few weeks, but the quality is there and some very nice Jimmies are coming to the net.

Reminder: The striped bass summer closure for the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay will begin on July 16th and go until July 31st. Targeting striped bass during this time will be prohibited.

Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 5 Update:

The Middle Bay striped bass bite has been hit or miss this summer with most fish scattered around the shallows and not one big school hanging around a specific zone. Despite the heat we had good reader reports come in of striper action this week. Two anglers caught eight rockfish including slot fish in the Patuxent, multiple anglers fishing the Choptank had good shallow water bites around riprap on topwater and five-inch paddletails early then paddletails once the sun was up, and the AIC said rockfish were hitting pearl paddletails in the shallows at dusk. He noted that the best bite was from fish super-tight on docks and structure and when high water coincided with low light. FishTalk contributor Zach Ditmars was out on an evening trip at Thomas Point Lighthouse and managed to catch a 22.5-inch striper while throwing a paddletail. We also had reports of an uptick in action around Poplar Island. Live liners casting spot up to the rocks caught slot stripers and even a few speckled trout. In the evenings, there has been a decent topwater bite with fish between 15 and 22 inches aggressively hitting spooks. The key has been to cast as close to the rocks as you can and slowly twitch as you retrieve. One angler did catch an over slot fish that measured in at 28 inches earlier in the week.

topwater rockfish in the chesapeake
Flip caught and released this awesome over-slot in the Patuxent. WTG, Flip!

White perch have shown back up in good numbers around Holland Point. A reader trolling there last weekend put over 60 fish in the cooler while trolling small spinners. Trolling is a popular tactic at Holland Point that can be very effective. Three to five foot of water is where the fish usually hang out, but sometimes they can be very tight to the docks while other times they may be more in open water. In the 10- to 15-foot range off the point, bottom fishing has produced perch, spot, and small croaker. The bite is good most days with plenty of action to keep lines tight. Bottom rigs tipped with bloodworm flavored Fishbites have worked well. The Bay bridge pilings in 15 foot of water or less have also been holding good numbers of perch and spot. These will be a great option to target during the striped bass closure.

Crabbing report: We had some reports of monster-sized jimmies in the middle Bay tribs this week. The AIC mentioned that despite windy, wavy conditions that shook a lot of crabs off the line in nine feet of water, some exceptionally nice sized crabs clinged to the chicken necks. There were also a lot of females and some smalls.

Important Reminder: Anglers should remember that the striped bass summer closure is quickly approaching and will last from July 16th through July 31st. The season will then reopen on August 1st and remain open until December 10th. Striped bass don’t handle warm water and low oxygen conditions very well and the summertime catch and release mortality can be very high if we don’t use proper handling techniques. If you plan to release a striper, it is best to do so without taking them out of the water. If you want to take them out for a quick picture, minimize their time out of water, handle them with wet hands, and don’t let them flop around on the ground or floor of the boat. We owe it to the fish to handle them with care and ensure they swim off strong.

March 1, 2024
Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 29 Update: Spring is still off to a slow start as cold temperatures and rain have been the theme this week. The white perch are currently running up the Patuxent for their spawning run. The colder weather… Read more...
February 2, 2024
Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, February 23 Update: Late February has brought with it some very cold temperatures this week. Fishing is a grind this time of year and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Spring to bring on more fishing… Read more...
January 5, 2024
Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, January 26 Update: Big news was announced this week for striped bass regulations. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has voted for option B2, setting Chesapeake Bay 2024 striped bass regulations… Read more...