Upper Bay Fishing Reports

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 31 Update:

Fishing action is picking up as we head into the month of April. Days are getting longer, and temperatures are getting warmer, which is always a good recipe for springtime fishing. Edgemere Bait and Tackle says that the perch bite is still good in the tidal tribs, especially the Magothy river. There are still some post-spawn yellow perch hanging in the same creeks as the white perch, so anglers have a good chance at both. Bloodworms on bottom rigs are working well but grass shrimp on shad darts or minnows floated under a bobber are solid options too. Pickerel are still biting good in tidal creeks of the Severn and Magothy. These fish should be a solid option for anglers to target throughout the spring. Jerkbaits and paddletails work well and with the rising water temperatures, we will see snakeheads start to bite more in these rivers too.

white perch over 12 inches
It's prime time for the white perch!

Trophy sized rockfish have been hanging out in the deeper waters of the Bay near the shipping channel for most of March. Some of these fish have already pushed into the shallow waters of the tidal tributaries but as of this week there is still a good concentration of fish out deep. One boat fishing a few miles north of the Bay Bridge was trolling tandem rigs and caught five trophy sized fish in a few hours work. It’s important to remember that today, March 31st, will be the last day anglers will be legally allowed to target rockfish for catch and release until trophy season opens on May 1. Targeting of rockfish is prohibited during the April closure to allow the big breeders to spawn. During the rockfish closure, blue catfish are a good option for anglers to target. They are found in all the tidal tributaries of the upper Bay and even out into the main stem. The bayfront between Gibson Island and Bodkin Creek is a popular spot for anglers to soak cut bait in search of these fish. It is always a good idea to remove them from local waterways since they are an invasive species. They also taste delicious, and you can typically put together a nice stringer of fish within a few hours of work.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 24 Update:

The catch-and-release striped bass fishing has been great this year so far, but we are approaching the April closure. Most of the reports are coming from just south of the Bay Bridge but these fish can be found north of the bridge as they make their way to the spawning grounds. Popular spots for anglers to fish from shore for catfish and a chance at one of these trophy rockfish include the Matapeake fishing pier and Sandy Point. Throwing out chunks of cut bait like fresh bunker will be your best bet. Non-offset circle hooks (or J hooks with a gap less than a half inch for panfish) are required when bait fishing. Most of the big fish are usually found along the shipping channel in 50 to 70 feet of water as they migrate up the Bay but it’s not uncommon to find them at the mouths of some of the rivers. Trolling tandem rigs or umbrellas with large soft plastic shads has been working very well. The light tackle jigging bite has also been very good. This type of fishing is a grind but hooking into and landing a trophy rockfish on light gear is a feat many anglers aspire to do. The key has been finding schools of bait. The big rockfish are usually close by. These fish haven’t been schooled up and are scattered when they come through so paying close attention to fish finders and side scan can help you key in on where your bait needs to be.

chesapeake bay trophy rockfish
Most of the C&R trophy reports came in from just south of the bridge this week, including this 45-incher Henry caught while fishing with Fish With Weaver.

Now that the yellow perch spawn has wound down, the white perch are right behind them moving into the tidal tributaries for their spawn. Beachwood Park on the Magothy River is a popular location to target the perch from shore but if you have access to a boat or kayak, all the creeks on the upper Magothy should be holding a mix of post spawn yellow perch and spawning white perch. The perch can also be caught in the other tidal rivers on the upper Bay and along the bayfront. Bloodworms on bottom rig, shad darts tipped with grass shrimp, and minnows floated under a bobber are all proven methods for targeting the perch.

Pickerel fishing is still good right now in the Severn and Magothy. Look for these fish near shoreline structure and along southern facing shorelines where the sun will be heating the water up throughout the day. Any type of spinner, jerkbait, or paddletail can work for the pickerel. Make sure to finish your retrieve all the way since pickerel will often follow the bait to the boat and will can strike at the last second.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 17 Update:

As we approach the start of spring, many anglers hope for warmer weather and pleasant fishing conditions. In reality, we typically get erratic weather that make finding a consistent bite difficult. This was the case this past week. Relentless northwest winds blew out most of the water in the tidal tributaries which kept many boats at the dock. Fishbones reported that before the low water, anglers were still enjoying the tail end of the yellow perch run and the action for white perch was starting to pick up. We should see the whites move into their spawning areas once the water comes back up and the weather conditions stabilize. These schools of fish will be moving in and out of the tidal creeks so it may take some searching to find them. Tactics that work well include a minnow under a bobber, grass shrimp on shad darts, and bottom rigs with bloodworms.

white perch in a creek
White perch should pick up the pace over the next few weeks. (Old photo).

It is still a great time to target pickerel in the tidal creeks of the Magothy and Severn. Rising water temperatures has these fish more active, especially on southern facing shorelines that get the most sunlight. Paddletail baits can be retrieved more quickly and jerkbaits work especially well. Many anglers have been heading out on the Bay to get in on some catch-and-release rockfish action before the April closure. Much of the action has been taking place south of the bridge but it is likely that some of the big breeders have made their way north of the bridge by now. These fish are in deeper waters but will likely be suspended in the water column. Trolling is popular right now and many anglers use tandem rigs with large soft plastic shad baits. Remember to handle these fish with extreme care as they are the future of the fishery. It is also important to note that Any anglers looking to target rockfish should pay close attention to where they are fishing on the upper Bay. Certain areas are closed to targeting this month and others are catch and release only until the April closure. Maps of the Maryland Striped Bass Regulations can be found on the Maryland DNR website.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 10 Update:

The yellow perch run in the upper Bay tidal tributaries has been providing some great fishing for anglers. The Magothy in particular has been a hotspot, but it seems that bite may be slowing down a bit. Magothy River Association volunteers reported a very successful yellow perch spawn from observations made below the Lake Waterford dam. The white perch should be soon to follow once the water temperatures warm up some more. We have already seen some of the perch move shallower and over the past two weeks, yellow perch anglers have been getting more whites in the mix.

fishing for perch in tidal water
Yellow perch are a prime target - and the whites will soon follow.

There has been a good concentration of rockfish between Chesapeake Beach and the Bay Bridge with some reports of breeder size fish being caught near the shipping channel off Poplar Island. These fish will make their way north of the bridge soon if some haven’t already, so catch-and-release fishing for rockfish may present anglers with some opportunities in the upper Bay prior to the April closure.

The pickerel fishing continues to be great in the Severn and Magothy for those targeting them. They are always willing to bite live minnows but with the milder temperatures, many artificial lures are working just as well. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and paddletails with an underspin are all favorites of the pickerel in the tidal tribs.

Many anglers in the upper Bay are gearing up for targeting blue catfish. They can be found in all the tidal waters, but in the spring, areas along the bayfront from Gibson Island to the Patapsco are popular spots for anglers to chunk cut bait for them. Look for these fish to get more active as we get closer to spring.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 3 Update:

Pickerel continue to be a prime target in the Baltimore area creeks, and a reader checked in this week after catching a 25-incher among a half-dozen smaller fish. A four-inch pearl swimbait rigged behind an inline spinner got the fish biting. The creeks in the Magothy have also been producing consistent pickerel action. Old Man Creek, Cat Tail Creek, and areas around Beachwood Park are all good places to target the pickerel. Mild winter temperatures have kept the pickerel active and willing to bite spinners, jerkbaits, and live minnows. A good tip is to target southern facing shorelines as they get the most sunlight throughout the day and will have higher water temperatures than other areas. Fish will tend to be more active in these areas during the later winter and spring.

boy with a pickerel
Eli caught his first fish all by himself, a mighty fine pickerel, casting into the waters of the Magothy.

Yellow perch are running good this week in the upper Bay. A reader checked in from the Magothy while targeting yellow perch and reported a slower bite than the past few weekends but they did end up with around 15 keeper yellows and two white perch, which were all caught on minnows floated under a bobber. They attributed the slower bite to increased fishing pressure in the area, noting that there were five other boats within eyesight targeting the perch. The first yellow perch egg sacks were spotted below Lake Waterford this week which is a good indication that the perch are pushing further up into the tribs. The white perch should be moving into shallower areas of the tributaries by the middle of the month as they prepare for their spawning run so stay tuned for those reports.  

February 3, 2023
Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, February 24 Update: Yellow perch are starting to push into shallower areas of some western shore tidal tributaries. Anglers in the Severn and Magothy have been finding them schooled up in and around the creeks.… Read more...
January 6, 2023
Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, January 27 Update: Contributor Eric Packard had some good success in the Baltimore creeks fishing for pickerel, catching seven in a morning and “losing just as many.” He noted that many fish were short-striking… Read more...
December 1, 2022
Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 30 Update: Strong winds and an arctic blast made fishing difficult last week throughout most of the region. Rockfish season is closed and will close on the 31st of the month in the Potomac. Catch and… Read more...