8/2/2018 Update:

South winds kept most of the garbage to the north recently, and we spoke with several anglers from the Choptank south in the past few days who reported there was some flotsam but mostly they were seeing clear, good water. The Severn is a different story, where tons of garbage blew right up and into Ego Alley earlier this week. Still, thanks to the breeze most of the open Bay was clear yesterday up to the bridge. Anglers at the Kent Island Fishermen's Club meeting last night mentioned that a huge amount of garbage including logs and tires, plus dead fish, was being flushed through the Narrows on the outgoing tide. 

The Maryland DNR is still recommending extreme caution for those boating in the upper and middle Chesapeake. We second the notion, and point out that day to day the location of much of the debris will shift, sometimes significantly, depending on the currents and winds.


After the Great Monsoons ended we knew the upper Bay would be a mess, and the DNR advised staying off the water in northern areas earlier this week. Recently, we've received some current reader reports and photos we wanted to pass along.

floating debris in chesapeake after storm
This debris field was spotted 7/28/2018, off Sandy Point Park on the Chesapeake Bay. Photo courtesy of Kevin McMenamin

Reader Kevin McMenamin (who's also an offshore sharpie we fished with a few weeks back - watch Offshore Fishing Tips: Top Videos to see him in action and learn a thing or three while fishing on the Heat Wave) reports that the debris have become thick in the middle Chesapeake, as well. "There was a mix of natural and man made items that could certainly cause damage to a boat," McMenamin says of the flotsam off Sandy Point. "I have two pieces of advice for anyone going out on the main stem of the Bay. The first is to post a second set of eyes to help the skipper spot and avoid as many items is possible. The second is to not go out in the Bay in low-light conditions. We spotted debris during our entire trip from the Magothy to Kentmoor and back. It was more scattered south of the bridge but it got really thick and scary from Sandy Point around Podickery, and to the channel at the mouth of the Magothy. Once we were back in the river we didn’t see any floaters which tells me that the vast majority of what we saw in the Bay came from up north."

log floating in chesapeake bay
This extremely large log was spotted just south of the Bay Bridges, near buoy 80. Photo courtesy of Kevin McMenamin

This observation jibes with what we've seen on the South and West rivers the past few days. Thursday the South was clear of debris, even though the water color was chocolate milk. By the weekend water color had improved significantly (to fishable visibility, as reported in the Middle Chesapeake fishing report this week), and Saturday the water in the West was also much clearer (only one floating plank was observed cruising from Rhode River Marina to Turkey Point). The bulk of the debris is out in the main-stem, though depending on how the wind blows over the next several days, we would expect some tributary waters to be exposed to some level of debris up and down the Bay.

picture of water at west river
This picture at the mouth of the West River shows decent if somewhat off-color water, with little flotsam around - at the moment (Saturday).

We know everyone's dying to get out after all the horrible weather we've been having, but remember that flotsam strikes can wipe out a prop, lower unit, running gear, and/or fishfinder transducer. Staying in the river(s) may be a good bet right now, as there are some fish to be had. Yesterday we heard verified reports of white perch in the South on bloodworms in 10 to 15 feet of water over shell bottom, channel catfish in the Magothy, and some stripers in Eastern Bay and the Choptank. We'd expect similar results from northern tributaries. So, there are certainly plenty of fish around to make a go of it without going far. If we get any first-hand accounts from farther down the Bay as the debris fields move south, (as well as reports of the waters clearing, up north) we'll pass them along here.

Bonus Alert: Middle Bay crabbers did very well the past couple of days, and we have a couple reports of loaded bushel baskets in six to 10 feet of water, running fowl necks.