Fishing reports published in print are generalized and weeks may have passed before the report gets into your hands, so for timely up-to-date reports, visit our Fishing Reports online. Current reports will be published every Friday by noon — just in time for your weekend fishing adventures. In the meantime, here’s our monthly prognostication.
Angler Alert: When it comes to Chesapeake Bay striped bass we’re looking at three different regulatory areas in FishTalk’s zone of coverage this month, each with different specifications. And the rules and regs can sometimes unexpectedly change. Remember that it’s up to each individual angler to check the full details regarding regulations where and when they may plan to fish, and to know just which zone they may be fishing in at any given time.
COASTAL FISHING FORECAST
If you haven’t already prepped up for the spring tuna bite you’re behind the game — at some point during May the action should bust wide open. Stick with trolling at this time of year as the chunk bite commonly doesn’t develop for another month or more, and pay close attention to the SST charts because breaks can work like magic in May. Inshore remember that black sea bass come back in mid-month (and should be around in good numbers when the 15th hits), while back on the beach surf fishing action should be cranking up and with a little luck some chopper blues, big kingfish, and even some stripers will show up in the suds.
FRESHWATER FISHING FORECAST
This is prime time people, prime time — for just about everything. Bass may still be bedded in some areas and in a post-spawn feeding frenzy elsewhere; look for them to complete their spawn and make the transition as a body of water warms up beyond their 55- to 65-degree spawning range. Crappie will be moving into the same mode shortly after the bass (their trigger starts at around 60 degrees). Trout sharpies should get out asap before spring turns into summer, and snakehead anglers are undoubtedly going to be out in full force this month looking for the first of the fry balls.
WAY NORTH FISHING FORECAST
As May begins this entire zone will be closed for striper fishing, but May 16 the flats and some surrounding areas will be fair game; check the DNR Striped Bass Regulations maps to see where and when different areas are open. And if spring rock isn’t your thing, there will still be plenty to keep you busy: white perch should be in the lower portions of the river, some shad may still be around, snakeheads are waking up for the season, and of course catfish are an ever-present option.
UPPER BAY FISHING FORECAST
May marks the return of (what’s left of) Maryland’s trophy rockfish season, with the fishable areas expanding on May 16 and the size limit dropping from a 35-inch minimum to a 19-inch minimum (and an unchanged limit of one fish per person per day). There will be other options, though, as we look back at the last couple of seasons and remember that May provided a great blue and channel cat bite for boat anglers all around and shoreline casters at Sandy Point. The Baltimore creeks saw a serious snakehead blitz through this month, too.
MIDDLE BAY FISHING FORECAST
May marks the return of (what’s left of) Maryland’s trophy rockfish season, with the fishable areas expanding on May 16 and the size limit dropping from a 35-inch minimum to a 19-inch minimum (and an unchanged limit of one fish per person per day). Catfish will also be biting strong on the west side down to around the Thomas Point area (salinity depending), and by late this month white perch should be found in their usual summer haunts.
LOWER BAY FISHING FORECAST
May marks the return of (what’s left of) Maryland’s trophy rockfish season, with the fishable areas expanding on May 16 and the size limit dropping from a 35-inch minimum to a 19-inch minimum (and an unchanged limit of one fish per person per day). In PRFC waters the limit’s 35 inches for the first half of May (below the 301 bridge), dropping to 20 inches with two per day allowed May 16 (below the I-95 bridge). Virginia’s season starts May 16 with one fish per person in a 20- to 28-inch slot. Whew! That’s a lot to keep straight, but keep it straight we must… unless last year’s early redfish run repeats itself along the west side and is too much temptation to resist.
TANGIER, POCOMOKE, AND LOWER SHORE FISHING FORECAST
Rockfish? Redfish? Speckled trout? Black drum? It all tends to happen a little earlier here along the Eastern Shore side than it does to the west and to the north, so all bets are off as to which of these species will provide the best action in May. One thing is for sure, however—all of them and then some are possibilities.
WAY SOUTH CHESAPEAKE FISHING FORECAST
At the mouth of the Bay in May choosing what to fish for can be downright difficult. Heavy-hitting drum should still be on the shoals, slot reds and specks will be terrorizing the bait in the shallows, flounder can be found on channel edges, and bluefish should have moved into town in full force. By the end of the month summer species like Spanish mackerel and sheepshead are likely to be around as well. Decisions, decisions…