Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, February 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 opportunities. We had a reader report of some solid success looking for C&R rock in the Middle Bay zone, and though he said it’s been taking some searching including some previous fishless days, casting seven-inch plastics on a one-ounce head produced a pair of 30-somethings and a gorgeous 49-incher early this week. Now, that’s a fish worth working for! However, other scattered reports of open water bites have been hit or miss with very short bite windows. Mack Speed Walt checked in after a midweek venture but found no fish willing to bite in the main-stem nor Eastern Bay. There should be some fish hanging out at the CCNPP near the discharge, but reports from there are also showing more unsuccessful trips than productive ones, with big fish occasionally being caught.

kayak fishing in winter for rockfish
David scored a new PB from the kayak, a 49-incher!

We had a report from a reader fishing the upper Patuxent River near Jug Bay with minnow. He found plenty of catfish and a good number of largemouth bass, but no perch. A reader also checked in after hitting Hillsboro two different days in search of perch, but also catching only catfish on his minnow. The weekend forecast is looking chilly, but next week is trending warmer which should get the perch more active. Temperatures around 60 degrees next week could kick off their spawning run, so get out and give it a try if you can.

Pickerel fishing has been an option in the Severn River, but overnight lows below freezing have been icing up the small creeks. Fishing during the warmer part of the day in the afternoons should offer better fishing conditions and a better bite. Southern facing shorelines tend to hold more fish this time of year as they get the most sunlight and tend to have warmer water. Keep this in mind if you are on the hunt for these toothy predators in the tidal tributaries.

Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, February 15 Update:

The warm weather this past weekend seems to have turned the bite on in some areas. Angler in Chief Lenny Rudow says some perch are already beginning to arrive in the holes closest to their spawning grounds in the tribs on the west side, and a trip to the upper Patuxent near Wayson’s Corner last weekend produced four yellows on minnow. He also said there were endless catfish for the taking in the area’s deep holes, as well as a surprising number of crappie. The big surprise of the trip, however, was the presence of 12” to 16” rockfish holding on the edges of holes in 15 or so feet of water. The beginning of the incoming provided the best action.

mid bay yellow perch
Perch are already showing up at some of the west side spots.

We had a handful of skunk reports from anglers hoping to find trophy rock on the main-stem Bay late last week and over the weekend, from 82 down to Chesapeake Beach and from the Powerplant. One mentioned that the unusually high tides we’ve had recently had the current ripping hard. Targeting striped bass this time of year can be difficult as many of the fish have scattered. Finding bait along major channel edges will put you in a good position to find some fish, but it is never a guarantee.

More updates to striped bass regulations were released this week by Maryland DNR. “Striped bass emergency regulations submitted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to support the spawning population was approved this week by the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review, and are effective immediately. The emergency regulations extend periods of closure to recreational striped bass fishing in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Targeting of striped bass will be prohibited from April 1st to May 15th, eliminating the Maryland striped bass trophy season. In the Susquehanna Flats, targeting of striped bass is prohibited through the end of May.” Additional information can be found on the Maryland DNR website.

Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, February 9 Update:

The fishing in the Middle Bay has been great for striped bass through most of the winter, but the bite has been tougher recently. A reader checked in after trying the powerplant but reported just a few bites and only one upper-20s rockfish brought to the boat. The night bite at the powerplant has been best, but still not a guarantee. Bite windows have been short, and the cold water can give them lockjaw. Similar reports have come from other anglers fishing in the main stem of the Bay and near other tributaries. It has been difficult to locate bait, which has made it hard to locate fish. If you are going to target the big stripers right now it is definitely a gamble. However, the chance at catching a trophy fish is all it takes to convince a lot of anglers to hit the water.

speckled trout in winter
The Middle Bay bite has been tough, but Dave managed this magnificant catch in the area just a few days ago!!

Pickerel fishing in the tidal tributaries is a more reliable option this time of year. The Severn River has some of the best pickerel fishing in the state. The smaller creeks off the main stem of the river hold the most fish. You can target them using a variety of baits including spinners, paddletails, and jerkbaits. Pickerel are ambush predators and will usually be hanging out around fallen trees, docks, and other shoreline structure looking for opportunities to bite. There is still time to enter and fish the CCA Pickerel Championship to compete against other anglers throughout the state. The tournament ends at the end of February, so make sure to enter now. Fishing is great so you can still put together a solid stringer or bump the stringer you already have.

We didn’t get any solid intel on Middle Bay tributary yellow perch this week, however, the timing is right to start catching them in pre-spawn areas. Minnow or grass shrimp fished in holes should do the trick and with this weekend’s warming weather we wouldn’t be surprised to hear about better action very soon.

Middle Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, February 2 Update:

The Angler in Chief says one afternoon he took a shot at finding the big rock after the recent warmup but came up blank after searching from Bloody Point to Chesapeake Beach. There were plenty of birds (mostly off Eastern Bay) but they were all sitting and scattered, and marks worth dropping on never appeared on-screen. We heard from readers who did find some onsies-twosies, though, with fish up to 42 inches hitting seven-inch plastics fished deep over good marks. One mentioned catching one about 50’ down in 68’ of water. Another reader also checked in with a goose-egg after fishing near the Bay Bridge and Thomas Point, noting that gill netter were working between Thomas Point and Gum Thickets.

cold weather rockfish
You'll have to dress up like Eric and brave the cold, but fish can still be caught at this time of year.

There was another report from an angler who got out last weekend searching for rockfish just south of the Bay Bridge. They reported foggy conditions and water temperatures hovering around 41 degrees. After some searching, they found a few scattered fish in 65 feet of water and managed to catch one 25-incher. A few more short strikes made up the remainder of their trip before returning to dock. We are in the dead of winter and fishing will be a grind until we get some warmer weather. There can still be flurries of exciting action, but patience will be important when hitting the water through February.