Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Eastern Shore Fishing Report, March 2024

Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Eastern Shore Fishing Report, March 29 Update:

It was a tough week of fishing in much of the region thanks to the weather conditions. Strong winds, colder weather, and a few shots of rain did not allow for many fishing windows. Many anglers were forced to stick to protected waters in tidal rivers. Luckily there is still a decent bite for crappie and perch happening in the lower Eastern Shore tributaries. Captain C.L. Marshall of Tangier Sound Charters got out last week and had slow pickings of white perch in shallow areas with sandy bottom. The Pocomoke River is still offering great crappie fishing and the bite should continue through the spring. Minnows have been the most productive bait. Slow trolling them on jigheads behind the boat or fishing them under a bobber are two popular ways to fish for crappie. There has also been a mix of white perch, yellow perch, pickerel, and bass being caught.

crappie in the pocomoke river
If the weather has you bottled up upstream, targeting crappie is an excellent option.

On the Bay, the colder weather has water temperatures down into the upper 40s and lower 50s after they warmed up in the middle of the month. The weather made for a slow to nonexistent black drum bite in the Pocomoke Sound this week. More fish should show up once the weather gets back on track. April has been a historically good month to catch black drum both in the sounds and in the surf. The coastal bay flounder bite also slowed down this week thanks to muddy water from persistent wind. That fishery is also in the early stages and will continue to improve throughout the spring. As always, clean water is key to catching fish and the outgoing tide is usually more productive since the water temperatures are warmer. Plan your trips around these variables and you should find more success.

The striped bass catch-and-release season will close for the entire portion of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland waters starting April 1st. Trophy season was eliminated this year due to emergency regulations submitted by DNR to protect the spawning stock of striped bass. Anglers will not be allowed to target striped bass until after May 15th in Maryland waters. Once the season reopens, the creel limit will be one striped bass per day between 19 and 24 inches. We encourage you to view the striped bass regulation maps on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website to get familiar with the open and closed areas throughout the year. It has been an incredible few months of fishing for trophy striped bass on the Bay. Now let’s hope for a successful spawn this spring.

Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Eastern Shore Fishing Report, March 22 Update:

Winter is gone and spring has finally arrived. As is usually the case, it has brought with it a lot of wind. Unseasonably cold temperatures along with strong winds made for less-than-ideal fishing conditions this week. Last weekend, however, the warm weather brought a few anglers out for their first black drum trips of the season. We heard that the first black drum of the year in the surf was caught by an angler fishing on the Virginia side of Assateague Island. Captain C.L. Marshall of Tangier Sound Charters also reported that black drum are showing up on the bayside sounds. A few fish up to 40 pounds were caught this week and as more crabs begin to emerge, more drum will make an appearance. This is just the beginning of the drum run and now through April will be prime time to hit the surf or sounds.

flounder in the net
Flounder fishing has been picking up on the sea-side, and when it warms back up this bite should really take off.

On the sea side flounder continue to make their way into the coastal bays, and more are showing up by the day. Successful trips were reported from anglers fishing in Wachapreague, Folly Creek, and Chincoteague. Minnows and silversides on flounder rigs are working best. As always, finding the cleanest and warmest water usually leads to the best success. Seek out these areas and make it a point to fish the outgoing tide when the water will be the warmest. Captain C.L. also mentioned that he hit the Pocomoke River and found a good whit perch bite. He caught fish in the area of Pitts Creek and mentioned that more fat females are showing up. Now is a good time to get out and fill a stringer with some of the best eating fish in the Bay. The Pocomoke is offering up a good mix of yellow perch, white perch, and crappie. Get them while the getting is good.

Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Eastern Shore Fishing Report, March 15 Update:

The weather has final made the turn this week and we have been enjoying summerlike temperatures in the afternoons. Water temperatures have responded well and are steadily rising which can only mean one thing. Flounder are starting to return to the coastal bays, and we had the first successful reports roll in this week. Fish In OC reported that Captain Tim Walch out of Chincoteague caught the first flattie earlier in the week. We also heard of a few successful reports in Wachapreague. Captain C.L Marshall of Tangier Sound Charters also let us know he had heard reports of successful flounder trips on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Water temperatures in Follies Creek on the ebb tide was up to 54 in the creek and started at 50 and rose to 53 near Parkers Creek. Minnows and Gulp! baits got the flounder biting. These fish might start showing up in the Ocean City bays this weekend, so break out that flounder gear and get ready for an action-packed spring.

white perch on stringer
In the river's upper reaches the white perch run is on.

Captain C.L. also ventured to some of the tidal rivers north of the Pocomoke and found white perch and plenty of catfish biting on bloodworms. The perch are holding in areas with sandy or rocky bottom in 10 to 20 feet of water. Finding clean water will lead to more consistent bites. The Pocomoke River is still seeing steady action for yellow perch, white perch, and crappie. Minnows have been the ticket for productive days. Another opportunity anglers are looking forward to is the return of big black drum to the Tangier and Pocomoke Sound. Water temperatures have been quickly rising with the warm air this week and although it is early, we may see a few drum start to show up soon. Captain C.L. is usually the first to know when they do get here, so we will be patiently waiting for a report. We have made the turn folks; spring is kicking off early.

Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Eastern Shore Fishing Report, March 8 Update:

Spring is in the air with warmer temperatures and longer days this week. The perch runs are still kicking off, but the rain has made water high and muddy in many locations. Perch reports have been very hit or miss. The Pocomoke River has still been a reliable location for yellow perch, crappie, pickerel, and bass. The other tidal rivers should start to see white perch show up as we approach their spawn. Natural Resources police officers have been enforcing the striped bass circle hook restrictions on perch anglers, interpreting fishing with minnow as “live lining”. This means that the normal j-hooks, jigheads, and shad darts that just about everyone uses for perch would not be allowed in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. It is okay to use j-hooks if you are fishing in non-tidal waters or are using bait other than live finfish. You can read the circle hook regulations here; we are hoping to get more clarification on this matter in the future.

pocomoke river perch fishing
The weather has made it tough at times, but the perch are out there!

A few more locations were stocked with trout on the Eastern Shore this week. Beaverdam Creek in Wicomico County received 500 trout and Shad Landing Pond in Worcester County received 500 trout this week on Thursday. You can get up to date stocking information on the Maryland DNR trout stocking website.

Surf anglers should start preparing their gear because the black drum could be arriving by the end of the month along the oceanfront. We have had some very mild days this month and if that pattern continues we could see some of the Spring runs of fish kick off early too. Last year there were a few reports of big black drum being caught in the Pocomoke Sound in late March, so we are very close to these fish showing up.

Tangier, Pocomoke, and Lower Eastern Shore Fishing Report, March 1 Update:

RED ALERT for Perch Anglers: We have received multiple phone calls and emails this week about anglers perch fishing with minnow on bottom rigs (in tidal areas) being issued warnings by the NRP for not “live lining” with circle hooks. Please spread the word, if you fish minnow for perch this weekend with shad darts or standard bottom rigs you are at risk of being cited!!! Even more important, when we reached out to the DNR about this we were told large numbers of floating/dead perch were spotted when and where this occurred. Since this is certainly not the norm we worry something else may be amiss - if you are out there fishing this weekend and see a fish kill occurring it should be reported to the Maryland Department of the Environment hotline, 800/285-8195.

pickerel from upriver
The pickerel bite is strong in the tribs - along with perch and in some areas crappie.

March is here and spring is right around the corner which will bring with is more saltwater angling opportunities to this region. While we anxiously wait for that, the Eastern Shore tidal rivers have been keeping anglers busy. Yellow perch are starting to push up more for their spawning runs. Anglers fishing on both the Pocomoke and Nanticoke reported decent fishing for perch this week. Live minnows have been the best bait, but if there are any shad darts which fit the new rule interpretation/enforcement we aren’t aware of it. Grass shrimp are working too. The perch aren’t running full gear yet as we also had some reports of slow or no bites. The milder weather that is forecasted should get things in order. Further up the shore, Anglers Sport Center let us know that action has been steady around Hillsboro and Greensboro. If you don’t mind making the drive, it could be worth it to catch some perch. Also in the Pocomoke, crappie are biting and have been more reliable. Sea Hawk Sports Center told us that minnows are the way to go (see above!!) and will get you a lot more bites compared to artificial jigs.

The 2024 recreational summer flounder regulations have been finalized by the Maryland DNR. The regulations allow anglers to keep four fish per day. The minimum size is 16 inches from January first to May 31st. The minimum size increases to 17 ½ inches from June first through December 31st. Catch and release striped bass fishing regulations are getting stricter as we head into March. The main stem of the Bay is still open for catch and release fishing, but many of the rivers will be closed to targeting striped bass. On the Eastern Shore, the Nanticoke, Wicomico, and Manokin Rivers are closed to targeting. The main stem of the Bay will remain open to catch and release fishing from the Brewerton Channel to the Virginia line, including the Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. Maps of the open and closed areas can be found on the Maryland DNR website.