Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 2024

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 26 Update:

The blue catfish bite is still going strong in the Upper Bay keeping anglers busy while we patiently wait for the striped bass closure to end. A lot of action has been happening from Sandy Point up to the mouth of the Patapsco. Anglers Sport Center recommends Sandy Point State Park and North Point State Park for anglers fishing from shore. If you have access to a boat, anchoring up along any of the major channel edges will put you in a good spot to start catching fish. There have also been reports of the blue cats moving into the shallows in depths of five feet or less, so if the deeper water doesn’t produce any bites, try moving in. Chunking up bunker or shad and throwing them out on fish finder rigs is the standard catfish rig that does a lot of catching. A few anglers shore fishing in the Baltimore area creeks reported catching a mix of catfish, (oops) striped bass, and white perch while throwing out nightcrawlers on bottom rigs. If you plan to fish for blue cats, consider participating in CCA Maryland’s Great Invasive Species Count. Anglers can help collect data on where these fish have spread to and will be entered in monthly drawings from now until next March.Watch for the winners to be announced each month of Live with Lenny.

blue cat fish
Blue cats are providing steady action in the Upper Bay.

Another fish that can still provide steady action this time of year are chain pickerel. The Upper Bay tidal rivers and tributaries have healthy populations of pickerel that can be caught by throwing spinners, jerkbaits, paddletails, and live minnows. The fish hang out in the smaller feeder creeks off the main stems of the rivers and are usually found close to structure such as docks, weed lines, or rock jetties. The Magothy River and Baltimore-area creeks are two pickerel fishing hotspots that are known for great fishing in the winter and spring. Fishing will slow down once the water temperatures get warm, but they are a good option while the water temps are still on the cooler side. Many anglers practice catch and release with pickerel, but if you want to keep some to eat, you will have to wait until the Chesapeake Bay season opens up for them on May 1st.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 18 Update:

The weather has finally started to feel like spring on a consistent basis in the Chesapeake Bay region. Striped bass are still off limits until mid-May in Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay. While we wait for the season to open back up, we encourage anglers to get out and fish for blue catfish that are all over the Upper Bay. The big fish are moving into the shallows and the zone from Sandy Point to the Patapsco seems to be productive right now. Anchoring up at the mouths of the tidal rivers and throwing out chunks of cut bait on fish finder rigs is the approach that most anglers take. Fishing along the channel edges usually puts you in a good spot to get bites, but recently there have been some reports of the fish moving into water as shallow as five feet. The CCA Maryland Great Chesapeake Invasive Count kicked off at the beginning of the month it is a great initiative that local anglers can help out with to collect scientific data. All you have to do is register on the CCA website and you can catch invasive fish while competing for great prizes.

upper chesapeake bay fishing
Bo CRUSHED IT while catfish fishing this week!!!

The white perch are still up their spawning tributaries right now but will soon begin to head to their summertime hangouts. Their spawn is just about over, and they will start to head out of the small tributaries and spread out in the larger rivers. There have been reports of anglers seeing large schools of perch moving along the main channel edges, so as water temperatures rise they should move into shallower water. Yellow perch have already started this trend and some anglers are starting to catch them in some of the Baltimore area creeks. One angler said that he caught a few yellow perch up to 13 inches while fishing from shore this week near Baltimore. The yellow perch will continue to disperse in the creeks and a few popular shore fishing locations include Chesterwood Park and Merritt Point Park. Minnows, grass shrimp, or bloodworms will be the best bait to use for both white and yellow perch this time of year.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 12 Update:

Now that striped bass season is closed, there are a few other opportunities we recommend anglers take advantage of. One of those is pickerel fishing. Once we get into the heat of early summer the bite for them really dies down. Right now is a great time of year to fish for them as warming water temperatures has them very active and feeding in the Upper Bay tributaries. The Severn, Magothy, Patapsco, and Baltimore area creeks have populations of pickerel worth targeting. The fish will be hanging close to nearshore structure such as docks and fallen trees. As the SAV grasses start to emerge, the pickerel will cruise along their edges searching for bait to strike. A chatterbait or spinnerbait are great options to throw for covering water to locate pickerel. The upper reaches of the creeks off the main rivers mentioned above are good places to start fishing. The season is currently closed for keeping chain pickerel until May 1st, but catch and release fishing is still allowed, and encouraged!

pickerel in a net
Pickerel are closed to harvest through this month, but they do offer excellent catch and release action.

Another fishery we recommend taking advantage of during the striped bass closure (and throughout the year) is blue catfish. They can be found throughout the Upper Bay, and with all the rain we have had this spring, they are showing up in even more abundance. Hotspots include Pooles Island, the Chester River, the mouth of the Magothy River, and Sandy Point State Park. Anglers Sport Center let us know that shore anglers at Sandy Point have been catching big blues from both the rock jetty near the bridge and the northern point on the beach using cut menhaden. Right now is prime time to target big blue catfish in the Bay as we approach their spawn later in the spring. The big fish are chowing down on the abundance of baitfish moving into the shallows with warming water temperatures. Just about anywhere along the bayfront in the upper Bay will provide you a chance to hook into one. The CCA Maryland Great Chesapeake Invasive Count kicked off at the beginning of the month it is a great initiative that local anglers can help out with to collect scientific data. All you have to do is register on the CCA website and you can catch invasive fish while competing for great prizes.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 5 Update:

It was a soggy first week of April across the Chesapeake region and the water will be muddy for a few days, but the good news is that next week’s forecast looks much more favorable. The perch runs are starting to slow down in southern tributaries, but the white perch are still pushing up into the tidal tributaries of the Upper Bay. Tidal rivers including the Chester, Magothy, and Gunpowder are popular to fish for perch this time of year. The best baits to use are grass shrimp, minnows, and bloodworms. Each of these baits works well on a bottom rig but stick to using the grass shrimp or minnows when fishing the shallows with shad darts. Tipping the small jigs with live bait often makes it irresistible when presented in front of perch. These fish will start to become more widely available across the Upper Bay rivers once their run wraps up.

big upper chesapeake blue catfish
Fred tied into this monster 45-pound blue cat in the Sassafras.

Now that striped bass are off limits, blue catfish should be a primary target for anglers. The warming water temperatures have these fish very active and moving up into shallower water to actively feed. There are good numbers at the mouth of the Magothy River in the 10-to-30-foot range. The bayfront off Gibson Island up into the Patapsco is another good stretch of water that has an abundance of blue catfish. Fresh cut bait thrown out on fish finder rigs is a standard setup. Anglers Sport Center let us know that there are big fish being caught off the beaches of Sandy Point. Anglers fishing on the northern point and at the rock jetty have caught fish up to 30 pounds this week. All the tidal rivers in the Upper Bay also have an abundance of blue cats which can be caught by anchoring up on any of the major channel edges or deep holes. CCA Maryland’s Great Chesapeake Invasive Count just started on April 1st and we encourage anglers to participate. The goal of this initiative is to help fisheries managers understand which invasive species are being caught and where. All you have to do is log your catches and you will be entered for a chance to win great prizes. Get more details on the Coastal Conservation Association website.

Catch and release fishing for striped bass closed on April 1st (no it isn’t an April fools’ joke) in all areas of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland waters. The no targeting closure will remain in effect until May 16th when some areas of the Bay will open for the summer season. Part of the Upper Bay will be open for catch and release fishing starting May 16th, but the northern sections will be closed to targeting striped bass until June 1st. Make sure to check the striped bass regulation maps to see where and when fishing for stripers will be allowed.