Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 2021

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 31 Update:

Welcome to the final fishing report of 2021! Here’s hoping that 2022 is a better year, both fishing-wise and otherwise. With most fishermen celebrating the holidays, heading south for some last licks at rockfish, or shifting to freshwater venues, we heard little from the Upper Bay this week. That said, Anglers mentioned that white perch can be found from the mouth of the Patapsco down, in deep water to 50 feet over structure in the open Bay. Metal jigs and Chesapeake Sabikis are the move. They also note that pickerel are biting in the Patapsco and Magothy, and a reader reported Curtis Creek can be added to that mix saying he caught four one morning while casting Mepps and white swimbaits. Note: Anglers also says that they’ve kicked their hours back to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday for the winter.

pickerel on a jerk bait
Pickerel have been hitting jerkbaits and swimbaits in the creeks and rivers. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 23 Update:

Happy holidays, anglers! Best wishes for an awesome celebration and we hope you and your family are looking forward to a fish-filled 2022. But we have one week of fishing in 2021 left, so: With striped bass no longer the object of anglers attention, many are shifting gears to hunt down panfish and pickerel. Alltackle all let us know that the numbers of perch coming from the Magothy and Severn are picking up. In deep holes and grassy edges, there have been plenty of perch caught on spinners. Fishbones also suggested hitting the Middle River, Bush River, and Bird River. All of these areas have had good bites. When spinners haven’t been the key, minnows have been getting action. Crappie are also around in some creeks right now, and have been FAT this season. Pickerel have likewise been found in rivers such as the Magothy and Severn, although they haven’t been huge. Anglers fishing in the CCA Winter Pickerel Championship have been (for the most part) traveling to the Eastern Shore in hunt of the Big One, finding that slow trolling minnows, fishing them under bobbers, and using a variety of lures is working for them.

upper bay pickerel fishing
Pickerel have become a prime target in the tribs off the Bay.

Catfish are also abundant throughout the Tribs and in the main stem of the Bay. While we didn’t hear of any whoppers this week, we did hear from a couple of anglers who managed to wrangle some cats around 20-inches. 

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 17 Update:

With rockfish out of the picture, reports from the Upper Bay suddenly became thin… very thin. We did get some input from a kayak angler on the Magothy but the report wasn’t great, with a couple of pickerel and one yellow perch taking a small spinnerbait and minnow. Angler’s is reporting pickerel in the Magothy and also the Patapsco, and they also mentioned that anglers casting bait from Sandy Point were catching rockfish, though of course they have to go right back into the water. No verified reports for jumbo cats came in this week, but you can bet they're still out there and willing to put a serious bend in your rods; the Pooles lumps should be a prime candidate.

perch fishing the upper bay
Perch and pickerel are becoming the targets, and we're pretty sure those catfish are still around, too.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 10 Update:

Fare thee well, dear rockfish, we’ll miss you—and we’ll see you again in 2022. For now, however, as of the end of the day today, December 10, the catch-and-keep season in Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay is over. We note that that you can continue to catch and release fish for stripers through the end of the year. In Virginia and in the Potomac, the catch-and-keep season continues for the rest of the month. So, if you’d like to take home a fish for dinner you can still head south. Additionally, the coastal season remains open as well. Even as the final days of striper season arrived on the Upper Bay, however, catfish had continued to steal the show, with more utter monsters continuing to be caught throughout the northern Chesapeake. Cut frozen bunker is a favorite bait that’s easily procured at most local tackle shops, but readers have noted that live bull minnow are thoroughly attractive to the cats including very large ones, and that the lumps south of Poole’s were a good bet.

fishing in the magothy river
Zachary showed his dad how it’s done, hunting pickerel on the Magothy. WTG, Zachary!

We also had a good report from the pickerel prowlers this week, including fish up to 24 inches hitting inline spinners. The Magothy and Bodkin Creek were both mentioned as productive waters.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 3 Update:

Striper fishing hasn’t been producing many stripers recently, still, a few fair weather days and warm mornings this week have allowed anglers to get out and utilize the best time of the day to fish. Angler’s and Fishbones both reported that boats hitting the water are finding success casting soft plastics or jigging early in the morning, or trolling during the day. Generally, the morning bite has been a bit more active for anglers able to find areas where the fish remain concentrated. The Bay Bridge pilings have been a place to jig and cast, as has the mouth of the Chester. Angler’s had a few reports from boats that jigged these areas, and recommended using white, pearl, or chartreuse soft plastics. Most fish landed were schoolies, but the occasional 19- to-22-incher has been in the mix. Trollers are having some slow days, but hooking up on larger fish. Umbrellas and tandem rigs are standard. Fishbones mentioned that the fish, regardless of whether you’re jigging or trolling, are down deep and keeping rigs on bottom has been key to hooking up.

monster catfish from the gunpowder river
Another one of Jeff's monster cats from the Gunpowder - the bigger one was 43 pounds!

Despite slim striper reports, big catfish continue to come in up the Bay, and we do mean big — one reader checked in after catching a 43-pound monster along with a 30-pounder, plus some “normal” fish in the Gunpowder on Thanksgiving. He did also note, however, that a return trip Sunday was fruitless; one thing that can shut the catfish bite off is a potent front passing through, so hopefully they’ll be back on the feed by this weekend. Fishbone’s mentioned that they’ve also heard some great catfish reports and recommended using fresh cut bait, or minnows.