Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 2022

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 27 Update:

Striped bass fishing seems to be picking up in this area, with readers and Angler’s Sport Center reporting that there were some good reports from around the Bridge and north this week. Love Point and the mouth of the Chester also seem to be developing hotspots, with a strong mix of small and keeper-sized rockfish being reported by readers both trolling and chumming. The shipping channel north of the bridge and Tolchester were also identified as troller-heavy locations that were producing numbers. The trolling fleet mostly reported using parachutes, tandems, or bucktails and sassy shad in white and chartreuse. We also heard from several anglers tossing jigs at the Bay Bridge this week, and not only did they report success, they reported a decent keeper-to-throwback ratio with lots of 20- to 24-inch fish in the mix. Light tackle fishing has been picking up in general, with stripers also now reported in the shallows. We had some good reports, as did Alltackle, from the Sandy Point rocks this week from light tackle casters who scored fish in the 19-to 26-inch range.

upper bay rockfish at the bay bridge
Kevin found good action on fish into the mid-20s in the shadows of the bridges this week.

Depending on how you look at it, chummers may be getting the short end of the stick. If you’re a striper-focused angler, you might want to hedge your bets with a different tactic. The catfish are often gobbling up the menhaden chunks left and right, outnumbering striped bass by some reports. Still, anglers who stuck out the bait losses, or enjoyed catching varied species, were hooking into some hefty stripers as well. Ensuring that your baits stay suspended as opposed to sitting on bottom has been the best way to combat the cat action of you want to focus more on the rockfish.

White perch are also more available in the rivers now, having moved into their summer haunts. Casting from shore or by boat around docks and piers with spinners, small jigs, and bottom rigs with FishBites is producing.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 19 Update:

We checked in with our friends at Tocheterman’s this week, who let us know that while the big striped bass haven’t made much of a showing in the Upper Bay, there’s still plenty going on around between the catfish, snakehead, perch — and now schoolies as well. With the Bay rocking and rolling with boats hunting for striped bass, most have been reeling up fish in the 16-to-19-inch range. Tocherman’s reported that there’s already a fleet fishing around the Swan Point/Tolchester area, with rockfish biting on cut bait in 20 to 30 feet of water. Before you hit the area and drop any fish in the cooler, check the DNR Striped Bass Maps to be sure you park your boat below the catch-and-release zone. Tochterman’s also had reports of blue cats over 40-inches this week on cut bunker — not uncommon bragging rights for blue cat fisherpeople. Lacking predation, these invasive predators with voracious appetites seem quite prone to growing fat feasting on our native species. You can do your part to clear our Bay of these harmful fish by targeting them, taking some pressure off native Chesapeake species whose offspring they’ll feed on, like striped bass. As you do so register for the Great Chesapeake Invasive Species Count, and you can win some cool prizes as you help de-catify the water.

upper bay snakehead
Robert encountered this rather beefy snakehead while casting a number-three Mepps in Middle River this week.

Speaking of invasives, the snakehead bite is popping off when we get a window of bright sun and warm temps. Cloudy and chilly days have still made for slow action this week but when the sun’s shining the warm weather has turned them on, and from all accounts, snakehead anglers timing it right are having plenty of action. They’ve been conquering dragons with reader reports of success from Rock and Marley Creeks, and the above beauty was caught in Back River. Clyde’s Sport Shop, Tochterman’s, and about everyone we called up this week mentioned that this is a bite that has people getting their gear packed and ready. The snakehead this season have been BIG, too, with dragons located in many local creeks and rivers. White perch are also a go: they’re in the Harbor and tribs, hitting lug worms and blood worms set on bottom rigs. They’re finally on for the season and offering up a good bite.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 13 Update:

Although poor weather fouled up the chances of fishing for much of this week, anglers who got out to troll for stripers checked in to report some improving catches. Anglers trolling around the Dumping Ground and Podickory Point managed to get into a handful of trophies, although the success in the catching was mixed. In general, trollers pulling white or chartreuse umbrellas or tandem rigs with sassy shad or large bucktails were catching; In general, sticking to the traditional hotspots and channel edges is what’s making the bite happen. Still, anglers are doing better in the Middle Bay. Shoreline anglers from Sandy Point also caught a couple stripers among the catfish this week.

upper chesapeake catfish
Chris reeled up this 37-inch whopper of a catfish near Sandy Point.

Striped bass fishing in all tidal rivers is closed throughout this weekend, but some will open for catch-and-release only beginning May 16th. The DNR Striped Bass Regulation Map shows the dividing line between different types of fishing zones.

Aside from striped bass, white perch and blue catfish are common catches in this region. White perch are in the middle and lower reaches of tribs, biting bloodworms or grass shrimp on bottom. Blue catfish are easy to get biting almost wherever you’re fishing from. They’re hitting fresh-cut chunks of menhaden, chicken liver, and clam snouts. 

If you missed last night's presentation of The Past Present & Future of Striped Bass: A Chesapeake Perspective, remember, you can still watch it on YouTube!

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 6 Update:

Rockfish Alert: Many of the reports and pictures we received through the past week indicate that many of the trophy fish have NOT spawned yet. When reeling up an obvious pre-spawn fish with a sagging belly, we recreational anglers need to make an individual decision as to whether we’ll slide the hook out and snap off a pic with the fish in the water next to the boat, or put it in the box. While we at FishTalk would never criticize anyone for keeping a legal fish, we do encourage giving it some serious thought before boxing a roe-laden trophy. We’d also humbly suggest that even with post-spawn fish, if you choose to harvest, a one trophy per season self-limit might not be a bad thing.

Most reports indicate that striper fishing the waters north of the Bay Bridges was fairly quiet this week. One reader checked in after catching a single 43-inch trophy in the Love Point vicinity on a white tandem. Alltackle reported that plenty of boats were trolling from the Bridge up to Podickory Point, with parachutes rigged in tandem in tow. Angler’s reported that stripers were also biting around Bloody Point, and further south. Chartreuse, pink, blue, and white are popular colors as the season is opening, with chartreuse and white leading the charge as usual. Anglers fishing from shore have been enjoying a few striper bites from Sandy Point, where fresh alewife were getting them on the line. That said, in our opinion the reader report that came in from Ruston Sounder is cooler than any striped fish we heard about all week: while trolling just north of the Bridge, he and his crew reeled up this sturgeon (!!!) on a chartreuse tandem.

sturgeon caught in bay
Dude, how cool is THAT?!?!? The sturgeon was estimated at 16- to 18-inches but they didn't take the time to measure, instead opting to get this nifty critter right back into the water from whence it came asap, immediately after removing the hook and snapping this quick pic. WTG, guys!

While much focus has shifted to striper fishing, anglers are still picking up blue and channel catfish throughout the mainstem of the Bay and the Tribs. Fishing from Sandy Point with alewife is producing many bites, alongside the striped bass.

Northern snakehead are waking up with the warmer weather, and so providing action for anglers willing to traverse the terrains that they call home. Hiding out in shallows and weedy areas, these invasive predators are apt to take imitation baits such as frogs, crankbiats, or paddletails. They’re great tasting and put up a great fight — plus, fishing for them helps clean our Chesapeake of an invasive species.