Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 2024

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 31 Update:

Last weekend offered up some beautiful weather for Memorial Day which would have been nice for fishing except for the influx of recreational boaters that use this weekend as a kickoff for summertime boating activity. Striped bass season will open in all areas of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland waters starting June 1st. Catch and release fishing has bene open since May 15th and many boats have taken that time as an opportunity to locate fish in the river before the season opens. Last year the big schools of fish were staged in the Patapsco, and it seems as though a large concentration is already there again this year. A boat trolling near the shipping docks mentioned that they located schoolie stripers with some keeper sized fish mixed in during a mid-week trip. Further up the river, a shore angler fishing at Pier 5 in downtown Baltimore caught 10 stripers and lost a few others. Light tackle anglers have also found a good jigging bite to start the season and despite the holiday weekend boat traffic, a boat fishing near Dundalk had steady action on stripers while jigging three- and five-inch paddletails on one-ounce jigs. Anglers should remember that the change to the striped bass regulations this year restricts the creel limit to one fish per person per day between 19 and 24 inches. Good luck to those getting out this weekend!

upper chesapeake catfish are biting
Steven caught this 28.5-incher fishing in front of Locust Point Marine — nice fish, Steven!

We had some nice catfish reports come in this week, including several very large specimens and one topping 30 inches. The Upper Bay has an abundance of blue catfish and channel catfish, and this is the time of year that they spawn in the rivers. Channel catfish have been a steady catch for those fishing near the inner harbor in Baltimore. Bottom rigs baited with night crawlers or bloodworms have enticed these bottom feeders along with white perch, spot, and a few small croaker. Fishbones Bait and Tackle says that the big blue catfish are being enticed by chunks of bunker of fish finder rigs. Boats anchoring up on channel edges are having good luck, but the shallows are also productive in areas with oyster or clam bottom. Yes, our attention may be focused more on rockfish at this time of year, but if you want to catch a BIG fish…

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 24 Update:

Summer patterns are starting to shape up as we near the end of spring on the Chesapeake. Reader reports from the Upper Bay include a mix of rockfish and catfish. Love Point was noted as a hotspot for the rock, and anglers also reported success from the Bridge and the Podickory Point area. We did hear from multiple anglers who hit these areas but struck out, too, both trollers and jiggers, as the catch seemed to vary widely day by day since the season opened up. Reports of catfish success, including some whopper blues in the 30-plus-pound range, came from the Magothy River, Curtis Creek, and the mainstem Bay north of Poplar. One of the better reports we saw came from a boat fishing near Fort McHenry. They found a thick school of perch and were catching them on almost every cast for an hour. The biggest perch measured 12 inches and they also caught some eater sixed channel catfish too. Perch are moving into their summertime hangouts in the Baltimore area creeks. One angler caught two yellows and a dozen white perch plus three blue catfish up to 24 inches in the Dundalk area.

upper bay trolling catfish
Trolling for rockfish at Love Point provided this surprise catfish for Kevin.

Catfish have been keeping a lot of anglers busy in the rivers while we wait for striper season to open in the tribs. A boat fishing in the Patapsco River caught over 40 catfish up to 15 pounds while fishing the outgoing tide early in the week. They caught all their fish on jigs with soft plastics and jerkbaits. A few stripers up to 23 inches were in the mix too, but the catfish far outnumbered them. If you fish for blue catfish, we recommend participating in CCA Maryland’s Great Chesapeake Invasives Count. The program ususes recreational anglers to track the catches of invasive fish and puts you into monthly drawing for cool prizes. The more research we can conduct on the effects of blue catfish in the Bay, the better. We are now a week away from striped bass season opening everywhere in the Chesapeake Bay for Maryland, but for right now, the rivers are still either catch and release or under a no targeting closure. You can view the striped bass regulations maps on the Maryland DNR website. Anglers should remember that this year the regulations allow you to keep one fish per person per day between a slot of 19 to 24 inches.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 17 Update:

The big news in the Upper Bay this week is that striped bass season is now open in certain portions of the Chesapeake Bay as of May 16th. The main stem of the Bay is open to fishing while many of the rivers are open for catch and release. There are still some areas that are under no targeting restrictions, but all areas will be open starting June 1st. We recommend looking at the striped bass regulation maps on the Maryland DNR website to see when and where striped bass can be targeted. Anglers are allowed to keep one fish per person per day within a slot of 19 to 24 inches.

striped bass in the water
We know what species most Upper Bay anglers will be looking for right about now!

The weather was not great on opening day of striper season so reports have been slow to roll in, but we’ve been told there’s been a fleet at Love Point. The big school of fish in the Upper Bay last year was hanging out inside the Patapsco River. Since the Key Bridge cleanup is still underway, it will be difficult to get up to the harbor. Boats may have to find other areas to fish, but we will have to wait and see where the big school of fish stages this year. We did see a report from a boat that was trolling channel edges at the mouth of the Patapsco River that caught a few lower slot stripers along with a 20-pound blue catfish. Another angler reported that there is a lot of bait holding around the 40-foot mark with some stripers following, but that the fish were not eager to bite. They managed to catch one 22-inch fish while jigging.

White perch are moving into the smaller creeks and tributaries of the Upper Bay this month. The fish are starting to hangout in their summertime locations which includes docks, rock jetties, and any other hard bottom structure. Small spinners are a popular lure for anglers to use on ultra-light setups. Bull minnows, grass shrimp, and bloodworms are all great options for live bait. Spot are also pushing north into the Bay ahead of schedule this year. The first few have been caught around the Bay Bridge this week and more should be showing up every day. They can be found in areas with oyster bottom and around the fields of crab pots that are now scattered throughout the Bay.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 10 Update:

Both white perch and yellow perch are making their ways to their summertime hangouts in the creeks and rivers of the Upper Bay. The Baltimore area creeks have been producing some decent yellow perch fishing around the various waterfront parks in the Dundalk area. More white perch will continue to show up in the shallows as we move through the month. One angler fishing near Bear Creek caught four yellow perch and two white perch while using minnows during a night fishing trip. Minnows are a great live bait for perch, but anglers often throw artificial jigs and small spinners to catch them. Don't be surprised if a snakehead blasts your offering, because they've also been active up the creeks and tributaries. Fishing these around docks and rock jetties can be very productive for both species now through the summer.

upper chesapeake bay snakehead fish
Skip traveled all the way from Montana to Chesapeake Country, and found this snakehead on the west side of the Upper Bay.

Fishbones Bait and Tackle let us know that the blue catfish bite is still going strong from Sandy Point up to the Patapsco. Ledges at the mouths of the tidal rivers are popular spots to anchor up and fish with cut bait for the catfish. Many fish have been caught in shallower waters recently too, so don’t be afraid to search shallow flats that are close to deeper water. We encourage anglers who are fishing for blue cats to participate in CCA Maryland’s Great Invasive Species Count. This program uses recreational anglers to help track the spread of invasive species and gives them the opportunity to win great prizes through monthly drawings. It is a great cause and we hope you participate.

We are nearing the return of striped bass season in Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Anglers will be allowed to start targeting them in certain areas of the Bay starting May 16th when you will be permitted to keep one fish per person per day between 19 and 24 inches. The fish should already be at their normal summertime hangouts. Last year the bulk of the fish were in the Upper Bay at the Patapsco, but we will have to see where those fish end up once we can start targeting them. Check out the Maryland DNR striped bass maps to see when and where areas are open for stripers. Spot seem to be making an early showing this year, and some have already been caught at the Patuxent River which means they should be at the Bay Bridge shortly for those looking to catch them to eat or live line for stripers with them.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 3 Update:

This week’s warm up was a nice change of pace after the cool down last week. The white perch run is all but over for the year and they will start spreading out in the tidal rivers to their summer hangouts. Bloodworms, minnows, grass shrimp, and nightcrawlers are all great baits but as they transition from the areas they run in to their summer haunts locating good numbers of fish can be difficult. Pickerel are still a great spring fishing option in the Upper Bay tidal tributaries and the fishery is open again for anglers who are interested in keeping a few for the frying pan. You can find healthy populations of them in the Magothy and Baltimore area creeks. Focusing your efforts in the smaller creeks off the main stem of the rivers will yield the best results as the fish will be hiding near weed edges, docks, and other structures that they can ambush bait from. The citation length for pickerel in Maryland is 24 inches and the Upper Bay holds some big fish that will qualify.

upper chesapeake bay snakehead
Braydon went snake hunting in Kent County with some excellent results.

Striped bass season is right around the corner. The season will open in portions of the Chesapeake Bay on May 16th. Certain areas of the Upper Bay will be open to harvest while others will still be catch and release only or restricted from targeting. We recommend viewing the striped bass regulation maps on the DNR website to see when and where areas will open to targeting stripers. The summer season will allow recreational anglers to keep one fish per person per day with a slot of 19 to 24 inches. With a few weeks left until striped bass can be targeted, catfish have been keeping anglers busy. The blue catfish bite has been great in the Upper Bay this spring and May should be another great month to fish for them. All the tidal tributaries have blue catfish that can be caught just about anywhere. They are biting on a variety of baits like alewife, gizzard shad, perch, and just about anything else edible. Taking your bait of choice and casting it out on a fish finder rig is the best way to start fishing for them. If you can get out on a boat, anchor up near deeper holes or channel edges. We had a report from an angler who was fishing in a creek off the Patapsco who caught a 5.5 pound white catfish this week. White catfish are the only native catfish species to Maryland and are commonly found in the Bay.