Way North Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 2024

Way North Chesapeake Fishing Report, April 26 Update:

The shad run usually hits the northern Bay tributaries later in the spring than more southern areas, and it has been a slow start for many in this region so far. We had reader reports come in from the area that the shad were thick last weekend in the Susquehanna and Deer Creek, but that it was very difficult to get them to bite. Water conditions should be improving daily and clean water with lower flows should make for a good recipe to catch shad. One angler out earlier in the week said they caught only three hickory shad over a three-hour trip. They did mention plenty of snagged gizzard shad while throwing out jigs. At the Conowingo Dam, anglers were reporting a lot of carp and suckers hitting this week. Some catfish and accidentally snagged gizzard shad were also common catches. A few successful perch reports confirmed that the schools are moving up the river to spawn. Some of the deeper holes down river from the dam are good places to search for the perch. One boat filled a cooler with over two dozen white perch during a trip at the beginning of the week.

carp fishing
Carp have been around in good numbers, as Lucy recently found.

While the striped bass closure is still in effect, blue catfish are a great species to target in the northern Bay. They are invasive and their negative impacts on local aquatic populations have been well documented. They feed throughout the water column and are often found with clams, crabs, and fish in their stomachs. The blue cats are very active this time of year and have started to move into shallower water. The lower Susquehanna near Port Deposit is a great place to anchor up and fish for them. Any of the tidal rivers along the channels will also be prime locations to target them. If you plan to fish for them, 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.

Way North Chesapeake Fishing Report, April 18 Update:

It finally feels like spring as warm temperatures have given us some great fishing days this week. B-I-G catfish are on the prowl and biting, with readers checking in with monster blue cats from the North East and near Turkey Point enjoying success. No particular baits were specified, but cut bunker is a reliable standby. Anglers fishing near Port Deposit are also finding plenty of luck catching the big blues both from the bank and by boat. As the water temperatures rise, flathead catfish are also becoming more active. Your best chance for them in the upper Bay will be just below the Conowingo Dam. These fish are predatory and will prefer a moving bait. Soft plastic jigs are great options to cast out and work along the bottom. Just make sure to bring extra tackle because the bottom is very snaggy below the dam, but that’s where the big fish will be sitting.

fishing north chesapeake
The river has had a tough go of it this spring... as usual. Fortunately, flows are now beginning to return to normal.

The Susquehanna is still running a bit high and muddy which has made it hard for anglers to fish. We didn’t receive many reports for shad fishing in this region, but the fish should still be running there along with an increasing number of white perch. Deer Creek and Octoraro Creek are both great locations to target both of these fish. The flows are still steady, so working your way up creek may be a good idea until river conditions improve. Down near Havre De Grace, we saw a report from an angler who was out targeting crappie. They caught a bunch in five foot of water or less and kept four big ones for the frying pan. The fish that were kept all measured over 13 inches with the biggest measuring nearly 15 inches. Rising water temperatures are also getting crappie for their spawn and they are beginning to move into the shallows. Fishing with a live minnow on a small jighead either floated under a bobber or bounced along the bottom is a great way to catch crappie, and other fish too. Crappie prefer structure, so look for them around dock, bridge pilings, and submerged woody structure.

Way North Chesapeake Fishing Report, April 12 Update:

The lower Susquehanna is still running high and turbid from all the rain last week. River conditions were less than ideal most of the week, but persistent anglers managed to find some decent fishing. The shad are still running up the river and the small creeks and areas out of the main current are holding schools of fish. Deer Creek was noted as productive this week with one angler catching over a dozen shad during an outing. Octoraro Creek is another reliable location to fish for shad. Most of the catch has been hickory shad but American shad should soon show up and offer even more opportunities for anglers. Small shad darts and spoons are the two most productive lures. You can rig them in tandem or fish them as singles, but tandem rigs work great for getting baits down in the current where the shad are sitting.

angler with a shad
The shad run is on, though conditions may be tough in some areas due to all the rain we've had.

The most reliable fish to target this month will be blue catfish which are abundant throughout the upper Bay. Channel catfish are also found in the tidal rivers and both fish can be caught using the same methods. Most anglers will drift cut bait in the form of bunker, gizzard shad, or eel along channel edges. The main channels leading into the bigger rivers are good places to drift or anchor in search of catfish. Now that the striped bass closure is in effect, we encourage you to fish for blue catfish, especially since they are an invasive species. We have seen that they are getting bigger every year and will eat anything that swims in front of them. 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.

Way North Chesapeake Fishing Report, April 5 Update:

Anglers always look forward to April as it consists of many exciting spawning runs in the tributaries and it seems that the shad fishing run in northern rivers has caught up to the runs that started a couple of weeks ago in southern Bay tribs, and we had reader reports of solid hickory action picking up as of last weekend. One mentioned that some American shad had showed up as well, and casting green darts was the ticket to getting a bend in the rod. However, it is going to be a few days before the lower Susquehanna River will be fishable thanks to all the rain we got this past week. There will likely be a lot of debris in the water along with high and muddy conditions. Here's our how-to shad fishing video in case you need a spring refresher on shad fishing.

Catfishing may be the best option for a few days, and it will remain a reliable bite throughout the spring. Blue catfish seem to be getting bigger in each year and it is not uncommon to catch fish over 40 pounds. All the tidal rivers 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.

There were a few anglers who took advantage of the last weekend for catch and release striped bass fishing. There was a report from a boat that launched out of Havre De Grace on Sunday that caught two stripers. One fish measured 22 inches and another big one was caught that measured 44 inches. Stick baits got both bites. 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. The northern sections of the upper Bay will remain 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 is allowed.