Way North Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 2024

Way North Chesapeake Fishing Report, May 31 Update:

After a long spring, striped bass season is finally here for the northern zone of the Bay. The summer/fall striped bass season will open on June 1st for this region where anglers will be permitted to keep one fish per person per day between 19 and 24 inches. Since the sections of the Bay in this region have been under a no targeting closure since April 1st, we don’t have much intel on where the stripers may be. Hopefully we get some good reports once the season opens this weekend. In the meantime, there have been a lot of other species keeping anglers busy. At the Conowingo Dam, snakeheads have been attracting anglers from all over to try their hand at catching this popular invasive. Many anglers are having success throwing Rat-L-Traps from the rocky shorelines into the moving current. We saw a report from a young angler who had a great week catching snakeheads while throwing size three, four, and five Mepps spinners. Smallmouth bass have also been in the mix for those targeting the snakes and there have even been a few aggressive flathead catfish willing to bite artificial lures. Up inside the tributaries crappie are biting, too, with one reader reporting some beautiful fish caught in the Elk this week.

crappie in the northern chesapeake bay
Kenny found some very nice crappie while casting around the waters of the northern Bay tribs.

The white perch spawning run has concluded and the fish are moving out of the lower Susquehanna and into their summertime habitats in the various upper Bay tidal rivers. The shallows of the lower sections in these rivers are great places to search for these delicious fish. A reader checked in after fishing from the banks of the Bush with shrimp and worms, catching a mix of white perch and catfish. A mix of blue and channel catfish are also being caught at the Conowingo Fisherman’s Park caught on both nightcrawlers and chunks of fresh cut bait. Anglers focusing their efforts on perch can find them hanging out near structure in the form rock jetties, bridge pilings, and areas with hard bottom. Their favorite baits include grass shrimp, bloodworms, and minnows. Fishing with small spinners is also an effective way to catch them in the shallows. There is no limit for white perch in Maryland and they are a great species to take home for a fish fry with friends and family.

Way North Chesapeake Fishing Report, May 24 Update:

While we patiently wait for striped bass season to open in northernmost sections of the Bay, there are plenty of other fish cooperating for anglers this week. The Conowingo Dam is an angling hotspot in this section of the Bay and a variety of fish are being caught there this week. Snakeheads have been a big attraction for anglers fishing below the Dam. It can get crowded at times with many people casting out baits into the current, but if you can fish early in the mornings, or during weekdays, there should be less of a crowd. There was a report from an angler fishing for snakes in the middle of the week who caught six between him and a buddy. The fish were hitting on quarter ounce Rat-L-Traps.

catfish on a lure
Catfish on lures? There are enough blue cats around that it will happen.

Hardbaits and paddletails are great all-around lures to throw in the lower Susquehanna as they will catch a little bit of everything. Walleye are still hanging around the rocks below the dam and a few were caught this week. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and blue catfish are all being caught in the lower section of the river by those throwing lures. If you fish for blue catfish, we recommend participating in CCA Maryland’s Great Chesapeake Invasives Count. The program uses 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.

Spring perch runs are all but over, and the fish are starting to spread out into their summer areas. Schools of perch were still found in the lower Susquehanna this past week, but it is towards the tail end of their run up the river. We heard from a boat that caught their fish on the Harford side of the river in 20 to 23 feet of water. A few hours of fishing allowed them to put 18 eater-sized perch in the cooler for dinner. Along with the perch they also caught a 22-inch rockfish and an eight-pound blue catfish that was full of freshwater clams.

The entire Bay in Maryland waters will open for striped bass season on June 1st, but for now, many rivers and tributaries are under catch and release or no targeting restrictions. 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.

Way North Chesapeake Fishing Report, May 17 Update:

The weather has not been on our side this week with wind and rain persisting on many days. Blue catfish haven’t seemed to mind and they are still offering good action in the lower Susquehanna and most of the other Upper Bay tidal tributaries. Port Deposit was noted as a hotspot this week with some 20-pound fish pulled from the bank there. The blue catfish will be a good option for anglers to target until striped bass season on June 1st for many areas of the upper Bay. There are some areas open to fishing now while others are still under no targeting restrictions. When areas are open, anglers will be able to keep one fish per person per day within a slot of 19 to 24 inches. You can view the striped bass regulation maps on the Maryland DNR website. If you happen to catch your limit of stripers quickly and want to keep fishing, the catfish can offer steady action to keep your day going.

hickory shad caught by an angler
The shad run is winding down, but a few remain in town.

The shad run is winding down, but we did hear of a few successful reports on the lower Susky. An angler fishing in Octoraro found a few hickory shad at mouth of the creek using a fly rod. He noted that another angler fishing nearby with a spinning rod was able to get his lures further out in the channel and was catching fish more consistently. The recent rains have the flows running higher on the river, so it may be tough to fish over the next few days. Before the rains, more reports of snakeheads came in this week, with readers finding success in the North East and the Gunpowder. One angler said a chatterbait with a pumpkinseed trailer did the trick. The snakeheads are also making a showing below the Conowingo Dam. Most are being caught on Rat-L-Traps, but a variety of hardbaits are working to catch them along with smallmouth and largemouth bass. All the smaller feeder creeks off the portion of the Susquehanna River below the dam have snakeheads including Deer Creek and Octoraro Creek. Once we get into a more stable weather pattern, we should start to see fry balls popping up which will make it easier for anglers to sight fish them.

Way North Chesapeake Fishing Report, May 10 Update:

Fishing options are abundant up north as spawning action is still underway for many species. White perch are still running in the lower Susquehanna. Reports have been mixed, but those who have been able to find the bigger schools are having good luck. One boat fishing out of Lapidum reported that their day started slow trying a few spots on the Harford County side of the river. Once they moved closer to the 95 bridge, they started catching perch on almost every drop. Over a hundred perch came into the boat, most of which were smaller, but weeding through the little ones led to a nice haul of fish up to 12 inches. The fish were hanging out in 20 to 25 feet of water and were caught using tandem rigged shad darts and twister tails. They noted that many fish seemed to still be holding eggs.

monster snakehead fish caught in the chesapeake
Brendon got this mega-snake fishing in the North East - it tipped the scales at a whopping 16.7 pounds. That is one trophy snakehead!

The Conowingo Dam has seen a lot of action for a variety of species. Shad, bass, snakeheads, and catfish are all popular targets for anglers casting from the rocks. The striped bass closure is still in effect, and NRP officers are enforcing the no targeting rules strictly. If you happen to hook into a striper, they recommend releasing the fish in the water and then moving locations. Luckily, the closure will be lifted at the end of the month and we can go back to fishing indiscriminately. Check out the Maryland DNR striped bass maps to see when and where areas will be open to targeting stripers. One angler throwing a paddletail below the dam this week caught a few smallies. They then switched to shad fishing and found more Americans than hickories. A few other successful shad reports also rolled in this week. It seems the run is slowing down, but there are still plenty of fish worth targeting. Big American shad have been making an appearance and tandem rigged one ounce shad darts are working well to get them to bite. Red, yellow, and white colors seem to be working well. Slow and steady retrieves with sporadic quick pauses work well to get the shad to bite. It is often crowded early in the morning, but usually thins out by midday. Keep those lures above the rocks too, because they are notorious for snagging baits.

Way North Chesapeake Fishing Report, May 3 Update:

It was a great week to get out and fish as summerlike temperatures gave us a nice switch up from last week’s cool down. Fishing activity responded well to the warm-up as many species seemed more willing to bite. Shad fishing in the area has been on the slow side this spring, but fishing finally made a turn for the better. One angler reported catching a couple dozen in Octoraro creek. They started their day fishing in Deer Creek but didn’t have any luck and moving locations led to a much better bite. Shad fishing below the Conowingo Dam has also been good with white and pink shad darts noted as more productive than other lures. Further down river, schools of white perch are moving in and there were solid reports from those targeting them. A report from a boat fishing out of Lapidum showed a slow bite on the Harford County side in 20 feet of water. Once they made their way to the other side of the river, they found a much better bite and class of fish in 30 feet of water. Another boat fishing in an unspecified area of the lower Susky said they were catching fish on almost every drop with tandem rigged shad darts and Gulp! baits on jigs. 10- and 11-inch fish offered steady picking with even some 12- and 13-inch fish. Great eating size!

north chesapeake bay snakehead
Bryson celebrated his 12th birthday the best way possible, hooking into this 13.5-pound dragon near Aberdeen.

The Susquehanna’s waters have been producing plenty of catfish, as expected for this time of year, but including some unexpected mega-catches. We didn’t get a specific weight on this one but there’s no denying it’s an utterly epic catch! The blue catfish have been keeping a lot of anglers busy during the striped bass closure. It will be a few more weeks before anglers can target stripers in the Bay, but the catfish bite should remain hot in the meantime. A couple of reader reports came in of an uptick in the snakehead action, on the Flats and also from the Aberdeen area where one father-son team caught four the weekend before last. Chatterbaits were mentioned as an effective pick. Aquatic grasses are emerging with the warmer weather and snakes are moving into these areas. Up the Susquehanna River Captain Kayla Haile of River Queen Guide Service reports that the smallmouth fishing has been great. Lots of fish are in pre-spawn mode and will soon be spawning as the warm temperatures are heating the water quickly. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and ned rigs have bene producing best. Get out and fish this hot bite now because Captain Haile says that there is usually a lull period while the fish have their minds on spawning. The pre-spawn bite also produces some of the biggest fish of the year, so don’t miss it.