Lower Bay Fishing Reports

Coastal Fishing Reports presented by The Tackle Box

Lower Chesapeake Bay fishing Report, September 17 Update:

The Tackle Box checked in with us this week to let us know that fishing in the Lower Bay action is solid, though the close of the cobia season does eliminate that rather awesome meal-gathering option. They say that striped bass catches in Maryland and Potomac waters were good this week, with fish available to trollers and lure casters in the river. Most boats that got into fish with high reward were hitting the water at dawn or dusk — timing has been important for maximizing catch recently — but some boats have found stripers mid-day on high tides. Lure casters using swimming plugs, jigs, bucktails and small spoons are doing well from both shoreline and boats. We had some great reports from readers this week who fished the rivers, and were able to bring in fish in the 22 to 26-inch range.

tautog in the chesapeake bay

Crazy Catch Alert: It may be a one-off, but Todd from Ghost Drag checked in with us after catching a 17-inch tautog—on a jig no less—near Point Lookout. Cool fish, Todd!

Meanwhile, big bull redfish continue to be abundant in the Bay, and a huge redfish weighing in around 35 pounds was taken off the Point Lookout Pier last week. Slot reds (18 to 27 inches) are also more plentiful in the shallows than normally seen. Fishing structure in eight to 12 feet of water has been the trick and we had reader reports of success come in from shore, kayak, and boat anglers alike this week. Alongside the reds, anglers are getting into some sweet speckled trout in the 17- to 25-inch range. Soft plastics bounced along bottom were the ticket. The Piankatank also received a couple of mentions as a hot zone for both specks and reds. By all accounts the Rap is also producing, but when it comes to the reds there are more unders than slot-fish, with one reader report noting that “below the Route 3 bridge, south side,” was good recently.

The bigger reds are mostly being encountered in the open water of the Lower Bay, but the action is sporadic. Finding breaking fish and jigging under them has been one way to get some in the boat. Little blues and Spanish mackerel have often been alongside them. Those targeting mackerel with spoons and planers are also getting surprised by big slam-downs now and again. The Tackle Box let us know that the mackerel are as abundant as the blues right now, and trollers using planers and small spoons are getting both all along the shipping channel edges.

A small run of decent croakers coming up on bottom rigs (along with the usual spot and perch) was also mentioned from the Lower Bay this week, though we didn’t get an exact location. Lizardfish are also just about everywhere and cutlass fish are popping up unexpectedly, as well. If you haven't seen it yet, check out our short video on going after these odd but fun to catch (and eat!) critters.

Lower Chesapeake Bay fishing Report, September 10 Update:

Trollers are enjoying a hefty Spanish mackerel bite hitting small multi-colored spoons at fast speeds, usually seven to eight knots. Most boats are using planers to hold the lure at the right depth. The Tackle Box reported good catches all over, with getting into fish just a matter of finding them. The Targets and the ship's channel from the HI buoy to buoy 72, and in the Mud Leads have all been good areas. Good catches have been made in the Potomac from Point Lookout to St. George Island, as well. Bluefish are also hitting the spoons, and there are occasional big bull redfish will make the day interesting.

bull redfish
This monster drum made the anglers on the Miss Susie mighty happy! Photo courtesy of The Tackle Box

Cobia have thinned out, but patience and luck can result in a big trophy fish for both chummers and trollers. Trollers using big surgical eel lures have done well as they can cover a lot of water searching for fish, whereas plenty of different species are being pulled into chum lines. Chummers have been rewarded with some chunky bluefish in the five-to-seven-pound range, and lots of little ones. Mackerel come into the chum lines too, and casting small fast-moving spoons sometimes results in hook ups.

Redfish in the slot are now pretty common for lure casters in the lower Potomac, and plenty of speckled trout in the 15- to-24-inch range are being reeled in. Readers hitting the Piankatank and the Gwynn/Milford Haven areas report similar success with four- to five-inch white and chartreuse plastic drawing most of the strikes. One mentioned that Gulp! Jerk Shad accounted for the bulk of his catch and that the specks seem to be coming out of the summer slump, and out-numbered the reds by a wide margin one day mid-week.

Aching to get in on that redfish bite? If you missed the Live with Lenny broadcast last night about catching slot reds in the Bay, check it out now!

Lower Chesapeake Bay fishing Report, September 3 Update:

Angler in Chief Lenny Rudow reports that several forays to the lower Potomac this week produced three to five slot puppy drum per trip plus throwbacks, a handful of flounder (including one keeper), snapper blues, small rock, and a decent speckled sea trout. The bulk of the action came on five-inch white paddle-tails (Electric Chicken accounted for a few fish as well) on half-ounce heads bounced along bottom near structure in 10 to 12 feet of water. He notes that shallower spots were often inundated with lizardfish and in those areas if you weren’t using ZMans, reeling up tail-less jigs happened cast after cast. Our AIC’s experience jibed with what the Tackle Box let us know this week — there are plenty of species biting, and slot reds are attainable if you work for ‘em.

birthday fish for lenny rudow
The AIC chased puppies on his birthday - and again a few days later - with good results on slot-fish. 

Readers checking in from the Piankatank indicated a slow speck bite in the shallows this week but again, a few slot redfish for those who worked at it. We also had a report from Stingray Point of lots of small bluefish, at times breaking water, and some Spanish mackerel being sighted gray-hounding in the frenzy but blues jumping on the line so fast that the macks couldn’t beat them to the hooks.

Lots of boats are working in the area of the Targets looking for cobia; we heard from two readers who found a few fish trolling red tubes in that zone but in both cases the fish were 30-somethings that didn’t hit the keeper mark. A third who checked in did get one beautiful keeper fish of 44-inches. The Tackle Box let us know that keeper-sized cobia haven’t been coming in as hot recently, with the last few weeks producing a bit of a lull as far as big fish go and more throwbacks showing up. Despite the cobia's sizes dropping out a bit, the area remains a favorite spot to try out for a variety of species. One reader this week reported jigging up a bull red over 40 inches in that same zone when they found some birds working and jigged under them. We had three more Lower Bay reader reports this week of bulls, two single fish and three for a lucky winner, all from undisclosed locations in VA waters.

August 6, 2021
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, August 27 Update: HOT WEATHER ALERT! Hey, FishTalkers! Our region is in the midst of another hot, hot, hot spell! We want to pop in and remind you to please keep undersized fish in the water when releasing them… Read more...
July 2, 2021
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, July 30 Update: Some more flounder reports have come in for the Lower Bay region, a development which we certainly hope to see continue. Point Lookout in Cornfield Harbor, the lower Rappahannock, and The Cell… Read more...
June 4, 2021
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, June 24 Update: Reader reports of good cobia catches are coming in, people! Chummers working just outside the Rappahannock have been doing well in 15 to 25 feet of water off Windmill Point with several fish in… Read more...