Lower Bay Fishing Reports

Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, June 14 Update:

Summer can offer great fishing in the Bay, but it can also have us scratching our heads asking where the fish are. This year is no different and the bite has been very sporadic. Contributor Eric Packard reports hot and cold action on the lower Potomac, encountering skunk action one day then a few days later catching 50 stripers (with plenty in the slot) and two redfish. He mentioned he’s been doing well early in the day and the skunk was a late afternoon attempt. He also said half-ounce heads with four-inch plastics worked well, as did a Rapala jerkbait, with most of the fish holding in three to eight feet of water along deeper drop-offs down to 20’ of water. There have also been schools of rockfish scattered in open water along the main stem of the Potomac. Light tackle anglers and trollers are finding them anywhere from Colonial Beach to Tall Timbers. Fish have been chasing bait in zones of 20 to 40 feet of water. Side scan has been an important tool while covering water to locate fish.

lower bay cobia fishing
Cobia are in town! Cobia are in town! Photo courtesy of Scott Heinz... who reported tagging and releasing over 20 in the past week!!

Early reports of cobia have started to roll in which are giving us hopes for a good start to the season. A boat fishing near Windmill Point this week was able to land six cobia while sight fishing on a calm day. There have been a lot of cobia down at the CBBT for a couple weeks now and many of those fish should be pushing north with the warm weather we have had. Lower Bay cobia hotspots include the Target Ship, Smith Point, Windmill Point, and Cape Charles. Cobia season will begin this Saturday, June 15th for both Maryland and Virginia. Anglers will be allowed to keep one cobia per person with a minimum size of 40 inches. Boats will be limited to two cobia per vessel, and in Virginia, only one of the fish kept on a vessel may be over 50 inches in length.

In the “strange catch” category, there was an angler who caught a Tilapia on the upper Potomac near the Maryland and DC line. Tilapia are not native to our waters and should be removed if caught. Unfortunately, we often see people who have pet fish (and other critters) let them go in our waters. We all know how snakehead were introduced…

Crabbing report: Crabbing has been up and down across the board with some finding good action while others are struggling to fill a basket. We heard from a commercial crabber that said the Wicomico River has been mediocre at best. He was able to catch three bushels last weekend during a full day of crabbing but mentioned that a lot of the crabs were on the smaller side and he had a lot of other boats to compete with. Another reader crabbing off his kayak down in the St. Mary’s found good results while using drop pots baited with chunks of white perch. He was able to catch a bushel of crabs in just over two hours with a lot of number ones in the mix. Oyster bottom in five to eight feet of water was a hot zone. He mentioned a few terrapins and snapping turtles came up in the pots as they were looking for an easy meal.

Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, June 7 Update:

The Tackle Box let us know that June fishing is starting off with a bang for many anglers. Striped bass have been the main draw for those fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, Potomac, Rappahannock, and various other lower Bay tributaries. A charter fishing out of tall Timbers has been catching limits for clients on most days and loading up on big spot, too. The Tackle Box did mention that although there are plenty of eater sized spot around, they have yet to hear any reports of croaker in the area. The general zone of Coltons Point to the mouth of the river along the main channel edges have been where most schools of rockfish have been located. Shallow water fishing has bene good too with fish hanging out around rip rap, shoreline points, and docks with current running along them. Remember that in both Maryland, the Potomac, and in Virginia the striped bass regulations allow anglers to keep one fish per person per day between 19 and 24 inches. If you catch a fish outside the slot, make sure to handle it with care and take the time to revive it to ensure it swims off strong. This will be especially important as water temperatures rise over the next few months.

kayak fishing the lower chesapeake tributaries
Lots of puppy drum are staging around creek mouths and shallow water structure in the tribs, putting them well within range of kayak anglers. Photo by Eric Packard.

There are a lot more than just rockfish to target in the lower Bay this time of year. Redfish have made an early push into the tidal tribs with slot fish being caught in this zone. Contributor Eric Packard continues to enjoy a great puppy drum bite in the creeks of the lower Potomac River and points south, though some slow days are mixed in as well. Paddletails on 3/8-ounce heads have been doing most of the catching with the bulk of the fish undersized but some slot fish mixed in, too. There are also speckled trout and a few rockfish in the mix. He also notes that snagging rays has been a regular issue. Another angler fishing at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River has had good luck catching slot stripers and puppy drum while fishing with paddletails on jigs and topwater poppers. Along with these popular species, flounder are also making a surprisingly strong showing with some keepers being caught in the lower Potomac, Smith Piint, the Rappahannock, and the Piankatank. The flounder fishery in the Lower Bay is a shell of what it once was but this is shaping up to be a nice comeback. Many anglers are tight-lipped about the exact location when they find a good spot, so the best advice we can give is find a good ledge or deep creek mouth with current and try your favorite flounder rig. Live minnows and squid strips are great to add to any teaser rig.

May 3, 2024
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, May 31 Update: The start of the striped bass season on the Potomac is going well for many anglers. Boats trolling along channel edges from the 301 bridge down to the mouth of the river are picking up a mix of… Read more...
April 5, 2024
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, April 26 Update: The saltwater fishing in the Lower Bay rivers and tributaries is starting to pick up with warming water temperatures. The shallows are approaching the 60-degree mark, and some areas are already… Read more...
March 1, 2024
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 29 Update: Spring fishing opportunities were abundant this week as we prepare to close out March. The shad run is going strong at this point, with readers reporting catches of a dozen-plus on small spoons… Read more...