Lower Bay Fishing Reports

Lower Bay Fishing Reports presented by The Tackle Box

Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report April 18 Update:

Trophy season is about to open and if the weathermen are correct, as this report goes live rain lasting into Saturday’s early morning hours should be in the works. The front moving in is expected to bring breezy conditions and high gusts, as well. Obviously, that isn’t the weather report you’d want to hear right before the season opens. That said, reports of keeper fish have been sparse. Since it was windy earlier in the week there have been fewer anglers pre-fishing than one would expect, and so unfortunately, we don’t have any specific areas to recommend. Despite the striper season opener, however, the attention of many anglers in southern Maryland has been on catfish, which are heavy throughout local tributaries. Could this actually be one of the best springs ever, for catfishing in the region? It’s not out of the question. The Tackle Box noted that the St. Mary’s River, Potomac, Patuxent, and Point Lookout have all been hot spots, and the fish haven’t been too picky about where they’re hanging out or what they’re eating. Cut bait such as menhaden, squid, clam snouts, and bloodworm are just a few of the baits they’ve been taking, as the fish will swallow up just about anything dropped in front of them. Fishing from shore and by boat have both been productive. The Tackle Box also reported that larger catfish are holding in the upper Potomac from the 301 bridge to Washington. Catfish in the 30- to 50-pound class have been frequent from Mallows Bay to Fort Washington.

fishing for catfish
Catfish are on a rampage here, there, and everywhere. Photo courtesy of The Tackle Box

White perch have been hanging along the bottom in deeper water, from 20 to 50 feet. As the water warms up they should begin to head to shallower water and be accessible for shoreline anglers. We also note that Tochterman’s mentioned that some hickory shad are being caught off Fletchers and further south on small spoons, and we received several reader reports this week of a steady shad bite up there. Hopefully, the forecast rain won’t dampen it too much.


Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report April 11 Update:

With a slow rockfish bite in the lower regions of the Bay and the perch run pretty much wound down, most anglers have turned their attention to catfish, which have become pervasive in the area. The Maryland Monsoons lowered salinity levels enough that the cats are venturing out of the rivers and are throughout the Bay’s open waters even in southern areas. The Tackle Box reported that the lower Potomac, including the St. Mary’s River, Breton Bay, St. Clement's Bay, and Morgantown, have all been hotspots. Hollywood Shores, Benedict bridge, and the power plant have been productive for catfish as well. (Yes, the power plant…) In addition, the public fishing area behind Ryken High School and the public pier at Bushwood Wharf are holding fish. Cats have been taking cut alewive, peeler crab, and chicken livers on the bottom. They stressed the importance of using fresh bait, which has been able to make or break your fishing day.

apex predators guide service
Fishing with Apex Predators produced a solid catch of snakes and crappie this week.

Shad fishing remains strong in the upper Potomac up in DC and at Fletchers, with some anglers reporting fish by the dozens. Tandem rigs tied with a small spoon on the bottom and a dart up top seem to be the preferred offering to get these lively fish on the line (and, of course, gently released).

Many anglers are heading across to the Shore, to get in on the snakehead action in the Blackwater and tributaries south of there. There’s also a decent striper spawning run in progress in several rivers, with Taylored Tackle noting a good catch-and-release bite in the vicinity of the Maryland-Delaware line in the Nanticoke.


The Tackle Box reported that the catch-and-release hickory shad fishery picked up this week in the Potomac, and anglers are able to catch them casting from shore. Readers reported the same, with one catching 19 from the DC side in the vicinity of Fletcher’s. With the forecast warmth this weekend, that bite should only improve for the immediate future – just remember to handle those shad with gentle love and care, as you remove the hook and release them.

shad fishing on potomac river
Shad have begun to make a serious showing on the upper Potomac. Photo courtesy of Eric Packard.

White and yellow perch have also remained active throughout the Lower Bay’s tributaries, though the runs are mostly a thing of the past and the fish are now down-river in post-spawn areas. Anglers still targeting perch have found that their locations are now a bit harder to pin down. Those able to locate them have primarily been using minnows on bottom rigs, or grass shrimp and blood worm when available. As is holding true throughout the Bay and its tributaries, channel catfish are in the mix, and eager to slurp up baits on bottom.

Meanwhile, for many striper fans the focus this week shifted to the catch-and-release striper fishery in the Bay. Although most boats aren’t having much luck landing trophies, many trolling channel edges in the lower Potomac are bringing in medium-sized fish. The Tackle Box reported that most guys have been using large parachutes in chartreuse and white, with purple a popular color earlier in the week on cloudy days, and bucktails. A few anglers have been trolling spoons as well, but not many guys who reported catching were pulling them. As the water continues to warm up this weekend, we should see more reports of landing and releasing trophies as they make their way to the spawning grounds.

Others in search of an unusual challenge are running across the bridge to the Eastern Shore to partake in a booming snakehead bite, which has begun but hasn't quite busted loose on the Potomac in the same way as over on the Shore just yet; check out this video we shot last week, to get the low-down.

March 1, 2019
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, March 28, 2019 Update: Large numbers of catfish in the Potomac have been dominating the brackish water fishery, which has seen a decrease in the number of yellow and white perch being caught as their spawn… Read more...
February 1, 2019
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, February 21, 2019 Update: Fishing in the Potomac has been hot, and is producing a variety of species. Blue catfish, yellow perch, and crappie have all been present, but big catfish have been stealing the show… Read more...
January 4, 2019
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, January 25, 2019 Update: Fisheries across the Bay were shut down this week, with temperatures far below freezing, high winds making conditions on the open water dangerous, and a thin layer of ice on ponds and… Read more...