Lower Bay Fishing Reports
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, June 23 Update:
There’s some great striper fishing in the Potomac right now, with plenty of action to go around. The Tackle Box checked in to let us know that the area around Piney Point to St. George’s Island are offering up good numbers of rockfish. They reported that trollers, live-liners, and anglers casting soft plastics are all hooking into them. Trollers seem to be doing especially well by cruising the channel edges. With the fish generally pretty spread out, they’re able to cover the most area. The fish are also finding their spreads particularly inviting — umbrellas with bucktails and sassy shad trailing behind have been scoring the big bites. Still, many of the fish trollers have reported are undersized. This goes across the board, as live-liners and light tackle casters have been reporting similar results size-wise. Live-liners are additionally contending with rays and inside the river, catfish. Both species are heavy hitters in the area right now, and are destroying spreads. We highly advise heading out with extra bait!
The same is true if you’re cobia fishing. The Angler-in-Chief and crew struck out in the Point Lookout zone this week, reporting zero bites (even from rays!) with a full complement of eels and bunker chunks fished in the slick. However, we heard from others who were catching rays and the occasional shark alongside cobia. The cobia bite is significantly better in Virginia, with Windmill Point generating the most reports north of the Cape Charles zone, but some were caught in Maryland this week as well. Live eels are the ticket.
Speckled trout and the occasional redfish can be found in shallows on both the Western and Eastern Shores, although the east side has had a far better bite up to now. Look for weed beds and grassy shallows hunting for them, and employ four-to-six-inch sparkly pink or white soft plastics. Curly tails work best. The Piankatank and Mobjack both got a thumbs-up this week with one reader reporting that electric chicken paddle-tails produced a half-dozen specks plus a few small stripers.
White perch are also in the rivers, although the Tackle Box mentioned that the numbers have just been so-so.
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, June 16 Update:
The Tackle Box let us know that a variety of species are biting right now. Spot are all around and hitting both bloodworms and Fishbites. This is a boon for liveliners, who have started picking up some hefty striped bass in the lower Potomac. They’re generally fishing the channels and traditional hotspots. The live-lining bite is standing out as one of the best bet, rivaled by the trolling bite. Trollers are cruising along the channel edges searching for them, covering lots of water. Although they’ve been in and out of some areas, they’ve remained between Piney Point and St. George’s Island. We heard a few reports from anglers who hooked up to fish in the mid-20s trolling white umbrellas and bucktails. Blue was another common color.
Reader reports this week included black drum on clam, and of a few croaker caught during the Tappahannock croaker tournament last weekend with a half-pounder winning it (and the show stolen by a 31 pound catfish). Despite the fact that bluefish haven't appeared yet in good numbers in the Lower Bay, cobia have for sure. Windmill Point has been both popular and productive with most anglers chumming menhaden with live eels fished in the slick, and fish have been caught by boats fishing near the Targets. The biggest we’ve heard of since the season opened was a 50 incher that ate one of those eels.
Specks are now in all the western shore tribs, but the biggest ones are on the east side of the Bay and from the Rappahannock down; the specks north of there on the Western Shore reported this week have been somewhere between small and very small. The specks will spring for white, pink, and chartreuse lures with a bit of sparkle. Salt-n-pepper and rootbeer colors are also producing. Late last week Contributor Eric Packard hit the Piankatank near Gwynn for a morning of fishing, and found that electric chicken and white paddle-tails got both the trout and stripers biting. He had four specks up to 22.5 inches, and also caught and released plenty of small stripers. He noted that the outgoing tide was good, and when the water quit moving the fish quit biting.
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, June 10 Update:
1:00 p.m. Late-Breaking update: Contributor Eric Packard is out on the Piankatank today, and reports four specks plus some stripers hitting on electric chicken and white paddle-tails.
Lower Bay anglers, strap in and get ready. Although we have another five days until cobia open up they’ve already been caught and released in this zone, including all the way up to the state line, so opening day could be a very good one. If the past couple seasons are any indication, we’d expect Windmill point to start off as a hot zone with chumming to be a top producer. (See Chumming for Cobia, A to Z, if you need a refresher).
Speck reports are steadily improving, and although the reports are better from the east side, a reader fishing near Winter Haven reporting four in the box up to 21 inches and we had a pair of reports of undersized to barely-legal specks in the creeks off the lower Potomac. Some (small) rockfish were also in the mix in both areas. Better striper reports are coming in from the lower Potomac, particularly the Piney Point to St. George’s area, where trollers pulling umbrellas and shad are catching good numbers up into the low- to mid-20s. The biggest reported by The Tackle Box this week as 26-inches and they’re recommending trolling along the drop-offs. The Tackle Box also reports that perch fishing is picking up in the creeks and rivers, but still hasn’t hit peak levels as of yet.
Note that on the 15th stripers go out of season in VA waters (excluding the Potomac, where the PRFC allows them to remain fair game until July 6).
Up the rivers—all of the rivers—the catfish and snakeheads are biting strong by all accounts. Talk with anyone who tried sinking baits in a hole or channel and it’s tough to find anyone reporting fewer than a half-dozen catfish, and the Tackle Box noted this week that Ken Lamb brought in a six pound snake.
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, June 3 Update:
Striped bass fishing is ON! in the Lower Bay. Catches have been good for anglers utilizing a variety of tactics. Trollers are doing especially well in the lower Potomac River from St. Georges Island to around Piney Point, pulling a mix of white and chartreuse bucktails, umbrellas, and sassy shad rigs. Trollers are reporting larger catches than light-tackle jiggers, who are now getting in on action closer to shore in the tribs. Trollers are, however, fighting a fleet of boats cruising the hotspots right now, especially on weekends, because tons of boats are out on the beautiful (and not so beautiful) days looking to score. Hitting the water early has been essential if you’re hoping for at least an hour or so of peaceful trolling, but eagle eyes for other boats spreads and the lines of chummers are necessary right now. Chummers and trollers have found fish outside the Potomac and off Smith and Windmill points, too, but anyone using bait is fighting an uphill battle against cow-nosed rays. They’ve moved into the area to give birth and mate and are dominating the waters, and proving themselves a huge pest for bait fishers.
Light tackle anglers are enjoying a kick-bass bite in the tribs, in the shallows at dawn and dusk and along deep piers and pilings, bridge pilings, and drop-offs in the 10- to 20-foot zone during the day. Topwater at daybreak followed by casting soft plastics is productive, and anglers have been picking up specks in many zones as well. Using four-to-six inch white, chartreuse, and pink paddle-tails is working. Some readers have been focusing on the specks and slot reds rather than the rock and this week we heard of some (small) speckled trout showing up all the way north as far as the MD/VA line on the west side, in numbers large enough to target them. We also had a reader report of excellent action on pink plastic in the Gwynn area. So henceforth, hunting for them in any of the western shore tribs and creeks could prove productive. In what must be the most surprising development of the week, however, we heard of two Spanish mackerel being caught well up the Bay — one had even wandered all the way up into Maryland waters already!