Upper Bay Fishing Reports

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 8 Update:

The official start of winter is approaching and Maryland’s catch-and-keep striped bass season soon draws to a close (December 10). The colder temperatures have thinned out most of the fleet, but there are still some dedicated anglers getting out on the water. One angler reported that big white perch have moved up into the Patapsco. They found them feeding on bottom alongside schools of rockfish. The Patapsco is one of the better tidal rivers to fish in the winter. There are resident striped bass that will stay in the river through the colder months. Recent reports indicate that there are some schools of fish cruising along the channel edges, but other popular locations to fish include the area of the shipping docks and the Key Bridge. Boats fishing along the main channel are having the best success by trolling with umbrella rigs or tandem rigs behind heavy inline weights. The heavy weight is needed to get down to the depths where striped bass are suspended close to the bottom of the channels.

striped bass in the upper bay
Enjoy your last weekend of the catch-and-keep season, anglers!

Another location that tends to hold white perch and some rockfish throughout the winter includes the rock piles at the Bay Bridge. Fishing here often requires a subtle jigging approach, and with colder water temperatures, the fish won't always want to feed. Fishing around the tide switches will be provide a good chance for finding fish willing to bite. If you are looking for a more consistent rockfish bite for the final catch-and-keep weekend of the season, larger schools of fish with bird action are being found farther south (see the Middle Bay report).

A reader fishing up the creeks of the Magothy mentioned that both perch and pickerel are biting, and a day of fishing with minnow and darts produced about a half-dozen of each species. The pickerel fishing should only get better as we head towards the end of the year. The pickerel will be most concentrated in the upper reaches of the feeder creeks on the main tidal rivers like the Magothy and creeks to the north like Bodkin. If you haven’t already, consider signing up for the CCA Pickerel Championship. It is a fun tournament to compete against fellow anglers throughout the winter. The tournament runs until the end of February, so there is still plenty of time to sign up.

ANGLER ALERT: If you partake in striped bass fishing in Maryland, remember, next year’s regulations will be changing to combine all Bay jurisdictions and you only have until December 22 to provide comment on 2024 regulation options! See Chesapeake Bay Angler Alert: 2024 Striped Bass Reg Changes for the details and instructions on how to submit comment.

Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, December 1 Update:

Fishing for striped bass has slowed down significantly in the upper Bay, but there are still pockets of fish around. Anglers are just having to work harder to find them. Keeping an eye out for working birds is reliable right now, though it often requires covering lots of water to find the bird show. Recently there have also been some “false alarms” triggered by loons pushing bait to the surface. River mouths, Love Point, the Bay Bridge rock piles, and areas in the Patapsco are all places that historically hold fish in the winter months. Anglers Sport Center recommended that those who are still looking to catch white perch can find them in deeper water areas with oyster bottom. The perch also tend to school up at the rock piles below the Bay Bridge where dropping down along the rock piles and drifting with the tide is a good way to pick up some perch if they are in the area.

rock fishing in the chesapeake
Brian and Capt. Mike got ‘em in the Upper Bay even after the cold set in.

A more reliable bite right now is for blue catfish, which are plentiful in the upper Bay tributaries. The cats will be holding in the deeper holes and along channel edges. The colder months are a prime opportunity to catch these big catfish and the bite is showing no signs of slowing down. The more popular baits to use include cut bunker, eel, shad, and chicken. It has also become increasingly popular to soak chicken baits in powdered Kool-Aid for added scent. Surprisingly, the catfish seem to love it.

Pickerel fishing is also very good this time of year in the upper Bay tidal tributaries. The Magothy River, Bodkin Creek, and Baltimore area creeks are all great areas to target pickerel. Popular lures include spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and jerkbaits. Live minnows also work very well when fished close to nearshore structure. The CCA Pickerel Championship is currently taking place and is a great opportunity to compete against fellow anglers in a few different divisions. Crappie, pickerel, perch, and bass can all win prizes. The tournament runs until the end of February, so there is still plenty of time to sign up.

November 3, 2023
Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, November 24 Update: One of the many things we have to be thankful for is the Chesapeake Bay. Between her beauty and great fishing opportunities, we can all agree we have access to a truly special place. Good… Read more...
October 5, 2023
Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, October 27 Update: It is looking to be a great weekend to be out on the water as summer-like temperatures make their way back into our region. Fishing for rockfish has been good for anglers chasing them in open… Read more...
September 1, 2023
Upper Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, September 29 Update:  Fishing weather last weekend and the beginning of this week kept many anglers from getting their lines wet. Windy conditions have prevailed recently which has limited most of the productive… Read more...