Spring weather in Maryland has been delightful, drawing people out to explore nature and enjoy the great outdoors. Anglers are taking advantage of the stable water temperatures in Chesapeake Bay, where gamefish like striped bass, shad, and herring are spawning or have already finished spawning.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) buoys, Chesapeake Bay’s main surface water temperature is holding at around 60 degrees. However, prolonged dry weather has led to lower flows and higher-than-normal Bay salinities. Fortunately, rain is predicted for this Friday, which may help bring shad into Maryland’s creeks for waiting anglers.

While average clarity is expected for most Maryland portions of the Bay and rivers, some areas may experience temporarily reduced water clarity due to algal blooms on the Gunpowder, Bush, and Back rivers. Those looking for up-to-date water clarity conditions can check the Eyes on the Bay Satellite Maps.

Though most Maryland rivers and streams are experiencing below-average flows, there may be localized higher flows due to the expected rain on Friday. Additionally, there will be above-average tidal currents on Monday and Tuesday due to the upcoming full moon on May 6.

Anglers looking for the best fishing areas should consider intersecting them with underwater points, hard bottom, drop-offs, and large schools of baitfish. For more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the Bay, be sure to check out Eyes on the Bay’s Click Before You Cast.

In the Upper Chesapeake Bay, Conowingo Dam anglers enjoy catching and releasing a mix of hickory shad and American shad. The hickory shad can be found in the river and are running up Deer Creek and Octoraro Creek on the warmest days with good flows, where recent rain may offer some hope of a renewed run. The American shad tend to be at the Conowingo Dam pool. Small shad darts rigged in tandem with small silver spoons work well for the hickory shad, and heavier shad darts are needed in the dam pool.

White perch are now found in the lower Susquehanna and can be caught on bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm, or on small jigs tipped with pieces of bloodworm or minnow. White perch can also be found in the middle to lower sections of the region’s tidal rivers. Anglers can catch plenty of large flathead catfish in the dam pool and a mix of channel and blue catfish in the lower Susquehanna River, the Elk River, the upper Bay, and the region’s tidal rivers. Fresh-cut bait of menhaden, gizzard shad, or white perch works well, as will chicken liver, breast meat, and scented baits.

Striped bass season will open on May 1 in the waters of the upper Bay below the Brewerton Channel. There is a 35-inch minimum and a limit of one fish per person per day. The Susquehanna Flats areas will not open to striped bass fishing until May 16, with a slot size of 19 inches to 26 inches and a one fish per person per day limit. Anglers should check the Department of Natural Resources website for a map to locate areas open or closed to striped bass fishing.

Anglers looking for their trophy striped bass will be trolling large parachutes and bucktails dressed with equally large sassy shads along the steep channel edges. There is a good chance post-spawn striped bass from the Susquehanna Flats area will be traveling along these channel edges.

In the Choptank River, the striped bass have finished spawning and will be heading out to the shipping channel to head south. The False Channel and RN2 Buoy steep edge will be good places to look for these fish. Bloody Point, Buoy 83, the Gum Thickets, Stone Rock, and the western shore side of the shipping channel in front of Chesapeake Beach and Breezy Point are also worth some attention.

Anglers looking for a light-tackle experience can head to the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant warm water discharge or concentrations of fish spotted on their depth finders. They can also choose to chum or chunk along steep edges and points. Tidal rivers will still be off-limits to striped bass fishing, but they will be open for fishing for a mix of channel, blue catfish, and white perch.

The Department of Natural Resources website contains a map to help anglers understand where they can legally fish for striped bass. Anglers are reminded of the boundary lines for the Patuxent River, Nanticoke, Manokin, and Wicomico rivers closed to striped bass fishing and those designated as catch and release only.

Freshwater fishing continues to be popular with many anglers fishing for trout in the put-and-take waters. Many of the marginal trout waters will slow down in May as community ponds and waters in the central and southern regions become too warm for trout survival. However, the trout management waters in western Maryland will continue to provide good water quality for trout throughout the summer months, providing excellent fishing opportunities for fly casters.

Deep Creek Lake is a great place to enjoy fishing this week with walleye, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass all holding in various locations around the lake. In most waters of Maryland, largemouth bass are either finished spawning or are just about done. Northern snakeheads are becoming more active each week as May approaches, and fishing for crappie is also very good this time of year.

Surfcasters have some exciting news: large post-spawn striped bass are making their way around Cape Charles and passing by Maryland beaches. Cut menhaden is a favorite bait, and the run of black drum that surfcasters were enjoying along the beaches of Assateague has slowed down. However, tautog are being caught in the inlet near the jetty rocks and the South Jetty, and flounder fishing improves each week as warmer water temperatures bring the summer flounder into the coastal bays.

The 2023 black sea bass season will open on May 15 and run until September 30, then close until October 10, when it reopens until December 30. The daily creel limit is 15 fish per day per angler, with a 13-inch minimum length. Anglers must check the Department of Natural Resources website map to locate areas open or closed to striped bass fishing.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/EditorEditor-in-Chief

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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