What Types of Fish Live in the Chesapeake Bay?

What Types of Fish Live in the Chesapeake Bay?
The Chesapeake Bay is home to a mix of over 350 different species of both migratory and resident fish. The fisheries of the bay were known and exploited by the Native Americans long before the first European settlers came to Maryland and Virginia. It remains a popular place for recreational fishing, with the sport being enthusiastically pursued in the Chesapeake Bay's waters by anglers from across the region. Here are five fish that are among the most encountered and popular in the Chesapeake.


The bluefish is found in the mid-to-lower bay areas, almost never to the north of Baltimore. It is a popular saltwater game fish found in waters around the world. They are sometimes called "marine piranha" because of their aggressive eating habits and tendency to go for a wide variety of fresh bait. A typical fish weighs about 15 to 20 pounds, but specimens of up to 40 pounds are sometimes caught.

Stripped Bass

The stripped bass is better known as the "rockfish" or simply as the "striper." They are big fish that can reach up to five feet in length. The biggest striper ever caught in Maryland's bay waters weighed almost 68 pounds. They can be found not just in the bay, but in the nearer reaches of the tributaries feeding it, making them a very common fish to catch.

Atlantic Croaker

These fish like their water to be very saline, so while they can be found everywhere in the bay, they are most often found far away from the tributary rivers. Croakers are bottom feeders. They are not very big fish, rarely exceeding 20 inches in length. The biggest ever caught was a modest 6.5 pounds. However, they are plentiful and relatively easy for an amateur angler to hook and reel in, making them an important recreational fish.


The bluegill is considered one of the best fish in the bay to catch and put on the dinner table. They are freshwater fish that can live in brackish, moderately saline waters for a period of time. They are therefore not very likely to be found where the bay meets the Atlantic, but rather in tributaries and tidal areas. The typical specimen is about six inches long.


At about 20 inches long, this is a decent-sized fish, with the largest being around 30 inches and weighing 12 pounds. They enter the Chesapeake Bay in the springtime to access its tributaries for spawning. Once they have spawned, the adults leave to return to the waters of the coastal Atlantic. By mid-summer, the shad have all left the bay area.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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