Best Fishing Bait for Chesapeake Bay

Best Fishing Bait for Chesapeake BayEach year, thousands of anglers come to the Chesapeake Bay to fish in its scenic waters. As the largest estuary in the United States, the Bay features a wide variety of sea life---from rockfish and spot to flounder and white perch. If you would like to fish on the Chesapeake Bay, make sure to bring the best bait to ensure a good catch. In general, the fishing season starts in mid-April and ends in November. (Picture: Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel fishing pier)

Striped Bass

striped bass

Commonly called "rockfish" or "striper," the striped bass is Maryland's state fish and is one of the most popular species to catch in the Chesapeake Bay. The striped bass lives year-round throughout the Bay, but it tends to congregate along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Popular bait includes clams, sand worms, menhaden and live eels. Some anglers have had luck with artificial lures, like plastic jigs and bucktails.


The spot is one of the most abundant fish in the Chesapeake Bay. Oftentimes found near inlets and oyster reefs, the spot comes into the bay in May and leaves for warmer waters in November. For bait, these fish are partial to bloodworms, squid and shrimp. Adults grow between 6 to 8 inches, and you can fish from a boat, pier or the shoreline.

Black Drum

If you wish to catch black drum, these fish prefer to eat oysters, clams and especially small crustaceans (like crab and shrimp). Typically, black drum will ignore artificial lures. This species enters the Bay in April, and have been as far north as the Elk River. Adult black drums can weigh 30 to 50 pounds, and a few have grown to more than 100 pounds. The best time to catch this fish is during a full moon.



Also known as fluke, the flounder is a flatfish often found in shipping channels or around rocks. To catch a flounder, the best baits include worms and squid. Additionally, you may use live bait, like a small spot, to attract the larger flounders that swim through the Bay. Keep in mind: flounders are aggressive and will give you a good fight once hooked. Patience is key in catching this fish---give the flounder time to take your bait before reeling it in.

White Perch

With its firm and sweet meat, the white perch is one of the most popular catches among Chesapeake Bay anglers. This species lives throughout the Bay---especially in the upper tidal tributaries---and it spawns in March and April. White perch aren't fussy eaters, but they seem to have an affinity to bait like earthworms, bloodworms and grass shrimp.

Article Written By Caroline Tung Richmond

A native of Washington, D.C., Caroline Tung Richmond has worked as a freelance writer since 2007. Her articles have appeared in both print and online publications such as the "Baltimore Sun," "Highlights" and She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University.

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