Tips on Fishing the Chesapeake Bay

Tips on Fishing the Chesapeake Bay
Found on the eastern coast of the United States, the Chesapeake Bay is the country's biggest bay. Its sheer size makes it home to dozens of fish species. Commercial fish boats regularly ply Chesapeake Bay's waters, while recreational anglers can be found daily in small boats or along the coast. Insider tips on fishing in Chesapeake Bay could help you successfully land a catch and take home some of the bay's aquatic bounty.

Water Quality

Algae blooms, runoff and similar water quality issues can have a direct impact on a Chesapeake Bay fishing experience. For example, exceptionally muddy waters in an otherwise clear estuary may require you to change your lures to a brighter color to successfully attract the bay's fish. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources website provides real-time updates on the water quality of popular fishing spots in Chesapeake Bay (see Resources), so you can make an educated decision on how to prepare for your fishing trip.


All anglers must obtain a fishing license from either Maryland or Virginia, the two states surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. Contact Maryland's sport fishing bureau at (800) 918-2870 to obtain a Chesapeake Bay license. An annual Maryland bay license costs $15 for residents and non-residents alike. Alternatively, you may obtain a recreational fishing license from Virginia at (800) 541-4646. This license costs $30 for residents and $48 for non-residents.

Catch Limits

Anglers operating in Chesapeake Bay must adhere to the catch limits imposed in the bay to ensure the sustainability of bay fishing. Regulations change yearly depending on the current fish populations. Rarer fish, such as grouper, are extremely limited while common fish like scup can be caught in large quantities. Individuals who catch fish beyond the current limitations must release the fish back into the bay.


Select your location on the bay depending on what you wish to catch. Certain regions are known to be better than others. For example, the shoals along the mouths of the Chester and Magothy Rivers are popular for schools of fish, such as perch and croakers. Meanwhile, sharks and rays are typically common in the northern regions of the bay while various crab species can be found at the outlet of the Elk River.

Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.

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