Fishing Forecast: Fat fish await those who haven't hung it up early

It's a been a quiet week as most anglers have hung it up for the year.

On Thursday I fished a couple hours with Capt. Mark Galasso and we did well on fat perch and a couple keeper rockfish to 26 inches in the Chester River, off Panhandle Point in 36 feet of water. The next day Jason Russ let me tag along but it was a much tougher bite, north of Hail Point to Boxes Point. Perhaps the slow action was moon-phase related, but I did hang my biggest perch ever, a carp-looking thing that was almost 13.75 inches. By the weekend the action improved in several local spots, though the best rockfishing remains pretty good south of Point No Point to buoy 65/64 on the Maryland/Virginia line.

If you're done Chesapeake Bay fishing but not with fishing, now is the time to chase pickerel in the rivers and creeks around Annapolis or over on the Eastern Shore. Drifting a live minnow on a light jighead is hard to beat, but these toothy fish will also hit a variety of spinnerbaits worked erratically but on the slow side. They're ambush feeders so concentrate on structure. I'm hoping to get after them and maybe crappie, too, over the holiday break.

Rich at Totcherman's said there has been a pretty good striper bite in the Patapsco River, with the fish ranging from 20 to 30 inches. Jigging or trolling along channel edges from Key Bridge to mouth is your best bet.

Darin Zagalsky emailed me to say he had a great day fishing with his dad, Jason, and family friend Neal over the weekend. In the channel off Bloody Point they were jigging Stingsilvers and L'il Bunkers and catching only small (8 to 14 inches) rock so they steamed to buoy 84a where they found some good marks in 55 feet of water.

"I dropped my 2-ounce gold Stingsilver with a treble hook over and jigged it a few times and I hooked something that seemed like a small rockfish, but when I brought it up I realized it was a monster white perch and quickly swung it onto the boat," he said. The perch measured 13.25 inces, "and I was so excited that it was a (state) citation!" He also caught a 24-inch rockfish and then a 12.5-inch perch, both still jigging the same lure.

"Neal thought it was funny that I out-fished him and my dad!" he added.

Tuesday Darin's dad caught and released a 45 incher that was swimming in 125-feet of water off Bloody Point. The ocean runner hit a chartreuse/green Bloody Point parachute after what Jason called "an otherwise slow morning of trolling."

I've heard multiple reports of big schools of stripers moving down the coast from New Jersey, giving surfcasters and near shore trollers a legit shot at a trophy. So I contacted Ocean City angler and outdoor writer John Unkart, who chipped in with this report: "Trolling is heating up with rockfish (being) caught from Little Gull just south of Ocean City Inlet up to Sea Colony in Delaware. Over the weekend 40 FEET seemed to be magic depth with white the preferred color. Jason Whaley caught a 38-pounder (striper) at the Maryland/Delaware line. With warm weather, fish should hang around until water temps drop into 40s."

Also in Ocean City this week, Capt. Monty on board Morning Star says he had "two of the best December days ever I think... weather wise, at least. Fishing wasn't half-bad either. Lots of limits Sunday on our regular trip and a boat limit in short order on our extra-long trip."

If you're thinking about fishing lower bay waters, out of Cape Charles or Kiptopeke, expect to encounter stripers at the CBBT's High Level and north of Cape Charles on eels.

"We have small rockfish around the bridges and rocks. Tuna fishing was off the hook this week. Limits early. Big eye in the Norfolk Canyon. Even some dolphin," Ric Burnley told me. "Sea bass and triggerfish on the wrecks from 20 to 50 fathoms. Big flounder on inshore wrecks. Tiles and grouper in the deep. Warm weather and light breezes. Pinch me!"

Outdoors Calendar

Through-Jan. 30: Final split of duck season. Six birds per day per hunter.

Through-Feb. 3: Atlantic Population Canada Geese season. Bag Limit is two geese per day.

Dec. 16: MSSA Annapolis chapter Christmas Party, American Legion Post 7, 1905 Crownsville Road, Crownsville. 6 p.m. Visit for details.

Dec. 21: MSSA Broadneck/Magothy Chapter Meeting, American Legion Post 175, 832 Manhattan Beach Road, Severna Park. 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6: Free State Fly Fishers meeting. Dick Friis on "Fly Fishing in Idaho." 7:30 p.m. at Davidsonville Family Recreation Center, Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville, behind Ford Hall. Contact Dale Read at or 401-864-4257.

Jan. 16: MSSA Frederick chapters "Saltwater Fishing Expo." Frederick Fairgrounds. Details at

Jan. 23: Tri-State Marine Fisherman's Flea Market. 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Route 256 Deale. Free admission for patrons. Call Dawn Yoder at 410-867-2398 for table rates and more information.

Jan. 23-24: Kent Island Fishermen's sixth annual Fishing Flea Market. Kent Island American Legion Post 278, 800 Romancoke Road, Stevensville.

Jan. 28-31: Baltimore Boat Show. Baltimore Convention Center. Details at

Feb. 13-14: Pasadena Sportfishing Group's annual Fishermen's Flea Market, one of the largest in the area. Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company, Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.

Feb. 20: CCA MD "Tiefest & Light Tackle Show." Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, Stevensville. Details at

Feb. 27: Annapolis MSSA's "Saltwater Expo." 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at Annapolis Elks Lodge. Details at

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