Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing & Its Place in History

By Andy Whitcomb

Sep 20, 2017

The Chesapeake Bay is a huge sport fishing area which is tremendously important to the region. Here’s why.

Chesapeake Bay is a giant cove located along the Atlantic Coast of Virginia and Maryland. According to a Maryland government site, this historically important fishing area ranges from 4 to 30 miles wide, giving you many options for where to fish. Chesapeake Bay sport fishing is influenced by the freshwater it receives from watershed areas in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia.

When fishing Chesapeake Bay, remember it is a massive estuary, where freshwater from rivers such as the Susquehanna, James, and Potomac mix with the ocean, created a wide range of Chesapeake Bay fishing spots and opportunities.  With brackish water fishing, you may get to experience both freshwater and saltwater worlds in one location depending on time of year and the species you wish to target.

In his book, “The Blitz,” fly-fisherman Pete McDonald wrote, “the Midwest is called the country’s breadbasket, and if there’s a marine equivalent of that, it’s the Chesapeake Bay.” Chesapeake Bay sport fishing includes species such as redfish, black drum, speckled trout, bluefish, croaker, and American shad. However, perhaps the bay’s most prominent species is the striped bass. Thanks to better management and restoration projects the population of striped bass, which can exceed 40 pounds, seems to be rebounding. And McDonald shared that 80% of Atlantic Coast stripers come from the Chesapeake Bay, so this is water that needs protecting.

With an estimated 11,000 miles of shoreline, the choices of Chesapeake Bay fishing spots are vast. A good place to start is our places to fish map tool. It also provides locations of bait shops, boat ramps, and fishing license vendors. Once you have narrowed down your selection of location and species, obtain a copy of that state’s fishing regulations. It includes tips and will help with planning, both seasonally and with tides.  No matter what Chesapeake Bay sport fishing method you prefer (spinning light tackle, fly-fishing, charter boat, etc.), there is something for everyone. And what could be better than going fishing in Washington D.C.?  I’m heading to a Chesapeake Bay sport fishing spot in October.  Have you fished Chesapeake Bay?

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.