Maryland’s capital city goes by many nicknames, one of the most famous being the “Sailing Capital of the World”. Once the short-lived capital of the United States, Annapolis is now a thriving regional hub in more ways than one. For those of you interested in the angling side of things, we’ve got some good news – fishing in Annapolis is some of the best in the state.
That will come as no surprise to any of you who’ve cast a line (or ten) in the Chesapeake Bay before. From the iconic Rockfish to mainstays like Bluefish, Mackerel, and more, this is a heaven for inshore and nearshore anglers. So stick with us while we show you why this city needs to be part of your Chesapeake Bay fishing experience.
What species can I catch fishing in Annapolis?
Thanks to many local freshwater rivers, you’ll find something to cast for at any time of year. The action really kicks in around spring when Rockfish become open for harvest. This lasts until the end of the year. But let’s take a more in-depth look at what you can target when fishing in Annapolis.
Striped Bass (Rockfish)
Known as Rockfish in these parts, Striped Bass are the main pillar of the Chesapeake Bay angling scene. You don’t need to be an expert angler to see why, either. They’re fun to catch no matter your skill level, grow to huge sizes, and will taste great when you have them for dinner. What else could you possibly need?
Technically, you can target Rockfish for most of the year. The first couple of months of the year are strictly catch and release, though, and a couple of weeks during summer are usually completely closed for fishing. This means you’ll need to plan your trip ahead of time if you’re hoping to boat some Rockfish. Trust us, it’ll be well worth it.
If Rockfish are the most popular species in the bay, then Bluefish are definitely the most aggressive. These savage swimmers will go after anything that gets in their way, so don’t worry much about picking the ideal bait here. They’re not afraid to bite humans either, so be careful around their sharp teeth when handling them.
Peak Bluefish season starts in July and usually lasts until November. Local blues are usually 40–45 inches long and can weigh up to 15–20 pounds. You’ll be able to catch them both by trolling from a boat or by casting from shore. Fun fact, about 90% of Bluefish harvested in Maryland each year are caught by sportfishing anglers.
Compared to Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel aren’t much of a sport fish. But what they lack in fighting prowess they more than make up in food quality. For anglers hoping to bring in a tasty dinner, going after a fish that’s easy to catch and tastes good is a winning combination.
Spanish Mackerel come to the bay in spring and stay until October. Like a lot of other popular fish out here, you can catch them from shore near the river mouths or when fishing from a boat or kayak. This is the perfect fish for younger anglers heading on the water for the first time – something to keep in mind if you’re planning a family trip.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Redfish – a mainstay of saltwater fishing across the US. Known for their hard-fighting nature, you can have a lot of fun reeling in these stubborn fish across the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis included. And since they typically move in schools, where there’s one, there’s gonna be a lot more.
A great time to target Redfish in Annapolis is the fall and winter when the water temperature begins to cool down. You’ll usually find them near structure, such as oyster beds, jetties, and bridges. They’re known to grow to large sizes across the bay, so you’ll have a decent chance at reeling in a Bull Red if you’re determined enough.
We’ve shown you the local stars, sure, but that’s far from everything this part of the Chesapeake Bay has to offer. If you’re a fan of bottom feeders, you’ll have a blast going after the local Flounder. Also keep an eye out for Seatrout, Blackfish, Sheepshead, and more. In the freshwater areas around the city, you can also find Perch and Catfish.
How to Go Fishing in Annapolis
One of the things we love about fishing in the Chesapeake Bay is that you’re not limited to only one type of fishing. You’re free to go with whatever option suits your time and budget the best. Whether that’s casting a few lines from shore on a lazy Saturday morning or cruising around the bay on a boat or kayak, the sky’s the limit.
To surf fish in Annapolis, you’ll need a long, sturdy rod and a reel with a strong drag system. Live bait, such as worms or minnows, are effective for catching a bunch of different species, while artificial lures, such as jigs or plugs will be your go-to when setting up a ring for a specific fish you’re hoping to catch.
It is important to pay attention to tides and water conditions when surf fishing in Annapolis. The incoming tide often brings bait fish and predatory species closer to shore, making it a good time to fish. Choosing a location with good structure, such as jetties or drop-offs, will also improve your chances of success.
If you came to Annapolis determined to catch big fish and have the most fun doing it, we recommend hiring one of the many local fishing charters. Professional anglers run these businesses, and you can count on them to know these waters like the back of their hand. Another perk is that you won’t have to worry whether you’re following the local regulations. These can be complicated if you’ve never been fishing here before.
And, let’s not forget the fact that fishing on a boat is probably the best way to explore the width and breadth of the Chesapeake Bay. You can find species like Cobia in the lower reaches of the bay, meaning the only way to get to them from here is by boat.
Top Fishing Spots in Annapolis
While the Chesapeake Bay is obviously the main destination for hordes of anglers year after year, we wanted to highlight some popular local spots you can check out while in Annapolis. As you can see from the map below, you’ll find good fishing in almost any direction you choose.
- Severn River. Entering the Chesapeake Bay right next to Annapolis, the Severn River is the obvious first choice for anyone looking to go on the water while staying close to the city center. To that end, we recommend checking out Truxtun Park in particular. It’s got a dock allowing you to fish from shore without hassle. You can also launch your own boat from there if you want.
- College Creek. One of the creeks feeding into the Severn River, College Creek is another convenient option for fishing right out of Annapolis proper. Like most other creeks, you’ll have your pick of Rockfish, Catfish, Perch, Drum, and more.
- Lake Ogleton. Located next to the lower Severn River, Lake Ogleton is surrounded by Annapolis Roads and Bay Ridge communities. It’s a great place to catch some Catfish, for starters. Easy access to the Severn River also means you can switch to Rockfish whenever you want.
- Chesapeake Harbour. This one is a great bet if you don’t want to go all the way down to Lake Ogleton but would still like to explore a less urbanized area. There’s a long stretch of beach here you can put to good use in more ways than one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a license to fish in Annapolis?
- Yes. Any angler over the age of 16 will need to have a valid Maryland fishing license. You can also fish in Maryland with a Virginia license, as long as you previously signed up to the MD Saltwater Angler Registration. For more information check out our Maryland fishing license article.
Can you eat fish from the Chesapeake Bay?
- Absolutely! That said, health experts do recommend limiting yourself to one serving of Rockfish per month to be on the safe side.
Fishing in Annapolis: A Chesapeake Gem
As you can see, it’s pretty obvious that fishing in Annapolis doesn’t disappoint. This is important to note when we consider the high standards of Chesapeake Bay fishing. Excellent angling aside, it’s also a city filled to the brim with history. It’s a living memento of the American Revolution and more than worth your time and attention. If George Washington had time in his busy schedule to slot in a few hours of fishing here, we’re sure he had a blast.
What about you? Have you ever been fishing in Annapolis? Any catches you’d like to brag about? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.