The Eastern shore of Maryland is home to winding rivers, miles of marshes, and the emerald green waters of the Tangier sound. Monster fish dwell in the depths, drawing in anglers from across the country and producing (in my opinion) some of the best fishing in the world. These backwaters are often best accessed on a kayak, and by the end of this article you’ll know exactly where to go and what to throw for a plethora of different species.


Blackwater Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is located South of Cambridge. With seemingly endless miles of freshwater swamp land and a multitude of roadside launches and bridges to fish from, it’s every anglers paradise. Its murky, shallow waters are the perfect conditions for Northern Snakehead to thrive, and they inhabit just about every nook and cranny of the marsh. Live minnows a foot under a bobber are the easiest way to fish for them, but topwater frogs are almost as effective and produce some outrageously explosive bites. These fish often hang along the edges and inside of padfields. Toss your minnows along the edges of the pads, or work a frog through them and wait for the bomb to go off. If you get a strike, wait a few seconds before setting the hook. Often, they won’t fully inhale the lure on the initial strike. If you don’t wait, you’ll end up missing more fish than you can count.


Janes Island State Park

Janes Island State Park is nestled just above Crisfield, and is the PERFECT spot to spend the weekend paddling around and wetting a line. The state park has a campground with all your basic amenities (many of which are ADA accessible), including a kayak launch and a fish cleaning station. After waking up from a blissful night of camping on the water, you’ll be met with beautiful green water that's chock full of speckled trout and rockfish (striped bass), along with the occasional red drum. Focus your efforts on creek mouths and points with moving current within and on the edges of the island. If you plan on fishing bait, quartered pieces of soft crab or live minnows rigged under a popping cork will trick most finned critters into biting. Topwater plugs, soft plastic jigs, and subsurface plugs in the 3-5” range are great choices if you want to trick some fish into eating a piece of plastic. This area is very seasonal; I recommend fishing in the spring and fall.


The Pocomoke River

You may not be landing lunkers, but if you want to fill up the cooler while immersing yourself in a truly unique ecosystem, the Pocomoke is the place for you. Miles of winding river, coves, and creeks with incredible biodiversity are what make the Pocomoke special. Between gar, largemouth bass, yellow perch, white perch, pickerel, snakehead, crappie, and 3 species of catfish you truly never know what you might encounter. There are launches into kayakable waters throughout the river. Some of my favorites are located at Shad Landing, Byrd Park, and the floating pier just above the drawbridge in Snow Hill, by the Pocomoke River Canoe Company


The Choptank River

The Choptank River, known for its consistently excellent fishing, earns a well-deserved spot on this list. Blue catfish, rockfish, and white perch all call these waters home throughout the year. Franklin street boat ramp is about 1,500 feet from the Bill Burton fishing pier. While the pier is no longer accessible, we can still hit all that beautiful concrete structure from a kayak. The standing pilings can hold rockfish, and there are sunken reef balls and bridge pilings near the end of either fishing pier that get swarmed by schools of perch and blue cats. Bottom rigs with bloodworms will catch all three of these species, and ½ to 1 oz soft plastic and metal jigs are a great choice if you want to swing some artificials. Much of the shoreline in this river is privately owned, this isn’t a river I would plan on searching for a roadside launch. If the wind is blowing too much for comfort once you arrive but you still want to hit the water, head upriver to Tuckahoe landing bridge. The Tuckahoe is a tributary of the Choptank, and is much more protected. Here you’ll run into snakehead, largemouth bass, catfish, perch, and other freshwater species. 


Marshyhope Creek

Marshyhope Creek is a tributary of the Nanticoke River, tucked away in the swampy forests of the Eastern Shore. This is an incredibly tidal area, which makes it pretty difficult to fish but one of the most unique places to paddle out there. High tides allow you to go way back into creeks that wind through the forest, enabling you to paddle among the trees and immerse yourself fully with nature. Keep an eye out for woodpeckers and sika deer. If you don’t see them, you’re sure to hear them. These high tides also make for some killer fishing. Snakehead, Largemouth bass, and panfish will move up with the tide and take cover in all the new submerged structure. Casting spinners and topwater lures near fallen trees, into coves, and along any other structure on the shoreline is your best bet. Once the tide goes out, anchor up on a ledge or near one of the many bridges and start soaking some bait. The panfish you were catching earlier are perfect. Smaller fish can be rigged live, and larger ones cut into pieces. It likely won't be long before you’re hooked up to some monster blue cats.


If you have any questions on how to fish one of these areas, or anywhere else around the Chesapeake bay, reach out to David on Instagram @ReelinWithRudow.


Get Ready For Your Next Fishing Outing
Looking for more information, inspiration, or a sneak peek into what Maryland has to offer? Explore Fish & Hunt Maryland’s latest articles written by fellow sportsmen and women and local partners, alongside our extensive library of videos available.

Be sure to acquire your license from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources if you plan on heading out on your own (charter passengers are covered by the captain’s license).  

Visit our Planning Resources page for information on fishing charters and guides, lodging options, marinas, retailers and more. And if you’re up for a quick getaway, be sure to check out Visit Maryland for places to stay, dining, and things to do while you’re here.