Water temperatures have dipped below 40-degrees in the very upper reaches of the bay and fishermen in the lower Susquehanna have been focusing on walleye; very few striped bass are being caught. Farther down the bay fishermen are seeing water temperatures holding at about 40-degrees and most fishermen are trolling. A number of fishermen are trolling medium sized bucktails and Storms as well as Crippled Alewive spoons behind umbrella rigs or as a single or tandem lure. This type of rig is what one would expect to catch school sized striped bass on but interestingly quite a few large striped bass are being caught lately on offerings smaller than the typical 9” sassy shad/ bucktail, parachute combo. Trolling the shipping channel and similar channel and locations such as the Dumping Grounds has been getting most of the attention in the upper bay region.
White perch can be found this week in some of the deeper holes at the mouths of the tidal rivers and creeks. Fishermen targeting the white perch are using bottom rigs baited with bloodworms. Channel catfish are also being caught in a number of locations such as the Elk River and the Bush River/ Gunpowder area.
Mid Bay Region:
This time of the year with fronts moving through the region one after another, fishermen have to be on call and pick their days; especially when fishing from a smaller boat. Sunday’s blow really stirred things up in the bay but conditions greatly improved on Monday and fishermen are hopeful of warmer temperatures and less wind through the rest of this week and into the weekend. Water temperatures in the middle bay region are holding just above the 40-degree mark so everyone needs to be careful out there; this is a very unforgiving time of the year to be wet or suffer a mechanical breakdown. This happy group of anglers took advantage of the calm weather this past Monday and chartered a boat out of Chesapeake Beach complete with a warm cabin and plenty of space.
This week’s warmer weather will bring a lot of fishermen out and many will be trolling the classic spread of large parachutes and bucktails with a 9” sassy shad off of planner boards or flat lines. A number of fishermen have been also doing well with crippled Alewive spoons and large Storm type swimming shads. Also a number of fishermen have been catching large striped bass on smaller offerings meant for striped bass less than 28”; such as medium sized bucktails and sassy shads that are trolled behind the boat. Fishermen have been reporting that some of the best action has been occurring during the change of the tide and lines off planner boards have been giving the best success during the morning before fish scatter due to boat traffic and sun light. Dennis Lynch sent in this short story that is typical of what many fishermen are experiencing this week. We launched from Sandy Point with the intention of fishing Gum Thickets to Bloody Point this past Saturday; the air temp at the ramp was 25 degrees. A cold morning in a 20’ center console boat. We were having some engine stuttering issues and not wanting to be far from the ramp, I decided to put lines in off of Matepeake in about 80 feet of water. We were still putting lines out we got a knockdown and landed this 40.5” 22 lb rockfish. We fished a couple more hours and were back at the ramp by 12:30. It was Doug Siekman’s (pictured) first ever rockfish. Still had that smile on his face that night when we had it served topped with crab imperial for dinner.
For those fishermen looking for a little alternative fishing to trolling white perch are being caught in many of the deeper areas at the mouths of various tidal rivers in the middle bay region. Bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworms has been the preferred bait.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
Fishermen had another good week of catching large striped bass in the lower bay region and the action should continue on through this week and the following. The NOAA Buoy at the mouth of the Potomac is currently showing a water temperature of 44-degrees. Fishermen are reporting that often the best fishing is in the morning and off their planner boards. The theory is that the fish scatter with boat traffic and the other fact mentioned was that the turn of the tide often marked when the fishing was good. Morning air temperatures have been a bit brisk lately but warmer temperatures are forecast this week. Tony Cintron sent in this short report and a picture from this past Monday. It was brutal cold in the morning as we set out lines at 0820 after fueling up and launching out of Solomon’s at 0700, but the wind calmed a bit and the Bay eventually lay down nicely for a great morning of fishing. Layering up on clothes is the key to keeping warm, and a hull with enclosed cabin or a good set of enclosure curtains is a must this time of year. Both fish hit at the same, around 1120, while we trolled due east in 56 feet of water just west of the HS buoy marker. Both were caught on tandem rigged buck tails with 9 inch shads. Starboard side had a chartreuse rig out 140ft and the white set up on the port side was out 160 ft. Both fish weighed in at around 27 lbs and were 39 inches long. We also caught a fat 27 inch fish earlier in the morning.
The lower Potomac River channel and the shipping channel in the bay are producing most of the fish being caught with old standards like Buoy 72, HS Buoy and Cove Point being some of the more popular locations. Most fishermen are using parachutes and bucktails with 9” sassy shads either in tandem or behind umbrella rigs but spoons such as Crippled Alewives can be a good choice as long as you keep them from tangling in other lines. There are few things that can create a faster mess than a spinning spoon. The large striped bass are feeding on menhaden so anything that resembles a big menhaden is a good choice.
Chris Daniell and a crew of 4 on board the 32' Beautiful Mess; (Jim Daniell, Bryan Pahel, Andy Thompson and myself) all left out of Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield Maryland about 6am and had to cross the Tangier Sound and go around Smith Island via Kedges Straights to just north of Buoy 70 and started fishing the main channel of the bay. We reached our spot by about 7:30am and started putting out the lines, and we had 4 or 5 of the 11 rod spread out and the fish started hitting. We had 2 fish in the cooler in the first 20 minutes. By 8am we had our 3rd fish, and decided to be select about the last fish we could keep. After releasing 4 more fish the same size as the first 3 (35-38") we decided bubba was not going to come our way on that day, and we caught and kept our last fish at about 1:30pm to top off our limit. Thank goodness we did that, because we did not catch another fish and we fished until 3pm with the intent to catch and release. All in all, we boated 8 fish, and hooked 11. Attached is a picture with our catch.
We usually get a lot of photos this time of year, if you submitted a photo and don't see your picture in the regular report please look in the photo gallery that we run this time year. Click here for this week's gallery.
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Click here to view recent bay satellite images at mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/NASAimagery/EyesInTheSky.cfm
The link below has some very valuable
information for Chesapeake Bay Anglers. DNR's "Eyes on the Bay" website
has data coming in from remote sensing stations in the Chesapeake Bay and
tributaries. It is well worth checking this out. Click on the map below.
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