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Seven Bridges Road - Chesapeake Light Tackle

When I first learned I would be moving to the Bay Bridge region of Maryland I read as many books as I could hoping to learn as much as possible about area fishing spots. A recurring theme in everything I read was, there is good fishing around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I remember my son Cory saying to me one day as we sat around the dinner table in Knoxville, Tennessee contemplating my move, “Dad, I can’t wait to get up there and fish that bridge.” I was thinking the same thing. Three years and three hundred plus fishing trips later, I still feel the same way. I can’t wait to get out there and fish that bridge!  Fortunately, there are several productive bridges near my house on Kent Island.  Even though the Bay Bridge is my favorite, I like to fish them all.  Here’s my list of the seven most productive bridges within easy driving or cruising distance of the Kent Island/Annapolis area.

1.  The William Preston Lane Chesapeake Bay Bridge

2.  The Rt 50 Bridge at Kent Narrows

3.  The Honga River Bridge near Hoopers Island

4.  The Rt 4 Solomons Island Bridge

5.  The Rt 50 Bridge across the Severn River

6.  The Bill Burton Fishing Pier (0ld Choptank River Bridge in Cambridge)

7.  The old railroad bridge across the Tuckahoe River above Rt  404 in Tuckahoe State Park

Watch closely as all these bridges will show up in my fishing reports throughout the year.  This past week I’ve concentrated on the two I fish most frequently, The Bay Bridge and the Kent Narrows Bridge.  Both are now holding fish and will continue to improve through the month of May.  We are now solidly in a post-spawn pattern with some big female stripers hanging around along with many three and four year class fish that will remain in the Bay to feed for a little while before they move off in search of cooler water.

Bait fish such as Atlantic Menhaden are moving into the rivers and some very nice light tackle fish are being caught around Eastern Bay and at the mouth of the Chester, Severn and South rivers.  It takes a lot of patience to set up over bait and jig, but the rewards can be great.  It’s still possible to catch a mid-forty inch fish. Since my time (and patience) is usually limited, I generally prefer to work structure where fish are more likely to school up, such as underwater humps, ledges or of course, the bridges. It’s also nice that I can get to the bridges very fast for late evenings when I just have a few minutes to fish before dark.

This time of year, the first order of business is locating the depth at which fish are most likley to feed.  In the rivers, they can be anywhere but in the main stem of the Bay they’re more specific.  This week’s “magic number” has been 22.  The schooling fish have been holding over humps and ledges between seventeen and twenty-two feet, usually closer to twenty-two.  Every year I’m amazed when they’re so specific.  I’m not sure if it’s water temperature, salinity, desolved oxygen, or just force of habit, but for whatever reason, that’s where they’ve been.

There are a few underwater humps that I only fish in May.  Last week, I couldn’t find anything on them, but this week a few fish showed up.  It’ll get better.  Once I determined the depth where the fish were feeding on the humps, I took that knowledge to the bridge.  There are over 400 pilings on the Bay Bridge, so the trick was to identify the ones that are most likely to provide current and cover in the seventeen to twenty-two foot range.  Fortunately, I’ve fished the bridge enough to know where most of those pilings are.  The fish were right where they were supposed to be. I haven’t caught any really large fish at the Bay Bridge so far this year, but I have landed a couple in the 30 inch range.

On the opposite side of the island, the Kent Narrows bridges are extremely challenging to fish.  The current is always ripping and the area is loaded with obstructions.  On top of that, its a busy boating channel.  The best bet for fishing the Narrows is to wait until after dark when there aren’t so many boats around and you can anchor or tie up.  There are lots of lights on the bridge and the area holds fish all night long.  This year the Narrows has been especially good.  I always feel guilty about catching fish within a few dozen feet of the boat ramp.  Here’s a sonar shot from Friday evening.  (The water temp is incorrect due to a bilge mounted transducer.) As you can see, it’s good fishing.

This weekend we’ve had extremely strong winds.  Since they were westerly, I couldn’t resist a run off Taylor’s Island yesterday despite the 35 knot gusts.  I ran across to Calvert Cliffs figuring I might be able to land a nice fish or two in the Power Plant discharge since I was sure to be the only one there and I knew there had been very little recent fishing pressure.  The cliffs protect the area from strong west winds. Sure enough, I had it all to myself, but the big fish weren’t there.  I caught some schoolies and had a few lures bitten off by bluefish before deciding to call it a bust.  This report is getting a little long, but I’d like to share the story of my trip back.

Taylors Island Family Campground is one of my favorite places on the Bay.  Not only is it extremely convenient to mid-bay hotspots, it reminds me of the little marinas I grew up in and worked around when I was a kid.  You won’t see huge yachts and expensive sailboats at Taylor’s Island.  It’s just collection of ramshackle campers and aging motor homes owned by country folks and fishermen.  Colorful tame rabbits hop across the grounds and small Sika deer can be seen along the gravel driveway. The nice ladies in the store sell camping supplies, wine, and fishing tackle. Despite the quaint charm, it’s an extremely difficult place to launch a boat.  At twenty-seven feet long, Thunder Road pushes the limits of the launch ramp.  Even worse, there is a narrow plank-lined canal that makes two 90 degree turns before exiting directly into the main stem of the Bay.  By narrow, I mean twelve feet narrow.  My boat is eight foot six inches wide. The pilings on either side are so close you can reach out and touch them on no matter which side of the boat your on. Even on calm days boaters regularly scrape their rub rails.  There are big rocks on both sides at the entrance to the Bay.

As I approached the canal on the way back from fishing I knew I was in trouble.  The wind had shifted more from the north, and there was a strong outgoing tide.  I could see six foot waves breaking over the area where I thought the entrance should be.  The rocks and the first set of pilings  were completely obscured by white water.  To make matters worse, some of the guys from the campground had seen me coming and lined up along the railings.  I’d like to think they were there to help in case I missed the approach, but sitting in their golf carts, I think they just wanted to see the show.

I’ve been piloting boats all my life, but I have to say this was one of the most challenging situations I’ve ever encountered.  I knew I would have to maintain my speed in order to keep enough control to get through the breakers, but one false turn or miscalculation would land me on the rocks.  I came in from the south, bow to the wind hoping to time my approach between breakers.  One broke over my bow anyway as I gunned the engine and cut her hard to starboard.  I wiped the water from my face just in time to see I had nosed into the canal.  Once inside the wind pushed me hard toward the opposite railing.  With a ten-knot head of steam, I over-corrected but pulled back on the throttle just in time.  By the grace of God the boat settled squarely in the center of the canal without ever touching a thing.  I turned around and held up my hands to the guys on the bank.  “Nothing to it,” I grinned, hoping they wouldn’t notice that I was trembling so bad I could hardly talk.  Maybe there was luck or divine intervention involved, but I consider that my single greatest act of seamanship since moving to Chesapeake.  I’m an adrenalin junkie and I admit to enjoying the rush, but I never want to try that again!

If I get to fish this week I’ll be working the humps, ledges and local bridges more.  I’m through with the Mid-Bay for a while.  Water temperatures are a little over 60 degrees which means it’s almost top-water time.  If you’d like more information about fishing the area around the Bay Bridge, check out my article here: Light Tackle Techniques for the Bay Bridge. Better yet, catch me in person.  I have a series of talks coming up in the next few weeks about fishing the Bridge area.  I’ll be at AllTackle in Annapolis this Wednesday,  May 12 at 7:00 PM.  On Wednesday, May 26th at 7:00 catch me at Nicks Fish House on Insulator Drive in Baltimore where I’ll speak to the Baltimore CCA chapter.  Then, on the evening of June 14th I’ll be talking to the Pasadena Sportfishing Group at Erleigh Heights in Severna Park.  All events are free and open to the public.  I hope to see you there!  I’ll close this rambling report with a shot I took of the bridge one evening last week.

Posted Sunday, May 9th, 2010 at 9:19 pm
Filed Under Category: Fishing Reports
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Responses to “Seven Bridges Road”

  1. Jim Ehoff says:

    Great report as usual.

  2. James Cunningham says:

    Good to see you fishing back around our area. I’m going to try to stop by on Wed. at AllTackle. Hope to see you there.

  3. Creig says:

    Thank the Lord I was not with you as you faced off with the canal. Glad you got out for a while this weekend!

  4. Steve F says:

    I read this report and what a great report is was, but all I kept going back to was:

    “This past week I’ve concentrated on the two I fish most frequently, The Bay Bridge and the Kent Narrows Bridge. Both are now holding fish and will continue to improve through the month of May.” You know how much Phill and I like fishing the bridge pillings and can’t wait to get on them…

  5. Shawn says:

    Steve – I caught a few fish at your spot Friday before the wind. Mid-20s only, but I think it’s a good sign. They were off the hump on the channel side just like always. Lots of bait there.

  6. uncle phill says:

    Agreed! Nothing like pilin’-pickin’! 🙂

  7. Capt. Jerry Hodnicky says:

    Been waiting for some up to date juice on the bridge. Nice article and have a cold one on me. The boat handling at the marina canal is a combination of experience and doing it a long time…… Besides matching up the gelcoat on a new Judge would really suck.

    Capt. Jerry

  8. Roger T says:

    Now I’m excited.Glad to hear things are picking up.
    I have the rest of the week off due to a broken toe and I cant wait to get out there to pick those pilings apart.

    Good thing I don’t need my big toe to do this kind of jig.:)

  9. don says:

    The kids and I love to fish for perch at the knarrows. jigging is a challenge there. what weight do you use on on your jig heads there?

  10. jim pike says:

    nice, will add to my bucket list! Thanks jim

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