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Summertime - Chesapeake Light Tackle

And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

If I could add a line to George Gershwin’s song, it would be “and the piling bite is on.”¬† This week marked the start of the summer pattern around the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge.¬† The migratory fish are long gone, the bluefish are moving in, and the resident rock have set up shop around the pilings.¬† This is the time of year when it’s well-worthwhile to make a sunset run out of Matapeake to drop a jig around the rockpiles or toss a top-water plug over the Pipe.¬† Go, even if there’s only a few minutes to fish.¬† It’s the closest to a sure thing the Chesapeake has to offer. Better yet, the big white perch are out of the rivers and hanging out in the shallow water around the bridge. My wife and I ate fresh fish three times this past week.¬† Back in the South, we’d call that steppin’ in high cotton.¬† Here, it’s just a summer week on the Bay.

I got out a couple of times this past week, an hour before dark one evening and 90 minutes the next.¬† I found good outgoing current and plenty of fish both nights.¬† Most of the stripers were small, but I managed a few in the 27-28 inch range.¬† Friday evening as I was driving home across the Bridge with the top down on the Miata convertible,¬† I looked down to see my friend Rick Long, inventor of the “FISH-OFF GLOVE” casting around the shallow eastern shore pilings.¬† I probably shouldn’t have taken my eyes off the road, but traffic was slow and I couldn’t resist.¬† I watched him cast and hook up a fish as I was driving by.¬† I quickly picked up my cell phone and called him.¬† He told me he was having one of the best white-perch-catching evenings he’s ever had.¬† Some of his perch were over 13 inches, all on small artificial flies.¬† That’s trophy perch in anyone’s book and¬† Maryland DNR citation award winners.

My friend and Kent Island neighbor Mark was waiting for me at my house when I pulled in the driveway.¬† I told him about Rick’s report so he hurried home to get his perching gear.¬† Within 30 minutes we were on the water and casting. ¬† Rick was right on.¬† Mark hooked a 12 incher on his first cast and followed it with two more big black backs before I could tie on a shad dart.¬† We put a couple dozen big perch in the fish box for dinner, then set off after rockfish.¬† Even though weekend striper fishing is usually tough because of all the fishing pressure, they didn’t disappoint either.¬† We found linesiders on nearly every piling.¬† Although we released all we caught, we could’ve easily taken home a limit of rock to match our big mess of perch.

The best striper lures were hot-rodded 6 inch bass assassins, BKDs, or Mann’s Hard Nose (we used all three) in either chartreuse or pink hotrodded with Spike-It Dip-N-Glo garlic dye in various contrasting colors.¬† I used half ounce jig heads most of the time, but moved up to three-quarter ounce when the current started running stronger.¬† The bigger fish were holding tight to the pilings on the up-current shadow side.¬† The perch were hitting one-sixteenth to one-eighth ounce shad darts in either chartreuse or white jigged right alongside the shallowest pilings.¬† I tandem-rigged them with the heavier dart on the bottom and moved up to heavier line since two big ones at a time could easily break 6-pound-test. The perch preferred lighter current, and kept biting through the slack tide.

Saturday I fished with my wife’s friend-since-law-school Tim, and his boys Michael and Ryan. They started the trip out right when they showed up with a couple of quarts of fresh blueberries they’d picked on their way to Kent Island. I’ll trade a fishing trip for fresh berries any day! Tim entertained me with tales of his work as a Justice Department voting rights attorney while the boys reeled in fish after fish on their jigs. We spent a couple of hours on the pilings, then made a quick run to Annapolis where we stopped at City Dock for ice cream.¬† After a short harbor tour where the boys exchanged imaginary fire with a tourist pirate ship, we headed back across the Bay to fry up our perch.¬† The fish were delicious. Dianne baked some biscuits and whipped up some Lewes Dairy heavy¬† cream for a homemade strawberry-blueberry shortcake desert.¬† Now, it’s time to relax.¬† Tonight,¬† I’m enjoying a nice Chesapeake breeze while sitting on the front porch staring out over the blooming black-eyed susans and sipping on a blueberry-Gentleman Jack mint-julip .¬† Ah, summertime, and the livin’ is easy.

Posted Sunday, June 20th, 2010 at 12:04 am
Filed Under Category: Fishing Reports
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Responses to “Summertime”

  1. Jim Ehoff says:

    As always a great fishing report. Hope you enjoy this Father’s Day. Have a nice frozen drink on me.

  2. Roger T says:

    when the piling pickin is easy ūüėČ

    Good fishing to ya Shawn,very cool shots!

  3. Mike Burrows says:

    Great read as usual. Hope to try them this week sometime.

  4. Schmidtty says:

    Very nice you have a wonderful website. It has helped me learn more and more as I make my journey from Delaware fishing to Cheasapeake fishing. I’m trying to learn so much in so little time, if you could help me out with any good areas/tides/lures/bridges I would very much appreciate it.

  5. Steve F says:

    I know Phill and I are looking foward to pilling picking. Last year we go into some nice fish at the pillings and I hope we can do the same this year.. Another great read Shawn and I hope to see you out there soon…

  6. RiverCat09 says:


    Great story and photography. Thanks for the good read. I love those hot rodded BKD’s that you turned me on to.


  7. Mike says:

    Hey Shawn always a great read. Just wondering how you position your boat near the pilings? Do you set up a drift? or try to anchor or tie off?


  8. Matt says:


    Love the site, and am a new fan of the garlic dip! Left the KI yacht club on Sunday morning and fished my favorite spots in Eastern Bay. When the tide started to die I figured the bite would turn off as usual. Fortunately the hits kept coming. I’m confident that the garlic dip or “hotrodded” BA’s made the difference.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and tips with a fellow Kent Island fisherman.


  9. Jeff Spencer says:

    Hey Shawn,

    Great report, love the shot with the reflection of the rock in your shades.

  10. Rick Long says:

    It was am amazing day with over 100+ perch caught between the 3 of us on my boat. Glad you we looking over the bridge Shawn. I can’t resist it myself. We had 6 perch over 12″ kept 35 for the fryer.

  11. Chris says:

    You must have sore lipped all the bigger rock because it was a dinkapolooza around the pilings for me. It’s all good though. Pullage is pullage!

  12. der Fischadler says:

    “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

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