Don’t tell me the moon is shining
Show me the glint of light on broken glass – Anton Chekhov

The full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (the first day of Fall) is called the Harvest Moon.  It gets the nickname because there is bright moonlight from before sunset to almost sunrise so there is plenty of nighttime light for activities such as gathering crops.  It’s also one of the best moons for fishing the Chesapeake Bay.  I pay very close attention to the phases of the moon.  Not only do they tell me a lot about water levels and the intensity of expected currents, they also provide information about fish behavior.  Striped bass feed at night.  While you aren’t likely to see younger Chesapeake stripers blitzing under the full moon, the big girls are usually on the prowl beneath bright night skies.  I like to fish after dark during the spring and fall.  By now you’ve likely read my recent reports about the great shallow-water action we’ve had this year.  Nothing gets my blood boiling like nice fish blowing up on top-water plugs in less than a foot of water.  For the past month or so shallow-water stripers have been extremely active in the late afternoon hours.  The shore-side feeding frenzy usually begins around 5:00 PM and builds to a crescendo before turning off just after sunset.  Things pick back up just before sunrise and continue until the day gets bright. This week, thanks to the full harvest moon, all bets are off.  As you can see in the video, the shallow bite is wide open though both daylight and dark.

You may also have noticed in my recent videos that the background changes with every report.  That’s because I’m fishing multiple locations looking for the hottest action.  Just because the fish are at one place today doesn’t mean they’ll be there tomorrow.  In fact, chances are they’ll be elsewhere because they’re running all along the deeper shorelines looking for places that hold a lot of bait.  I think Chesapeake Bay fishermen get too caught up in identifying fishing spots or worrying about spot burning (a term that means revealing the exact location of where you found fish).  We should be thinking patterns, and not places.  The prevailing pattern right now is that fish are feeding along current-swept shorelines that have easy access to deeper water.  Especially good are areas around the mouths of rivers and the deep-water sides of abrupt points that jut out into the bay.  Once you learn to look for the pattern, there’s no limit to the number of places where you can fish.  If there are fishermen at one location, you just move on to the next spot that fits the pattern.  Anyone can go where someone else is fishing, but it’s a lot more satisfying to find your own fish

There are still some bluefish breaking in open water over hard bottoms with some respectable rockfish showing up as well.  The luckier anglers are even turning up a giant redfish or two beneath the breakers in the mid-Bay.  It’s tempting to leave the shallows and chase them, but the skinny water bite is closer to a sure thing.   I expect it to last a few more weeks.  Rich and Mark were my fishing partners on today’s trip. Peter Rowan provides the soundtrack on this colorful video that shows lots of shallow-water action through both daylight and dark.



Posted Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 at 2:10 pm
Filed Under Category: Fishing Reports
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Responses to “Harvest Moon Topwater – Video”

  1. Jeremy says:

    That’s really amazing. I can’t catch like that livelining or trolling. I think I got some bad advice.

  2. Allison says:

    Another super video.Thanks aga

  3. Capt. Eric says:

    If you’re livelining and trolling this time of year, yeah you got some bad advice. Topwater in the shallows is the real deal, glad to hear they’re strong in the Chesapeake this Fall.

  4. Peltz says:

    Looks like a lot of fun. I like the background music. Have you ever heard the Jerry Garcia Band version of Midnight Moonlight?

  5. Daniel Kimbro says:

    That pic’s unreal…

  6. RiverCat09 says:

    Another great report and really cool video. You make it look so easy Shawn, although I think I’m starting to get the hang of vertical jigging (the whole light saber action). Topwater was a little weak for us last night which really floored me, but I tied into a pretty nice one on a BKD right at the shoreline. I definitely need to start focusing on the patterns. The more I visit this site and read these instructional reports, the better I become. Thanks again!


  7. der Fischadler says:

    Shawn, that was one incredible night. We had all the right factors line up in our favor. It will be hard to top that one for the number of active fish feeding in shallow water. And it was a pleasure fishing with Rich “the Coach.”
    Thanks for the trip.

  8. Jay123 says:

    What area is this it looks familiar? I’ve been doing very well in the shallows of the bay the last few weeks as well! Great video!

  9. Roger says:

    You look like ultra man in that first pic ;)TW has been off and on for me in the upper bay.
    Hoping the next couple days will give way to some great TW fishing.


  10. Capt. Lips says:

    Top water it’s the only way to fish. Mark learned from the best.

  11. Mark says:

    Capt Lips;
    Thanks for teaching me how to out fish you in your own backyard.
    Adler sends…

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