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Fishing Reports

One of the more frequently asked questions I get whether by email or in person is, “How can I consistently catch bigger fish?”  I’ve written about moving your game up to the next level before, but since we now have some migratory stripers in the Maryland part of the Chesapeake Bay, it’s worthwhile to address it again.  The learning curve gets a little shorter in the fall and it’s a great chance to sharpen your skills. I’ll start by saying there are no hard and fast rules for catching stripers.  Over my years of casting for them I feel like I’ve honed my techniques so that, on any given day, I have an edge for catching a trophy.  That said, I’m still frequently surprised when a huge striper is caught by some completely different method than I’ve seen before.  One thing is for sure, things change. There’s no substitute for experience but anglers who aren’t willing to stay on top of the latest innovations and newest techniques are certain to be left behind.  Read More!

Fishing Reports

Hack [hak] (n) – A clever trick, skill, or shortcut to increase productivity and efficiency.

1.  Find the bait first, then look nearby for the fish.

2.  All things being equal, go with chartreuse.

3.  Fish in areas where you can see the current moving.

4.  The sneakier the angler, the bigger the fish.

5.  Use dark colored lures in low light situations and rainy days.

6.  Color contrasts attract fish. Read More!

Fishing Reports

Congratulations to Rich Jenkins, 2013 Champion of the Kent Narrows Light Tackle Catch-&-Release Tournament. Rich fished with Jamie Clough, Jon Griffiths and me onboard my 27 Judge CC Thunder Road and won the tournament with a wide-shouldered 34-inch striper caught about 1:00 PM Saturday afternoon. Coming off the win, I thought it might be helpful to post some recommendations for catching bigger striped bass in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay in June.

Topwater – Look around high-current points where there is access to deep water. Submerged rocks and other cover are a plus. Set up downstream and fan-cast into the direction of the current starting closest to shore. Look for the rip, that is a change in the waves around the point and work that area hard. On calm days, use a spook. In rougher water, try a big popper. Heddon Super Spooks, Lonely Angler Zipsters, and Stillwater Smackits are great lures for this time of year. Read More!

Fishing Reports

Every angler I know has lost the biggest fish they ever hooked. Well, at least we think we have. A fish that breaks a line or pulls a hook immediately grows twenty pounds in my mind. It’s in every fisherman’s nature to believe he or she had a shot at a new world record, but it got away. Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost getting caught. I had just that experience a few days ago – you know, a big fish, an epic battle, and a broken line – so I thought it might be interesting to take another look at some of the things we do wrong to make sure we never catch that fish of a lifetime.

It’s big fish season on the Chesapeake Bay. The coldest months of the year are the absolute best times to catch & release striped bass. Stripers are hardier in the winter. They’re more muscular, carry more fat, and are almost guaranteed to survive when properly handled and released. Additionally, winter is a great time to fish the Bay because it’s almost free of boat traffic. Wildlife sightings are more common. Bald eagles are frequent. Sea ducks are everywhere. On cold, clear, calm days colors are more vivid, the water reflects more spectacularly, and we can see things farther away. Some days you can see for miles across the glass where unobstructed views of the horizon make it nearly impossible to tell where the water ends and the blue sky begins. It’s a fantastic time to enjoy the Chesapeake in all it’s winter splendor. It’s beautiful. So, c’mon, you wouldn’t want to spoil all that serenity with the biggest fish of your lifetime, would you?  Here are some sure-fire things you can do to make sure you lose that bad boyRead More!

Fishing Reports

Not long ago we took breaking bluefish and rockfish for granted in the Chesapeake Bay. Unfortunately, times have changed. Since there are a lot fewer fish now, we have to look a lot harder and longer for summer breakers. Granted, it’s easier on some days than it is on others. In my book, Chesapeake Light Tackle, An Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay, I dedicate several pages to methods for locating breaking fish. The best strategy for finding blitzing fish under working birds is to head straight for the closest oyster bar. In my reports, I often mention that I find fish over live, hard bottoms. By that, I mean places where there are active shellfish populations.

I typically plan all my fishing trips so that I keep my boat over as many oyster bars as possible. That includes when I’m just running from one place to another.  For fish to feed on the surface in the Chesapeake Bay they need three primary ingredients. In the book, I abbreviate the formula like this:  C  + B/HB = BF.  That’s current plus bait over hard bottoms equals breaking fish. Read More!

Fishing Reports

I got eelgrass veins and brackish blood, I wrote my name in the tidal mud.”  Daniel Kimbro from the song “Cape Charles.”

Eelgrass – it’s not something we’re used to seeing much in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay.  According to the Maryland DNR website, it’s most likely found in high salinity areas of the Chesapeake Bay, approximately from the Choptank River south to the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Charles and in the smaller coastal bays. Because of poor water quality, bay grasses are at historically low levels, so it’s a little odd that we’re seeing eelgrass farther north than usual this summer. It’s probably a result of high salinity coupled with sustained warmer temperatures – we’ve just come through the warmest twelve consecutive months ever recorded in the United States.  On my StructureScan sonar, eelgrass and its cousin wild celery grass, looks like underwater fields of waving amber grain.  Baitfish hide in it, and rockfish love it.

Read More!

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