When I started dating my wife, I spent a considerable amount of time driving back and forth on Interstate 81 between Knoxville, Tennessee and Washington, DC. If you’ve ever driven that stretch of highway, you know that it can be miserable at times due to heavy traffic. I didn’t have to sit through very many traffic jams before I figured out some alternate routes. Highway 11, also known as Lee Highway, was the primary north-south artery along the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains through the Shenandoah Valley long before the interstate was built. I soon realized that, even on the heaviest traffic days, it’s possible to jump off onto 11 and ride for jam-free miles through some of the most scenic country in the region. Before long, I started picking out segments of Lee Highway to drive along even when traffic wasn’t backed up on the interstate.
Since I have family and property in Tennessee, I continue to make that trip often and I still plan these panoramic diversions into my travel. Sometimes my ventures off the main road last only for an exit or two, but on some trips, I’ll drive for miles though the beautiful scenery and quaint communities of the Shenandoah. I look at these Lee Highway detours like they are mini-vacations from the usual hustle and bustle of the main thoroughfare. As a result, I’ve made some interesting discoveries. For example, did you know there is a full-size replica of Stonehenge made entirely out of styrofoam near Natural Bridge, Virginia, or that you can still get a delicious burger at the restaurant where Hank Williams ate his last meal in Bristol? Read More!
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!
Lights! Action! Intensity! Get those video camera’s rolling. It’s time for adrenaline pumping surface action along the rocky shorelines and the grassy points of the Chesapeake Bay. The top-water bite is on! I’ve written a lot about where and when to cast top-water lures, but I haven’t said too much about choosing a good fishing rod for surface feeding stripers. Let’s fix that. Here are six tips for choosing the right top-water rod.
1. Spin It To Win It – Since it’s often windy on the Bay and surface lures are light and not very aerodynamic, I prefer a spinning outfit for top-water casting. There’s a trade off because casting rods are more accurate, but there’s nothing more frustrating than having to stop to pick out a backlash, especially while you’re drifting quickly past fish-holding cover. If need be, you can increase your accuracy with a spinning outfit by adding micro-guides, but standard guides work fine. Reduce your margin for error and go with the sissy stick. Read More!
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!
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!
I’ve been lying low over the past couple of weeks waiting out the craziness. Most of my fishing has been in out-of-the-way places far from the madding crowds. Radios blaring, airplanes buzzing, stereos thumping, outboards droning, helicopters whirring, sirens wailing - Wow! Boat shows, trolling tournaments, and sailing regattas make the main stem of the Chesapeake very noisy. The Bay is fully awake from her winter slumber and the crowds are back in force. While we each enjoy the water in our preferred ways, to my thinking fishing should include elements of solitude and stealth. I’ve mentioned before that I’d rather pick up aluminum cans at rush hour along I-95 than try to pick off rockfish in the main channel on a busy trolling weekend. I prefer to look off the beaten path for places where I can tune-in to something a little more pleasing than the clamorous dissonance of the masses.
Since the striped bass spawn is winding down on the Chesapeake Bay, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some post-spawn patterns. When stripers come off the spawning grounds, they’re usually hungry. If you can find them, they’re pretty easy to catch. Ah, but finding them, there’s the rub. Where should you look? Read More!