After weeks of constant rain, it's an easy call: the Chesapeake and its rivers will be clogged with boaters and anglers off all stripes this holiday weekend. Several species of fish have been caught this week, from black drum off the Choptank and a few hard heads (croakers) on the shell beds off Point Lookout, to a smattering of specks and puppy drum caught in the shallows around the bay islands. Oh, and add a flounder or two. Given that lineup, we don't need a calendar to tell us summer is right around the corner. Closer to home, not surprisingly, rockfish and perch continue to dominate the scene.
Joe from Annapolis, by way of Big Rock Candy Mountain, checked in to report the white perch fishing has been "el fuego" around the Annapolis docks, Naval Academy and Greenbury Point riprap, as well as inshore on Hackett's Point. "It's going to be a big year," he predicts.
At Fishbones, Bud also said the white perch action has been very good, though he named the creeks and mouth of the Magothy River as go-to spots. Use bits of bloodworm or cast beetle-spin style lures or similar spinnerbaits. "Chumming (for stripers) is phenomenal," he said, suggesting you try Podicory Point, Love Point and Hackett's Point. He said he hasn't heard of anyone catching crabs in the upper bay and that "concerns me."
Fishing out of Kenmore Marina, Capt. Jeff Eichler on Southpaw says the striper fishing has been good on the western edge of the shipping channel. He has downsized his lures to baits to 6 and 7 inches.
"Bucktails, umbrellas and BFG lures are working. Look for bait, 40- to 60-feet deep. Look for feeding birds. Vary lure depth to see what works" he suggests. "Some nice rockfish out there."
The Eastern Bay jigging and topwater action ranged from good to great in recent days. According to Capt. Allan Feikin, "Eastern Bay was fishing well last week. Caught stripers up to 32 inches. There was plenty of top water action."
Same goes for pro guide Richie Gaines, who reports striper fishing "was excellent most of the week with good numbers of larger fish. They are suspended in small schools at 10 to 20 feet over 30- to 35-feet of water. The bite did slow on Sunday but this could have been weather related or due to a dozen charter boats running diesels overtop the fish."
On the charter boat Tuna the Tide, Capt. Mark Galasso also said fishing has been good at the mouth of the Eastern Bay. He reminds folks the tributaries, including Eastern Bay, don't open until June 1, so it's strictly catch-and-release in Eastern Bay until them. Check the DNR online map for the exact boundary line — basically from the southern tip of Kent Island across the mouth of Eastern Bay to the microwave tower over by Wades Point.
"No excuses if you have fish in the box and are caught fishing above the line. That being said we've been catching good numbers of rockfish both jigging and trolling," he added. "Some of the bigger fish have large white perch in their bellies. Also getting reports of fish around the Hill and down below (buoy) 83."
Across the Chesapeake, Capt. Jeff Popp, fishing out of the West River aboard his charter boat Vista Lady, says the striper fishing remains really good, "straight out West River in 25 to 50 feet of water." He said the bigger grade of rock have been found on the western side of the channel, and "we usually troll tandems (bucktails and parachutes) with inlines (sinkers) till we find good marks. Then we switch to jigging."
LJ from G-Eye Jigs says "in the middle Chesapeake Bay right now there is a good morning bite whether you want to throw topwater plugs in shallow water or pitch jigs on structure. Rockfish is the name of the game right now but the temperatures are warming up and we will start to see croaker, spot and bluefish soon." He added Mike Macella landed a nice 34-inch rock using a one-ounce G-Eye Jig with a 5-inch Bust Em Bait.
Also fishing out of the Chesapeake Beach, Capt. Randy Dean of Bay Hunter Charters said the fleet has been doing well on rock, and even though you should expect to find undersized rock, put in the time and you should get your keepers.
"A few black drum on the Stone Rock and James (were) caught this week. No sign of spot yet," he adds. Capt.
Shawn Gibson on Wound Tight sent me a couple photos of nice drums in the 50-pound class that his clients caught this week.
The flounder bite is on in the coastal bays. A few friends have made the trek and came back with prime fillets. When he's not seaside, Capt. Walt reports the striper fishing near Tangier Island in the Chesapeake has been good, and they also caught a legal flounder in same location. "Could be a sign of (good) things to come — flounder, specks, and reds," he added.
Also don't forget that the striped bass regs have changed for the Atlantic, its coastal bays, and their tributaries, effective June 1. Per DNR: "A person may not take or possess more than two striped bass per day from State waters of the Atlantic Ocean, its coastal bays, and their tributaries. The striped bass must be between 28 inches and 38 inches, inclusive, or greater than or equal to 44 inches. All other rules remain the same."
As you, your family and friends enjoy this Memorial Day weekend, be safe on the water. And join me in thanking our veterans and active military men and women for their service.
Photos and outdoors calendar listings to email@example.com.
May 28-29: 7th annual Marlin Club Bluefish Tournament, Ocean City. Weigh-in at Sunset Marina. Register at 410-213-1613 or ocmarlinclub.com.
May 28: Maryland Boating Safety Course, Tri-State Marine, 5861 Deale/Churchton Road, Deale, 9 a.m.-3p.m. Costs $25. Contact Lynn Fountain at 410-570-5478 or cgaux.org.
June 1: MSSA Kent Island #7 Chapter Meeting, American Legion Hall #278, 800 Romancoke Rd, Stevensville at 7:30p.m. Details at kifishermen.org.
June 4: Maryland "Free Fishing Day." No license required, all creel and size limits, as well as other restrictions, apply. Visit DNR website for details.
June 4: CCA Kent Narrow's Light Tackle & Kayak Fishing Tournament. Register at ccamd.org.
June 10-12: Maryland Watermen's Association 21st annual Pro-Am Rockfish Tournament at Rock Hall. Call 410-216-6610 or click marylandwatermen.com.
June 11: Maryland "Free Fishing Day." No license required, all creel and size limits, as well as other restrictions, apply. Visit DNR website for details.
June 11: CCA Central Region Chapter & Piney Run Park & Nature Center's "Youth Fishing Derby." Fishing tackle prizes, trophies, and the casting contest. To volunteer email firstname.lastname@example.org
June 12: Annapolis Decoy Show, Annapolis Elks Lodge #622, 2517 Solomons Island Road, Edgewater, 10am-4pm. Free Admision. Call 703-912-2949 for details.
June 13: Pasadena Sportfishing Group Meeting, Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company, 161 Ritchie Hwy, Severna Park at 7:30 p.m. Info at pasadenasportfishing.com
June 15: MSSA Annapolis #1 Chapter Meeting, American Legion Post #7, 1905 Crownsville Road, Crownsville at 7 p.m. Info at mssaannapolis.com.
June 17-19: MSSA's 27th annual Tuna-ment. Visit mssa.net.
June 20: MSSA Broadneck/Magothy #10 Chapter Meeting, American Legion Post #175, 832 Manhattan Beach Rd, Severna Park at 7:30 p.m. 410-757-9070.