Chesapeake Bay

by Chris McCotter

  Continued warm weather in will keep water temperatures rising for Chesapeake Bay gamefish. Main Bay surface water temperatures had risen to the upper 60s by the end of May. Expect 70’s this month.

Middle Bay

   The long-awaited summer striped bass season is finally underway and recreational anglers can enjoy fishing for keepers that are 19 inches to 31 inches in length. Fishing will pick up when calmer wind conditions arrive. 

  Jigging is a great way to fish for striped bass and anglers will be seen checking out channel edges, steep drop-offs, and similar structure. Thomas Point is often a great place to start looking. Most are using soft plastic jigs in various colors but shades of chartreuse are one of the most popular colors. Metal jigs in the form sting silver and Crippled Herring type lures are being used. 

  Trolling is a popular option in traditional locations along the edges of the shipping channel. Popular choices for trolling are umbrella rigs with bucktails or swim shads as trailers, or bucktails rigged in tandem. All rigs will need some weight where the striped bass are suspended deep. Spoons can also be a productive choice when rigged behind inline weights or planers.

Lower Bay

   Happy times are here for lower bay anglers who love to fish for striped bass, as the minimum size is now reduced to 19 inches in Maryland waters, with a coastwide maximum of 31 inches for all Atlantic states. Jigging is a favored method of fishing and striped bass will be found along channel edges, drop-offs, points, and the mouths of the region’s tidal rivers. The cuts through Hoopers Island are always a great place to cast across current and jig in the walk-the-dog fashion using soft plastic jigs or bucktails dressed with a soft plastic curly tail. This is one of the spots where you never know what will strike – a striped bass, speckled trout, red drum, or perhaps a flounder.

  The Cedar Point rocks is another favored spot for casting topwater lures, paddletails, and jerkbaits up close to the rocks in the early morning or evening hours, and work soft plastic jigs in the deeper waters during the day. The Calvert Cliffs Power Plant warm water discharge is another popular location to drift and jig close to the bottom with a variety of jigs. 

  Trolling is a popular option, especially on the larger boats, and they will be pulling a variety of setups. Planers and inline weights can be used to get spoons down to where the fish are holding. Tandem-rigged bucktails and swim shads are popular behind inline weights, and finally there are the umbrella rigs that are a lot to reel in but it works out fine when there is a striped bass hooked on the trailer. Swim shads and bucktails are common trailers. 

  The lower Potomac River offers plenty of good striped bass fishing; the tidal Potomac has the bonus of anglers being able to keep two striped bass per day if they measure 20 inches to 31 inches. 

  Some anglers will be chunking or chumming at favorite locations and in many areas will have their hands full with blue catfish being attracted to their chum slicks or drifting chunks of cut bait. Drifting peeler or soft crab baits along channel edges and the mouths of creeks flowing into Tangier and Pocomoke sounds is a very productive way to target striped bass and speckled trout. A few black drum have been caught in the area and red drum will arrive soon. 

  Capt. Kevin Salmon invites you to contact him about your trip dates as he gets booked up quickly. He specializes in big cobia and bull red drum from Virginia beach up to the Maryland line. Flounder, spadefish, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and bottom fish trips are also available. He departs from Deltaville on a 27’ Maycraft pilot house with full cobia tower.

  Anglers wanted to find out what fish are in the lower James River should stop by G’Daddy’s Bait & Tackle. This shop supplies that region’s anglers and is a good resource to contact when planning a fishing trip to the James River pier.

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