Well, as many of you know, this weekend kicked off the 2016 striped bass season and what an eventful weekend it was. Plenty of big fish were caught all over the place. The annual Boatyard catch and release tournament yielded plenty of good fish including the winning fish at 46 and some change. Along with plenty of fish being caught there was plenty of boats that were not. my guys and I headed out Saturday morning and did fairly well catching 6 fish with two short strikes early in the morning and ending the day with 5 yesterday ranging from 38-43” and much of the reports of fish caught I’m hearing are the same. I’ve heard of very few “unders” being caught amongst the fleet which is a good thing! Bad news is the majority of fish being caught are pre-spawn which is not what many like to see but what can you do. I can encourage catch and release as much as the next guy but in reality, most people will box the fish regardless.
As far as hotspots go, love point has been exceptionally well from there down to the dumping grounds in 25-45’ of water. On the western side just below the bridge has been decent yielding bigger fish from the reports I’ve gotten but a lot less in numbers. Moving south down to Deale and Chesapeake beach, the western ledge in 35-45’ of water has been steady but mostly an early morning bite and then shutting off around 9 or 10 o clock. The CR Buoy has been pretty productive yielding good numbers of fish as well.
A lot of people have called and talked in here at the shop about what color, what bait, what head, and to be hones it’s a conglomerate of a lot of things. Saturday, we had a lot of fish on white umbrellas with a few on white tandems 8-9 bars back on the boards and then Sunday it was daisy chains all day 130’ back on the boards, so the best thing I can tell you to do is to put everything but the kitchen sink out, space them evenly as pretty as you can, and once you find a pattern that is working for you, stick to that pattern and roll with it. Boat speed was doing good even as slow as 2.3 Saturday and then on Sunday we were cranking a hair over 3 into the tide and started catching so don’t be afraid to tweak and try different things because again, once you find the pattern you’ll find the fish I promise you.
As far as a light tackle bite goes, the warm water discharges as well as the bridge are still producing solid fish up to keeper size but not many overs. The ol’ 10” BKD and a 1.5 ounce jig head is a favorite, color wise you can’t go wrong with chartreuse, opening night, white, you know the drill. Chumming has been exceptionally well the last two days barring the tide stays running the way they say it’s supposed to. 33-38’ of water on the ledges around Hackett’s, Tolly’s, Podickory, and even Love Point have produced some fish pushing 45” and pretty consistently since the opener. Fish finder rigs and some bunker on a 6/0 circle hook are the way to go. You can chum if you like, but to be honest chunking can be much more effective, especially suspending a few baits in the top current 60’ back off the boat on a release bobber rig.
On the lighter side of things, American shad are showing up in the midst of the hickory run in DC as well as the upper chop tank and Tuckahoe rivers and most other tributaries up and down the bay. Shad darts and small spoons have been a recipe for a sore arm over the last few weeks as well as small shad flies on a 5 weight. The white perch spawn run is for the most part over, however people are still catching some in holes downriver catching them on the way out and so forth on grass shrimp, shad darts, some on spinners along with spoons. The pickerel fishing has been fair in the rivers primarily on x-raps and ¼ ounce spinners up along the grass beds and rock jetties. Short of that, that’s all I know folks. In the meantime, as usual stay safe, have fun, and tight lines.