Howdy guys and gals, it’s been another exciting week of fishing here on the Chesapeake. While some have retained whatever horseshoe they possess to catch limits most of the reports are sad to say a lack of a troll bite and big post spawn fish on the way out as we near the summer split of striper season on Monday the 16th. We have had a very unique, yet inconsistent trophy season with most keepers being caught over 40” however, the patterns of these fish has been a hard one to read as far as trolling goes. The morning bite has still been fair to midland around bloody point on north to Brickhouse, Thomas, and Hackett’s point in 55-60’ of water but I am also hearing reports of a dead bite or no bite at all regardless of depth. The amount of undersized fish is astonishing from 30-40’ of water which normally would be a disappointment but having said that, as summer season approaches it is a sure sign of good things to come. As far as any particular baits, speeds, colors, there really has not been one lure that seems to be more effective than the next but rather a right place right time mentality with tandems, singles, and umbrellas in chartreuse, white, and purple all yielding fish of some sorts barring you clear lines from winter jellies which are still heavily prevalent around the Annapolis area as the cold fronts which have lingered have not dissipated the jellies which to be honest can make for a heck of a sore arm after clearing lines all morning. The best thing I can tell you guys to do if you still want to catch a trophy striper before they are all gone is either A: set out as many rod and lure/color combinations as you can to cover the water column, run south even as far as Hooper’s island or even as far as Point Lookout and make sure you clear lines as often as every hour and god forbid you find a pattern or consistency stay with it because you may have found a pot of gold… or B: just break out the spinning rods, save some gas money and chum.
As far as chumming goes, anglers have been extremely successful off the main points in the rivers this season (Hackett’s, Tolly’s, Dolly’s, Podickory, Baltimore light, Love point, Thomas point, the Hill, etc.) in 32-36’ of water on an incoming tide using cut bunker on 6/0 circle hooks. Though few keepers are being caught, it seems to be way more consistent than the troll bite and not only that but getting to fight 30 plus inch fish on spinning tackle which is about as exciting as it gets. Using no more than 2 ounces of weight on a fish finder rig and a circle hook is probably one of the most simplistic ways to fish stripers as it is just a weight, bait, and a hook, but when finicky fish don’t want to hit parachutes and umbrellas why not! The old saying is if the shoe fits, wear it so grab your shoe and slip it on and anchor up and go catch some stripers in the chum slick.
As far as a light tackle bite goes, the water temperature is still pretty cold for what it normally is but having said that the jig bite around structure remains solid catching a decent grade of fish up to 25” on 5-7” bass assassins and Bust ‘em Baits on half-3/4 ounce jig heads primarily in bright patterns like chartreuse, white, and even ol’ pinky. Believe it or not there are several areas on the bay front I’ve heard reports of people catching a few fish on top water baits like smack-its in the last half hour of light along with Zara spooks which though it may be early to most, as long as the water temperature is there and bait fish are prevalent there is not a reason in the world it cannot be done. Though most top water fish I am hearing of are in the neighborhood of 20-23” bigger fish are possible, and lets be real. NOTHING beats a top water strike so look for the jetties and shoreline where you would typically find some menhaden or bull minnows and toss some top water lures in at the end of the day when nothing else is going on, you might be pleasantly surprised!
Moving along to the infamous white perch, we are hearing more and more reports of big black backs showing up in the shallows and rivers along docks in 6-10’ of water primarily being caught on shad darts, minnows, shrimp, and night crawlers. Although it is a little early for fish to be in full force taking spinners, anglers are finding plenty of fish in the 8-11” range, at least enough to make a fish fry which by the way SPOILER ALERT (white perch may just be the best eating fish in the bay) so break out the light action rods, grab yourself some darts and some Berkley gulp or fresh bait and get after it. Surprisingly enough the bridge pilings are holding plenty of big black backs in 15-25’ of water BUT the Severn River with Round Bay in particular has been holding serious numbers of perch on the oyster beds which though it may be deep (23-28’) can be brought up on a drop shot rig with 3” Berkley gulp flukes or the all famous 2 ounce sting silver vertical jigging on the oysters. Either way, it’s been one heck of a spring and for the perch fisherman you definitely have some options even though the weather hasn’t been cooperating the way we would hope.
Changing over to one of my personal favorite fish to catch….Hickory shad. Still catching the poor man’s tarpon has been an absolute blast this year and though the run may be winding down it is in no way shape or form over especially in the Tuckahoe and Chop Tank. I fished the upper Chop Tank on Sunday and saw more spawning activity from shad than I have seen in all of my previous outings and with the help of the all famous shad dart and a Nungesser spoon we were able to catch 50 an hour which oh by the way, is some of the most fun a grown adult can have with their clothes on I promise you. All you are essentially looking for in regards to shad is the relatively deep pools and eddies in the upper reaches of rivers they traditionally spawn in (Chop Tank, Tuckahoe, Potomac, Patuxent, Chester, Northeast, etc.) and work shad darts and spoons. The actual fishing part is easy. No bait, no crazy retrieves, just a simple slow and steady work through the current until a shad decides to strike your lure. The remarkable part about these fish is they are not aggressive in nature as they are a filter feeder unless its spawning time in which case they are extremely aggressive and 99.9% of the bites you get are pure reactionary bites so grab your 6 pound outfits or 5 weight fly rods, a few darts, head to the river, and go have some fun.
Moving over to catfish, they are still being caught and will likely continue to be caught unless they happen to catch the plague or something of that nature. Look for mud bottom, slow current and a good tide using anything from chicken livers to night crawlers to fresh cut alewives all along the rivers (Chester, Chop Tank, Magothy, Severn, etc.) depth is not of real concern as they scavenge the bottom throughout the scape of the rivers so if you feel like having some fresh fried channel catfish or just want to waste a couple of hours and catch some good old fashioned whisker fish grab a medium action rod and a 6 pack, kick back on the river bank and have some fun.
In regards to crabs, although the water temperature is still funky due to the unusually cold spring we’ve had crabs ARE, I repeat ARE being caught in the rivers around Annapolis (Severn, South, and Magothy) in traps and pots and although not a lot of huge numbers but most definitely enough to make it worth it to bait up a few traps/pots and see what happens. I have not had any reports yet of trot liners doing any good but regardless it is time, honestly I would just start a little deeper in 11-13’ of water with traps and barring the unforeseen, if you start catching some good jimmy’s go ahead and drop the trot line and have at it. It looks to be one heck of a good year for crabbing with the reports we’ve got from the Chop tank south so it’s only a matter of time before it’s off the chain up here.
Well, that is about all I have for you this week guys, good luck, god bless, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, and as usual tight lines.