I tell you folks what. I’m not quite sure what we did to deserve it but this may be the best year of Striper fishing I have seen and the entire month of June has been absolutely on fire. Trolling, jigging, and chumming have all been the keys to success here on the home front putting numerous keepers “over the rail and under the lid”. It seems like most of these fish have congregated along the western side of the channel from Green #1 at the mouth of the west River all the way up to Seven Foot Knoll. Yes that is a large area but the beauty of it is that these fish are not just at Podickory Point(which is where it seems everybody and their brother wants to set up shop). There is beyond a good number of bait around as far as menhaden goes and we have been experiencing large schools of breaking fish which though it may seem unusual this early is certainly one hell of a sight watching 30 plus inch fish chase down a 10” bunker on top of the water. We are also seeing good numbers of peanut bunker and silversides moving up the bay which means bluefish are behind them and we will get to that in a minute. As far as a trolling bite goes, it has been exceptionally well running rock hall red hoses about 5 bars back off the boards as well as hard head custom baits tandem parachutes in either green or white. The good news is although these have been catching mostly bigger (overs) fish you can run 5 boat rods and get it done on umbrellas if you find the right school of feeding Stripers and many days that’s all we will run. Key things we are looking for this time of year seems to be suspended fish over ledges in anywhere from 15-60’ of water. Yes, that’s a broad spectrum but look at your chart and figure it out. Hackett’s, Tolly’s, Gum Thickets, Love point, Podickory Point, Baltimore Light are all good places to look and do some investigating. The one thing I have to say is don’t go to the same spot you were at yesterday and set the whole spread out. Do yourself a favor before you drop the first line over and that favor would be look at your electronics. The advancements in modern electronics were made for a reason. If you putt around at 5 or 6 knots and aren’t marking much but a few bait balls or if it looks like a ghost town move onto the next location. (i.e. Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, etc.) the good news is most of these schools have not been small so it will not be a secret when you do finally get on them.
As far as chumming goes, it has been phenomenal if you can deal with the rays and yes there are a plenty. Having said that, 1” steaks of bunker and gut balls and even clams on fish finder rigs have been a recipe for success anywhere along mud flats as shallow as 15’ of water out to 35’ on a good flood or ebb tide. I can’t stress enough as long as you have moving tide you will have a good shot at hooking up barring you are in the right area. As far as a jig bite goes, it has been red hot!!! Finding breaking fish north and south of the bridge, jigging pilings along the bridge, and making drifts along edges has been extremely productive yielding fish up to 38” so grab your bass assassins and BKD’s on half ounce and three quarters ounce jig heads and get out there. I can personally say I have never had as many consistent 100 fish days as I have this June with as many as 20 plus fish released over 30” in a morning. As far as a general bite goes across the board it seems to be better in the morning from 6:30-10 and picking back up in the afternoon around 5 or so until dark but that is subject to change at any given day and tidal conditions. As far as a top water bite goes, although it is not on fire as most of the bait is out deeper we are picking up fish on top in the shallows so grab your smack-its and Zara spooks and get after it on points, jetties, docks, and such in the early morning late evening. Although we are yielding lots of undersize fish on top we are still able to pick at keepers up to 25” so keep with it until you find the grade!
As far as bluefish go, we are hearing of reports in the Choptank and further south down below Chesapeake Beach breaking on silversides and peanut bunker so keep calm, these fish will be here at some point and from what I am hearing there is a very good grade of blues we haven’t had in the bay in years up to 28”. For those who have not experienced the fight of an 8-10 pound bluefish, it will crush a striper pound for pound any day and no that does not mean you have to use wire leader. Heavy mono, 30 and 40 pound as the leader will serve just fine running ounce and a half spoons or ¾ ounce jig heads with the “bluefish proof” Z-man plastics. The good news about bluefish is they often break on bait on the surface and can be relatively easy to find however it’s a catch 22. These are fast moving fish so often times we will chase these fish miles in a day trying to stay on top of them. Not to fear though, if you can catch them on a jig you can troll for them as well so grab your in-line planers and drone spoons, crank the boat speed up to 6 knots and have at it. Typical places we look for them are on the eastern side of the channel along ledges where it would be easy to ambush bait. If you can find those little areas where it looks just “fishy” enough to hold them odds are they will be there at some point and worst case scenario there are probably some stripers in the mix.
Going on to a perch bite, the creeks are loaded up! Take your spinners out, take your shad darts out or even bottom rig and bloodworm deals and go have some fun. The grade of perch has been extremely good this year for whatever reason and we are seeing a lot of citation fish here at the shop up to 14” so keep at it. I can promise these are the best eating fish in the bay so if you are looking for a fish fry break out the ultra-lights and some of your favorite perch catching devices and go nuts. Unfortunately for all you live liners out there, the spot have not shown up at all, however the Norfolk crowd is starting to see a few down by the bridge tunnel so with any luck at all we should be seeing them at some point and if not, looks like you have to learn how to jig!!! As far as a croaker bite goes, hard bottom oyster and clam beds around the mouth of the Severn have been productive as far as catching croakers but the grade is just not there. Why, I could not tell you but hopefully some bigger fish will start to show up if these spot will ever make it up here. It’s been too many years since we had a good grade of croaker so hang in there all of you croaker strokers!
And in other news catfish are still catfish so go get yourself some! By the way, crabbing has been excellent in the Magothy, Severn, and South River so break out the trotline or traps and/or handlines and go have some fun in some rich Maryland tradition. Bait wise chicken necks are always good but razor clams have been the hot ticket which we have plenty of in the shop so come get yourself some! That’s all I got for you this week guys, have fun, stay safe, and tight lines.
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