It’s been another exciting weekend here on the bay. Trolling, chumming, and jigging are still an effective means to catch keeper stripers. The bite has been good north of the bridge but is also picking up heavy south of the bridge all the way down to the Hook and Chesapeake Beach. As far as a troll bite tandems and umbrellas mainly chartreuse and white along with pulling surgical hoses in rock hall red which have been yielding fewer but bigger fish. Most of the guys seem to be working the ledges in 20-40’ of water along with suspended fish around bait out in the main channel of the bay in 50-80’ of water. Along with that spoons have been producing such as Tony Acetta’s and Drone spoons on planers sizes 1-3. The bite has definitely been slowing down on the troll but still steady picking at fish so just find the school and keep after it until you figure out the pattern and roll with it. Some days you don’t have to run the boards but some days its needed to add to the spread so play around with it, do some investigating on your chart and look for the bait. If the bait is there, there will be feeding stripers around them.
Chumming wise has still been steady consistent from Podickory, Sandy, and Hackett’s Point in 15-30’ of water on a good tide. Whether an ebb or a flood tide is better, don’t ask it’s been good across the board as long as there is good steady current keeping lines in order off the back of the boat. A gallon of chum and a few bags of bunker is a surefire recipe to catch some fish but having said that, be mindful of the rays. There has been an astronomical amount of cow nosed rays around and they absolutely love to wreak havoc on a chum spread so if you get covered up with them you have one of two options. Wait until they move through or pick the spread up and move around until you find an area with less rays to worry about. Another point I would like to add in there that most of you will not listen to but should is please use circle hooks if you are chumming. There are A LOT of undersize (16-19”) fish that don’t know any better than to inhale a j-hook and perpetually kill themselves as we can’t keep them. I have seen a lot of dead undersize fish floating around the bay and I would bet my top dollar j-hooks down the throat are the culprit. It will save you a lot of time ripping a 5/0 Mustad out of their gullet and prolong a sustainable fishery for years to come so give it a shot. Gamakatsu makes a great circle hook in 5/0 and they will not kill nearly as many undersize fish as a regular J hook.
As far as a jig bite goes, fishing remains to be keeping up with any live bait fishermen. ½ to ¾ ounce jig heads with 5-7” plastics are the way to go while our primary baitfish is still menhaden although we are starting to see silversides and peanut bunker further south from Thomas point south. As far as color goes I’ll be honest with you. I personally like natural colors especially as clear as the water has been this year but I am not convinced one color is better than another. I had a few trips this week where I was using a natural colored bass assassin and a buddy of mine was using pink, and another buddy of mine was using chartreuse and we were all catching about the same quantity and quality of fish so the best advice I can give to you is go with a color your confident in. it is truly surprising how much of a difference it makes when you are jigging something you know in your gut will work. Another thing to add to that is scented baits. I was not a big believer in scented plastic dips and scented gulp plastics but over the last several weeks and seeing the difference it can make when the bite is slow I am a believer for sure. Although stripers are opportunistic in nature and can’t turn down a good meal it can be all the difference in the world to have a little bit of scent so try out some Berkley Gulp jerk shads and Spike-It Garlic dip, at the very least and it doesn’t make a big difference it will never hurt you I promise. Another thing I’ve been seeing giving anglers a little bit more of an edge is plastic haired skirts they are running on the jig heads to give their baits a bigger profile which if you are truly targeting big summertime stripers might be the go to move to keep away all the undersize stripers. As far as where to jig most of you won’t like my answer but I’ll say it anyway. ANYWHERE. Any place there is bait there will be something not too far from it, this past week we have caught fish as shallow as 4 feet of water and as deep on suspended fish as 50’. The best thing I can tell you to do along the mid bay is make a cocktail, look at your chart, try and figure out a couple options as far as what you want to do and follow through with the plan. Most of what we have been doing is making long drifts along edges if the current is right and picking at suspended fish 10-15 feet down but the shoreline bite has been picking up as well with definitely more than a few keepers up tight to jetties and rock walls and bridge pilings and such. This time of year is a good time to practice jigging and light tackle fishing before fall gets here with a lot of bigger fish so if nothing else get out to the bridge and the pipeline and work some structure and figure out the swing of things or run out to any ledge from the mouth of the Magothy down to the south river and trust your electronics, find the bait, and make it happen.
Bluefish are showing up folks. Not in big numbers up the bay around Annapolis but they are around and while some frown at that a lot of people including myself do not. bluefish can be some of the hardest fighting fish in the bay given the right grade of fish and there have been numerous reports of bigger than normal blues in the bay up to 8-10 pounds. Granted these are reports but the thought is still mind blowing as we haven’t had a grade of blues like that in years. Spoons, metal jigs, z-man stretchy plastics on jig heads and top water plugs are a go to with heavier mono leader (30-40 pound). Primary areas we have been seeing them are from Thomas point south to the Hook below Poplar along both sides of the channel breaking on peanut bunker and silversides mainly on ledges in 15-25’ of water. If you want to get them on the troll that is perfectly fine just break out the planers and drone spoons and crank up to 4-5 knots and go after it. Bluefish are often very fast moving fish to begin with so it can be challenging staying on them all morning, just remember if they come up and are breaking on fish they most likely will be moving with the current so just keep that in mind. We have chased breakers up to 5 miles before if the current is really strong so stick with them and if the fish are not breaking just check ledges and use your electronics, the wild grounds, Thomas point, 86, and number 1 have all had reports of bluefish so relax, stay calm, they will be here thick within a few weeks if I was a betting man.
Unfortunately, no spot and hardly any croakers along the bay. Reports from Virginia Beach indicate just a few spot showing up down at the mouth of the bay so I would have to think it might be until July until we start seeing a few if any. As far as croakers go people are catching them around Annapolis but not many and certainly not a big grade of fish. The few reports of croakers I have had have come from the mouth of the Severn on hard bottom and a big one is 11” so bear with mother nature, it’s only a waiting game until we start seeing big croakers in the bay again. Having said that the perch fishing has been unreal this year so break out the ultra-lights and the Jon boat and get after it in the rivers. 3-6’ of water and a little bit of structure and you are in business with a Perch Pounder or a Rooster Tail or whatever kind of spinner you prefer.
As far as crabbing around the mid-bay goes it has been exceptionally good and remains to be while razor clams in bait bags on trot lines seem to be the ticket. Most of the crabs have moved up pretty shallow so the hand liners have been doing pretty well as well as trappers and trotliners in 4-8’ of water along a good ledge so get it while its hot ladies and gents! In other news, there is a pile of rays out there so grab the bows and harpoons and go have some fun, same goes for snake heads down along the Potomac and in Dorchester. And as always, yes there are catfish so grab some chicken livers from the store and a 6 pack and go getchu some! That’s all I got for you this week guys, good luck, god bless, and as always tight lines!