Well, howdy boys and girls it’s been another good week of late summer fishing here on the Chesapeake. With a few high pressure systems moving in over the last several days everything seems to be falling more and more into place as water temperatures drop a couple degrees to what they normally would be. With the majority of big stripers still in the northern part of the bay Annapolis and Kent Island anglers have been doing extremely well trolling, jigging, and live lining north of the bridge. Typical locations like the Dumping Grounds, Love Point, Podickory Point, Belvedere Shoals, and Swan Point have all been great places to start looking for fish. As far as a trolling bite goes, most anglers are still running surgical hoses and buck tail tandems with planer boards with exceptional results yielding fish upwards of 36” depending on the right day which for those that aren’t familiar is an absolute phenomenal grade of fish for this late in the summer. While on the subject of hoses, rock hall red and purple have definitely been the better colors over the last week while lime green and glow are still productive. As far as rigging these guys basically just take five feet of leader up to a ball bearing swivel and ten feet of leader from that to a coast lock which will go to your inline weight which will be anywhere from 6-16 ounces depending on how far back off the boards you’d like to run them. As far as the tandems, it’s pretty self-explanatory running your heavy bait with 5 feet of leader and your light bait with 10-15’ depending on your liking. As far as a speed which a lot of guys tend to ask what’s the best speed. The answer is there isn’t an answer. Generally 2.5-3.5 knots is what you are looking for however with tandems I’d say respectively run them a little bit faster and with the hoses you want them to run low and slow so the closer to the bottom and slower the better. We’ve caught fish going as slow as 1.3 knots up to 3 knots so just gage the fish and what you are marking and get a pattern going and roll with it. As far as water depth goes, it has remained fairly consistent with schools of fish in 25-32’ of water and the key this time of year is staying on them. Generally we are picking fish off of schools that are on the move looking for bait and running the shelf lines along whatever water we are fishing and more times than not those fish are going to swim into the tide so if you run through and pick off a couple and lose the fish run up tide until you find them again.
As far as a jig bite goes, this is the time of year light tackle anglers live for. Top water bite, metal jigs, z-man’s, stick baits, essentially from now to the end of October a bass is a bass and you can use just about any lure you think will work and it most likely will. Now the suspended fish the trollers are fishing for are generally going to strike either metal or soft plastics. The only downfall to running plastics this time of year is bluefish which isn’t the end of the world it just means you need to bring a pack of Z-man’s with you which are a very stretchy plastic that a bluefish simply put cannot cut through. So with that in mind sting silvers on the bottom or suspended half ounce jig heads and you got a constant recipe for a bent rod. Obviously, if you see breaking fish along the way you can throw whatever you like in the mix of things and probably catch a fish or two with it. The common belief however that big fish are underneath the breakers is more times than not absolutely wrong. Get down tide of those fish going nuts and fish suspended z-man’s 15’ down and your quality ratio will more often than not go up. Either that or throw a big top water smack it in the middle of things and work it fairly quickly as smaller stripers won’t be able to get hooked as easily. Now the common thing to do this time of year is look for breakers and though that is what we do most of our time run the same contours and edges you would normally find those fish, don’t get carried away looking for a bird show. More times than not its small fish crashing on silversides and if your electronics are reading a school of fish underneath of you and small fish are splashing ¼ mile ahead don’t leave your fish for that.
Moving onto a chum and live lining bite, the live liners have definitely been staying busy at the south end of Belvedere in 25’ of water. Live spot or live perch on a 5/0 circle hook have been the perfect mix to catching a cooler of stripers. As far as where to find the spot, that I couldn’t tell you. Anybody who is catching spot isn’t going to give up a spot but generally hard bottom in 10-15’ with bloodworms or fish bites is a good enough bet and I can promise you for 100% that a striper will take a small white perch just the same as a 6” spot. Spot are not the end all be all to bay fishing, if they were they’d be more wiped out than they already are so keep that in mind when you’re catching bait. The chummers in the same areas have been doing decent but still a lot of small fish on meat while few boats are pulling limits of fish out. Again and I say it every week only because at some point it will sink in, CIRCLE HOOKS. If you really just don’t care about the bay or stripers then take up golf but if you do, grab a pack of circle hooks and cut that mortality rate on undersize fish in half because there is plenty of undersize fish around and many others including myself are tired of seeing them float down the bay. The good news is for chummers, that the grade of keepers they’ve been catching has been good as well as picking up bluefish which can be quite a fight on lighter tackle and the grade of blues this year has been great compared to years past.
Since we’re talking about bluefish, let’s just say it. They are here! Though it seems they are in smaller schools the grade has been phenomenal with anglers pulling in bluefish up to 26”. From the mouth of the chop tank on north to beyond love point there are definitely a mix of solid bluefish for the bay in fact bigger blues than I have seen in years. The good news is you can chum them, you can troll spoons with in line planers, or you can jig and throw top water plugs for them which is a personal favorite. Look for breakers and small gulls diving on silversides because the majority of the time that is where you are going to find these blues. Channel edges, drop offs, ambush points, basically anything where it looks like could be the scene for a silverside slaughter is a good place to look for bluefish. And while most don’t enjoy eating them, the fight alone is enough to entice many anglers including myself. And as far as being edible I’d challenge smoked bluefish to a striper any day of the week so with that in mind, ready the spoons, metal jigs, top water baits, etc. because this fall is going to be filled with bluefish.
Bringing mackerel into the mix, the further south you go the better but they are being caught and some nice ones at that up to 25-26”. Long long leaders and small drone spoons on inline planers are the way to go. Their primary bait of choice is small bay anchovies and silversides so keep that in mind and have at it. The hook, sharps island, false channel, #1 off the west are all good locations to look the Mack attack and just keep that speed from 4-6 knots and you will do just fine.
As far as a perch bite goes, it continues to remain solid with fish showing up back in the creeks as the water temperature drops a few degrees. Spinners, shad darts, jigs, small shrimp flies, etc. are a good way to keep you entertained for the afternoon. As well as the shallows along jetties and docks, boat houses and such the clam and oyster beds are still harboring plenty of jumbo perch as well as the bridge pilings which can be caught on bloodworms, razor clams, soft crabs and so forth. If you want to use artificials on the bridge I’d recommend it however it is a little trickier because of the current and deeper 15-20’ of water. A basic drop shot rig with Berkley gulp surprisingly enough can be the most effective thing out there but if you want to keep it simple, smaller metal jigs can be the way to go for novice anglers.
Other than that, that’s about all I got for you this week guys. Crabbings remained good in the rivers around Annapolis in 5-10’ of water and catfish are still catfish so with that I will bid you adieu. Good luck, god bless, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Tight lines.
Capt. Avedon ;)