Another weekend in the books fishing the Chesapeake Bay by boat. Saturday saw myself, a coworker, and his 10 year old fishing the Patuxent River, bottom fishing for croaker and spot near St. Leonard Creek and the mouth of Cuckhold Creek. Fishing was surprisingly poor compared to past years, with only one caught spot and a few taps from fish. The tide was coming in, and we were using size 8 hooks, bottom rigs, and fish bites blood worms and EZ crab baits. Last year at this time, I was easily finding 20-30 croaker and spot in a few hour trip.
With the bottom fishing a bust, I took my crew to find the mass of juvenile striped bass that had been hanging around Point Patience. My coworker’s son had a fantastic time, catching fish after fish on 1/4 oz jigs. Despite coaching him on how to cast and retrieve a lure, he found a better way to catch these fish: Sticking his rod into the water tip-down, and wiggling it around, with the lure 6 inches from the tip. The fish would swim to the boat and attack the jig. While I found that surprising, he found that they would do the same thing while I was driving the boat to position us for another drift! I have seen bluefish become this voracious and competitive, but was surprised by the bass.
We then headed to Hog Point to fish the flats near the marsh, and found more small striped bass and perch. These fish were picky, and would not take poppers, small jigs, flies, or plugs. We did get lucky, and a pod of 1-2 lb bluefish started crashing bait, and I managed to catch one before they disappeared.
We finished our day on the Patuxent in Cuckhold Creek, catching 14″ striped bass and white perch along the grass shorelines.
The next day found a close friend and I heading south to the Middle Grounds, looking to sight cast to Cobia and find breaking schools of Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel. The weather was excellent, slick calm at times. We hit multiple buoys on our way South, and spent time on the target ship the “American Mariner”. The weather was perfect, and the water was clean and clear. The target ship seemed devoid of life – surprising considering the size of the structure. We did see some cownose rays, and a few small schools of baitfish, but no striped bass, trout, drum, or cobia. We left the target ship after fishing it hard with jigs and my 10 wt, dredging large flies along the side of the hull.
A short run later, we were in the Middle Grounds, slowing cruising near the chummers hoping for cobia and bluefish. I kept my eyes peeled for the cobes but none showed, nor did any bluefish. After 30 minutes of silence and calm, we left to begin the trek back north to Solomons, but spotted a few splashes to our east. I ran over and found a pod of bluefish smashing anchovies on the surface. We quickly cast into the fray with flies and jigs and hooked up to nice 2 lb bluefish. We repeated this for the next hour, sitting quietly when the pods submerged, waiting until they popped back up, and running over to deliver accurate casts before they re-submerged. In some cases, the fish stayed with the boat, allowing us to catch multiple fish. Always good to cut your motor when doing this kind of fishing.
While the fishing was tough, we were able to make the best of it. Things should only improve as summer turns into fall – my favorite time of year on the bay.