After being busy throughout September (and fishing other places of course), I went out to fish the Chesapeake this past weekend on my boat. With my dad and uncle (who taught me how to fly fish in the first place), we headed out of Solomons, MD. The forecast was both good and bad – calm winds, but steady rain all day.
We fished the mouth of the Patuxent River, and found some sub-legal striped bass under an oil slick (caused by thousands of fish shitting and/or chomping down on menhaden and anchovies). The fish were in 30′ of water, and holding throughout the water column. After a couple good drifts, we had trouble relocating the school, and headed north to look for a better grade of fish. The Little Choptank had provided great breaking fish from spring to the present, but the heavy rains and fog made finding birds and blitzing fish difficult. We decided to head in close to a few islands at the mouth of the river, and found steady success on dozens of striped bass to 14″ massed near structure. We took these fish on fly and spin, a fish every cast for 30 minutes. We tried a few other locations around the island, picking up a few more small striped bass and a large blowfish (essentially a puffer fish). With salinity high in the bay this year, this was a very cool thing to see.
After failing to find bigger fish in the shallows, and with difficulty finding breaking fish in the middle bay fog, we headed back to Solomons. Along the way, we stumbled across more breaking fish. They were spread out over a mile or more, with massive flocks of seagulls, terns, and pelicans following them. The fish were not feeding on the surface, and the birds were having the same problem we were – finding large schools underwater when no activity was visible on the surface.
We drifted through these areas, catching more sub-legal fish on jigs, including a single bluefish. Watching the depth-finder, I noticed bands of fish tight to the bottom in 65′ of water, and we started bouncing metal jigs on the bottom. Sure enough, the marks were gray trout (also known as yellow trout or weakfish).
Our biggest fish of the day was 16″, and we likely totaled around 60-70 fish for the boat. By contrast, my cousin was fishing a tournament out of the Annapolis area, which he won with a 35″ striped bass. That said, he did admit that most of the fish they took were sub-legal too. With these native/hold-over big bass still residing just to our North, they’ll be making their way through the Middle Bay soon enough.