Fishing Report: Tangier Sound Striped Bass

Back in Maryland, it was time for the annual pilgrimage to Crisfield, MD to fish with guide Kevin Josenhans.  Kevin is the first fishing guide I ever hired, and still one of the best 15 years later.  November is peak-time to fish these islands near Crisfield, and I was excited to throw flies at 3-5 pound striped bass in the bay’s crystal clear shallows.

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This weather forecast was ominous, with steady 10 knot winds out of the south throughout the day, with a jump to 30-50 knots late in the day.  30-50 knots isn’t just unfishable – it’s potentially deadly for small boaters.  Keeping an eye on the weather, we headed out early, ready to race back if needed.

The waters of Tangier and Smith island produced dozens of fish for us, but only a few were keeper sized (20″+ fish).  Nearly all fish were between 14″ – 18″, but fought hard in the cold water they love.  While I started the day throwing yellow clouser minnows on an intermediate line, I switched to a spinning rod midway through the day as winds were approaching 20 knots.  With those increasing winds, the creeks and shallows became dirty, and as expected, the fishing shut down.

We headed back in, knowing the massive cold front was an hour or two away.  After enjoying a beer in the 70 degree air at the dock,  we climbed into our car and drove north towards the bay bridge.  The cold front hit us hard, winds shaking our car and sending debris across the road.  By the time we were crossing the bay bridge, the Chesapeake’s waters were covered in 5 foot waves and white water, and the air was in the low 40’s – extremely dangerous conditions.  I would later find out that multiple boaters were caught by surprise that day, with several sinkings and at least three deaths.

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