I hadn’t fished my home waters since early June, and with the weather looking favorable, I, my dad, and his friend headed out of Solomons MD to hunt for fall striped bass.
Maryland and Virginia have had the most rain in recorded history this year, and it showed. The shallow waters of the Patuxent River and the rivers and islands of the Eastern Shore were mahogany colored, dirty from constant rain and wind. We spent half of the day searching the shallows for clean water, casting flies and jigs to stump fields, points, and rips that normally would contain countless fish. On this day, they were empty.
We headed back across the bay and went North into the Patuxent River. With the outgoing tide, the tidal creeks were dumping bait into the main stem of the river, and loons, pelicans, and gulls were stationed over these bait schools. We motored around the birds, using sonar to search for striped bass. We struck out until a large school of stripers and loons began (working together) to herd menhaden to the surface. With that, the pelicans and gulls descended on the blitzing fish, and we began to catch stripers.
One ounce jig heads and 5-7″ plastics did the job, and the fish were between 17″ and 24″. I did hook one larger fish that ripped drag from my reel before the hook pulled (would have been nice to see that fish). We finished with around 25 fish for the day, including 4-5 fish that were >20″. All were released.
We stayed out until sunset, now finding fish feeding in the shallows of the river. The loons grouped up as the temperature and sun fell, wailing to one another in the soft light.