Winter Fishing on the Chesapeake – Virginia

Sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

As the season wound down, I joined my friend on the Eastern Shore of Virginia to fly fish and jig for striped bass in early December.

Cotton fields on the ESVA.

We fished two days, finding the shallow creeks of the Eastern Shore barren, but finding structure in 40-60 feet of water full of fish.  Saturday saw us in fish for most of the day, finishing the day with the sun setting while a thousand gulls whirled around us.  On this day, we found the bigger fish (up to 25″) on the edge of the bird action, and took these fish on 1 oz jig heads and 7 inch plastics.  On the fly, a full sinking line (Rio Deep Lake 7) and a heavily weighted half and half were almost as effective.

Long pauses caught more fish than aggressive stripping.

Sunday, in fog so thick it cut visibility to a couple hundred feet, we found the fish again in the same area.  Oddly, this day they were more fussy – hard to get a bite, and the fish were not stacked up in the thick schools of the previous day.

Cold water and bigger fish.  Most of these guys were 20″-25″.

Both days the area was full of gannets, which would often vomit up menhaden if we cruised up behind one resting on the water.  The water was cold – 46-48 degrees – and the fly and jig action required was more subdued than usual.  For the jig, letting it simply hang at depth and gently twitching it would catch more fish than an aggressive jig.  Guess the fish were cold, too.

Chesapeake groceries:  Striped bass and fresh oysters.

I left the Eastern Shore with tired arms and a full belly.

One Comment Add yours

  1. John Ogram says:

    Great post. Loved fishing with you this year. If we had only used the chum.


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