On our Chesapeake Bay fishing trips we usually fish for the most popular and most common species in the Bay and that also includes the best tasting fish. The best fishing begins in early April and striper season begins at or near April 15th. Before April 15th there are drum or tautog to be had which are usually caught on underwater rock piles or old wrecks such as a sunken tug boat or trawler. There isn't much else this time of year as the water is still just to chilly. Most fish in the Bay won't start biting until the water warms. The weather will warm up for good around late April at which time you will see more and more species come into the Bay. The general fishing season for the Chesapeake Bay runs from April to November.
Listed below are some of the more common species we catch around Chesapeake Beach and the middle Chesapeake Bay region.
Chesapeake Bay striper aka rockfish
Striper - Subject to Restrictions - The Spring Trophy Season begins in mid April and goes to Mid-May. It is not uncommon to catch fish over 40" during this season. During the Summer and Fall seasons you are allowed two Striped Bass over 18" per person. Big Striped Bass can also be caught in late October through November. Check with your Captain for exact opening season dates for striper fishing. Visit Maryland DNR Site for detailed regulations. Recreational Fishing Regulations
SIZE: Averages 10 pounds - Some fish over sixty pounds have been caught.
FOOD VALUE: One of the most popular fish of the Chesapeake Bay, with white fluffy meat.
GAME QUALITIES: Great fun on light tackle.TACKLE AND BAITS: Usually caught casting small articficial baits or trolling large lures at different heights of the water column.
FISHING STYLE: Trolling, Bait-casting.MORE INFORMATION: All coastal inshore and Chesapeake Bay waters (tidal waters) have school-size fish; Chesapeake Bay tributary rivers, Eastern Shore bayside creeks south to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel have best concentrations of fish. Large fish most often found along CBBT, main portion of Chesapeake Bay and off the Virginia Capes at the mouth of the Bay. Assateague surf in late fall and early spring January - December; peak for large fish in November and December; peak fishing for school fish generally in spring and fall - 5 - 30 pounds.
Croaker - May to November - Croaker usually run hand in hand or fin and fin that is with spot. Usually if you are catching croaker you will most like catch spot too. Croaker usually appear in all areas of the Chesapeake Bay in the late spring and will hang around in the surf, bays and inlets until fall when the water starts to cool around October at which time the bite will slow down.
SIZE: Averages a pound or less, but sometimes reache super sizes of 3 pounds or more.
FOOD VALUE: Croaker make good panfish.
GAME QUALITIES: Very scrappy fighter. A large croaker can be a real fun fight.
TACKLE AND BAITS: A blast to catch on light tackle. Can be caught on bloodworms, squid strips, cutbait, and even a small jig.
FISHING STYLE: Drifting, anchored, bottom fishing.
Chesapeake Beach spot fishing
Spot - May to November - Spot usually appear in all areas of the Chesapeake Bay in the late spring and will hang around in the surf, bays and inlets until fall when the water starts to cool around late October or early November at which time they will make a run to warmer deeper water for the winter.
SIZE: Averages 6-8 inches; Sometimes will grow to over a pound..
FOOD VALUE: One of the most popular panfish.
GAME QUALITIES: Spirited panfish. Great fishing fun for the kids and family.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light spinning tackle, small hooks, bloodworms, fishbites, pieces of cut fish, squid or shrimp.
FISHING STYLE: Bottom fishing, either drifting or anchored.
MORE INFORMATION: Caught bottom fishing with bait, anchored or drifting from boats, also caught from docks, piers, shore and surf; big runs of fish in the fall in lower Chesapeake Bay and in surf and piers of Virginia Beach.Caught throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay and Bay tributary rivers, coastal ocean waters, inlets - all inshore Maryland coastal waters
June - October; peak July - September for Chesapeake Bay and tributary rivers; peak middle August - middle October in lower Bay and coastal ocean areas.8 - 12 ounces
Flounder - April to November - Flounder aka fluke enter the Chesapeake Bay around late April to early May. Flounder are usually daytime feeders and tend to hit squid or stripped cut bait. If you are looking to catch a trophy sized flounder, over 5 or 6 pounds you may want tp try live bait like a small spot or small croaker above.
SIZE: Averages around a pound or two but can reach sizes over 15 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent table fare, common on many restaurant menus.
GAME QUALITIES: Very scrappy fighter. A very distinct fighting action and experienced flounder anglers can usually tell right away if they have a flounder on the line as soon as the fight starts.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Fun to catch but you must be patient. Give them the bait a bit before you yank back on the rod. Use squid strips or cut bait strips on a small lightweight bucktail. Can be caught trolling on the bottom around structure.
FISHING STYLE: Drifting, trolling. Can be caught on the edges of boat or shipping channels or around rocks or bridge pilings.
BLACK DRUM - March, April, May, June - Black Drum, are similar to Redfish aka Red Drum and become active in the Chesapeake Bay around the month of March.
SIZE: Drum over 100 pounds have been caught and specimens weighing 30 to 50 pounds are not rare in many areas. Striped juveniles generally weigh 1-15 pounds. World record 113 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Drum to about 6 or 8 pounds are as tasty as Redfish. Larger ones become quite coarse.
GAME QUALITIES: Strong, bullish fight, but not so tough as the Redfish, size for size.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Any sort of crustacean including cut blue crab to whole small crab, makes fine bait for Drum. Many anglers prefer clams. Drum are not avid lure-chasers but can be taken on slowly worked jigs in deep water.
FISHING STYLE: Anchored mostly.
Trout - May to November - Gray trout, also called weakfish and summer trout become active in the Chesapeake Bay around the month of May and will not leave until as late as November. They range from pan size to larger than 10 pound.
SIZE: Averages around a pound or two for bottom fishers but can reach sizes over 15 pounds, especially for wire liners or live baiters.
FOOD VALUE: Very good, larger trout can be filet'd.
GAME QUALITIES: Not really a brawler but the larger trout can put up a decent fight straight down. Care must be taken when fighting and landing gray trout because they have a very soft mouth.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Wide range of baits can be used for gray trout. Squid, peeler crabs, shrimp, live spot or other live bait, artificial lures.
FISHING STYLE: Drifting or anchored up for the smaller gray trout, trolling along structure for large gray trout.
Other Summer Species of the Chesapeake Bay: Bluefish, Speckled Trout, Spanish Mackerel, and Black Sea Bass
As great as Chesapeake Bay striper fishing is, there are other species in the Bay to fish for. Chesapeake Bay bottom fishing for croaker, spot, trout, flounder, and a long list of other species can be taken on a variety of different baits. When Chesapeake Bay charter boats go bottom fishing they usually just drift with the tide or wind while the anglers bottom rigs simply drag the bottom. Anglers will use bloodworms, squid, or cut bait on their hooks which will catch croaker, spot, or flounder. The bag limits and seasonal restrictions that are placed on striper fishing doesn't even apply to most bottom fish. So an angler can go croaker or spot fishing and catch a large mess of fish for the dinner table.
The Chesapeake Bay believe it or not is known for other things too besides just the great fishing. For the non-fisherman the Bay is probably best known for it's blue crabs. People around country that visit seafood restaurants are very familar with steamed crabs or better yet those tasty Maryland crabcakes being on the menu. People have been known to travel from other states to visit a Maryland seafood restaurant near the Bay just to eat a fresh crabcake. That is how tasty they are.
We didn't forget about the many miles of beaches around the Chesapeake Bay that play host to local and visiting beach goers and sun bathers. Jet skis, speed boating, sailing, surf fishing, and enough activities to keep even the most outgoing and active family vacationers busy for an entire trip. In fact with all the water and beach activities plus the night life around many regions of the Chesapeake Bay you will have to make a second trip to the Bay area to experience just a small portion of all the available Chesapeake Bay tourist activities. But if you come to go fishing then a fishing trip on one of the local Chesapeake Bay charter boats will provide you with memories to tell all your buddies back home. Catch a trophy rockfish and we promise you will like it so much you will come back the following year to do it again.