, 2015

The Fishing Line

By Capt. Billy Pipkin

Opening week of the Maryland striped bass season lured many anglers to the water. Both the Maryland Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River seasons began on Saturday with mixed results.

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The weather was great on opening day, but mother nature tossed a few windy days in the mix as well. By the weekend, we should have calmer seas along with temperatures in the mid 70s. 

 Although striped bass are scattered at this time, many of our charter boats and some private boats are attaining their limit of one fish per person over 28 inches in length. The cooler water temperatures resulted in a slightly delayed spawn this year. As a result, a large portion of the stock remains in up river and upper bay locations.

 On the Potomac, the greatest concentrations have been from the mid-river area near St. George’s Island and up to Colonial Beach. The most generous numbers continue to be up river. These fish are not all jumbo cows. The sizes range from 15 to 30 pounds.

 Some of the areas harboring schools are not very large. It is important to get an early start as boat traffic in a concentrated area will soon disperse the school. Because these fish are loosely schooled and scatter easily, trolling is the only effective method of success at this time. Try to keep your distance from areas of heavy boating traffic. Stay to the outside of the crowd, as you will find that they will often push the fish out to you.

In Maryland waters, catches have followed the same patterns. Scattered catches have been recorded from Point Lookout up to Point No Point light, and along the shipping channel edges from Buoys 66 to 72. The greatest fishing efforts continue to be further northward. Other locations offering generous catches have been Hooper’s Island Light, the H.I. Buoy outside of Solomon’s Island and up the western channel edges to Chesapeake Beach. The Annapolis region continues to hold good numbers of fish as they prepare to run southward towards Virginia waters.

 These fish are not always holding at consistent water depths. The tasty rockfish can be caught anywhere from the surface down to a depth of 25 feet. Yet keep in mind the lion’s share of the haul has been taken from the upper 10 feet of the water table. For this reason, I recommend planner boards. They allow your lures to be fished shallow and away from the boat.

 The most widely used lures are tandem rigs containing parachutes rigged with 9-inch shads as primary baits. Chartreuse and white are effective colors at this time. You will want to fish a heavier 6- to 8-ounce head on the 6-foot drop and a lighter 2- to 3-ounce lure trailing on a 20-foot drop. Spoons also have provided good catches as the #19 Tony Accetta and large bunker spoons in both gold and chrome have been successful. Always fish the chrome spoons near the surface. The sunlight is necessary to utilize the reflective characteristics of the lure.

Croaker remain the main interest among anglers in the lower bay at this time. The middle Rappahannock river is just beginning to hold croaker. Sizes are running in the 8- to 10-inch range with occasional fish up to 14 inches. Catches have improved slightly this week with reports of shallow water action picking up.  

Catfish are biting strong up the Rappahannock River from Urbanna to the Tappahannock area. Sizes are ranging from a modest pound-and-a-half up to 4-pound dinner fare. Expand your fishing horizons and enjoy all of the species available.

 Get out on the water and enjoy fishing this spring. Don’t let the price of fuel get you down; share a ride this week and split the costs. All of a sudden your fuel price will be cut in half.

 Have a safe and productive week on the water. Until next time…fair winds.

 Capt. Billy Pipkin owns and operates Ingram Bay Marina and Capt. Billy’s Charters at the mouth of the Great Wicomico River in Wicomico Church. 580-7292, incgrambaymarina.com. cleardot.gif ¬
(Capt. Billy Pipkin owns and operates Ingram Bay Marina and Capt. Billy’s Charter service at the end of Route 609 in Wicomico Church. www.ingrambaymarina.com  804-580-7292)

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