, 2015

The Fishing Line

By Capt. Billy Pipkin

Fishing has picked up nicely in the rivers and bay. The water temperature is holding around 70 degrees in the middle bay with slightly higher levels in the rivers. As more anglers are actively fishing, a wider variety of fish are being found.

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Striped bass fishing remains good with sizes continuing to average between 16 and 20 inches. There is an abundance of small one- to two-year-old rockfish this year ranging in size from 12 to 14 inches. We experienced a large number of small fish last year as well. I fully expect that there will be an abundance of 18- to 20-inch rockfish this fall season.

 Locations in the bay that are holding the greatest populations at this time are areas holding structure such as oyster reefs, artificial reefs, wrecks and oyster rocks. Other areas where action has been good are lighthouses, bridges and piers. Surprisingly, there have been several rockfish landed off private piers in the rivers and creeks this week. When fishing in shallow locations, they are often hooked when fishing for other species such as speckled trout, puppy drum and even croaker.

Jigging around structure has been effective while chumming is the most efficient method of landing larger numbers at this time. A tip when chumming: when the striped bass get finicky in their feeding habits, it is sometimes necessary to use a fluorocarbon leader (12-15 pound test) along with small #2 bronze hooks to reduce the chance of them spooking.

Speckled trout are beginning to show up in better numbers along the western creeks and rivers feeding the bay waters. Windmill Point, Dividing Creek and Piankatank rivers are holding fish as well. Grassy flats are the hot spots right now as there is plenty of food available in those areas. Keep in mind that this is strictly a catch-and-release fishery through July.

 Croaker continue to bite well in the lower Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. Fish the deeper channel edges during the daytime and the shallows in the evening. In bay waters, croaker fishing has been picking up along the eastern edges in 50- to 60-feet of water from the cut channel north to Smith Point.

In Maryland waters, the top edges of the shipping channel have been yielding mixed croaker as well. Both in Tangier Sound and locations south are holding good numbers of croaker mixed with spot.

It seems that the larger specimens have been found in shallow waters, but as the migration strengthens, numbers throughout will swell.

 Snapper bluefish have hit inshore locations between Mobjack Bay and Smith Point. A few have moved into southern Maryland and lower Potomac waters. There is still no sign of the larger chopper blues entering the bay waters, but the largest specimens have been located along the shipping channel. The southwest Middle Grounds off Smith Island is a good location to find 1- to 3-pound blues while both trolling and chumming.

Puppy drum are making a strong showing again this year in the bay and rivers. They are being caught with live bait, including minnows, squid, soft crab, bloodworms and also artificial baits. They are making their way up the bay and rivers and should provide good action this month.

 When speaking with your children or grandchildren, have you ever referred to how it was in the “Good ole’ Days”?  Stop for a moment and reflect on the times that you spend with them now. These are truly the good days. Share a relaxing day of fishing with them and I promise it will be etched in their memory for life.

 Until next time…Fair winds.

Capt. Billy Pipkin owns and operates Capt. Billy’s Charters at Ingram Bay Marina in Wicomico Church, 580-7292, ingrambaymarina.com

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