Wild Chesapeake: A Week of Impressive Catches

Captain Chris Dollar, expert angler and outdoorsman, brings his most up-to-date insight to the Bay Bulletin. Check in weekly to see where the fish are biting, and which gear is working right now.

Evan Donohue of Centreville, MD takes a quick photo of a red drum before releasing it. He’s spending his summer working with local watermen fishing pound nets before heading back to college where he’s study marine conservation. (Courtesy photo) 

It’s been a week of impressive catches up and down the Chesapeake as well as offshore, where the Ocean City’s first official white marlin catch-and-quick release was recorded by the captain and crew of Stalker out of the Ocean City Fishing Center. That fish earned them $15,000 from the City’s tourism folks, since the boat is a registered O.C. Marlin Club and Fish in OC vessel.

It’s dealer’s choice in the southern Bay, as anglers choose from a plethora of piscatorial options. Spadefish, black or red drum, cobia, Spanish mackerel, flounder, and even amberjacks are swimming around in good numbers. Cobia fever has a firm grip on anglers, with chunking fresh bunker being the preferred method followed by sight-casting skirted or naked two- to four-ounce jig-heads tagged with six- to 10-inch twister tails. 

Upper Bay fishermen, however, are waiting for summer visitors like spot, bluefish and croakers to show up in reliable numbers. The vanguard of those species is evidently in the Bay with blues and whiting being caught off Maryland’s islands and Point Lookout.

Upper Bay anglers are mainly focused on rockfish. Your best bets south of the Bay bridges are Dolly’s Lumps or Hackett’s bar in 28 to 37 feet, or inside Eastern Bay around red nun buoy #2. North of the spans, try Love Point lumps, Podickory Point or the Hickory Thickets in 30 feet or more. 

The learning curve continues for Maryland anglers using circle hooks. If you’re having trouble adjusting, try this—When the rod’s tip-top bounces, give it a three-count.  Pick the rod tip up gently then dip it slightly and reel steadily. Don’t set the hook as you would with regular J-hooks. Once tight to the fish, play it normally. If there’s no fish on, check that the bait is still on the hook.

Trout fishing on the Gunpowder River continues to be perhaps the best in years. What better way to while away the summer evenings than casting a dry fly into a setting sun?

—Capt. Chris D. Dollar