Wild Chesapeake: Crab Time

Chesapeake Bay Magazine’s Wild Chesapeake columnist Chris Dollar provides a weekly brief on what’s happening on the water.

Photo: Chris D. Dollar/CD Outdoors

Let’s kick things off with blue crabs.           

Everyone likes crabs, right? If not, perhaps it’s best you keep that character flaw to yourself. Over the holiday weekend, I had four succulent soft crabs freshly plucked from the Tangier Sound grass beds—by way of a shedding tank, of course. 

For most sport crabbers, the hard crab season is off to a slow start. My buddy Jim and his son scored a basket running a trotline in the Little Choptank. If you’re itching to pull a snap pot or lay a trotline, I suggest Eastern Bay, Severn, Patuxent, the tribs of the lower Choptank or the top of Tangier. Razor clams out-catch chicken necks.

Recommendation numero dos right now is to go black drum fishing. That’s my plan, since there’s plenty of time to catch a striper. Both reds and blacks remain available on the shoals off of Cape Charles and Fisherman’s Island in Virginia. Anglers are hooking up using clams, live female blue crabs with the lids (carapace) off, and peelers. Colby Beasley released a beautiful 52-inch red drum fishing with Pork Bunker charters. Upper Chesapeake anglers have a shorter window to catch one of these brutes. Right now they’re congregating over the Sharps Island Flats and across the Bay to the Stone Rock. Eastern Bay is a close second. A peeler or soft crab on a fish-finder rig works well.

The Cobia have crossed into Virginia waters just in time for the state’s June opener. Chunk fresh bunker or cruise the buoys and markers till you spot one and toss a live eel or a bucktail tipped with a twister tail or soft plastic (Hogy, BKD). The gaudier the color the better. Typically the season peaks after July Fourth, perfect timing for the Monarch Cobia Classic (formerly the Cobia Bowl) scheduled for July 19-21. The tournament raises money for scholarships and fishery research. Also in Virginia, Jeffrey Dill’s 68.8-pound flathead catfish set a new state record.

The Ocean City Marlin Club;s “first fish” of the 2018 season was a 37.60-pound bluefin tuna decked on the Lisa during the club’s Memorial Day tournament. Sharks, and mahi-mahi are also in the mix. 

Captain Mike Henderson of Dream Catcher out of Buzz’s Marina reports that the year’s first bluefish have arrived off Point Lookout. Shore fishermen are scoring with fresh cut bait. Otherwise boat anglers are winning with fast-troll hoses or spoons such as Lil’ Bunkers or Hopkins.

So many fish, so little time.

Capt. Chris D. Dollar