Wild Chesapeake: Slowest Start to the Striper Season Ever, But…

You may know Captain Chris Dollar from his column in Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Wild Chesapeake. Now, the 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.

On Sunday morning, while fishing with Capt. Matt Marceron aboard the charter boat U.S. Blues out of the South River, Cathy Rice Anders landed this gorgeous 44” rockfish that was fooled by a red, white and blue 2-ounce Alien head parachute tied by Jim Bieler, owner of Marty’s Bait & Tackle in Edgewater, MD.  (Courtesy of U..S Blues)

I could probably compile a humorous, if not slightly profane, list of quips describing the beginning of Maryland’s trophy rockfish season. Without question, it was the slowest opener in recent memory, especially in the upper Bay where it was far more common to come back to the dock empty handed. In fact, the action was so slow—“how slow was it?”—some said they considered a simple knockdown a win. 

Nearly everyone blamed the lack of catching on unseasonably cold and stained waters. Or, it could be that the stripers were and still remain up the rivers preparing to spawn or, maybe they have already spawned and are taking time to begin their run back to the ocean. Some anglers are even wondering if we’re seeing signs of trouble in the migrant stock.

Nonetheless, the first few days were not a complete bust. Skip Doda and his Annapolis crew scored five pretty keepers on opening day while fishing with Captain Harry Nield on his charter boat Kingfish II out of Deal Island. The next two days, Captain Harry’s parties caught a couple of rockfish each. And on Sunday morning, Cathy Rice Anders landed a gorgeous 44-inch rockfish while fishing with Captain Matt Marceron aboard his charter boat U.S. Blues out of the South River. That trophy was fooled by a two-ounce red, white and blue alien-head parachute tied by Jim Bieler, owner of Marty’s Bait & Tackle in Edgewater, Md. 

The Susquehanna Flats rockfish catch and release fishing was spotty at best. I might give it one last shot before it’s over. I’ll pick a partly cloudy day with air temps above 65 degrees. The good news is, there are more shad in the Susquehanna, though they have yet to push into creeks like the Deer or Octoraro. Fletcher’s Landing on the Potomac is still your best bet this week.

In the midst of striper fever, don’t forget that the reservoirs and lakes hold a plethora of bass, pickerel and panfish. Meanwhile, Maryland’s DNR has been steadily stocking our fresh waters with trout, a great way for new or shore-bound anglers to have some fun. Check out their Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates or go old-school and call (800) 688-3467 and press Option #1 to get a stocking update.

-Capt. Chris D. Dollar