After an opening weekend best described as "horrific" and a week following that which was only slightly better, the recent sunny days appear to have let things bust loose for spring trophy striper trolling in the Middle Chesapeake region. The staff at FishTalk and PropTalk was lucky enough to time an office fishing trip perfectly, and we enjoyed a morning aboard the Ebb Tide, out of Deale, just yesterday.
Trolling with a standard selection of umbrellas and tandem rigs, the three fish caught (40, 42, and 44 inchers) between 7:00 and 11:00 bit on white parachutes with dark heads and white/chartreuse parachute/shad tails. We also had several missed strikes. Two of the three fish had spawned completely and the third did have roe, but interestingly, it did not appear to be ripe. We're hopeful that other boats are experiencing a similar ratio.
Our catch was indicative of the fleet working the waters off Holland Point Bar down to Chesapeake Beach, in about 80 feet of water. Most of the boats in the area, which had been reporting zero to a couple-few fish since the opener, scored between one and three fish. The best we heard of was a catch of five. All of our fish came from board rods, which is an interesting change from the reports earlier this season that deep-running boat rods were out-performing the boards.
Reports from boats working farther south, from Chesapeake Beach down to the Gooses, were similar and perhaps a bit better. We heard from several boats that hit the five fish mark in that zone, and over the weekend reports indicated that the deep water off the Gooses was performing the best.
Anglers farther north have also reported better catches, though not quite on the same par. We heard from several boats that caught between one and three fish in the area of the Triple Buoys, and Love Point. We also heard from Kevin Thomas just yesterday, who put angler Joe Knighton on a beautiful fish in the deep water of the shipping channel outside of Tolly Point.
Considering the reports of the past few days, we feel like it's finally safe to say that the spring trophy run is on - for real, people. As more fish move out of the northern spawning grounds we should see a big push above the bridge, fish leaving the Choptank should continue to keep the bite going in that zone, and while we don't seem to have seen the fish moving out of the Potomac just yet, when that happens we should have a good bite developing down south, too. Meanwhile, in Virginian waters flounder, black and red drum, and croaker have all made their presence known in recent days (see the Way South and VA Fishing Report, for the details). And on top of all that, our Coastal Correspondent John Unkart checked in to let us know that just this morning his first surf fishing trip on Assateague of the year produced a hard hit from a big fish that broke him off, along with a skate and our first reported blowfish of 2018.
It's on, people - IT'S ON!