Over the years I’ve always wanted to visit Smith Island, do a little fishing, and eat a slice of their famous Smith Island cake. This year I got to do just that when I was invited to be a judge for the annual Smith Island Fishing Tournament.

catching speckled trout at smith island
The author with a Smith Island speck.

Getting up early, I made the three-and-a-half-hour drive from Solomons to Crisfield to meet the ferry that would take me and my gear over to the island. After arriving I boarded the Capt. Jason, and with the help of the boat’s Capt. Terry Jr., we loaded up my kayak and headed to the town of Ewell. Smith Island is an archipelago about 10 miles west of Crisfield, MD, is home to around 200 people, and Ewell is its largest village.

There are 8000 acres of marshland with 18.6 miles of water trails through “guts” that provide kayakers an array of options for fishing, sightseeing, and bird watching. So, if the family isn’t into fishing and you are, there are plenty of things for the family to look at while you’re paddling around and taking casts for sea trout, striped bass, red drum, and flounder.

The first trail I fished was the yellow trail, Doctor’s Gut, down to Rhodes Point, where I enjoyed catching striped bass on four-inch white paddle tails dressed on a 3/8-ounce jig. Working the jetties out on the bay side of the Rhodes Point inlet with a half-ounce jig and a white BKD I caught speckled trout. There are eight water trails through various guts and channels that you can explore and fish, and you just never know what you’ll catch since Smith Island is far enough south to see a wide mix of species.

water trails at smith island
There are water trails through the many small islands, creeks, and guts.

You will want to fish the jetties, because they hold fish. A lot of the water is very shallow in the guts and around the islands and there were a few times I had to exit my kayak and walk the boat on a low tide. But don’t discount fishing the shallower water around the island, there are fish that come up and feed along the sod banks and over grass.

The water trails are well marked by colored markers. Some of the trails lead to Tylerton, another of the three towns on the archipelago. You can fish the shoreline of the island along the bay side and there are channels that cut through some of the islands, too. And don’t forget to visit Goat Island. Yes, there are feral goats roaming the island.

I will need to make the trip back to Smith Island so that I can fish more of the other channels and guts. And have another slice of their great cake!

Getting to Smith Island

The cost per passenger is $25 and the cost for freight (my kayak) was another $25 for a one-way trip. During the summer season you can take a ferry via Smith Island Cruises out of Point Lookout State Park or Crisfield. With having to load out and load back up on the ferry I’d recommend an overnight stay, since the ferry schedules will limit the time you have to fish. There are several B&Bs and VRBOs on the island. For more info on fishing and visiting here, plug “Smith Island” into the search box in the upper right portion of this webpage or do the same at PropTalk Magazine.