Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, November 26 Update:
Hi anglers, we hope you all enjoyed a fantastic Thanksgiving! The gents at Apex Predators continue to catch a nice mix of crappie and rockfish fishing out of Potomac Creek, and judging by their pictures, some of the crappie fall firmly into slab territory. From farther down the river we had a reader report this week of a pair of 28-inchers along with several smaller fish hitting umbrellas weighted with 10 ounces of lead along the drop to 30 feet off Piney Point.
In the Potomac, there were plenty of rockfish eager to hit troller's spreads. Near Smith Point in the shipping channel, we also heard of some excellent hookups and landings. The waters around Smith have been good lately, as have the Middle grounds. From the reader reports this week it sounded like there was better action up inside the Rap than in the open Bay, however, with slot fish noted near Wildwood (a pair of fish), in the mouth of the Corrotoman (a single plus lots of unders), and at the Route 3 bridge. Trolled umbrellas and tandems accounted for most of the fish, but one angler reported success jigging six-inch white and chartreuse plastics.
While some big fish are coming in, what’s being caught right now isn’t the big fish that’ll hopefully be coming up the Bay as of yet and there are far more smaller and slot-sized fish to go after in this zone. Much of the catch is currently fish in the mid-20s and schoolies. Still, we have heard reports of a few fish in the 30-plus-inch range caught and released. The tandems and umbrellas being used right now should be good for ‘em as well as pulling large Mojos close to the bottom. Keeping whatever your pulling close to the bottom is key if you’re hoping to hook up on a big striper. The Hard Head Custom Baits chartreuse and white lures are also a favorite right now. Jiggers have been finding fish in the aforementioned areas as well, and generally are doing pretty well. They’re reeling in a lot more fish than the trollers generally have been, but many of these are small stripers in the teens or low 20s. Watching for working birds is also a good move right now. They’ve been up and feeding at times, and when you can get to them and into fish, rewards can be high.
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, November 19 Update:
The Tackle Box let us know that it’s a great time to be on the hunt for rockfish in the Potomac and along the main-stem Bay channel edges with plenty of places for them to be found. Jiggers are doing well with six-inch white, chartreuse, and pearl Gulp! and BKD soft plastics, bounced off the bottom. However, more of the action in the Lower Bay is coming from trollers who are hitting the channel edges. The Tackle Box reported trollers using umbrellas and 10- to 12-ounce inline weights have been catching keepers. Some hefty rocks have been hanging around the mouth of the St. Mary's River for trollers in both the shallows and on the 20-foot edges. As per usual, all boats on the water are advised to keep a lookout for breaking birds. In the Potomac, stripers under birds range up to 30 inches, with most of the keepers in the 22 to 24-inch range. The larger fish have been found on the bottom or away from the gulls, with schoolies up top. The lower Potomac from Ragged Point to Vero Beach has been a bird-heavy area throughout the past week. Opportunities for shoreline anglers ISO rockfish are dwindling as the weather cools down but there were stripers caught off the Point Lookout Pier several evenings last week by both bait fishermen using blood worms or cut bait, and lure casters using surface poppers, bucktails, and jigs.
The lower Rap has been another good area for both trollers and jiggers, with sporadic bird action as well. We heard from a reader launching at Mill Creek who caught four slot fish jigging five-inch white Jerk Shad in 20 feet of water. We also got a report of some bird play just north of New Point Comfort on the western side, but all the fish they set a hook into were undersized. We didn't get any confirmed reports of specks this week but that's likely more a lack of reports than fish; as of last week they were still being caught and we'd expect some to still be around in the Lower Bay, probably with better results the farther south you go.
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, November 12 Update:
The Tackle Box let us know that it’s a great time to be on the hunt for rockfish in the lower Potomac, throughout the Chesapeake’s channel edges, and good reports are coming in from the lower Rappahannock in the Route 3 bridge zone as well. Jiggers are doing well with six-inch white, chartreuse, and pearl Gulp! and BKD soft plastics, bounced off the bottom. However, most of the action in the Potomac is coming from trollers who are hitting the channel edges around Piney Point to St. George’s Island. The Tackle Box reported trollers using small umbrellas and 10- to 12-ounce inline weights have been catching a mix of keepers and throwbacks. Many fish have been undersized, including those hanging under working birds. Still, as per usual, all boats on the water are advised to keep a lookout for diving birds; some keepers in the 22- to 24-inch range are being landed from the frenzies. The larger fish have been found on bottom or away from the gulls, with schoolies up top. The folks at Apex Predators report a good bite up the Potomac in the Potomac Creek zone, with a nice striper here and there among good numbers of crappie.
Contributor Eric Packard made a trip kayak fishing out on the Piankatank late last week and reported that the chill in the air seems to have put a dent in the speck action, but there were still a few fish to be caught with three smallish specks hitting his jigs. A slot striper and a sub-legal flounder were also in the catch and one of the anglers he was with reported catching a handful of slot redfish the day before. The midweek warm-up may well have produced a bounce in the action but it looks like more chilly nights are in the immediate future so how the bite shapes up over the next few days is a roll of the dice.
If you plan on looking for birds remember that last night's Live with Lenny was all about this topic, how fishing under birds has changed in recent years, and how to catch big fish out from the dinks. If you missed it, now's your chance to check it out (but it's a long one, so get comfy first):
Lower Chesapeake Bay Fishing Report, November 5 Update:
November is looking prime for anglers on the Lower Bay, with an excellent first week of fishing as water have begun to settle from last week’s mayhem. The Tackle Box checked in to let us know that trollers are loving the striped bass bite along the channel edges in the lower Potomac and main stem of the Bay. The bite has been steady, and is producing fish ranging from the upper teens to the occasional 25-plus. Generally, umbrellas with Drones, small spoons, or bucktails trolled deep are scoring the fish everyone on Facebook will be jealous of. Anglers cruising the channel edges should be on the lookout for working birds — the Tackle Box had multiple reports of anglers catching under them this week. The grade of fish for anglers casting through them hasn’t been great, but the action is fun and fast, plus the occasional big one is showing up. Jigging under working birds has been producing some solid striped bass as well, although reports indicate that the jigging bite has been far iffier under the birds. One thing to keep in mind is that some bluefish are around as well. Jigging or casting metal spoons is a good idea right now if you’re hoping to preserve your soft plastics supply.
The morning topwater bite for stripers has been wonderful in the shallows, and is providing some beautiful fall speckled trout as well. Occasional reports of slot reds are still coming in too! The bite for specks and reds is better on the east side, where the Pocomoke and Tangier both have action, but we heard good reports from readers in the Rap, Piankatank, and Mobjack this week that included both species.
Catfish remain a treat for shoreline and boating anglers. They’ve just been everywhere, with the bite especially strong in the upper Potomac and James. The Potomac produced a few cats topping 30 pounds this week caught with fresh cut bait on bottom, and the recent tournament in the James saw many fish over the 50-pound mark and a couple topping 60 pounds hit the scales. Having fresh bait is key for attracting the cats, but if you’ve got something juicy on your line they’ll come sniffing.