ROCKTOBER: Non-Stop Chesapeake Bay Fishing

Weekends — They are the important days of the week that ensure rest and recovery for not-yet-retired workers like me.  It means recharging my personal batteries by inviting family and friends out for a morning, afternoon or an entire day on the water, usually searching for the ever elusive ‘keeper’ rockfish.

This past October gave us nine full days of weekend fall fishing and five Friday’s where anglers could sneak out by 5pm and squeeze in an early evening of fishing as well.  For government employees or workers whose companies mirror federal holiday’s, they also picked up Columbus Day Monday.  So the calendar opportunities were abundant. I took advantage of nearly every one of them!

The bigger trophy fish are rare this time of year (usually arriving up the bay in mid November) so casting with light tackle instead of trolling in the middle bay will likely be the most productive way to ‘catch’ instead of just fishing.  My mid-Bay fishing zone has a 25-mile north-south range from Magothy and Chester Rivers (north) down to Poplar Island and Eastern Bay (south), and the eastern and western shoreline, roughly a 125 square mile fishery.

The Middle Bay has a number of great spots to jig, chum, live line or work structure. The most active spots include the Lumps and the Flats, then there are the well-known points such as Tolley, Thomas, Hackett’s, Bloody, Love and Podickery. You also have to include the shoals and bars such as Belvedere and Brick House but nothing provides more opportunity and choices than the best fish magnet of all — the twin spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridges (nine times out of ten, I end up there).

fishing under the Chesapeake Bay bridge
Fishing under the Chesapeake Bay bridge

When I head out of the Severn River, I usually make a stop or two before I enter the Bay. Typically, I will cast a couple dozen times at the Route 50 or USNA bridges, perhaps the Naval Academy wall and every once at the ledge just east of Horn Point.  Once I pass the SR1 buoy, which marks the entrance of the Severn, I keep my eyes peeled for diving gulls working the surface trying to snag breaking bait fish being chased to the surface by schools of blues or rockfish. If the surface action is quiet, it is time to head to one of the aforementioned spots around the Bay and keep eyes peeled on the depth finder for action 20-to-50 feet below the surface.

Severn River by Route 50 bridge
Severn River by Route 50 bridge (Photo by Gary Oster)
under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
Fishing blogger Gary Oster notices a little action under the Bay Bridge while searching for rockfish.

Rocktober 2015 was particularly fun and productive for me and the crew fishing on my boat, ‘Albert C.’  We tallied 532 fish overall; a mixture of striped bass (98% hooked were rockfish), blues, perch and weakfish. Out of all that, we kept, cleaned and froze only ten. Our motto is “release, if your not going to eat.”

We had many hours this past month of hot action, however the best was saved for the 31st. On Halloween morning/early afternoon my friend Big Mark and I caught a total of 132, I caught a few more than Mark. It was easily the largest number I ever personally hooked and released in one outing.

November is the start of fall trophy season. Hopefully this year the big trophies will be even better than 2014.

See you on the water!

About Gary Oster

Gary is an avid sport fisherman out of Annapolis, MD, who loves casting, trolling or jigging for rockfish on the bay, chasing marlin offshore, flats fishing for barracuda in the Florida Keys or pulling in monster Halibut in Alaska.

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