My last 3 trips have been Great! Each one better than the last. Here are a few things that we have been doing to help keep our catch rate up. The Rockfish have been on the move and chasing bait at the mouths of most Upper Bay Rivers. Almost any creek or river that dumps into a bigger body of water will have concentrations of bait fish near-by that intersection. The Stripers preferred bait is 5″ Bunker or Menhaden. The better fish that I have cleaned all had 4″ to 6″ Bunker in their stomachs. Find the Bunker … find the Rockfish!
Sometimes you will find bait and no Stripers in the immediate area, I will often start a slow circle around the bait searching and watching the depth finder Sometimes, they are not near the bait… usually they are. There are a lot of fish in the Upper Bay and these fish will continue in this pattern until the water temps dip below 47 degrees. At that point the schools of Bunker and Bay Anchovies are seeking warmer, deeper water and I believe the Stripers follow. So, I’m thinking we still have 3 or 4 weeks of good fishing before the pattern changes.The picture below is what a school of Stripers Looks like on the fish finder.
The fish pictured in this report were caught with Ange Harclerode and Tim Campbell on Tuesday, (November 8, 2016) While fishing the Middle River area… this area was new to me and having never fished it did not know what to expect. I was relieved to see marks on the fish finder, bait balls of Bunker and soon started marking Stripers in 17′ of water. A few casts later I landed a 32″ Striper and Ange followed with a 23″ fish. Game on!
The pattern and the way the Stripers were oriented down current from the bait was similar to what we have been seeing on the Eastern Shore Rivers. The technique that has caught best was “Slow Rolling” a skirted Jig/ Paddle-tail soft plastic at the bottom of the school of Stripers. We have been calling these “Thumper Jigs”… I tried several different techniques none caught better for me… below is Ange with the 6” lure.
Soon Everyone on the boat had “Thumper Jigs” tied on and steady catching fish. We had Double, Triple and Quadruple Hook ups! Four fish on at once, one running this way, the other running that way, anglers chasing their fish around the boat. The stealth part went out the window at this point. Four old men giggling like little kids! That just may be the fountain of youth! We caught well over a hundred fish, most were 20″ or better…
Tim Campbell and his friend Bill with a pair of doubles… This happened often. The fish below fell for the “Thumper Jig”… We released most all of the larger fish and kept a few mid-twenty size for the table.
So, think patterns not places… The current pattern is loosely schooled groups of Rockfish, chasing bait, especially mid-sized Bunker, near river and creek mouths. Look for places where structure makes a current break this is a good ambush point for Stripers. Also, look for birds. Big Birds! Big birds will show you the way to the Bunker. Sometimes two Big birds sitting and refusing to leave will be sitting over a school of Rockfish.The lesser Terns we call “Liar Birds”will be diving on tiny bait usually in shallow water, if Stripers are under them they will typically be smaller fish. The better fish this week have come mostly from 15′ to 25′ depths and are really turned on. The cooler water has them feeding but not chasing anything very far. Many of these fish are suspended 10 or 12 ft. down… A slower than slow but not stopped, horizontal presentation keeps the bait in the strike zone longer… yielding more hits and hook-ups. Use Garlic Dip for scent. Match the weight of your jig to the depth you want the lure. Watching your fish finder will tell you how deep the bottom of the school is… That’s where you want your lure… “You gotta be in ’em to get bit”. This will work on any Upper Bay River right now, at least, the ones I have fished… Give it a try!
Above is Tim Campbell and myself with a pair of doubles. Tim and I used to fish together often. Life has taken us in different directions over the last few years and we have not fished together much. It was great to spend time with good old friends, catching fish under beautiful November Skies! The best time to fish is right now. Let’s go Fishing!