As spring approaches, Chesapeake Bay anglers start to get antsy. That’s because they’re anxiously awaiting the official kickoff of spring fishing season on Saturday, May 1st! And May just happens to be peak season for striped bass, also known as striper, linesider or rockfish – a BIG trophy fish. So, if you’ve always wanted to break that 50lb barrier and reel in the fish of a lifetime, this is the season to fish the Chesapeake Bay.
Each year, during the month of May large breeds of striped bass make their way North and South through the Chesapeake Bay’s main stem. This annual migration is short and sweet, and attracts fisherfolk from far and wide. It’s just one reason Chesapeake Bay delivers spectacular fishing like no place else on earth.
Know the Chesapeake Bay Regulations
Chesapeake Bay Spring Fishing Checklist
The key to a successful fishing season is to not procrastinate when it comes to getting you and your boat ready. After all, fishing should never be stressful. Here’s a short checklist to help you gear up for great fishing:
– Order any new boat and fishing accessories early.
– Do regular maintenance or upgrading on your rigging.
– Order your hard baits.
– Put new line on everything.
– Get all your fishing gear out – yes, all of it – then purge and reorganize.
– Order your soft baits.
What you can catch on Chesapeake Bay, and when
The Chesapeake Bay is known for its wide variety of fish breeds. But knowing what you can expect to catch and when they run is the key.
- – Peak fishing for Striped Bass is in spring and fall. However, they run pretty much all year. And fisherfolk will tell you the best place to hook a striped bass is in the Chesapeake Bay. The very best spot, and where the biggest fish are caught, is around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
- – Black Drum can be caught along the seaside inlets, and on the bayside, from May to early June. The best fishing is off of Kiptopeke and at buoys C-10 and C-12.
- – Tautog is a perfect spring fish because they peak in March. You’ll find them in the mouth of the bay around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel or offshore around reefs and wrecks.
- – Sheepshead are in abundance in later spring in the lower Chesapeake Bay and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, or over inshore wrecks. They’re great fair-weather fish because they bite from May to October.
- – You can hook little Croakers from March through November in the Chesapeake Bay, inshore on the seaside and in the inlets.
- – Early spring is the start of Flounder, or Flatties, season, but things doesn’t usually peak until May on the seaside. The bayside sees more action in summer. You can hook Flounder in the seaside inlets in spring and the lower bay and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel later in the summer.
- – The Coabia start to bite in May, but the real action comes in June. You’ll find them in the lower Chesapeake Bay either Kiptopeke, around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, at the mouth of the bay, or off Latimer Shoal.
- – Spadefish can be consistently found at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from May through September.
Top Marinas On the Chesapeake Bay
May is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start planning your spring fishing trip and booking your marinas. Here are a few you don’t want to miss:
Gratitude Marina in Rock Hall, Maryland is located on the Chesapeake Bay and offers direct access to the Middle Bay. It also offers full-service support for your vessel, with marina managers with more than 100 years of combined marine service experience, both on and off the water. And their technicians are trained to American Boatyard and Yacht Council (ABYC) and ABBRA standards. In addition to excellent boat service, Gratitude Marina offers a fuel dock, lounge, bathhouse, ice, and Wi-Fi to boaters. It’s also within walking distance to the main beach at Rock Hall and the tram that shuttles riders around Rock Hall. Guests are also welcome to use the amenities of the marina’s sister marina, Osprey Point Marina.
Rod ‘N’ Reel Resort Marina in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland is a sprawling resort nestled in the heart of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach. From restaurants, to live entertainment and gaming, this property has everything a boater could want and more. On site, there are two restaurants and bars, a full-service salon and spa, indoor pool, sauna, laundry rooms, a fitness center, and more. In addition, there’s live music seven nights a week during the summer and game rooms featuring live bingo and pull-tab machines. Boaters also enjoy the resort’s private lounging beach, as well as its proximity to all of the quaint shops and restaurants of Chesapeake Beach.
Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, Maryland is the ultimate port for sailing, fishing and cruising in the Chesapeake Bay. This expansive marina offers 500 slips and can accommodate boats up to 125′ LOA with beams up to 30′ and drafts up to 10′. Guests enjoy being able to walk to downtown restaurants, including Water’s Edge and Waterman’s, as well as shopping and bars. The marina also features a fuel dock, and new and nicely appointed laundry and shower facilities. On site there’s a pool, grills, entertaining pavilions, lawn games and a great playground for the kiddos! Last, but not least, Somers Cove Marina is famous for its events, most notably the annual Tawes Crab and Clam Bake, an all-you-can-eat seafood extravaganza.
Bell Isle Beach Club & Marina in Hampton, Virginia is just minutes from the Chesapeake Bay. With 75 slips servicing vessels up to 50 ft., this family-friendly marina is perfect for a Chesapeake Bay fishing trip. Amenities include showers, pump out, water, ship store and more! If you’re in need of repairs, they have a DIY repair service yard ready for you to use. The marina also offers a private beach and picnic area, as well as kayak and paddle boat rentals. With plenty of local dining options from Italian to Thai just minutes from the marina, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in this ideal location.