The Susquehanna River Valley was flooded by melting glaciers 10,000 years ago, resulting in the Chesapeake Bay, now North America’s largest estuary. Fresh water from land drainage carefully dilutes seawater from the Atlantic Ocean within the bay, providing nutrient-rich spawning, nursery, and feeding grounds for many of the most popular saltwater fish to thrive year-round.
It stretches from Baltimore, Maryland in the north end all the way to Virginia Beach, Virginia on the southern end where the mouth is. Watershed area of the Chesapeake covers 64,000 square miles, in parts of six states, with 4,600 square miles of shoreline in Maryland alone; and it is navigable for ocean-going ships and fishing boats. This convenient access to such abundant waters has encouraged a rich tradition of fishing culture among many small towns and villages, and given the Bay a world-wide reputation for excellent year-round angling. Most Chesapeake Bay towns have at least a few fishing charters operating out of their port, many of which specialize in the local currencies of Striped Bass, Croaker, Flounder, and Trout; but more than a few others reach farther out into deep ocean waters for bigger, heartier sport fish.
Some of the larger charter fleets are located in Chesapeake Beach, Deale, Kent Island, Reedville, and Solomons Island. Ocean City, Maryland is a veritable fishing nirvana focusing mainly on Atlantic waters and deep sea jaunts; but also hosts numerous charters and guides with expertise in the bay areas. Half-day trips on the bay are the most popular, and are frequently available twice daily. Full-day trips are a better option for more dedicated anglers, especially those expected to provide a large dinner upon returning in the evening. Chesapeake Bay is a very large body of water, with an extensive system of waterways. For those who want to cover greater distances, including out to sea, some local charters offer overnight trips during which you may sleep (or not) either on the boat or at camping areas within the perimeter.
Different techniques are utilized when fishing Bay waters, including trolling, chumming, and bottom fishing. Much of this depends on where and how particular fish happen to be feeding during the seasons; but bottom fishing is good throughout the Bay practically all year, especially for Striped Bass (Rockfish), the official Maryland State Fish. Light tackle equipment is favored by many experts, for greater battles with most local species. Drum, Croaker, and Flounder are popular year-round; as are Bluefish, Perch, Trout, and Spot. However, some months are more populous than others. March signifies opening season for early Perch along with catch and release Rockfish. This is when the waters get active after a short winter hiatus, leading into April and May when trophy Rockfish and Bluefish reach their largest sizes, accompanied by Black Drum and White Perch. Though Rockfish get smaller in size, they – along with Flounder and Trout – continue to grow more numerous with the onset of summer. Between June and November the addition of Croaker, Spot, and Spanish Mackerel make these fishing grounds a very busy place. For those who want a greater challenge with the larger, more heralded deep sea species, the Atlantic Ocean is only a short trip to the east. Charters can take you on full-day and overnight trips to waters wherein lurk monster Blue and Yellowfin Tuna, Dolphin, Wahoo, White and Blue Marlin, along with a great variety of sharks, including Hammerhead, Thresher, Mako, and Blue Whaler. Numerous tournaments are hosted on the Chesapeake Bay, throughout local waterways, and on the Atlantic during almost every month of the year.
With so many resorts and ideal weather during most of the year, the Chesapeake Bay area is one of the most popular fishing regions in the world. A practically endless supply of local species makes fishing good through every month. These exciting fish are not only good sport, but delicious table fare, increasing the reward of a good day’s battle on the water. Thankfully there is enough room for everyone, and the knowledge of local charters and guides is a great advantage to get you hooked up again and again.