Your Guide to Chesapeake Bay Charter Fishing

Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay is home to millions of saltwater anglers and the Bay is also one of the top stops in the Maryland - Virginia area for anglers looking for some great sport fishing in the world known Chesapeake Bay. Chesapeake Bay charter fishing attracts a special type of angler, usually an extremely passionate salt water sportsman that was born with fishing in the blood.

Nothing makes a fishing enthusiast happier than to feel the line snap tight and see the rod double over with the weight of a big flounder or a trophy sized striper at the end. This is when the serious angler gets to test all his mental and physical fishing skills he has learned and developed over the years. This is Chesapeake Bay fishing at it's best and the type of fishing anglers dream of.

Chesapeake Bay Charter Fishing, especially for striper fishing where trophy fish are sometimes taken you want to make sure you select a qualified Captain and crew that works well together as a team. Striper fishing means multiple hookups are always possible and big trophy size striper action can easily lead to lines crossing and other fishing mayhem so you need a crew that has experience working well with customers and also has the knowledge and ability to handle situations that arise when fighting these beautiful striper, or any of the larger fish that call the Chesapeake Bay home.

Did you know that to many, anglers is known as some of the best striper fishing action that any saltwater region has to offer? Since the late 1970's when the striper population was on the brink of destruction the striper species, due to rigorous stocking programs, has come back to be stronger than ever. Although the Chesapeake Bay striper fishing of today has some very stringent bag limits anglers flock to the region by the thousands to fish for striped bass on the Chesapeake Bay.

Chesapeake Bay Fishing

Mid-Atlantic anglers already know how great Chesapeake Bay fishing really is. Anglers living in Maryland and Virginia know Chesapeake Bay fishing is very much as good as any other spot along the Atlantic Coast. Of course Bay fishing is classified as inshore fishing so we are mainly talking about striper fishing (rockfish), flounder fishing, and fishing for a host of other inshore species you have likely heard of, especially if you live on the Atlantic coast. But if you ask most non mid Atlantic residents what the Bay is known for and they won't even say fishing, they will likely say blue crabs. And yes that is true, the Chesapeake Bay blue crab is well known as a delicious seafood dish from the Bay that is shipped all across the country to appear on many restaurant menus.

But the Chesapeake Bay has much more to offer and most of that is all about the fishing. Stretching from Baltimore Maryland south to Virginia Beach the Bay is just peppered with great fishing hotspots along the way. Heading south from Baltimore towards the middle Bay you have numerous fishing hotspots like Annapolis, Deale, and Chesapeake Beach where you can fish for a long list of species that call the Chesapeake Bay area waters home. All these regions have plentiful fishing resources and are favorite stops for anglers on a Chesapeake Bay charter fishing trip. In fact the Maryland fishing charters and Chesapeake Bay charter fishing are a major part of the Maryland state economy.

A Few Regional Fish Species for Recreational Anglers:

  • Black Drum, Red Drum
  • Cobia
  • Striper aka Rockfish
  • Black Sea Bass, Tautog
  • Croaker, Round Head, Pigfish
  • Sandbar Sharks
  • Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish
  • White Perch, Spot
  • Flounder, Trout (Gray & Speckled)

A Few Chesapeake Bay Facts

  1. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest of 130 estuaries in the United States.
  2. The Bay supports more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals, including 348 species of finfish, 173 species of shellfish and over 2,700 plant species.
  3. The Chesapeake is a commercial and recreational resource for the more than 15 million people who live in its basin.
  4. The Bay produces 500 million pounds of seafood per year.

Chesapeake Bay Charter Boats

Because the Maryland fishing attracts so many anglers to the region the Chesapeake Bay charter boats stay busy much of the year. With relatively short winters the middle Bay and Chesapeake Beach fishing charters only have a short period when they do not fish. During the coldest part of winter you will see Chesapeake Beach fishing charters and other regional area charter boats head south to the Virginia Beach area where the striper fishing goes on well into January.

The Chesapeake Bay striper fishing is some of the best in the world, from the upper bay south to Chesapeake Beach in the middle Bay south again to the mouth of the Bay along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel where some very large trophy striper are often taken. Chesapeake Bay charter boats often bring large striped bass to the dock with some topping the 50 pound mark. To protect the rockfish population there are limits imposed but on a boat with 6 anglers and each angler able to keep 2 large stripers there is plenty for the dinner table.

Chesapeake Bay Fishing Vacation

The Chesapeake Bay makes for a great family vacation destination. There is something to do for the entire family even if you don't enjoy fishing. Dad can go fishing and bring the kids as Chesapeake Bay fishing charters for the most are all kid friendly. Take a kid fishing and that is something they will remember for the rest of their life and hopefully something they will want to do again. If you have family members that wouldn't enjoy a day of Chesapeake Bay fishing then there are plenty of other activities like visiting the beautiful beaches for sun worshipping, shopping at the numerous nautical antique shops for that special souvenir, and plenty of other enjoyable things to do for the whole family. For angler's, the Chesapeake Bay is a fishing paradise and a place that is the perfect fishing vacation spot for expert and novice anglers alike.

Chesapeake Bay Fishing Species

The best fishing begins in early April and striper season begins at or near April 15th. Before April 15th there are drum or tautog to had which are usually caught on underwater rock piles or old wrecks such as a sunken tug boat or trawler. There isn't much else this time of year as the water is still just to chilly. Most fish in the Bay won't start biting until the water warms. The weather will warm up for good around late April at which time you will see more and more species come into the Bay. The general fishing season for the Chesapeake Bay runs from April to November.

Listed below are some of the more common species we catch around Chesapeake Beach and the middle Chesapeake Bay region.

Striper - Subject to Restrictions - The 2006 Spring Trophy Season begins April 15 and goes to mid-May. It is not uncommon to catch fish over 40" during this season. During the Summer and Fall seasons you are allowed two Striped Bass over 18" per person. Big Striped Bass can also be caught in late October through November.

SIZE: Averages 10 pounds - Some fish over sixty pounds have been caught.
FOOD VALUE: One of the most popular fish of the Chesapeake Bay, with white fluffy meat.
GAME QUALITIES: Great fun on light tackle.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Usually caught casting small articficial baits or trolling large lures at different heights of the water column.
FISHING STYLE: Trolling, Bait-casting.
MORE INFORMATION: All coastal inshore and Chesapeake Bay waters (tidal waters) have school-size fish; Chesapeake Bay tributary rivers, Eastern Shore bayside creeks south to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel have best concentrations of fish. Large fish most often found along CBBT, main portion of Chesapeake Bay and off the Virginia Capes at the mouth of the Bay. Assateague surf in late fall and early spring
January - December; peak for large fish in November and December; peak fishing for school fish generally in spring and fall - 5 - 30 pounds.

Spot - May to November - Spot usually appear in all areas of the Chesapeake Bay in the late spring and will hang around in the surf, bays and inlets until fall when the water starts to cool around late October or early November at which time they will make a run to warmer deeper water for the winter.

SIZE: Averages 6-8 inches; Sometimes will grow to over a pound..
FOOD VALUE: One of the most popular panfish.
GAME QUALITIES: Spirited panfish. Great fishing fun for the kids and family.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light spinning tackle, small hooks, blooworms, fishbites, pieces of cut fish, squid or shrimp.
FISHING STYLE: Bottom fishing, either drifting or anchored.
MORE INFORMATION: Caught bottom fishing with bait, anchored or drifting from boats, also caught from docks, piers, shore and surf; big runs of fish in the fall in lower Chesapeake Bay and in surf and piers of Virginia Beach.
Caught throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay and Bay tributary rivers, coastal ocean waters, inlets - all inshore Maryland coastal waters
June - October; peak July - September for Chesapeake Bay and tributary rivers; peak middle August - middle October in lower Bay and coastal ocean areas.
8 - 12 ounces

Croaker - May to November - Croaker usually run hand in hand or fin and fin that is with spot. Usually if you are catching croaker you will most like catch spot too. Croaker usually appear in all areas of the Chesapeake Bay in the late spring and will hang around in the surf, bays and inlets until fall when the water starts to cool around October at which time the bite will slow down.

SIZE: Averages a pound or less, but sometimes reache super sizes of 3 pounds or more.
FOOD VALUE: Croaker make good panfish.
GAME QUALITIES: Very scrappy fighter. A large croaker can be a real fun fight.
TACKLE AND BAITS: A blast to catch on light tackle. Can be caught on bloodworms, squid strips, cutbait, and even a small jig.
FISHING STYLE: Drifting, anchored, bottom fishing.

Flounder - April to November - Flounder aka fluke enter the Chesapeake Bay around late April to early May. Flounder are usually daytime feeders and tend to hit squid or stripped cut bait. If you are looking to catch a trophy sized flounder, over 5 or 6 pounds you may want tp try live bait like a small spot or small croaker above.

SIZE: Averages around a pound or two but can reach sizes over 15 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent table fare, common on many restuarant menus.
GAME QUALITIES: Very scrappy fighter. A very distinct fighting action and experienced flounder anglers can usually tell right away if they have a flounder on the line as soon as the fight starts.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Fun to catch but you must be patient. Give them the bait a bit before you yank back on the rod. Use squid strips or cut bait strips on a small lightweight bucktail. Can be caught trolling on the bottom around structure..
FISHING STYLE: Drifting, trolling. Can be caught on the edges of boat or shipping channels or around rocks or bridge pilings.

Trout - May to November - Gray trout, also called weakfish and summer trout become active in the Chesapeake Bay around the month of May and will not leave until as late as November. They range from pan size to larger than 10 pound.

SIZE: Averages around a pound or two for bottom fishers but can reach sizes over 15 pounds, especially for wire liners or live baiters.
FOOD VALUE: Very good, larger trout can be filet'd.
GAME QUALITIES: Not really a brawler but the larger trout can put up a decent fight straight down. Care must be taken when fighting and landing gray trout because they have a very soft mouth.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Wide range of baits can be used for gray trout. Squid, peeler crabs, shrimp, live spot or other live bait, artificial lures.
FISHING STYLE: Drifting or anchored up for the smaller gray trout, trolling along structure for large gray trout.