Chesapeake Bay is a top outdoor recreation spot in the United States, and for good reason! It is a fisherman’s paradise, as it plays host to a wide variety of native fish species. Just a few of the fish to be caught in this area include sturgeon, brook trout, striped bass, and white perch. Fishing has been an essential feature of this region since colonists first landed in the area in the 17th century. The commercial fishing industry has been booming ever since. It is now one of the top destinations for sport fishermen. Chesapeake Bay fishing is a recreational activity that can be enjoyed at any time of year, but the best time is in the spring, with April and May being the peak months. It is not uncommon to catch a fish weighing up to 50 pounds during this time of year. However, even in the summer you could catch a fish weighing up to 36 pounds. The weather in the Chesapeake Bay Area varies a lot from season to season, with summers tending to be hot and muggy, and winters tending to be cold and windy. It is wet and partly cloudy all year, so be sure to come prepared and wear extra layers!
There are some regulations on fisherman in the state of Maryland, so it is important to know and adhere to these on your Chesapeake Bay fishing trip. There are restrictions on how many of each species of fish, and that information is kept up to date on this website
You will also need to obtain a fishing license in order to fish legally in the area. That document can be obtained here
There are many fishing guides to be found in the Chesapeake Bay Area. Having a guide for your adventure can make it much easier to catch fish, as the guides know where each species can be found, and can also offer useful pointers to help you improve your fishing.
Here are a few of the best fishing guides you will find in Chesapeake Bay:
Captain Hogg’s Charters is located in Hampton, Virginia. The guides with Captain Hogg’s will take you out on a boat into the bay and help you learn the best techniques to catch a big fish. They offer both full- and half-day charters.
Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing is a charter service based in Kent Island, Maryland. They specialize in fishing trips for striped bass and rockfish. Striped bass can weigh up to 50 pounds, so they are a highly sought after species in the bay.
Based in West River, Maryland, Miss Edie Chesapeake Bay Fishing Charters specializes in fishing for Rockfish and Stripers. Each trip is a full day long and can accommodate up to six aspiring fishermen.
Some popular fishing locations in Chesapeake Bay include: Pooles Island, Bloody Point Light, Middle Grounds, Grandview Beach, Bluefish Rock, and the York River Bridge. Each of these locations is good for catching different species of fish, and success in each spot will, of course, vary based on the time of year.
In order to have a successful fishing trip in Chesapeake Bay, you will need to get some gear first. Not all kinds of bait are legal in the area, due to the danger of introducing a nonnative species into the bay. Because of this, you will need to make sure to check the local guidelines for the area you plan to go fishing in. Some popular kinds of bait used in the bay include: blood worms, cut soft crab, grass shrimp, mullet, squid, bullhead minnow, eels, and ground clams. Some of the gear you will need to take with you includes: a freshwater combo rod, preferably one of seven feet or longer; a spinning baitcaster reel; bucktail jig lures; and some sturdy fishing line, an ideal weight for this is 20 pounds.
One major factor that will play into your success with fishing is the time of day that you go. In the summer, the best time of day to go is usually early morning, around dawn. In the spring and fall, the time shifts to around dusk. Another important thing to remember for successful fishing is to avoid using any cosmetics on your hands. The fish will smell these on the bait you use, and this will prevent them from wanting to bite. Avoid lotions, sunscreen, makeup, and perfume/cologne on the day you plan to go fishing.
Once you catch your fish, you will probably want to cook it up to share as a meal with your family and friends. The locals in Chesapeake Bay have many delicious fish recipes, and here are just a few.
One local favorite is Chesapeake Bay Stuffed Rockfish. As the name suggests, this is a dish that has traditionally been made using Rockfish caught in the bay. The fish is seasoned to perfection with Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper, lemon juice, and parsley, then stuffed with breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, and crabmeat. It is then baked for about 15 minutes, or until it reaches the perfect flaky consistency.
Another popular Chesapeake Bay favorite is Chesapeake Bay Seafood Stew. The best thing about this stew is its versatility; it can be made with virtually any variety of fish you catch! Just combine the fish with leeks, garlic, fish stock, crab meat, hard-shell clams, and spices. This mixture is then simmered for 10 or so minutes. This is a perfect hearty meal that can serve a large amount of people.
Last but not least, another Chesapeake Bay favorite is Seafood Stuffing. This dish is made with oysters, clams, scallops, and crab meat. These are combined with breadcrumbs and seasonings to make a delicious and comforting stuffing which can be served on its own or as a complement to whole fish, mushrooms, or another kind of meat.
Eating like a Chesapeake Bay local is the perfect way to celebrate a successful day out on the water!