Table of Contents
1- Intro to 2016 Review
2- January - Cold But Hot Fishing
3- February - Darn Good Catching
4- March - One Word…..HUGE!
5- April – Warming Waters, Sweet Catch’in
6- May – The Movement….Northbound
7- June - Big Fish Rolling In The Boat!
8- July – Hot Temps…….Big Stripers and Breakers
9- August - Huge Numbers and Monstrous Surprises
10- September – Breakers Rolling Shallow, Big Reds!
11- October -Stumps, Rocks, Cuts, Rips, Wrecks and Shallow Oh MY!
12- November – Record Breaking Big’uns On Structure
13- December - Hot Start…..chilly finish
14- 2016 Fish of The Year!
THANKS TO ALL WHO FISHED WITH ME! You made it a great year of catch’in!
1- Preview to 2016 Review
2016 was certainly a year to remember for me. Broke my one year record of trips in a year, 223 trips! The season ended a bit early for me or I would have struck 230! From well above the Bay Bridge to Smith Point, Virginia fish were caught in great numbers and beautiful fish! As normal the power plant between mid-March and early April produced the biggest fish. May-early July produced plenty of over 30″ Stripers. Late July-September was breaking fish galore with some huge Redfish and the 2016 fish of the year! Fall Island fishing was spectacular again and then the late fall early winter fishing out of Point Lookout was very very productive with a smattering of difficult days. Overall a great year for sure and I’m looking forward to a record breaking 2017!
2-JANUARY- Cold but Hot Fishing
Typically my years start at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in January. However, through the years sometimes a great bite somewhere in January will keep me from home and the winter power plant bite. 2016 was started with abnormally warm water in Chesapeake Bay because of a very mild start to the winter. So……..even though the season to “keep fish” was closed, catch and release was alive and well at the mouth of the Potomac River. I did 7 trips in the first two weeks of january…….what a bite their was to start 2016! We caught using 6″ and 10″ BkD’s, Hardheadcustom baits veritcal jigs, Specialized Baits “Lil’ Bunker Spoons and surface plugs! Even a fly guy was able to connect in January at the mouth of the Potomac. Here’s a few shots of fish caught in Jan 2016………All fish were caught utilyzing light tackle and released to swim another day!
My Friend Phil Chorney loves his fly slinging! On a day that started at 17 degrees you wouldn’t think the top portion of the water column and a fly would produce but they did! Way to go Phil! Love it!
3-FEBRUARY- Darn Good Catching
The beginning of Feb 2016 was the start of my power plant season in 2016. Typically I don’t do many guide trips in Jan-Feb and I didn’t in 2016. I live very close and keep my boat in Flag Harbor…..less than 2 miles from the plant. My normal plan is to take friends and neighbors who live close by for short missions to the plant. Catching a couple fish is nice…..if we don’t catch it’s fine. Easy trip……have fun….stay warm and if we catch it’s great! Last Feb I did one guide trip and lot’s of little excursions to see whats going on. Feb 2016 did produce a fair amount of Stripers and many in the mid 30′s inches in February Every little trip out in Feb we caught fish! This year “2017″ In Feb I’m going to run cheap walk-on trips at the Plant. Lot’s of fun…..learn…..have fun and stay warm in my heated Cabin…..it’ll be great! Here’s a few shots from Feb 2016 at the plant……..
4-MARCH- One Word……HUGE
March is a GREAT month for sure at Calvert Cliffs! Every year the biggest Stripers of the year happen in March. April is big…..Feb is big also but not as big. One thing is for sure…..every year is different. In the late 90′s Feb was loaded at the power plant with big fish. March is a time when migratory forage fish play around in the power plant outflow and really big Stripers like to eat them there! Bar none…..the 10″ BKD is the best big fish bait I’ve ever used at the power plant. Other baits in the 10″ range work great also. What makes the 10″ BkD really stand out to me is it’s durability. You can catch many fish on one bait. Other baits I know of are very soft and rip after a fish or two. Glue could help for sure. 1.5 to 2.5 ounce jigheads are the tool of choice for me at the plant. Detecting bottom without getting snagged and at the same time putting on a great twitch is what “makes it happen” at the plant.
Here’s a few shots from March! None of these fish were 50 pounds but some were really big!
Towards the end of March the waters are warming and shallow water starts to approach 60 degrees. When the water strikes 60 the power plant still produces but not as consistent. I start exploring the eastern shore islands and shorelines and really catch some nice fish. They aren’t huge but some over 30″. Numbers can be big and the beauty of it all is gigantic. 2016 was a great April in the islands as the power plant fizzled.
5-APRIL- Warming Waters, Sweet Catch’in
April is one of my favorite fishing months! Winter turning hard to spring…..warming waters and active fish. The season opens to keep big ones around April 16. In 2016 I moved from Flag Harbor to Solomons on April 15. I don’t “trophy” hunt in April but do catch some really big fish in April. April is when the shallow water bite really turns on and the weather starts to be very nice…..Love it! When the charter boats are out trolling up one fish per person to take home I’m in the islands catching and releasing large numbers of really nice fish to keep forever on camara……love this time of year. Had a great April 2016! Here’s some shots……
May brings about warmer temps and Stripers becoming very active on the surface with temps into the upper 60′s and low 70′s. I fish from Solomons and run the main stem of the bay and the islands of the eastern shore. If Speckled Sea trout are in our area I start to catch them well in May. The last few years have seen very few Specks on the waters I fish. 2016 was much of the same. I caught less than 10 Speckled Sea trout in 2016. Sad but the way it goes. Hoping they trend back in soon! The Striper fishing however was very productive in May. Lot’s of great stripers on the jig and surface. I had a busy month with 28 trips out of 31 days. All trips produced well! Here are some shots from May 2016!
7- June- The Movement…..Northbound
June 2016 brought about movement of fish. During the month of May plenty of fish were in the region of Solomons but as June rolled along the biomass of decent sized Stripers were moving north, and North…..and more north. So……..in early June I moved from Solomons to Deale in order to be way closer to the fish. One thing I know is I can’t catch’m where they “ain’t”! The last three years I’ve fished out of Deale, MD starting in June until fish started showing up back south again. 2016 was a great year for me in June from Breezy Point up to as far north as Man-O-War Shoal at the mouth of the Patapsco River. Jigging around schools of Menhaden was key during June. Structure also produced some incredible Stripers from Deale up to Rock Hall. Here’s a few shots from June 2016!
8-July- Hot Temps, Big Stripers and Breakers
July was a month where I ran big miles daily rolling up the bay from Deale. The biomass of Striped Bass over 24″ and up to 35″ or so were up the bay above the bay bridge. Fishing structure early (before sunrise) produced many great fish. After sunrise the bite typcially was in water over 20′ deep and centered around bait. Deep water pilings of the bay bridge was productive along with humps, bumps and lumps in water 20′ deep or deeper. Some fish were caught on lumps under 20′ deep off Love Point. After about July 16 I started rolling east and south from Deale Catching lot’s of Blues and Stripers 16-22″. Breaking fish were wide spread and a blast in late july and rolling thru September.
Typical breakers last july:
Here’s some shots:
9- August – Huge Numbers and Monstrous Surprises
August is the end of summer. We’ve have a couple months of heat, fish moving around and changing patterns and now they are hitting hard on the top every day. Great time of year for gigantic numbers of fish and endless action. Surprises in large forms tend to hang out under active Bluefish in late august and September feeding on scraps falling though the water column. August is Stripers. Blues, Spanish Mackeral and some monster Reds! All reds were caught on metal or plastic below breaking Blues and Stripers…….a site to behold when you see the redish orange glow appear below the surface after an EPIC fight on light tackle. Nothing like it! August was great action everyday…….great BIG surprises underneath! Good stuff!
A few shots from August:
Check out this quick Red Battle Video!
10-September- Breakers Rolling Shallow, Big Reds!
September has always been and didn’t disappoint in 2016 as an incredible catching month! Breaking fish in the main stem of the bay are consistant and reliable daily and the shallow water of the eastern shore islands and shorelines really turn on and a variety is possible. Large schools of Stripers and Blues push bait into very shallow water at times, very exciting! We caught Stripers, Puppy Drum, Specks, Bluefish and even a Flounder in September. As water temps drop from 80 plus degrees down into the 70′s and cool nights happen fishing becomes wildly wonderful in shallow water from 2′-8′. Beautiful temps and prevailing calm seas make for a great month to catch lot’s of fish with some great fish mixed in. 2016′s fish of the year was caught in September. A great fish and story it was! I’ll tell it and show it at the end of my 2016 review. Here’s some stuff from September 2016!
11- October- Stumps, Rocks, Cuts, Rips, wrecks and Shallow…. Oh MY!
Folks ask me what my favorite place or time to fish is…….I have a hard time answering! I love it all and I love that things change enough to keep me sane! I love the power plant in the winter because of big fish. I love the April/May shallow water and island fishing because we catch nice fish in shallow and winter is over. I like summer because huge numbers of fish are available and it’s great for folks to catch easily. September is heaven on earth because summer is ending and the heat turns down a bit and fishing is GREAT! However……..if I have to pick I pick as my favorite as October. I fish primarily in the islands and shore lines of the eastern shore and fish structure in the main stem of the bay as I’m traversing the bay. The islands are miles and miles of remote shorelines with rips, grass beds, rock piles, guts and cuts and wrecks. I’ve got great catching opportunities all october even on breezy days. October also produces some really big Stripers in 2-7′ of water. Fishing is exciting and never boring in October. So……it i must admit October is my favorite month and the islands are my favorite place to fish. Here’s some shots from October 2016! Great stuff!
October was busy with lot’s of catching…..whew! Off to November!
12- November- Record Breaking Big’uns on Structure
The title of this month says it………Record breaking Big’uns! I did many trips in November and almost all of them saw several stripers over 30 inches and up to 38″ as the biggest. Love November for two reasons……great fishing and I launch out of Buzz’s Marina, love the owners of the marina, Mike and Christy! About 90% of large fish were caught on structure in less than 25′ of water. Toward the end of November some large fish started showing up under birds. For the most part all the big fish were on little hunks of structure and not in big schools. The over 30″ fish seemed to be in small “wolf” packs hunting menhaden and crabs around structure. We caught all the big fish on Hardhead Custom Baits Skirted Jigs tipped with a 6″ BKD, either chartruese glitter or purple glitter. The large fish caught on my boat in Novmember was by far more than any November I’ve ever had…….come on November 2017!
13-December- Hot Start, Chilly Finish
November ended and December started hot…..nice weather and great fishing. Typical of late November and December is volitile weather with plenty of wind and some major cold fronts to bring winter in to the region. I was hoping for a repeat of last year which was great fish and wild bombing Gannets all through December and well into January of 2016. This year 3 cold fronts slammed though the area and dropped water temps down quickly and the bite was becoming more difficult. We caught lots of fish on most trips in December but it just wasn’t crazy like last year……it was a little crazy on occasion but that’s it. Fish are still at the mouth of the Potomac and in the river but I decided to pull my boat a bit early and not fight to catch. Also, weather outlook overall wasn’t great so I pulled the boat and delivered it to Judge Yacht for some cool renovations. I’ll have the boat back in January and will be starting the 2017 season fishing the power plant. Good luck to all fishing in 2017 and I hope you had a great 2016! I sure did and loved every second of it!
14- 2016 FISH OF THE YEAR
A great fish and a cool story……….On September 8th I had a trip booked by Richard and didn’t know who else was coming until they showed up at the boat. Up marches Fred Menage and he states to me “I’m going to fill one of my bucket list fish today”! I said….”oh ya, what fish is that”? He said with confidence “Bull Red Drum, 40 Pounder”! I typically try to keep folks expectations down prior to trips. I just don’t want folks to be disappointed if they are expecting to much. Now fishing had been great and I had some huge Reds in some days prior to this trip. Fred saw the reports and told me he was feeling lucky…..like before when he won a truck at the Maryland Fishing Challenge Party. Well….I told him with confidence our boat had a 5% chance to land a Bull Red today. They aren’t easy or wide spread…..ya got to get a little lucky to get one to hit…..then you gotta land the thing on light tackle…..not easy! I wagered something I probably shouldn’t have ………..I bet Fred my left (you know what) he wouldn’t catch one. Fred took the bet! Lol………We caught Stripers and Blues from the beginning of the day and kept catching. I was running from breaking fish to breaking fish looking for the biggest Bluefish. Under the biggest bluefish is where I’ve been getting lucky with some huge Reds. Sometime in the early afternoon when it was real hot Fred hooked a fish and drag was screaming….and screaming and screaming. After a bit Fred had some sweat beading up on his head and the fish wasn’t coming towards us much. I had to chase the fish with the boat some to get some line back. Fred hung in there fighting this fish with the vigor of a 35 year old……man with a mission! After quite a fight we saw the fish….a huge Red for sure….absolutely the “bucket list” fish Fred was looking for. I was beyond happy we got the fish to the boat and that Fred was done with the fight……he was beat! But he did it and didn’t wince in pain at all. The crew was wincing in pain though! We were able to get the fish in the boat….got a picture with Fred and the fish, put the fish near the measuring tape….wasn’t 50″ but it was 47″ at least. It was awesome……made my year! After the fish was released (we held the fish just above the tail till it “kicked out”) Fred told me to grab my Bubba Blade Knife…”it’s time to pay up”. I said “What”…….Fred reminded me of our bet…..gulp……i lost the bet but Fred let me off the hook….whew! What a fish….a great day and one heck of a Bucket List fish caught and released. Good stuff…….great job FRED! Whoop whoop!!!!
click the links to see a short video of the fight and Fred Holding the fish……good stuff!
Twas a great year….thanks to all! Good luck in 2017!!!!!! Have a Happy Holiday!