Striper Fishing on the Chesapeake sounds something like…Click. Click-click. Click-click-click-click. Zzzzzzzz…
This is the music to every angler’s ear. It’s the sound we live for; the sound of a fish taking line. The boats, locations and fish may differ but the sound of a reel singing is always the same.
It never gets old.
This past week was no different. For the fourth year in a row my 10 year old son, Ryley, and I were out on the Chesapeake Bay chasing trophy striped bass. This year I decided to shake things up a bit and head out on a different charter boat than the one we had traditionally used in the past.
Naturally I logged into Fin & Field to help me find the right charter boat for our needs. A half-dozen or so great operators came up with my first search on Fin & Field; Husevo, Foolish Pleasures, Game Changer and Finatic just to name a few. All these are great boats but I was looking for something a little closer to home so that it wouldn’t be such a long drive. After much research (click here for the F&F eBook I used) I decided to give Captain Jim Batchelor at Chesapeake Adventures Sportfishing a try.
Captain Jim operates his boat “Reel Time”, a 40’ J-Allen charter boat, out of Breezy Point, Maryland. Captain Jim has spent the last 20 years, as a USCG Captain, chasing stripers all over the Bay and Breezy Point is one of the finest areas to fish for striped bass in the Chesapeake. I have to be brutally honest that pursuing trophy striped bass in April on the Chesapeake Bay isn’t as glamorous as jigging for them on light tackle. You put out some planning boards, about 20 or so lines, and troll… and troll… and troll. Depending on how the bass are running you could go an hour, half a day or even all day before you hook up with a fish. But when that trophy striped bass crushes the lure and the drag starts screaming you forget about all the down time and hold on to that rod for dear life as you crank down and bring that trophy to the boat.
That’s exactly what happened to us. We left the dock at about 6:30 am and headed out to find an absolutely gorgeous morning; light breeze, an almost flat calm and even a rainbow! In less than 15 minutes we were throwing out the planning boards and setting up the rods. I could still see the marina behind us; we hadn’t gone that far so why were we putting out lines now? We started to put the lines in the water and before I could ask my question we managed to boat a beautiful 43 inch fish. Within 5 minutes my son, Ryley, had boated a nice 41 inch striper. By 7:30 am we had added another 38 inch striper to the box and were sitting back dreaming of a glorious day on the water.
Then the reality of fishing hit. We trolled for the next 3 hours with nothing. And when I say nothing I mean we didn’t even see a fish on the sonar. Things picked up shortly before lunch when one of the lines came tight. But just as soon as it came tight the fish got off. Less than a minute later another line pulled tight and my wife got up to fight the fish; with the fish again coming off before the fight could even start. But as fate would have it she redeemed herself the third time the line came tight and struggled to reel in another 38 inch striper. That was the last fish we would put in the cooler. Within an hour of catching the last fish the sun went behind the clouds, the wind kicked up, the temperature went down and the boat began to rock. We gave a valiant effort for the next two hours but came up short. I wouldn’t say any of us were disappointed in not limiting out, but we really wished we would have been able to hook up on those two we lost. We headed back to the marina as the whitecaps started to break.
Our disappointment changed once we started to hear the chatter on the radio and noticed the other boats coming back in to the dock. The reports were in and this was one of the slowest starts to the trophy season in a long time. We managed to go four for six but many other boats weren’t so lucky. That’s the difference between a good and great captain. Fin & Field lets you browse, compare, and check reviews of the top captains before booking a trip.
If you are looking to chase trophy striped bass in the Chesapeake the season runs from mid-April through mid-May. But that’s not all Captain Jim or the Chesapeake has to offer. From late May through June large black drum show up and can be targeted after you finish your striper fishing. Throughout the summer croaker, flounder, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout and spot show up off of Breezy Point and can be targeted with light tackle. For two weeks in July Captain Jim takes the Reel Time down to Cape Charles, Virginia, on the lower reaches of the Chesapeake, to target cobia, sharks, red fish, flounder, trout and spadefish. If you live in the area and want to book a trip give Captain Jim a call at 855-891-2034 or log onto Fin & Field. If you want to chase striped bass in your neck of the woods check out my blog post Stripers Fishing Coast to Coast to get you started.
By Guest Blogger Shawn McCardell
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