TWT Fishing Charters had a very interesting late winter and early spring. The water in the Chesapeake Bay never iced up and stayed warm enough and the bait fish never left. Since the food did not leave neither did the Rockfish. In the cold winter months of January, February and March we had plenty of success using light tackle jigging lures to catch and release Giants (Rockfish over the 40-inch mark). In January we were in the Atlantic Ocean anywhere from Assateague Island to Cape Henlopen chasing schools of big fish. We had many epic and memorable days of tight lines and screaming drags. There were days when you could catch and release 30 or more of these fish during one trip. In February and March, we fished the Bay and again it was game on. However, this time the fish were even bigger. The Cold Water months are the only time these giants are around to chase.
By the time The Spring Rockfish (Striped Bass) Trophy May 1 – 15, 2023 opened the Giants had left the bay and are already heading to their summer grounds. Unfortunately, this meant the Trophy season started and ended on a whimper. Plenty of anglers on the Bay spent countless hours pursuing the proverbial Trophy (Unicorn) Rockfish. Despite all of the effort there was not much success to report. It will be interesting to see if Maryland has a Trophy Season in 2024. Personally, I prefer to release the Trophy Rockfish for a couple of reasons. The meat is more course than the smaller fish and a 40-pound rockfish can spawn up to one million eggs. We need those big breeders to rebuild the Atlantic Coast Rockfish population.
Along with the limited success of the Trophy Season the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission under the direction of NOAA issued emergency changes to the rules and regulations to catch and harvest Rockfish. The new rules maintain the minimum size limit at 19 inches and now a new maximum size limit of 31 inches. I support this policy as a reasonable attempt to preserve and increase the most reproductive portion of the species. Let’s hope this strategy works and we avoid having another moratorium shutting down the Rock fishing industry.
To end on a good note. There are plenty of good days to be had on the Bay catching fish. Tuesday 5/16/23 was the start of The Summer Fishing Season with the new regulations in place. Charter Captains working with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources FACTS Reporting System are allows them to keep 2 Rockfish (Striped Bass) for each customer on board. This is the time of year where I put away the heavy tackle and trolling rods and switch over to light tackle. My guests really look forward to the Summer Season using light tackle to fish with live bait or jigging lures. I like to report my guest have had great success getting their daily limit of some very beautiful and healthy Rockfish. There are days which the wind and current make it extremely difficult to use live or cut bait. During those odd days I have a light weight summer trolling set up which I will also use to bottom bounce lures. Both methods produce a nice catch of fish and my guest get a chance to see and learn another productive technique for catching Rockfish on the Chesapeake Bay. Looking forward to having you on board. Come on out and give it a try.
See you on board Tight Lines
TWT Fishing Charters