Whether you are a beginner angler or a seasoned old salt, hiring a charter fishing boat is a great way to get out and experience the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, as well the Atlantic Ocean. There are countless fishing opportunities in the various waterways of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
The primary gill-bearing animals that are targeted by Chesapeake anglers are striped bass (aka striper, rock, rockfish, morone saxatilis). Many charter boats are specialized for catching these fish, and some captains will offer fishing trips for them twelve months a year, even during catch and release season. Every year, the larger migratory striped bass return to the Chespeake Bay to spawn. The spring trophy trolling season is one of the most popular times to fish for stripers, since anglers may get a shot at reeling in a 40-plus incher. During the summer season, many charter boats switch to trolling smaller baits or utilizing other tactics such as live-lining or chumming for rockfish. Fall fishing for striped bass heats up as the water cools down, and late in the year some larger may be present in Chesapeake to feed, especially in areas of industrial warm water discharges.
Chesapeake Bay charter captains also offer trips that vary through the seasons, often targeting species such as perch, catfish, red drum, black drum, speckled trout, bluefish, and spanish mackerel. Further south the Virginia waters of the Chesapeake tend to offer a wider variety of option as many species migrate in seasonally from the Atlantic Ocean.
Many light tackle guides are now offering fishing trips to target northern snakeheads, which now inhabit many fresh headwaters of the Chesapeake watershed from the Susquehanna to the Potomac River. These fish, which are originally native to Asia, were first discovered in a Crofton, Maryland pond in 2002 and declared an invasive species. Despite many efforts to eradicate, the snakehead is definitely here to stay and believe us when we say this fish makes for an exhilarating fishing experience as well as delicious table fare.
If offshore fishing is your pleasure, then head to the Atlantic coast. There are countless captains that are ready and willing to take you out on the ocean to target a variety of pelagic species. Some boats specialize in inshore fishing just a few miles from the coast, fishing various reefs for flounder, seabass, and tautog. If you desire to boat a big gamefish, you’ll have to dish out a few more dollars to get out to the canyons, which are approximately fifty miles offshore. But out there you’ll have the opportunity to land a giant billfish like white marlin, blue marlin, and swordfish. Offshore you may also experience sight casting to mahi mahi lurking below flotsam, or deep-dropping for blueline and golden tilefish.
Visit fishtalkmag.com/charter-fishing-guide for a directory of professional guides, charters, and head boats on the Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic region. From offshore deep-dropping for sea bass, trolling for stripers, or pitching topwater for snakeheads, these charter captains have got you covered. Book your trip today!