Two Months Left of Phenomenal Chesapeake Bay Fishing

Fishing is stellar in the Mid Chesapeake Bay right now.   We are enjoying temps that have cooled and fish that are schooled!  The action has been non-stop lately with small, medium and large striped bass biting aggressively.   We have some weekdays left in November and various openings in December.  The season goes till 12-20 and the boat is heated.  Let’s go fishing!

10-23-2 10-23-a-m 10-25-3

Fall Turnover & How it Affects Chesapeake Bay Fishing

Fall fishing can be some of the best of the year, but it can take some understanding of the Chesapeake Bay’s seasonal transition or “Fall Turnover” in order to put meat in the box.

Temperature, salinity and circulation determine the basic aspects of a given body of water. Wind, rainfall, air temperature, snow melt, currents, tides, waves and even the Coriolis Effect shape these fundamentals.  The term “Fall Turnover” refers to the annual phenomenon that the Chesapeake’s water layers undergo.

During the Spring and Summer months, the Bay’s surface is heated by the sun and maintains a higher temperature than that of deeper depths. The cooler, saltier water is denser and therefore sinks to the bottom during this time of year. Two distinct layers of waters stratify with a thinner zone in between them. This middle section of water is called the “pycnocline” and it is where water density increases abruptly with increasing depths due to changes in salinity and water temperature. Since the thermocline is a region of rapidly fluctuating water temperature, and the halocline marks sudden changes in salinity, it’s useful to think of these two “clines” as causing forces behind the pycnocline. The stratification of the Bay’s layers and a significant pycnocline can create barriers to nutrients mixing between layers and can void the bottom of dissolved oxygen. This is why fish are often not found very deep in some areas during the Summer.

When Fall brings cooler temperatures and an abundance of wind, the Bay is stirred like a giant mixing bowl. The fresher surface water cools the quickest and density becomes consistent throughout the water column. This causes the top layer to sink and vertical mixing to occur. As the water blends, it pushes nutrients up from the bottom and distributes oxygen deeper. During much of the winter, water salinity and temperature are relatively constant from the surface to the bottom. The turnover can happen overnight but will do so in different areas at different times depending on conditions.

So, who cares? Fish do. Striped Bass, the crown jewel of the Chesapeake, are greatly affected by this autumn changeover. With dissolved oxygen more evenly dispersed, fish may be suspended anywhere from the very bottom up to the surface of a post-turnover area. It can be more challenging to target fish scattered throughout the depths, and extremely deep fish can be reluctant to bite. However, post-turnover areas can provide large bait concentrations and schools of active, cooperative Stripers. In order to consistently catch these late-season fish, it helps to pay close attention to their environment and to have a basic comprehension of Fall Turnover.

Two months left….some of the best fishing of the year

Fall fishing is already stellar and it’s only getting better.  Dates are limited.  The season goes until December 20th.  Weekdays are best to avoid the moronic weekend crowds.

Get in one last hurrah on the Chesapeake before it’s over!


Fall Fishing on The Chesapeake

Temperatures are dropping but the fishing is heating up nicely!   Residual winds from Hurricane Matthew cost us a few days of fishing, but we were lucky to be spared from the actual storm.  We are using up the last of our live bait stash to live-line Rockfish limits on light tackle.  We are still boxing some large Bluefish each trip but they won’t be around much longer.  The Fall pattern is starting to develop and our grade of striped bass (a.k.a. Rockfish) will be improving soon.  Lately, we have enjoyed a great deal of action, but we have had to catch 75-100 fish in order to box a limit of legal sized stripers.   This excess of throwback fish is normal for October and bigger fish are right around the corner.  We fish all the way to the season close on December 20th and some of the best fishing occurs during the last month and a half of the season.  Weekdays are always a better choice as the weekends are thick with ignorant crowds who speed around like fools spooking schools of fish and ruining the fishing for everyone.  Here are some pics from the last few trips….

10-07-a-m 10-03-a-m 10-08-a-m