Sawyer Fishing Charters & Chesapeake Bay Tours

Fishing Articles from Capt. Dave!

Enjoy the finest in Chesapeake Bay Fishing Charters off of Maryland's Eastern Shore!!We offer full and half-day Chesapeake Bay Maryland fishing charters on the scenic Eastern Shore of Maryland at Hoopers Island

Fishing for Striped Bass, locally known as rockfish or stripers, bluefish, croakers, Spanish mackerel, and other species.


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Chesapeake Bay Striped Bass Fishing - By Capt. Dave Schauber

The Chesapeake Bay striped bass is the most sought-after fish on Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. Also known as the striper or the rockfish, these fish are known predominantly for the long, dark stripes along their lengths.

Striped bass are found all up and down the Atlantic seaboard, from Canada, on down into the Gulf of Mexico, as far west as Louisiana. These fish have also been introduced in other regions of the world, either for recreational fishing purposes or to control the populations of other species. It is interesting to note that these fish can be found in both saltwater and freshwater environments. Although striped bass tend to spend most of their adult lives in saltwater, they will often spawn in freshwater.

In Maryland, the most popular term for the Chesapeake Bay striped bass is rockfish, because striped bass tend to congregate around structure, whether it be bridge supports, rock piles, artificial reefs, lighthouses, etc. The biggest striped bass caught anywhere was over six feet long, but Chesapeake Bay striped bass generally range from 18" to 28" long in the summer months, and anywhere from 28" to 45" in the spring and fall. In Maryland, anglers are allowed one striped bass per person that is 28" and up during the spring trophy season between mid-April and mid-May. The same rule applies for the rest of the season, except that after mid-May, anglers are also allowed one striper per person that is between 18" and 28" in length, or they can have two per person of the smaller stripers without any of the big ones.

In the spring and fall trophy striped bass seasons, trolling is the primary method of fishing. It is not uncommon to see boats on the Chesapeake Bay trolling with more than 20 lines at one time, along with planer boards that are used to help fish in water that is up to 100 or more feet to one side or the other of the boat. This allows fishermen to cover more ground than they otherwise would. Bucktails and artificial baits such as rubber shad are the most commonly used lures during this time period. While trolling for Chesapeake Bay striped bass, the lines are set at varying depths, because the bait that the striped bass go after (mostly menhaden) tend to congregate at different depths on any given day. While setting the lines, special care must be taken to avoid tangling them. Once the lines are set, special attention must be paid to the speed at which the boat is moving. Most boats on the Chesapeake Bay troll between 2.5 and 4.0 knots depending on the direction of the current. While going against the current, you can afford to move slower as the current helps to stretch the lines out. It also helps to troll slower in colder water temperatures, as striped bass are often caught at speeds of under 2.0 knots in December. Striped bass are known to congregate on the edges of the shipping channel in the Chesapeake Bay. This is where the depth drops off from 45 feet to over 100 feet in a very short period of time. This is essentially an underwater cliff. The most effective trolling routes involve zig-zag patterns across this channel. Of course, you need to be on the look-out for ships at all times.

In the summer months, light tackle is generally used, along with live bait, usually spot fish, a technique known as live-lining. A spot fish is a small fish about the size of your hand, with a dark spot on each side. Small treble hooks (#6 seems to work best) are the best tackle for this type of fishing. Insert one tine of the hook into the back of the spot and put it into the water. Let the line slip through your fingers as it unspools, but keep some tension on the line as the spot is trying to swim to freedom. Make the spot struggle as it tries to swim away and it will look and act as if it is wounded. This is all a Chesapeake Bay striped bass needs to see before it goes after its meal. All of the sudden, the line will take off and freespool very rapidly. At this time, take your hand off of the line and let the fish run. Do not set the hook by snatching the rod. Doing this will simply pull the spot out of the striper's mouth. Allow the bait fish to be swallowed (usually about 5 seconds), and then close the bail and slowly raise your rod and reel in your catch. This is the most challenging type of fishing for many anglers because they are usually inclined to set the hook by violently snatching the rod when they get a hit. This habit must be un-learned when live-lining.

Sometimes, chum is used to draw the stripers in. The chum is a paste that is usually composed of ground menhaden, also known as alewives. The chum is thrown into the water, using a ladle. Chunks of menhaden are used for bait.

Striped bass are extremely vital to many livelihoods and local economies in the United States. The Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland is no different. The livelihoods of commercial fishermen and charter boat operators are directly impacted by the sustainability of the Chesapeake Bay striped bass population. In addition, when you consider the money spent by those who travel to Maryland and stay at the hotels, and visit the restaurants, clubs, and stores just so they can catch some of these Chesapeake Bay striped bass, it is easy to understand the importance of the striped bass to the economy and why it is important to be responsible fishermen and environmental stewards so that a sustainable population of striped bass can be preserved.

If you don't have a boat, but would still like to catch some of these beautiful Chesapeake Bay striped bass, reserve your very own Chesapeake Bay Fishing Charter for a Maryland striper fishing adventure that you will never forget.

About the Author

I am a professional Chesapeake Bay charter boat captain, offering Maryland fishing charters, fishing the Chesapeake Bay for striped bass, also known as stripers or rockfish, bluefish, croakers, and more. I have a 52-foot boat that is Coast Guard-certified to carry up to 41 paid passengers, as well as a Coast Guard award-winning safety record. For more about me, please visit my website at or my blog at .



We offer full and half-day Chesapeake Bay Maryland fishing charters off of Maryland's Eastern Shore, fishing for rockfish (stripers or striped bass), bluefish, croakers, Spanish mackerel, and other species. We also offer Chesapeake Bay lighthouse cruises, nature cruises and other Chesapeake Bay tours, floating crab feasts, and cruises to various destinations along the Chesapeake Bay. We are located on Hoopers Island, about 40 minutes south of Cambridge, Maryland. Regardless of the size of your group, or the uniqueness of your occasion, there is nothing that we can't handle! Come join us for a memorable experience on the Chesapeake Bay!


Sawyer Fishing Charters and Tours

Hoopers Island, MD


Capt. Dave Schauber
1345 Hoopers Island Rd.
Church Creek, Maryland 21622

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