FISHING PROSPECTS FOR 2015 by Captain Bruno Vasta
Well, here we go again looking into my crystal ball and trying to give you the 2015 Fishing Forecast here in the Chesapeake Bay. As we found out last year, there are many factors that must be considered before giving out a prediction of what species are going to be the best bets for the New Year. Take the Striped Bass for instance, even though there were dire predictions about catching these fish last year, once the season got underway, striper fishing was actually pretty good in certain areas of the Bay. Unfortunately, most of the keeper size stripers were not that prevalent in both the Patuxent River and our local Chesapeake Bay areas from Cove Point down to Cedar Point. But, fishing up the Bay and even farther down around the Point Lookout area proved quite successful. Yet, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) imposed a 20.5% harvest cut for the Chesapeake through 2015 because of a spawning female population crisis. Therefore, we must now factor in this harvest decrease into our forecast with regards to Stripers. Striper Forecast: Very Good
My reasoning for this forecast is that the large 2011 striper hatch are still out there and growing. These stripers should now be close to the 20 inch minimum that the Department of Natural Resources has imposed on us recreational anglers. Furthermore, as I keep telling my friends who fish with me “Fish have tails, and they move about very quickly”. Therefore, if you happen upon these fish, “you can get well in a hurry”. We had some days last fall down around the Targets where there were acres and acres of stripers with gulls all over the place and we caught beautiful stripers from 19 inches up to 35 inches using small buck tails with 4 inch Sassy-Shads. We should be able to give good fishing locations to our fellow members using our cell phones. Nobody uses the VHF radios any longer. So as the Spring season opens (April 18th), be ready to begin trolling your larger baits out in the Chesapeake Bay. Exact locations and methods will be described in other articles.
In my recent article entitled “Patuxent River Fishery- A River for all Seasons” due to appear in the January Issue of Tidelines, Tom Kemp and I describe catching various species of fish all year long. Winter fishing for White Perch starts any time you can get out. Fishing in deep water around the Governor Johnson Bridge usually is the best bet using small pieces of blood-worms or little pieces of shrimp and squid. White Perch fishing continues throughout the year and is a favorite during the spring and summer months in shallower waters and around tree branches that have fallen in the waters of the Patuxent River. Therefore, White Perch Forecast: Very Good
As the waters warm within the River systems, Hardheads and Spot begin to show up on the various oysters and clam beds within the Patuxent River. These bottom feeding fish start to show up in early May. Usually, an early run of Hardheads begins around the end of April and continues into May and June. Some of these Hardheads go upwards of 16 to 18 inches and put up a very good fight on light line tackle. Fishing from small boats during this period allows the anglers to use ultra-light gear using both live and artificial baits. Both Hardheads and Spot are caught throughout the summer months and hopefully, we may see the return of some nice Sea-Trout. At times, one can expect not only the Speckled Sea Trout, but some larger Grey Trout. Hardheads and Spot Forecast: Very Good
Sea-Trout fishing should make a decent return this year unless we have another long freeze that was responsible to a large kill off in early 2014. The same can be said for “Puppy-Drum” which showed promise in 2013, but also ran into problems last year. This type of fishing usually starts in Late June and the small “Spot-tail” drum can invade many of the creeks that flow into the Patuxent River itself. It is with this hope in mind, I foresee: Sea-Trout and Grey Trout Forecast: Fair to Good
Puppy-Drum Forecast: Hopefully Good
One of the favorite species of bottom fishing is the Summer Flounder. Fishing for Flounder has been poor for the last couple of years and even though a few smaller fish have been caught each year, not many have been over 16 inch limit. Once again, DNR is calling for a 4 fish creel limit for Flounder with the same 16 inch minimum. The best place to fish for Flounder has been either right out front at the 3-Legged Buoy or across the Bay off Buoys 76 and 74. Drift fishing usually picks up as early as late June and early July. Some of our fishing buddies travel down to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel area and troll for some big Flounder. It still remains to be seen if the keeper size Flounder will inhabit our fishing grounds during the up-coming season. Summer Flounder Forecast: Fair to perhaps Good
Right around the first of July, we should see the Bluefish coming up the Bay and even into the mouth of the Patuxent River. Remember, these fish have very sharp teeth so be careful when handling the larger Bluefish. We filet and prepare most of the Bluefish for smoking, but the larger ones are also good with a whole variety of new Bluefish receipts. Bluefish were plentiful from the mouth of the River out past Buoy 77, and at times early in morning or at dusk, one could find these fish breaking on schools of baitfish. We found plenty of Bluefish around the Cedar Point Rips almost every evening from late August through early November. Bluefish are not that choosy when it comes to lures. They can be caught on spoons, bucktails, small hoses, and all sorts of plugs, etc. Bluefish Forecast: Very Good
There are other species of fish that can be caught at various times in the Bay including: Cobia, Large Red-Drum, Whiting & Black Sea Bass. If one has the time and the boat to chase after some of these species, they have been caught up and down the Bay, primarily on the Eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay.
So, get out there and catch some nice fish for 2015, and give us a report on how you do on each trip. Enjoy yourselves and Tight Lines!