We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Tyler Nonn to discuss shallow water fishing for giant Chesapeake Bay spring stripers. Here's what we learned...
Location: Chesapeake Bay
Tides: The end of the incoming and beginning of the outgoing seem to be the most productive tides. Lower tide stages fish tend to pull off shallow flats and hang on adjacent ledges and channels.
Approach: Approach quietly and use a trolling motor if possible. If you don’t have one approach up wind or tide to make a drift across the area of the flat where you think fish may be holding or cruising. When water temperatures are above 55 degrees look for fish on the edges of grass flats, contour lines, or the edges of the flats where the current is pushing. These situations will position traveling bait and fish will follow. As the tide floods in, fish gravitate shallower and as the tide falls fish will pull off and go deeper. In most situations big fish won’t be found in less than 2 ft. I generally start in 4 to 6 ft of water and move shallower as the tide allows. Look for waking fish, birds, and bait slashing or flickering the surface. Slick calm days aren’t the best days for catching fish but you can learn a lot about the lines fish will take when traveling across a flat. Pay attention to these patterns. The fish will often take the same route even when you can’t see them waking or working baits.
Rigging Selection: When fishing in grassy or weedy conditions I prefer rigging the baits weedless with the Unweighted Barbarian Swim Bait Hooks. I will sometimes fish a Lightly Weighted Barbarian Swim Bait Hook if the fish are in that 4 to 6 ft. zone. Other rigging options that I will use especially if sight fishing is the soft circle and weighted grip hook. With little or no hook actually in the bait these rigging options will sometimes entice more bites when water is super clear and fish are spooky.
Bait Selection: The Hogy 10” Original and 14” Original baits.
Why this bait? Big spring stripers are looking for big baits in the Chesapeake Bay. Stripers follow on the heels of migrating shad and herring. Fish are looking for a big meal so matching the approximate size helps to fool these big, smart, old fish into biting.
Colors: Bubble gum, green sexy, tinker mac, and bone are all great colors. I always start off with bone and then start making adjustments to see what they prefer.
Retrieve: I like working these baits just under the surface. Often times these bites are explosive and very visual. Twitching these baits in combination with a few quick cranks will drive fish crazy! When sight fishing often times when you see the fish coming for the bait you want to keep the same speed or even speed the bait up. Never stop the bait once a fish starts to chase. If you do often times they will lose interest.
Rod: 7’ Heavy St. Croix Inshore Mojo series rods
Reel: Shimano Sustain 10000
Line: 50lb Power Pro Slick
Leader: 40lb mono or heavier. In clear conditions, fluorocarbon may be necessary.