, 2014

The Fishing Line

By Capt. Billy Pipkin

Fishing improved this week, particularly in the lower bay.

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The large striped bass are making their way into the region with more reinforcements on the way.  As temperatures drop, the fish appear to be feeding more aggressively. Water temperatures dipped in the rivers to 43 degrees and the bay waters are averaging 46 degrees.

Striped bass fishing remains slow in the  upper bay and Potomac river. With the Maryland striped bass season ending on December 15, the outlook for the final few days appear bleak.

On the other hand, Virginia’s bay waters are beginning to show more promise as large schools of fish continue to move up the bay. Catches are more consistent when fishing in and around schools of menhaden. Larger schools of menhaden remain scattered while smaller more plentiful pods can be found suspended along the channel areas throughout the lower rivers and bay waters.

With average sizes of menhaden increasing, nine-inch profile baits have become more productive this week than the smaller bucktails donned with six-inch shads. We have had good success with parachute lures of various sizes while fished behind small umbrellas or just in tandem. As most anglers already know, my favorite colors are chartreuse and white.

We have found that fish are running larger this week as many of the fish landed aboard our charters are now in the 30-pound class. These fish are mainly located in the upper water table from the surface down to 20 feet. Planer boards are working well as are the long lines without additional weights.

In some instances, particularly in the rivers, the fish are snuggled tight to the bottom of upper channel edges. When the fish are found near the bottom, a heavy tandem rig is used to ease along just above the bottom.

Locations holding fish are as diverse as the recent weather. Anglers have been spread out over 40 miles of bay waters and even more in the rivers. The lower bay continues to harbor schools of rockfish from the bridge tunnel up to the cut channel. Fishing with live eels has produced a few fish in the upper 40-inch class off Cape Charles this week.

The fish basically follow the channel edges up the bay while searching for the menhaden schools. Some fish have also headed into Tangier Sound.

Safety first

Be carerful when fishing on the water this month. The water temperatures are low enough to cause hypothermia in a relatively short period of time. Always try to take a passenger with you, or if fishing alone, tether yourself to the boat and attach an engine kill switch to your life jacket. 

Another area of caution is fog which can be a navigation nightmare.

One of the greatest causes of injury while winter fishing is slipping on icy decks. Stepping onto a slippery deck is a sure way of ruining your day before it begins.

It’s best to keep your boat in a boathouse out of the weather. Ingram Bay Marina has covered slips of all sizes available for the winter. If you don’t have access to a covered slip, it’s best to at least keep a cover on your boat.  

Be safe and enjoy your week of fishing. Until next week, Fair winds.

Capt. Billy Pipkin owns and operates Ingram Bay Marina and Capt. Billy’s Charter service at the mouth of the Great Wicomico River in Wicomico Church. 580-7292, Ingrambaymarina.com.  

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