Domestic Rockfish Plentiful; We Await the Big Sea Run Stripers

November 18, 2015 | Domestic rockfish in the 15 to 28 inch size are plentiful most everywhere. The pre- spawn migration of big fish from the Atlantic has yet to begin.


I ventured out with Captain Brady Bounds on his charter boat the "Miss Lena" (301-909-0471) on Monday (11/16/2015).  We were looking to cast lures to breakers or find stripers on structure. We visited most every part of the central Bay region as it was a perfectly calm day and could speed around at 25 mph with ease. We found fish in many areas including the marker just north of the target ship where several good-sized fish jumped on cast specialized bait bucktails (white) near Hooper's Island Light house and the marker at Hooper's Straits. We caught several fish at these locations early, but they were strays and after a couple of passes they were exhausted and off we went to other locations, most of which were devoid of fish at that time of day. With the sun high, clear skies, and gin clear water, shallow water fishing is only good at sunset and daybreak. The rockfish at the Hooper's Island bridge were not timid at midday in the 20 foot channel and were eager to take lures as long as we wanted to cast, but they were all under 20 inches. We left them there swarming under the boat and headed back across the bay to the Woodrow Wilson stone pile where the fish had jumped on lures in the morning according to the fishermen swapping tales at the boat ramp at Buzz's Marina. The early afternoon found them unresponsive.

Next, we went south to the marker at Point Lookout where we found a couple of small rock that wanted to play. Brady spotted a cluster of boats southwest of us and with binoculars saw lots of birds. With the flat sea we covered the four or so miles in a matter of minutes and found ourselves in a world of breaking fish, diving, chattering birds and about a dozen boats most of which were drifting with no motors running and jigging or casting bucktails or shiny metal jigs. We had fish on with our first casts. We landed many fish for the next hour keeping several in the 22 to 24 inch range and one that was 28 inches and 8 pounds. We only had to adjust the boat on a couple of occasions when the schools of fish wandered off up the river a little. There was another entire set of boats and birds further up river that we spotted as we were about to leave for home. All this activity was between Potomac River Markers 5 and 7 on the Virginia side.

As we prepared to leave, a fisherman on a boat close by was playing a fish on a small spinning rod and reel. After a good ten minute battle the fish was finally brought to net. The rockfish was about 30 inches and maybe ten pounds. Lovely fish on a lovely day on the Bay.

Potomac River Rockfish caught by Ken Lamb.
Birds, boats, breaking fish in lower Potomac.