July Fishing

July Fishing in the Middle Bay          
      by Tom Nowell

Drift fishing & chumming for rockfish in July on the Chesapeake Bay

Friday, July 7, 2000 was about as good as it gets. Ray, my wife Bette, and I listened to the weather report the night before. They were calling for 10 knot winds out of the North with 1 foot seas.  High tide at Thomas Point was going to be about 10:30 in the morning. We wanted to chum for Rockfish at the Hill but, we knew that the current wouldn't start moving out at the Hill for about 2 to 2½ hours after high tide at Thomas Point. And with a 10 knot Northern wind, we wanted to be sure the current was moving out so that our boat would be positioned correctly in the current for chumming. We decided we would leave the dock about 8:00 AM and drift for White Perch until time to go over to the Hill and chum.

By the time we got up in the morning they were calling for 10 to 15 knot Northern winds, but, still only 1 foot seas. Surprise, by the time we got to the can in front of Thomas Point, it was every bit of 15 knots with seas of 2 to 3 feet.

We decided to try to drift anyway and started our drift just south of the can at about 8:30 AM. We put blood worm on a top and bottom rig with a 2 oz. sinker. We were in 30' of water and dropped our first line over. We couldn't hold bottom so we changed to a 4 oz. sinker.  Still unable to hold bottom with it, we put out a sea anchor from the side cleat. Finally, our bait held bottom.

Within minutes, we had our first White Perch. We caught 5 of our first 6 on the same hook. We couldn't decide if it was the gold spinner on the hook or the movement of that rod (It was held in the rod holder at a lower angle than the rest and did not have quite as much action as we drifted.) that made the difference. We ended up catching about 80% of the White Perch on that one hook. 

We baited one of the lines with squid and a piece of cut bunker to try for a Rockfish while we drifted. When that line went down, we thought we had one. Turned out to be a large Croaker. I didn't realize their mouth was so big.

We drifted continuously for about 4 hours. We remained in approximately 30' of water until the end of the drift when we went behind the can at Franklin Point. We caught over 40 large White Perch, 5 Croaker and 1 Spot. Since we only had 12 blood worms, we cut the Spot in thin strips and threaded them on the hooks the same way we did the blood worms. The White Perch hit them as well.

At about 12:30, we pulled in our lines and ran across the bay to the Hill. Normally, it is like a parking lot. But, there were less than 10 boats. We cruised around a little since it was so empty until we marked fish and anchored just above of them. Within 15 minutes of starting our chum line, we brought our first fish in. It was undersized. During the first hour, Bette brought in the only keeper. During the second hour, Ray brought in the second keeper and a 14" Bluefish. As we neared the end of the third hour, Ray brought in the 4 remaining keepers one after the other. I did a good job chumming.

We were using 6/0 circle hooks and only one of the keepers swallowed the hook. Please use circle hooks when chumming.

We crossed back over to Selby Bay Yacht Basin at the mouth of the South River and cleaned our fish. We would have had pictures, but, I forgot the camera at work.

It was now time for margaritas on the Party Deck !

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