Chesapeake Bay Rockfish on Light Tackle

Around the country this fish goes by a lot of different names. The most common name that everyone understands is striped bass or stripers. But in the Chesapeake Bay? It’s a rockfish. The migratory patterns of the rockfish are as complex as new math. They move from freshwater to saltwater, from skinny tributaries to the deep channels of the Bay, and between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean up and down the coast as far north as Canada. More striped bass are caught, both by commercial and recreational anglers, than any other fish species in Maryland. When summer begins to set in it is time to chase schooling rockfish, on light tackle. These fish fight like a freight train and light tackle makes for a lot of fun. They are tough, resilient and ready to rumble. Any structure will do as these fish love to relate to cover. My bait of choice is a yellow 1/4 ounce bucktail jig tipped with a white 4” GULP trailer. These fish also love shiny things and will explode topwater baits in the magic hour before sunset. The upside of schoolies is you never know when a keeper fish will show up in the mix. I don’t keep a lot of fish for the table – especially game fish – but this size rockfish is the perfect table fare.There’s nothing better than returning home from a fishing adventure and topping the night off with a nice piece of your day’s catch. I think I need to go catch some more of these fish.