These days, when you can book just about anything online, here’s a getaway thought: How about throwing a real line in the water and catching your very own dinner of striped bass?
Sound good? Then Calvert County, Md., is sounding the dinner bell!
Just 35 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., Calvert County is cradled between the Patuxent River on its western shore and the Chesapeake Bay at the eastern side. Here, the town of Chesapeake Beach proudly holds the title of “Charter Fishing Capital of Maryland.” The biggest striped bass, also known as rockfish, swim in the Chesapeake Bay in the spring.
“The season begins the third Saturday in April,” explained Bob Munro, Secretary of the Maryland Charter Boat Association. “It’s what they call ‘The Maryland Trophy Season.’ A 50-pound rockfish is the catch of a lifetime.”
And like everything in nature, there is a time and season.
“The female rockfish come into the bay in late February and move into the rivers to spawn,” Munro continued. “Then in the next few weeks they move out of the rivers and back into the bay. This is the favorite time for fisherman. And during trophy season, it is one fish per person [until] May 15 when it stops.”
Then begins the fish frenzy, so to speak.
“If you are fishing for big rockfish in the bay, May is the best time,” notes Hilary Dailey, tourism program specialist for Calvert County’s Department of Economic Development. “It depends on the temperature of the Bay — the warmer it is, the earlier the fish will be available. Other fish and smaller rockfish can be found June through the summer.”
In fact, according to Bob Munro, there are opportunities available all the way up to Thanksgiving, with a variety of fish available for your table. These include spot, white perch, croaker, blue fish and Spanish mackerel.
Both Munro and Dailey strongly suggest looking into hiring charter fishing boats, because according to Dailey, the charter boat captains are out on the bay every day. They know where the best places are for fishing and they know what techniques and baits to use based on how the season is going. They will even hook up your bait for you and help you along the way.
Now, with all of this information, the next thing to know about is how to book a charter.
“There is something for everyone who wants to get in a boat on [Calvert County’s] waters,” Munro enthuses.
The Big Worm, for example, offers a charter boat 52-feet long by 16-feet wide and carries 45 people. There are also smaller boats for hire. Most fishing boats require a captain and a mate.
Other charter operations for both fishing, recreation and touring include Chesapeake Bay Charters, which boasts a family sailing experience, Chesapeake Windsail Cruises Corporation and Chesapeake Fishing Charters. Rod ‘N’ Reel Charter Fishing also rents smaller boats like kayaks, pontoon boats, paddle boats and small outboard motor boats. Several marinas will have small boats to rent by the hour or by the day for fishing or recreation on either the bay or the river.
On Solomon’s Island, charter companies include Bunky’s Charter Boats, Inc., Calvert Marina Charter Dock, Sail Solomons and Half Shell Adventures.
Touring the area without a rod and reel is quite a popular pastime, with boats large and small available for charter. These operate on an hourly or day-long basis. Sailboats for charter also glide the county’s 143 miles of shoreline.
Fisherman and recreational boaters with their own vessels will be amazed at the number of marinas. Additionally, the county features six public boat ramps and kayak launches. There is also a fishing pier on Solomons.
“People don’t really know what’s out there,” Bob Munro said. “If you are new to the area, the Chesapeake is a national treasure — a recreation bonanza!”