FISHING ON UPPER CHESAPEAKE BAY
Updated: Sep 17, 2022
It’s time for the final Northern Open of the season, and the Bassmaster crowd has picked a great
location and a good time of year. The current Northern Opens point standings are as follows:
1 Kenta Kimura 394
2 Alex Wetherell 388
3 Kyoya Fujita 376
4 Cody Meyer 371
5 Michael Iaconelli 365
6 Jacob Walker 365
7 Keith Poche 360
The Upper Chesapeake Bay is in great shape and producing good sized bass. Open anglers will be launching from one of the Northeast River. While it is smaller than other rivers flowing into the Upper Chesapeake. It has a variety of structure and grass that hold baitfish and huge numbers of quality bass- many in the 5- 6 lb. range. The docks and grass flats have always been great areas to find quality bass, and during low and slack tides, a finesse angler, with skills in drop shotting and other light line methods, as well as the ability to read sonar, can take quality bass waiting for the tide to turn. The main baits for the Northeast, Elk and Sassafras feeding rivers are jigs, frogs, buzz baits, chatter baits, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastics. The Upper Chesapeake has been receiving a lot of notoriety over the last few years due to improved catch rates and overall weight increases as reported from tournaments. Recent success is attracting clubs from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and as far away as New York.
With this influx of angling pressure, many of the traditional "hot spots" have become increasingly crowded, forcing anglers to make longer runs in search of untapped bass waters. These anglers have discovered that a 20- 30-minute run through sometimes sketchy water, will get them to the Sassafras River which has produced winning bags in the last few years. One Sassafras feeder, Turner's Creek, offers a huge amount of diverse cover for bass. There is a narrow entrance to this creek where the main river channel runs right along a wood laden bank with a steep drop-off. The Western shoreline of this creek is totally covered with lily pads mixed in with several other varieties of vegetation, including Milfoil and Hydrilla. The Eastern shoreline offers a hard sand and rock bottom, along with vegetation, that mixes in with a number of large boat docks. The bass often hold on the docks and standing and decaying pilings to escape the current and larger predators prevalent in the river.
When targeting bass at the entrance of the creek, spinnerbaits are a good choice in 5/8 and 1/2 ounce, with tandem blades. Bladed jigs/chatterbaits in a variety of colors are also a good choice depending on water color. If the water is stained to muddy, try baits that imitate shad in white/chartreuse, and Golden Shiner. If the water is truly "muddy", then use a darker skirt and burn these baits across the grasses and around the lily pad systems with an erratic retrieve to cause aggressive strikes. When looking for that one big bite to upgrade a limit, experienced anglers turn to a Senko-style bait. Senkos will also produce when a cold front moves through
causing action to slow. When a severe cold front moves in for a few days, bass drop down to deeper water in the ten-foot range, holding on the tops of trees. When this happens, target them with mid-range crankbaits, using a stop and go retrieve. Most anglers use a jig when fishing docks and wood in Turner's Creek. Lloyds Creek is another excellent area to fish in the Sassafras system. The shoreline is very shallow in Lloyd’s but offers some mid depths to 6 feet just offshore. The entire creek is loaded with cover. This includes laydowns, logjams, a variety of grasses, and an old barge. The barge, grasses, and seawalls in Lloyd's are very productive areas. This creek also has a defined channel leading into the creek, and into all points along the shoreline. The whole shore is loaded with old trees, brush, and rocks. On the opposite side a huge peninsula comes across forming a perfect sand point twenty yards from the steep shore. Bass congregate all around this sand point and the adjoining areas. The best baits for this area are Rat-L-Traps in blue/chrome, in 3/8 and 1/2 ounce, spinnerbaits in ½ ounce, with tandem, and/or willow leaf blades, and small crankbaits.
The Open launches in the Northeast River which offers one of the best flipping bites on the bay. Depending on the grass situation, Cara Cove can produce well. The Northeast docks, sunken piers, old concrete and pilings produce good bags as well. These take some time to find, so being able to read sonar aids in finding these offshore and hidden spots. The docks located in the Northeast are prime targets for the bass, which hit plastics and black and blue jigs on both the outgoing and incoming tides. Placement is critical here. A jig must not only be put into the smallest of holes and openings, but must be presented multiple times, with a quiet entry. At low tides, or slack tides, a drop shot is key. The docks by the jetty in the Northeast are the best for these techniques. I am sure there are a lot of other locations and techniques that will work on Flats area bass, especially when you bring together as many pros as the Open attracts. It all starts on Sept. 8th with the final on Championship Saturday, Sept. 10th.