May 14, 2019
One thing we’ve learned after fifteen years of vacationing in the Baltimore area: we MUST have a day designated to fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. One summer we didn’t go fishing… and it just didn’t feel right; haha! With four boys in our family (not including my husband), we all have different interests and hobbies, but all agree on one thing: a day on the water with a Chesapeake Bay Fishing Charter is a day well spent.
My husband is originally from Baltimore, so each summer when the kids are out of school we make sure to schedule at least a week in or around the city. Since I’m a planner we tend to have some days filled with lots of activities, and some days without anything planned. In the city I love to visit the Baltimore Museum of Art, while others in my family prefer going to a Minor League Baseball game, visiting Washington D.C., or camping/hiking at Elk Neck State Park. But one thing we all agree on: we have to do our yearly Chesapeake Bay fishing trip!!
The tradition started eight years ago on one of our “unplanned” activity days. We knew we wanted to do something on the adventure side, and with the boys at ages 3, 5, 8, and 10 we decided to leave the littlest one at home with family. (He got one-on-one time with Grandma and loved it!). We decided on a family fishing charter, and after a quick Internet search found the closest marina to Baltimore. Once we found the dock, we hopped on the first boat we saw that had availability.
At first we were concerned the five-year-old wasn’t quite ready for such an adventure, but boy were we wrong! The Captain and First Mate on this shared charter took care of everything and were super patient with us. We didn’t have a whole lot of experience, but trolling the Chesapeake Bay and watching my boys’ excitement at everything going on around them was worth it. (A shared trip is usually with other families and is a great trial run for those new to the hobby!)
Our boys each caught three rockfish (striped bass) a piece, and my husband landed two bluefish. We had such a good time, we decided to do a Chesapeake Bay fishing trip the next year too!
We ended up skipping a year of fishing 6 years ago and regretted it; we missed our Baltimore fishing trip too much. We had two great years experiencing the fishing charters on the Chesapeake Bay, and the year that was missed is still referred to as “The Dark Year” – LOL! Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to get back to fishing the Chesapeake Bay!
Our trip four years ago really stands out. The kids were older (ages 7, 9, 12, and 14) and things just seemed to click with everyone. We all knew what to expect, and how to make the day a lot of fun. We got to the dock early, loaded up our gear, and the boys almost immediately started the smack talk. They each claimed to be the best angler, ready to reel in the biggest trophy Rockfish you can imagine. (It’s always fun and a nice change of tune from their usual squabbles.)
Since the boys were talking their skills up so much, my husband decided a little competition didn’t hurt anyone. And so… we had our first ever Chesapeake Bay Family Fishing Tournament. It was so much fun! Our youngest ended up winning the tournament (he caught the largest Striped Bass that day – a fact he still reminds us of!) and we had the best day of fishing! We became ambassadors of the idea and would tell anyone who would listen why they just HAD to have their own family fishing tournament and book a fishing trip wherever they went on vacation. We were probably obnoxious, but I know three other families who have since also started a tournament on their family fishing trips – and we can’t stop talking about it!
With each year of fishing the Chesapeake Bay, Rockfish has become our favorite fish to catch. While we still do some trolling, we’ve also added light tackle fishing to our repertoire of techniques. We’ve also found a Chesapeake Bay Private Charter Captain that we book with every year, adding some nice familiarity with the boat and crew for each trip.
This year we’re still planning a Chesapeake Bay Fishing Charter for our family vacation. Especially because it’s the last summer with the oldest in the house. He’s moving away to college at the end of the summer and this momma’s heart isn’t quite ready. So you better bet we’ll be doing all the things he loves! And of course, fishing the Chesapeake Bay is on the top of his list for favorite things to do in Maryland! The fishing tournament competition will be in full swing, and we’ll take all the pictures and feel all the feelings.
I’m sure we’ll have future trips, but for some reason this summer’s Baltimore fishing trip seems like the end of something. Add the fact that we’ve heard the Striped Bass population isn’t doing so well, and there’s an unrelenting sense of sadness accompanying this year’s trip (probably just me being too emotional). I’ve already talked with our Baltimore Fishing Charter Captain and told him we want to make sure to target other fish (Bluefish, Cobia, and Tautog specifically) to make sure we play our part in protecting the Striped Bass population we love so much. He doesn’t seem too worried… they’ve had previous years with low population and the regulations are in place to help with the population. If we do end up with a Rockfish on the other end of our line, we’ll be sure to safely release the fish. You can’t stop them from biting, but our Captain assured us he knows how to de-hook the fish without causing any permanent injuries.
As you might have picked up on, our passion for Chesapeake Bay runs deep, and we’ll be fishing these waters for as long as we can – and booking our private Baltimore Fishing Charter each year for the greatest Chesapeake Bay Family Fishing Tournament you’ve ever seen!
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