The Fishing Line

Fantastic Fishin’ and Great Grillin’!

by Captain Billy Pipkin

Fishing in Rivah country should prove to be very exciting in July. During this month, anglers can look forward to a greater variety and abundance of species.

The Fishing Line
Glenn Bowen and crew display the cobia and Spanish mackerel they caught aboard Liquid Assets II with Capt. Billy Pipkin.

Many of the same species caught during June are also available this month. They include spot, croaker, speckled trout, bluefish and cobia. Species such as shark and Spanish mackerel will also bend poles. Between shallow creeks and deeper bay waters, there’s plenty of action to keep anglers excited.

Bottom fishing has been great, and spot have been the hottest fishery to date. Populations are running large and sizes are fantastic. Simple bottom rigs donned with bloodworms is all you need for a full day of family fun. Oyster beds in and around the mouth of the rivers are all holding fish at this time.

The species stirring the most excitement is cobia. These large, aggressive fish provide a strong fight as well as a great meal. Their maximum growth reaches a length of over 6 feet and a weight of nearly 100 pounds. They can be found in many of the Chesapeake’s southern reaches including the Bay Bridge Tunnel Latimer Shoals and Bluefish Rock. Locally we are catching these big brown-suited creatures along contour lines from Windmill Point to the Great Wicomico River, on the bar at Smith Point, in the lower Potomac river and as far north as the Southwest Middle Grounds. Many of these fish are found in relatively shallow water of 8-15 feet just above the drop off to deeper water.

Cobia respond to live bait and artificial lures. The baits boasting the best results are live eels, spot and croaker. The best way to present your live bait is on stout, sharp circle hooks on a 40-60 lb. test leader. Both fish finder rigs as well as free floating baits work well. Chumming should be incorporated with live bait fishing and produces surprisingly rewarding results. We have landed cobia in excess of 50 inches this season with live baits.

For using artificial lures a casting rod with heavier action is preferred. Cast bucktails when fish are found cruising the surface.

Speckled trout are inshore fish that seek areas of heavy structure or protection. They can be found in shallow 3-5 foot water where sea grasses are plentiful. Feeder creeks of the Rappahannock, Great Wicomico and Potomac rivers hold these fish. Other near shore locations hold trout as well. Artificial lures like small jig heads rigged with a twister tail are productive.

Bluefish action is picking up nicely with a large number of small fish available over structure and in the rivers.  Sizes remain relatively small at 1-2 pounds, but as the summer matures, sizes will double that.

Spanish mackerel actually began showing up in late June. July sees a gradual increase but they peak in August. These beautifully-marked fish lend themselves well to grilling, smoking, and even salting. Mackerel grow to three feet in length with a weight of up to 9 pounds. The local catches average between 16 and 24 inches in length.

Mackerel feed along with Taylor blues. As with bluefish, they can be found along the flats leading to, and atop the edges of channel areas. Spanish mackerel are very fast fish and prefer a quickly trolled spoon at speeds of 5-7 knots. Size #0 Drone spoons and Clark spoons are working well when trolled on an 18-foot long leader behind a size 1 planer placed out 50-80 feet.

Spend some quality family time out on the water. Fishing is more than ‘catching’ it’s about the whole experience. Practice up this month and mark your calendars for the 3rd Annual Bay Bash Family Fishing Tournament being held at Ingram Bay Marina on August 11. It is an affordable, multi-species contest that definitely puts the “fun” in fishing! For more information on that event, go to

Capt. Billy Pipkin owns and operates Ingram Bay Marina, IBM boat rentals and Capt. Billy’s Charter Service located in Wicomico Church. (804) 580-7292.