Angling for Some Fishing Fun
Southern Maryland’s boat captains know the charter fishing industry inside and out. Take advantage of that expertise and enjoy a day on the water
Writer: Johnn Cave | Spring-Summer 2022
If you’re in Southern Maryland and you haven’t gone fishing, you are missing out!
With more than 1,000 miles of shoreline — ranging from creeks, to rivers, to the Chesapeake Bay — it’s easy to find a spot where you can bait your hook and cast in. If you’re new to fishing, or Southern Maryland, charter boat fishing can be a great way to acquaint yourself with the area and learn the sport.
Many captains chartering boats make their living primarily on the water and thus have an almost limitless foundation of knowledge about the waterways and their inhabitants.
Capt. Wes Jackson has been around water all his life. Born and raised on Cobb Island, a 290-acre triangle in Charles County, the island is surrounded on each side by a different body of water. On one side is the Wicomico River, another the Potomac and the other Neale Sound.
“[Working on the water] has been a way of life as long as I’ve known it,” says Capt. Wes who charters through Island Marine & Charter Fishing on Cobb Island. “I’ve been charter fishing for about 12 years now. Been around water my whole life. Worked on boats, fishing on boats, crabbing on boats, learned the fishery inside and out.”
When leading a fishing trip, Capt. Wes and his crew utilize the wealth of knowledge they have collected by making a living on the water.
“That’s one of the things that we excel at,” he says. “Any of our anglers can be inexperienced, and we thrive on teaching them our techniques and different skills so if they decided they wanted to go fishing on their own boat, they can do that.”
The captain’s experience is only one of the advantages of chartering a boat.
“It’s obviously much cheaper to charter a boat,” Capt. Wes says. “Averages, most people that own boats only use them five or six times a year. So with the cost of insurance and owning your own boat, purchasing gear and all of those things, by the time you spend all the money to do it on your own you could charter us several times a year.”
WHAT TO EXPECT
So what does a day of charter fishing look like?
“So we leave the dock at 6 a.m.,” he says. “The trips are anywhere from six to eight hours a day depending on different types of fish that we target. It could be rockfish, perch, spot, mackerel, bluefish and even cobia so it really depends on the type of fish we’re targeting for that trip.”
Capt. Wes says he starts May 1 with the trips. “That’s our trophy rockfish and striped bass season. Those limits are one per person, per day with a 35-inch minimum currently.
“Then we go on May 16, to our summer season, which is a 20-inch minimum, two fish per person. And then as water temperature starts warming up in June, we can start targeting our smaller fish like perch, spot and sometimes croaker,” he says.
Then starting into July, anglers anticipate the mackerel, bluefish and cobia to show up. And then again, as water starts cooling back down, those summer season fish leave and then it’s back to a rockfish season through December.
Bottom fishing is an excellent way to get kids involved, have a lot of action for them and keep them entertained, the captain says. Catching rockfish and striped bass is a little more challenging.
“The bite can be temperamental and dependent on different conditions such as tide, winds and temperature and things like that,” he says. “And then we have our most challenging fishery [which is] a cobia season. Cobia are elusive, you really got to have the sharp eye and sharp skill to catch those fish.”
Once the day on the water is over Capt. Wes and his crew will clean the fish for you.
Of the fish that they catch, “my favorite is rockfish and cobia,” Capt. Wes says. “The texture is a good, full texture. It’s not mushy, and it’s also not a very fishy flavor.”
Further south, in St. Mary’s County, catch a ride with Capt. Phil Langley at Fish the Bay Charters in Dameron.
Capt. Phil has lived in the Mother County his 61 years, while his family goes back generations.
“I guess I’ve had saltwater in my veins, especially from my mom’s side,” Capt. Phil says. “Her dad ran skipjacks up and down the bay and was a full-time waterman. So over the years, I’ve kind of been drawn to water and trying to make my living off of it. I’ve been a licensed captain for almost 40 years now.”
Through the years, Capt. Phil has done just about all there is to do on the water. He charters fishing trips in the spring and summer, has an outfitters license to guide duck hunting excursions in the winter, maintains a private wild oyster lease, and is also a certified Chesapeake Bay storyteller who guides heritage tours about the ecosystems and history of local waterways.
“I’ve traveled around over the years, but every time, there’s very few places I’ve ever been to that I feel is as pretty as St. Mary’s County,” he says.
Capt. Phil’s diverse expertise on the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding waters is a valuable resource for anyone trying to fish in St. Mary’s County.
“You know, it’s a big body of water out there in the Chesapeake Bay. In St. Mary’s County if you go from west to east, it’s probably over 25 miles wide, and the bay itself is almost 200 miles long,” he says. “So if you come out of one of those little creeks, unless you’re getting somebody’s good information, a lot of times your success is greater on a charter boat versus somebody else.”
Capt. Phil has also got you covered if you’re just learning to fish.
“Basically for the beginner, and starting out as kids, in saltwater [we target] spot and croaker. They’ve always had a tendency to be more abundant. It kind of gives you a little boost on your skill set,” he says.
He recommends that type of fishing.
“I wouldn’t necessarily start out targeting trophy fish and investing a huge [amount] into whatever you got to do to go out and maybe be successful,” he says. “I would target the fish that are more abundant. They may not be as large but they will be more abundant. … White perch, is another fishery [that is similar] they’re not large, but they’re very good eaten, and they can be pretty abundant to where novice anglers can be successful.”
A BIT ABOUT BIVALVES
Fishing isn’t the only way Capt. Phil can get you fed from the water. He also maintains an oyster lease.
“I’m kind of doing it the old-fashioned way,” he says. “I’m growing the traditional Chesapeake Bay oyster, which is what you call a diploid. A lot of oysters being raised on the bay today through aquaculture farms are what is called a triploid oyster.”
What that is, is chromosomes, trip meaning three, dip meaning two. In order for anything in nature to reproduce, you got to have an even number of chromosomes, he explains. The triploid oyster is a sterile oyster.
“The advantage to that is when a wild oyster spawns, it uses a lot of its energy to spawn in the summertime. It kind of weakens the quality of meat in the oyster. Since the triploid oysters don’t spawn, the quality of the meat stays fat all summer long,” he says.
Capt. Phil says he can supply restaurants with a good plump oyster during the offseason.
“[However], like I mentioned earlier, I’m a little old-fashioned. I favor a wild oyster. I can tell the difference between the two,” he says.
A LABOR OF LOVE
Over in Calvert County, Richie Roberts and son Andrew will take a group of up to 12 out on the Marcy Lynn. You’ll find her docked at Bunky’s in Solomons.
Marcy Lynn charters offer fishing tours for six or eight hours and includes the supplies, tackle and bait. Guests will bring their own food and beverages.
Capt. Richie has been working in and around boats for more than 30 years. He grew up in North Beach where he worked cleaning fish and assisting on various boats in Chesapeake Beach before branching out and becoming a captain of his own boat.
When he moved his family to St. Leonard, he brought his boat south to Solomons as well.
Andrew started working on his father’s and other charter boats at the age of 15.
With 36 years of experience combined, this father-and-son team offers business, family or friends a great fishing experience, and as Andrew puts it, “We make sure everyone is happy. While some captains will bring their boats in early, we stay out as long the maximum time to catch as many fish as possible.”
They catch a variety of fish including rockfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, cobia, red drum, spot and white perch.
Doing this work is a labor of love. They each work full-time jobs. Richie is a union electrician, and Andrew is a launch operator for the Pilots Association, but fishing is in their blood and they have flexible schedules, so they work around clients’ desirable dates.
They offer fishing trips May 1 through the second week in December. •
A REPUTATION WELL-EARNED – St. Mary’s County (visitstmarysmd.com)
Belladoe Charters – 240-434-1851; boat capacity is 30 people; launch point is Tall Timbers Marina in Tall Timbers.
Buzz’s Marina – 301-247-7887; boat capacity is 6; launch point is Buzz’s Marina in Ridge.
Eva Marie Charters – 301-904-4090; boat capacity is 20; launch point is Drury’s Marina in Ridge.
Fish the Bay Charters – 301-904-0935; boat capacity is 20 for the Lisa, the Chesapeake Charm is 10 and Desperate Measures is for up to 4 people; launch point is Dameron.
Gerry C. Charters – 240-538-1531; boat capacity is 24; launch point is Point Lookout Marina in Ridge.
Hurricane Charters – 703-489-4218; boat capacity is 6; launch point is Colton’s Point Marina in Colton’s Point until July and Point Lookout Marina for the rest of the year.
Marica II Charters – email@example.com; boat capacity is 6; launch point is Point Lookout Marina.
North Star Charters – 301-373-0019; boat capacity is 20; launch point is St. George Island.
Potomac Joe’s Fishing Service – 301-674-9266; boat capacity is 2; launch point is Smallwood State Park in Marbury.
Tiawana Lady – 301-748-8807; boat capacity is 24; launch point is Drury’s Marina in Ridge.
A REEL GOOD TIME AWAITS – Calvert County (choosecalvert.com)
There’s a great way to spend time with family and friends — on the water, enjoying the sights … and hopefully going home with dinner! Here is a list from the Calvert County tourism department of some of the charters available and other charters operating in Calvert.
All In Charters – 443-684-1484; up to 28 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Big Worm – 410-474-4428; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Bunky’s Charter Boats – 443-326-3241; launch point is Solomons.
Chesapeake Adventures Sportfishing – 301-758-3475; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Chesapeake Bay Outdoors Charter Fishing 410-474-9858; up to 42 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Chesapeake Beach Fishing Charters – 301-855-4665; groups of all sizes from the angler 6-pack to a party of up to 30 anglers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Coolbeanz Charters – 443-532-1025; up to 22 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Daydreamer Sportfishing – 703-477-5272; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Dolly Diesel Sportfishing – 301-855-8940; up to 27 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Double D Charters – 410-586-2415; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Fin Finders – 240-925-9598; up to 36 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Grace Mary Charters – 301-910-0744; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Hooked Up 2 Charters – 410-474-2836; up to 20 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Hot Licks Fishing Charters – 410-785-1199; up to 22 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Jennifer Ann Charters – 410-320-2517; up to 30 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Jig This Charter Fishing – 443-624-3407; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Katherine Charter Fishing – 240-676-1098; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Kelly D Sportfishing & Waterfowl Hunting – 202-409-8685; launch point is Solomons.
King Fish Charters – 443-934-0339; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Kyran Lynn Charters – 410-474-4105; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Lexianna Charters – 410-320-6954; up to 17 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
LKJ Outdoors – 410-629-9206; up to 22 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Lochjaw Charters – 410-586-3327; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Lucky Strike Fishing Charters – 410-474-9180; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Marauder Charters – 240-417-2408; launch point is Solomons.
Marcy Lynn Charter Fishing – 301-672-6310; firstname.lastname@example.org; launch point is Solomons.
Mary Lou Too Charters – 443-865-7937; up to 19 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Megalodon Adventures Charters – 410-474-0396; various locations.
Mike Harris Charters – 301-717-5905; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Miss Linda’s Charters – 301-855-5381; up to 21 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Miss Susie Charters – 301-873-1327; up to 28 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Nauti Charters – 301-643-6508; launch point is Solomons.
Patience Sportfishing – 410-535-1554; up to 14 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Plum Crazy Charters – 301-233-0377; up to 18 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Reel Attitude Charters – 410-414-9662; up to 26 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Renegade Charters – 301-449-7111; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Rock-N-Robin Charter Fishing – 804-814-2573; up to 12 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Rod ‘N’ Reel Charter Fishing – 800-233-2080; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Shea-D-Lady Fishing Charters – 301-672-3282; up to 42 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Solomons Island Fishing Charters – 410-326-2670; large and small groups; launch point is Solomons.
Strike Zone Charter Fishing – 443-624-0247; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Solomons.
Teacher’s Pet Fishing – 301-751-5813; up to 6 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Time Off Charters – 410-808-3832; up to 4 passengers; launch point is Dowell or Solomons.
Tricia Ann II Charter Fishing – 301-751-6056; up to 24 passengers; launch point is Chesapeake Beach.
Walleye Pete – 703-395-9955; up to 4 passengers; launch point is Solomons.