As fall settles in and water temperatures begin to chill, striped bass feeding behavior will become more aggressive as they begin their pre-winter forage and Chesapeake Bay fishing kicks into high gear. These fish will start working their way back up into upper reaches of tidal rivers and creeks off the Chesapeake Bay. Since these keeper-sized rockfish will now be in such close proximity to many of the area’s soft launch access points, this makes for great opportunities for kayak anglers during the month of October. Keep an eye out for birds and bait balls and you’ll be sure to land some nice stripers in your kayak.

fishing for striped bass from a kayak
The author with a nice fall schoolie striper, caught in a Chesapeake Bay tributary.

Jigging from a Kayak

With the feeding stripers staging their offensive, the bait will often be bunched up on the surface. Casting lures into these bait balls will almost always yield strikes. However, for a better grade of fish allow your jig to sink before beginning to work your retrieve. The larger rockfish usually lurk below waiting for falling bait, while letting the smaller fish do all the work of disabling the prey.

If birds are present but the surface is not busting with action, try circling the area and look for marks on your fish finder. If marks are present try working your jig in the water column depths accordingly.

Kayak Trolling for Stripers

When the fish are not making their location readily apparent, trolling may be the best course of action to find them. A good method is working a triangular pattern over drop offs or near structures such as bridge pilings.

Keep a watch on your finder to see what depths the marks are and adjust your lines accordingly. Bucktails with a twister or paddle-tail unequivocally catch fish this time of year, though any soft plastic swimbait in the five-inch range should do the trick.

Kayak Fishing Locations

Here are a few launch spots that will put you in the thick of the fall feeding frenzy in the Middle Chesapeake region.

-By Zach Ditmars