The middle of June is considered prime time bass fishing for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, according to Brian Schmitt, a guide on the bay and winner of the 2016 Bass Pro Shops Northern Open at Lake Champlain. “That particular month everything can be good, both the tributaries and the main bay, “Schmitt said.
Playing the tide will be the key to success in the regional. “That is the number one factor,” Schmitt said. “You cannot catch any fish and then the tide will get right and you will sink the boat in an hour. That is so critical to figure out the timing of the tide there.” The local guide advises the regional competitors to pay close attention to whether they catch bass during high or low tide during practice.
Most of the bass will be in the postspawn stage at depths of less than 5 feet. Running topwater toad-style baits and hollow-body frogs over the grass will produce plenty of action. Another effective pattern will be pitching and flipping stickworms and soft plastic craws (dark colors in stained water and green pumpkin in clear water) to docks and grass. Chartreuse-and-white 3/8- or 1/2-ounce spinnerbaits thrown around docks and grass will also trigger strikes.
The bay area contains mainly largemouth bass. “Every once in a while someone will catch a big smallmouth but there are not many of them,” Schmitt said. “There is a ton of 4- and 5-pounders (largemouth) there. During good conditions, normal tournaments are won with 22 to 25 pounds a day.”
Predicted winning weight: 61 pounds.
Forage base: Crayfish, white perch and menhaden
Expected water clarity: 2 feet of visibility.
Dominant structure/cover: milfoil, eel grass, docks and rock riprap.