I fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries several days a week year round. Much of my fishing is done from a kayak, which allows me to get into very shallow water and to sneak up on fish. I see compelling differences in catch success depending on the water quality and clarity of the water bodies where I fish. Here is an example.
This morning I had planned to fish from my small center console near the Bay Bridge. The wind built up overnight and cancelled that plan. My alternate plan was to find some sheltered coves off of the tidal Severn River where I could fish from my kayak. I fished in three separate coves that had very calm conditions.
In the first cove, I had about the best visibility I can remember for September in this area (~4 ft). In less than 45 minutes, I hooked three chain pickerel, which are not common catches in the tidal Severn until winter months. The pickerel were healthy specimens from three separate age classes, suggesting that this local population was reproducing. The first was a young pickerel of ~6-7". The second was about 17-18". The third was a strong fish of 21-22" that pulled the kayak around for a minute or so before running out of steam. All three pickerel were quickly returned to the water.
In the second cove, the water clarity was good, but not as spectacular as in the first cove. I was able to observe a pickerel follow my lure up to the boat and remain a few inches behind the lure for more than 5 seconds trying to figure out whether to bite or not.
In the third cove, the water clarity was somewhat muddy. The fish were not biting well there either.
I wish all the tributaries in the Severn were as clear as I found in the first cove. Imagine how good the fishing would be if that were the case.
—John Veil, Annapolis, MD