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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Could you regulars share the order of migration for fish that pass by the North Beach Pier. I know water temperature in the Spring has a lot to do with it but when would it be worthwhile to start hitting the piers. What normally shows up first, what usually follows, and in what order?
 

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Greetings HR!

I'm not a regular to the Western Shore (and wouldn't even consider myself a regular to the Eastern Shore -- just a frequent visitor.) But I figured after a week you deserve some kind of answer, so I'll give it my best shot!

As you pointed out, water temps mean everything when it comes to feeding fish. However, fish migrations are more keyed to increasing sunlight, although cold temps may cause the migrators to hunker down for a couple of days, or even a week.

The first migrators coming up the bay are shad and herring (late March/earl April.) Stripers/Rockfish follow these forage species, but usually stick to the edges of the shipping channels. Most of these Stripers are headed to the Susquehanna to spawn, but some (along with the shad and herring) break off into other rivers in the estuary. Around the same time, white perch (the mature ones, not those pesky bait stealers)feel the urge and begin the same trip. In the meantime, croakers (who spawned in the late fall/early winter) begin probing shallower sections of the bay for food. These fish are what you'd probably find first at the pier. Unfortunately, they are usually accompanied by cow nosed rays, which provide tons of fun but little for the freezer. By the first week of May, spot and small blues will begin to show, followed by weakies (trout). These blues and weakies are fish that are too young for the spawn. (Most bluefish spawn in the open ocean in late June, while weakies spawn close to the beaches in May, although both species have been known to make spawning runs into the Chesapeake in years when big adults are plentiful.) Fluke come in shallow as early as mid-April looking for warm water.

By mid-May, immature rockfish will follow the spawned-out adults back down the bay, but most will stay in the bay while the big adults hit the ocean and head north to better feeding grounds. By the first week of June, the bay is a potpourri of species -- its just a matter of getting them to swim past the pier! Some species will be attracted to the pier structure itself, like small drum (both black and red), spotted trout, and spadefish. Spot will hang around the pier, attracting larger rock, trout, and bluefish. When water temps peak, "exotics" such as spanish mackeral, cobia, and bull red drum might come into range.

This may not answer your question directly, but it will give you some idea about what can show up, and when. Maybe one of the regulars can add to or correct this information. Just remember, the best day to fish is any day that you can get out there....

Welcome to the board, and good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Jake....
Thanks for the lesson. I've been there in June and have seen a little bit of everything come over the railing. Same thing in early September after the heat eased up. I usually take my son with me. In mid summer it's usually a casting contest to get to the deeper edges. I've listened to the regulars there and they disagree all the time about time, temperature, night, day, let alone tides and wind. That's the nature of the sport... Sure is fun though...
 
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