Step 1 – "Think like a fish": Understand water conditions and habitat areas your target fish prefers
Step 1A: Find out key information about your target fish
Check out Chesapeake Creature Conditions to understand water conditions and habitate areas your target fish prefers. Fish Facts is another good source of information.
Specifically, try to determine:
- General seasonal movements – When and where does your target fish move throughout the year?
(For example: Before and after spawning, summer, fall, winter periods.)
- Preferred seasonal habitat and food – During these different periods, what are the areas in the Bay you would find them and what is their preferred food?
(For example: Open water, current breaks, channel edges, grass beds, oyster bars, etc.)
- Preferred water conditions – What specific water conditions do they prefer, and what levels will they avoid?
(For example: Salinities greater than 5 ppt, oxygen levels greater than 4 mg/L, temperatures less than 80°F, etc.)
Step 1B: Get out your charts
Now that you know the general areas where your target fish will be right now or at the time of your fishing trip, either turn on your GPS charting software, get out your chart book, or select the proper NOAA chart from our provided list. Print out your chart or copy and paste it using your 'Snipping Tool' to Microsoft Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop, or any program that lets you import images and draw on them.
Now you are ready to move to: Step 2 – Eliminate areas outside preferred salinity range