Capt. Russ Wilkinson, MD

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide in Claiborne, Maryland

Capt. Russ Wilkinson, MD


Enjoy fly and light tackle fishing from the Chesapeake's headwaters at the Susquehanna River to the Mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake's 200 miles offers diverse fishing areas and an equally diverse fishery. In early spring we might launch near the famous Susquehanna Flats for an opportunity to sight fish in 2 to 3 feet of water for the largest of the Striped Bass. In summer we look for birds diving on the acres of blitzing schools of Striped Bass, blue fish, and Spanish mackerel. We could explore the tidal marshes of the Tangier Sound in the Middle Bay for speckled sea trout or explore the barrier islands at the mouth of the Bay for Tarpon, cobia, drum and sharks. As temperatures drop in the fall we look for ocean run Striped bass to come back up the bay in the search of the bait at the mouths of the largest tidal rivers. In the dead of winter we can still find fish at the mouth of the bay at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel CBBT or at the power plants. All of these can be targeted on Fly and many citation size fish are caught every year on the Chesapeake and the coastal waters off Maryland. There is no end of exciting fishing opportunities.

You will fish from my 16 ft Dolphin Super Skiff equipped with trolling motor. I provide ORVIS Helios fly rods paired with the new Mirage reels or Van Staal spinning reels on custom rods. I provide the best fly selection for the areas and species fished. Fly casting instruction is available to help you take your experience to the next level. Full and half day charters are available. One or two anglers are comfortable on my boat. A second guided boat can be arranged for your party as well.

Date Range

The Chesapeake provides many locations to fish—from power plant warmwater discharges in the coldest months to coastal flats in near tropical water in the summer. I like to believe that fishing can be done year-round, provided safety standards can be maintained and some fish are present.

What is Provided to Customer

Provided for your use are the finest in fly rods and reels in the appropriate size for the flies and species pursued. Helios rods and Mirage reels are the standard. For light tackle fishing, a combination of custom rods outfitted with Shimano Stella 2500 series reels or Van Staal reels of appropriate size. I furnish all flies, lures, leaders, etc. for the outing.

Region/Terrain Where You Fish

I am a trailer guide and we fish from one of my boats in the area best suited for whichever species is targeted. All fishing will be from the boat. I will put you in areas best suited for your interests, depending on the weather and conditions.

Typical Weather by Season

The mid-Atlantic weather is generally mild with prevailing winds out of the west. Seasonal extremes are rarely severe enough to prevent fishing for extended periods. Good fishing in January can be as likely as good fishing in July.

Spring: once water temperatures reach 50 degrees we begin to expect striped bass. This occurs in March through April. Often, strong winds and rain impact our planning for trips.

Summer: schools of bait and aggressively feeding fish create the blitzes that we all love to see this time of year. Strong summer sun and high temperatures are a price we pay for this kind of action.

Fall: fishing during this season is often considered the best the area offers— both in weather and fishing. Milder days and hungry fish make for good times.

Winter: we fish for migrating striped bass in the lower bay, which requires warm clothing and a good boat. Results are often unbelievable.


Sample of Typical Itinerary

Typical trips are planned for either half- or full-day excursions. A half-day is 4 hours and the most common booking. If planned around the best times of day, 4 hours should provide plenty of fishing opportunities. These trips are ideal for the less experienced angler that might not enjoy 8 hours of casting. Often, if scheduling allows it, the trip might be extended for additional time.

Eight-hour trips (which include a lunch) are usually reserved for those that are searching for a particular species, or just a longer day for someone that needs to get that fishing "fix". The 8-hour trips give enough time to cover larger areas of the bay, and with some luck, we will find a variety of species and sizes.

I move my boat(s) by trailer and put in at locations best suited to known fish locations. Seasonal locations may be any part of the bay, which is over 200 miles long. Most trips originate from one of the convenient boat ramps near St Michaels, Maryland.


Species You Fish for by Season

The striped bass is the most sought-after fish on the bay and can be found in all seasons. During the warmer summer days we can expect to find schooled striped bass, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel. It is possible to catch speckled trout, Atlantic croaker, and flounder as well.

Also in the summer months, a specialty and favorite of mine is the cow-nosed ray (Rhinoptera bonasus). This species is plentiful, great fun to sight fish for and, when hooked, will fight well into the backing.

Lower bay/coastal fishing is an area that I fish in the heat of the summer. Target species include redfish, cobia, and tarpon. All are hard to fish for on fly and will make an angler work for every one caught. This is a world-class fishery!

When considering winter fishing, the lower bay offers some of the area’s finest striped bass fishing and many of record size are caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.


What Should Customers Bring?

My larger center-console boat has a hardtop cover. When necessary, I add additional canvas to keep you protected from the elements. If you bring sunglasses, a hat, and, when appropriate for the weather, an outer layer (rain jacket) you should be prepared for the day. Sun protection is always advisable, whether in the form of sunscreen or protective clothing. My smaller flats boat is without of any form of cover but will fish the shallow areas I use it in better than my larger boat. I don't use this boat in cold temperature fishing. Starting with a good hat, polarized sunglasses, and protective clothing or sunscreen, you will do nicely.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do I need a local fishing license?
A. No, my boat has license for all on board.

Q. Can I keep fish?
A. Although catch and release is suggested, I will kill and clean any fish you wish to take with you. You will need a cooler and ice for your fish.

Q. Do you provide ice?
A. When temperatures necessitate it I have ice for drinks and certainly food I am providing for you. See note above regarding fish kept.

Q. Can I bring my own equipment?
A. Yes, but space may be limited; please let the captain know in advance.

Q. Can I bring my own cooler?
A. No. Space is limited and, except for very small coolers, I cannot accommodate your cooler. Normally a reasonable amount of food, drinks, ice etc. could be placed in my cooler for the trip.

Q. Do I need non-marking shoes?
A. It is always appreciated when you wear "boat shoes" but it is not a requirement. Safety suggests that a flat shoe with deck-type tread is a good idea. Most sneakers are a good option. Do avoid lug soles in shoes, as these can be treacherous.

Q. What experience level must I be in order to catch fish?
A. I will gladly provide helpful instruction for whatever level you are and will provide as many opportunities to catch fish as possible. If you need a quick tune-up before we go out I will usually be able to provide a short, cost-free session on land before the outing.

Q. Can I bring several bags of gear and clothing?
A. Consider which boat we are going on. The larger boat can accept a lot of gear but the smaller struggles with more than a small-sized bag.


    Captain Russ Wilkinson
    Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide
    Russ Wilkinson
    St. Michaels, MD 21663

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