Chesapeake Outdoors

Vol. 8, No. 19
May 11-17, 2000
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Fish Are Biting

The temperature isn’t the only thing heating up. Fishing all over the Bay is busting loose.
Flowering shad bush tells us American shad are in the upper Potomac, Susquehanna and Nanticoke Rivers where they are now dropping roe and milt. Recent reports of hickory shad fishing had anglers taking fish on lures and flies near Wayson’s Corner on Patuxent River, Deer Creek on Susquehanna River and other creeks.

If you believe the lore of Chesapeake Country, the year’s first major peeler run of blue crabs coincides with the bloom of the locust trees, which are flowering in my yard and elsewhere. It shouldn’t be long before the vast underwater grass meadows of Tangier Sound harbor hordes of blue crabs of varying sizes looking for refuge in preparation of their molt. Even so, those meadows have diminished significantly in the last decade because of excessive nutrients from agriculture, sediments and, to a lesser degree, clamming operations and natural disruptions by cownose rays and mute swans.

As all thinking anglers know, beds of eel, widgeon and wild celery — just to name a few of the more than 16 species of submerged aquatic vegetation that grow in Bay waters — are vital habitat for scores of sought-after Chesapeake gamefish.

Pick a spot, and chances are you can take home a few fish, even if it isn’t a trophy rockfish that the lure-draggers are targeting. In several locations (mouth of Potomac, Calvert Cliff Rips and off Kent Island to name a few), light tackle and shore-bound fishermen can catch a good many undersized rock on some days, and occasionally the keeper striper, 28 inches or better.

The Choptank River and Eastern Bay, as well as shell lumps off West River and Thomas Point, may hold good-size croaker — some better than two pounds — that take such fresh bait as squid, bloodworms and grass shrimp.

If I had to pick an area that is producing the most diverse fishery to date, I’d be hard pressed not to pick the lower Chesapeake from the mouth of the Bay to Tangier Sound. It’s a virtual bonanza down south, according to reports. From Rick’s Marina at Point Lookout, we heard that last week the lower Potomac was hot for rockfish. Point No Point, Targets and mouth of the Potomac are best bets.

Flounder fishing, particularly in Virginia waters, is steady to excellent, and the flat bellies are heading our way. A little closer to home around Crisfield and Fox Island, anglers are taking big croaker, sea trout (gray trout), speckled trout and puppy drum on peeler crab, as well as less favorite baits. There are even a few reports that early cobia have been taken on the shoals near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Trollers using umbrella rigs tagged with white and/or chartreuse bucktails (ruby lips, bullet head and parachutes) have taken good numbers of legal rockfish in many of the traditional haunts, and — while success is still inconsistent — fishing seems to be better during the week when the pressure is not as intensive from slews of anglers.

Along channel edges off Brickhouse Bar and Bloody Point, Darren from Anglers (410/974-4013) says the hardhead bite good off Sandy Point beach in the evening, with croaker up to 20 inches landed on squid and worms. White perch are starting to post in the warm water spots off Hackett’s Point and Tolley bar, gobbling up bloodworms and grass shrimp.

Kim from Rod ‘n’ Reel (800/233-2080) reports the 19th Annual Pro-AM Tournament was a great success with plenty of rockfish taken. Overall winner was H. Zickerfoose — fishing with Capt. Dave Byrd on Gentre — who caught a 43.1-pound striper that swallowed a white parachute with lots of weight near Buoy 83. Kim says the hardhead bite this past weekend was okay, but that they are looking for the action to pick up.

Farther south, the Patuxent holds good numbers of keeper-size croaker plus a few spot and sea trout. Some folks are starting to chum for legal rockfish, but most fish have been caught trolling.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly