Chesapeake Outdoors

Vol. 8, No. 33
Aug. 17-23, 2000
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The Versatile Spot

The lowly spot may suffer from an image problem when compared to glamour fish like rockfish, bluefish and flounder, but its popularity as a staple of the bottom-fishing crowd more than makes up for this slight. Headboats jammed with optimistic fishermen leave daily from Kent Narrows, Chesapeake Beach, Solomons and Point Lookout, and more often than not, anglers return to the docks with their coolers loaded with a hardy supply of the fish. The spot's gluttony for bloodworms is also its downfall.

Talk about versatility: The spot isn't just a good catch on the hook, it's a good bait at the end of the hook. Live and cut spot are often used as bait to take larger gamefish, and it has been a hot bait for live-lining for rockfish in many spots on the Bay. This method requires that the frisky spot be impaled through its back and sent to the depths where hungry stripers await. The fish, if it had the philosophical capacity, might ask: What have I done to deserve such a fate? The rejoinder might be: yours is not to question why, rather buck up, dive deep and catch us a keeper rockfish.

Spot are popular and plentiful along the Atlantic coast from Cape Cod into the Gulf of Mexico. They make their seasonal appearance in the Bay by June and remain until the first couple of cold fronts announce the change of seasons. Members of the drum family, spot resemble their cousins the croaker but can be differentiated by their lack of barbells on the jaw. Spot also have a shorter, deeper body, which is bluish gray and has bronze or gold shadows. Also marking the spot are 12 to 15 yellowish, angled vertical bars, which are particularly evident in younger fish but become more indistinct as the fish ages. The fish, which has a telltale spot on its shoulder just above the gill plate, can grow to lengths of 14 inches (called jumbos), but it averages around 10 inches.

Fine table fare, young spot inhabit the shallows and congregate around pilings and marsh banks, while older fish prefer the Bay's deeper water and hover among the oyster bars and clam beds. Spot aren't picky when it comes to food. They will eat a variety of plants and animals: plankton for the young fish mostly, and crustaceans, worms and small fishes for the older spot.

Spot have answered the call for many anglers when the day's target species has not cooperated, and for that, we thank them, though their reward be only the few scraps of bloodworm that they can steal off your hook.

Fish are Biting

A spate of summer storms has interrupted otherwise good fishing. For several days the water was murky, but when it cleared up, the bite continued for flounder in Eastern Bay, Poplar Island and the mouth of the Patuxent. Big white perch are taking cut baits and grass shrimp on the oyster bars around West River, Tolley Point and the Bay Bridge pilings.

Increased numbers of bluefish are heading up the Bay, making for good sport on light tackle when they maraud baitfish. Blues have been reported at Cedar Rips, the mouth of the Choptank and scattered places throughout the Bay.

Sea trout are around Honga River, Hog Island and the Choptank region. The Gas Docks off Calvert Cliffs remain hot for rockfish for anglers using live bait and light tackle and fly fishermen throwing Bass Assassins, Deceivers and Clousers.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly