Chesapeake Outdoors

Vol. 8, No. 35
Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2000
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Failing on Flatties

By no means am I proficient in flounder fishing, and in fact I only go after the flatties once or twice a season. This lack of effort, it would seem, should bring at least a fishing foul, considering the great flounder action that is available in the Bay this year. Several outstanding recreational and charter captains specializing in fishing for the flatties have reported good catches, so I thought I’d make a go of it, and met with modest results. Read: not a lot of action.

I tried my luck inside Eastern Bay, where I rigged an eight-ounce sinker to a three-foot fluorocarbon leader and bounced a large bull minnow (no spinner) in 26 feet of water. I was using a medium six-foot rod, but heavier rods are also used. Cut spot and flounder bellies are also good bait choices, but it’s hard to beat a fat minnow.

Some pros say if the bite is slow, work the area by slow trolling (most flounder guys swear it is better than drifting) in various depths along the drop-off until you get a hit. If the action is good, stay in the area by either zigzagging or circling the drop-off.
We get two flounders in this region. The summer flounder, or fluke, is a left-eyed sole, and the winter flounder is a right-eyed flounder. In the case of the fluke, this means that if the fish is laying flat (of course, it doesn’t have much choice now, does it?) the top eye is on the left hand side. The reverse is true for winter flounder. Both are sought as gamefish along the Atlantic seaboard and Chesapeake Bay.

Fish Are Biting

Sporadic pods of breaking fish are busting loose from below the Potomac River to the Bay Bridge. The greatest intensity is in the middle Bay, with bluefish (some up to four pounds), rockfish and Spanish mackerel providing good excitement and fun. Weakfish (sea trout) sometimes loaf beneath the horde, so drop a heavy metal jig or a feather jig beneath the fray.

Many of the bottom species, like spot, croaker and white perch, have been caught in tight schools, which may be an influence of cooler evening temperatures. Rockfishing has tailed off for anglers throughout the Bay (a typical August pattern), but trollers at the Gooses, False Channel and from Breezy Point to Parkers Creek are taking a larger class of the fish. So are fishermen who continue to live-line spot at the Gas Docks, Eastern Bay and Bay the Bridge.

Also, fly anglers chucking Clousers and other Bay-related flies inside the Narrows, around the Love Point marker and in the flats of Tangier Sound are doing well. The Diamonds have sea trout, and inside the Patuxent River, edges in front of James Island and Eastern Bay still produce flounder. In the evenings, Tolley Point yields croaker up to 18 inches to fishermen using peeler crab — which remains hard to get.

In offshore waters, my main man Frank Ervin, first mate aboard Capt. Widmeyer’s sportfisher Banshee out of Ocean City, tells me tuna fishing has been good at the Hambone and Hotdog, but the marlin bite has slowed. Last week, they put their charter party on several nice bluefin and yellowfin tuna, including a hefty 110-pound bluefin. They were chunking.

Offshore anglers should note that the National Marine Fisheries Service will modify bag limits for bluefin tuna on September 1, 2000, effective through October 15, 2000. In the bluefin angling category, anglers can keep two school bluefin (measuring 27 to less than 47 inches curved-fork length) and two large school or small medium bluefin (measuring 47 to less than 73 inches curved-fork length) per vessel. For permitting information, call the Atlantic Tuna’s Information Line at 888/USA-TUNA (888/872-8862) or 978/281-9305. Or log on at

The Department of Natural Resources reports that some anglers have reported rockfish with red rashes or lesions, which state biologists say are caused by bacterial infections. DNR says that these bacteria occur naturally in the Bay and always have. For more information, log onto DNR’s Web site, at

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly