Chesapeake Outdoors ~ by C. D. Dollar

 Vol. 10, No. 14

April 4 - 10, 2002

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You Can’t Catch a Fish Without Leaving the Dock

Now I’ve only been writing about Chesapeake outdoors for about 10 years, and, aside from learning to distinguish a banded killifish from a sheepshead minnow, I know better than try to prognosticate with any degree of certainty what the upcoming angling season holds.

You won’t find any brash predications here about what a great striped bass season we will experience in 2002, nor if the black drum run will be noteworthy.

Nor do I have the answers to questions like ‘Will there be tiderunner sea trout up our way?’ I hope so, and as the past few seasons have demonstrated, the changes in commercial offshore gear have reaped benefits for recreational anglers.

And how about curious marine visitors, such as jacks and other southern species, that, if the salinity stays high, might wander up the Bay? Come on up, is all I can say. I’d be glad to meet you on the other end of a fishing line.

The lack of rain and the mild winter have had positive effects on the fishing. The pickerel fishing has been outstanding in several Western Shore rivers. White perch, many of which are fat, have accommodated anglers willing to put in the time on the Nanticoke, Patuxent and Magothy rivers. There are even fish busting on the surface under the Bay Bridges, off the Gas Docks and outside Herring Bay.

Naysayers might interpret this generalized overview as a cop-out. Tough beans.

My only real advice is to simply get out there and fish. Wade that trout stream you drive by every week. Explore holes or structure in the open Bay that might attract that record rockfish. Scour rivers and creeks on your own, or hire a charter captain to show you the ropes. While they might not give up their prime honey holes — can you blame them? — they will give you some practical information about fish habits and habitat.

The beauty of the renewed season is that there is so much opportunity for optimism. Yet only one thing is certain: You can’t catch a fish without leaving the dock.

Fish Are Biting
The Susquehanna Flats catch-and-release season for striped bass, which runs through May, started off hot as clear water and decent temperatures of both water and air brought out from their winter haunts both resident stripers and anglers. But the recent spate of cold fronts and rain has made the catching far less reliable. When I was up there this past weekend, the water on the Flats was churned a coffee-brown by the wind and by water being released from the Conowingo Dam.

Warmer days should bring another pulse of rockfish. Try top water plugs like Chug Bugs and Atoms or soft plastics like Bass Assassins. If you’re going to wave the bug-wand, toss proven winners such as Half’n’Halfs and Clousers.

Dr. Jim Rivers braved the crowd at Severn Run to cast his one-weight fly rod for the opening of the trout season. He reports that most of the trout released by Department of Natural Resources into this Severn River headwater were taken by lunch.

Rob at Anglers says there are plenty of white perch up the smaller creeks off the rivers. Fred at Rod ’n’ Reel reports that his charter fleet is gearing up for the trophy rockfish season, musing that there might be some light-tackle opportunities in the open Bay much earlier than normal.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly