Chesapeake Outdoors ~ by C. D. Dollar

 Vol. 10, No. 19

May 9-15, 2002

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Fish are Biting

If you’re having a fit trying to decide whether to troll for rockfish or cast flies to farm-pond bass, well, you’re in good company. Many of us are suffering from this dilemma, which really is more a luxury that few areas in the country can claim. This is one of the best times of the year for anglers living in the Land of Pleasant Living.

We’re three weeks into the 2002 trophy rockfish season and it still remains very much a trolling game, though a few fishermen have tried chumming up a big striper with limited success. Overall, the rockfish trolling bite has been dismal to exceptional with most charter captains and recreational anglers slow-trolling big baits, such as umbrella rigs with parachutes and bucktails. Some skippers are using spoons and plugs like Stretch 18+ from Manns. You also see a fair number of trollers deploying planer boards.

Trolling patterns vary, but many anglers prefer covering ground in an east-west pattern, fishing their lures in the first 25 feet of water when in an overall depth of 50 to 70 feet. Preferred colors are white-on-white with some green and chartreuse. The weather and the boat traffic, especially around Annapolis and the Bay Bridge, are the most prohibitive factors keeping folks from hooking up.

Capt. Chuck Foster of the Missing Page II, a 20-foot custom aluminum jonboat (his latest project boat) rigged for Bay fishing, made quick work to catch his limit Sunday, taking a 20-pounder just south of the Bay Bridge. Down at Bunky’s Charters in Solomons, the wild weather last week put off the fishing, according to Ricky. But early this week many of the boats came back to the dock with their limits by midday.

Some fishermen have been targeting the early croakers that have shown up off Drum Point. There are other reports of the hardheads off Point Lookout and in Tangier Sound. Bloodworms and squid are your best bets for baits. DNR reports weakfish (gray trout) have arrived at the mouth of the Potomac River and along the eastern edge of the main shipping channel as far north as Hooper Island Light. It shouldn’t be too long for these two staple Bay bottom-fish to move north and offer mid-Bay anglers a shot at catching them.

On the Maryland seaside, summer flounder catches have been disappointing thus far compared to Virginia waters near Wachapreague, Quinby and Great Machipongo Inlet, where flounder numbers have been good. As waters begin to warm, the catches should increase. A few snapper blues have also been encountered in the inlet and back bays.

DNR reports that some bluewater fishermen have already caught a few blue sharks. It isn’t too early to think about putting finishing touches on tackle and gear for the 2002 offshore season.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly