by C.D. Dollar
In some instances, the axiom "politics sometimes makes for strange bedfellows" can apply to fishing. One such instance took place last Monday, when I agreed to help my friend Steve take four guys rockfishing aboard his 22-foot Aquasport Wonder. (One of the guys had won the trip in a Ducks Unlimited benefit auction.)
The 4:30am wake-up call was somewhat brutal, given that I spent a good bit of Sunday partying at the New Bay Times fifth year anniversary gig at Surfside 7, a huge success. But this was the first chance I had to fish since Whitbread has ruled much of life recently, so I gutted it out.
Okay back to the original analogy: the guys were amiable enough, but their worlds and mine would probably only collide this once, unless I get in a wreck, get sued, then need a car. Two personal injury lawyers, a used-car dealer and a retired liquor company executive made up our fishing party. I had little in common with them other than our presence in the same boat trying to catch fish - which sometimes is enough.
Lost in talk of IRAs, section 179 of the tax code and pending litigation, I nodded in agreement, smiled knowingly and prayed for a strike. We dropped our lines (two dummy lines with umbrella rigs and five trolling rods each rigged with a spoon and large parachute in combinations of white and green) in about 50 feet of water, just west of Bloody Point Lighthouse.
The flood tide was beginning to make up when the first hit came, a hard jolt that sent the line singing. Soon a beautiful 34-inch striper was aboard. Steve's and my spirits rose quickly, and talk turned to fishing, but only briefly. Within the next couple hours, two undersize fish - legal in about a month - hit four-ounce white parachutes and were quickly released. As we headed home, a knock-down inside the Tolley Point marker provided some last-minute excitement, but the fish spit the hook.
I guess it all boils down to perspective: I know I had a good time on the water catching a few fish despite missing our limit by good measure. It seems the jury is still out on the other fellas.
Fish Are Biting
Most reports put us in the middle of one of the best striper migrations in years. Consequently, some of the best rockfishing since the 1970s has had anglers hopping.
Most of the action has been in waters around Solomons, running north or south from the mouth of the Patuxent and producing limits for most anglers. Jacquie from Bunky's Charters said they had to order additional DNR citations and assign a staff person to fill out the enormous number of citations for big fishes.
Trolling bucktails or parachutes off Plum Point south has been red hot. Fishing the mouth of the Choptank south, past Hoopers Island, boats reported limits with average ranges in the mid-30 inch class and several fish in the low 40s. Most of the catches were in deeper waters (40 to 75 feet) along the channels. Spoons, bucktails, parachutes and umbrellas have all been effective, again white and chartreuse.
The first two bluefish of the year were caught off Cove Point area, one pushing seven pounds. Those fish appear to be rogues, however. The croaker run is still strong, with really beautiful hardhead being caught at Drum Point, Tangier Sound and Honga River. Gray trout are inside and outside the Patuxent River. Croaker have moved into the Choptank River as far as Chlora's Point and are also being taken off James Island.
The next best bet seems to be the Point Lookout fishing grounds. Rick's Marine down in Point Lookout reports that rockfishing is still hot at the Triangle, Middle Grounds and the Target Ships, and many of the captains have already switched to chumming. Bottom fishermen are taking flounder, sea trout and spot on bloodworms and crab baits, with the best action after sundown.
Up north, from Chesapeake Beach to Bloody Point, fish are mostly in scattered pods, a similar pattern of previous years. Franklin Manor to Randall's Cliff saw large numbers of fish taken almost exclusively trolling.
Above the Bay Bridges, the action has been spotty at best, but opportunity may yet come. DNR Fisheries Service biologists report that upper Bay water temperatures remain below the optimum range for spawning, and the majority of females are still holding roe. Action from the Bay Bridges to the Brewerton Channel was spotty at best. Many boats did well on Friday, including some that were chumming in water 20 to 30 feet deep off Podickory Point and below Swan Point. Love Point to the Dumping Grounds has produced some fish.
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VolumeVI Number 18
May 7-13, 1998
New Bay Times
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