Plenty of Reasons to Be on the Water
by C.D. Dollar
By the time this column hits the streets, there will be precious little rockfishing time left, as the season ends Sunday July 12 at midnight. But don't despair, there is still plenty of angling to do - in the rivers, the main stem of the Bay and in the ocean as the tuna, bluefish and mackerel are keeping offshore anglers busy. If you can't find a form of fishing to get your blood pumping, then you really aren't trying.
If fishing isn't your bag, the water's fine for a swim or a moonlit kayak paddle or canoe ride. Of course, what would a Chesapeake summer be without sailing? Crabbing has picked up in the rivers, as trotliners, pull trappers and hand-liners are scoring some plump blue crabs. Remember to get a copy of DNR's regulations and to only keep what you can eat.
Word spread like wildfire over the past week that above the Bay Bridges there was a massive concentration of stripers just east of Sandy Point in 27 to 35 feet of water. Chummers were scoring the most, so if you plan on going, bring catch and release gear including your dehooker and circle hooks. Still a bit north, Belvedere Shoals has nice stripers, plenty of spot, white perch and channel catfish.
DNR's Martin Gary reports a greater number of the 1993 year class fish in waters north of the bridge, but there are plenty of larger fish to 38 inches available. Several large, rogue bluefish to 12 pounds have been caught by anglers chumming for stripers. White perch fishing has picked up on the oyster lumps and remains good on many of the Bay Bridge pilings and in the rivers. Also, look for Norfolk spot on the lumps off Baltimore Light and Belvedere Shoals. There have even been some sizzling croaker catches made at Hackett's Bar, but reports are that these are inconsistent.
It's still hot near Thomas Point, the Hill and off Kent Island for anglers chumming rockfish. Spin casters jigging and flyfishermen tossing Deceivers and Clousers score in the Narrows, shell lumps in Eastern Bay, at Thomas Point Lighthouse, Cedar Rip and around other structures.
At Chesapeake Beach's Rod 'n' Reel, Fred Donovan says the fishing is "incredible" with "lots of variety." The headboats Tom Hooker and Bounty Hunter are doing well on spot during the day and hardhead at night. Donovan also reports that some blues have shown up at Stone Rock, but that black drum have diminished - whether that's because the run is over or because anglers aren't going after them is the question.
The Summer Gooses, LNG Gas Docks, Buoy #1 off West River, The Diamonds and the artificial reef east of Tilghman Island are hot still. Mostly 20- to 24-inch fish dominate the fishery, but there are fish to 36 inches out there in decent numbers. The occasional big bluefish also spices up the action.
Kathy Conner from Bunky's Charters in Solomon's says "I've never seen a year like this." The headboat Marchelle will be starting up this Friday from Bunky's, leaving the dock at 5pm. With plenty of good spot, croaker, white perch and sea trout around the Patuxent River and Drum Point, it will be a worthwhile trip. At the mouth of the Choptank River, James Island rock piles, Holland Point Bar and Chinese Muds, the bite has been on after dark.
DNR and charter boat captains report Norfolk spot in decent numbers inside the mouth of the Choptank, at the Holland Point Bar and mixed in with nice white perch from Tolley Point to Hackett's Bar. Flounder can still be had along the sharp edges of the False Channel with some at Punch Island.
In the southern Bay, it's the usual suspects: larger stripers from HS Buoy south to Buoy #76, the SW Middle Grounds and Point No Point Light. Bluefish to four pounds are being caught in good numbers at the Middle Grounds and Triangle along with weakfish under the blues in the 18- to 22-inch class. Big croaker abound at the Hooper Island Light, the Northwest Middle Grounds and the Honga River. In Tangier Sound, croaker catches have been excellent near the Virginia Line and just south of Deal Island. Weakfish have been mixed in with the croaker. Spot are also turning up in good numbers in many locations of the Sound.
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VolumeVI Number 27
July 9-15, 1998
New Bay Times
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