by C.D. Dollar
In the middle and upper Chesapeake, fishing is slow, with most of the action in spurts. Dedicated anglers will be rewarded, however, as there are plenty of species to be caught.
Last week while fishing live perch, Chuck Foster hooked up with a 24-inch rockfish, and we did see pockets of holding fish but they were finicky. I briefly hooked up with a striper on the next drift, but it took my line into structure and broke off. On that morning the supply of bait was scarce, which proved to be our Achilles' heel because just when the action started to pick up, the bait ran out. We had to go to work anyway. At least that is how I consoled myself for a few days after missing my fish.
Yet on the way back to Matapeake landing, we were given a slight reprieve, perhaps a mere taunt. Several hundred yards north of a pound net, a small school of breaking rockfish and blues provided some brief but sporting action. Earlier in the morning we saw the watermen working their pound, and Chuck remarked if the wind hadn't been up that would have been a good place to score some bait.
DNR and many watermen are reporting large numbers of bunker taken in the pound nets, which means that forage is plentiful and rockfish can pick and choose where and when to feed. This theory, some fishermen believe, helps explain why chumming is not as effective as it has been the last few summers.
Water conditions in rivers like the Chester and Magothy are turbid, making lure fishing even harder. But the lumps off the Magothy have been good for bottom fishermen. The last few times I have fished Kent Narrows it has been hit or miss. Fish show up on the scope, along with loads of baitfish, but they don't take the bait or lure as readily as you might expect.
Captains and DNR are reporting that schoolie rockfish are chasing bait (small menhaden and silversides) in areas, including the Love Point rip and off Baltimore Lighthouse.
All of the oyster and shell bars on the Western Shore - Sandy Point down to West River - have produced for anglers drifting bloodworms, grass shrimp and squid. Again, it seems that timing is everything so play the tides for bottom fishing. If you move inshore to cast, low light hours are best.
Reports are that Eastern Bay is not as hot as it was, but plenty of fish are still active. Spot, flounder, croaker and sea trout are all options.
Moving south, the mouth of the Choptank and farther upriver has been strong for the charter fleet as well as the recreational fisherman. Punch Island has keeper flounder, and Sharp's Island flats has bluefish. At the Cove Point Gas Docks, chummers continue to burn it up; reported sizes range 18 to 22 inches. Scores of undersized fish are being released as well.
With the water so hot, use dehookers and release fish quickly to reduce mortality.
Other areas that are good bets are The Gooses, Cornfield Harbor, Southwest Middle Grounds and many areas below the Maryland-Virginia line. The Chinese Muds, Hog Island and Holland Point Bar are holding croakers, jumbo Norfolk spot and some nice trout.
Offshore, DNR and charter fleets are reporting sporadic catches of the deep water fish, which are believed to be caused by warm water temperatures offshore. Without any distinct temperature breaks, marlin, tuna and other marine pelagics are spread out from the Washington Canyon north to Massey's Canyon. Yet other reports say offshore action is heating up with reports of tuna and dolphin from the 12-Fathom Lumps to the Parking Lot.
Trollers working the Ham Bone boated a 99-pound bluefin, and yellowfin tuna have been taken by anglers chunking at the Hot Dog. Also bluefin tuna and nice size bluefish have been taken chunking at the Fingers.
Ocean City Fishing Center reports that Poormans Canyon and the Jackspot are the hot spots, and that the billfishermen are running to the south for the white marlin and blue marlin.
Recreational crabbing seems to be picking up steam with each passing week. Weekend chicken-neckers, including this writer, have done well in the Severn and South rivers, and many other tributaries are reportedly hot, including Wye, Chester, and St. Mary's rivers. My friend showed me a shell of a blue crab taken from the Wye River that measured better than nine inches from point to point.
| Issue 31 |
Volume VII Number 31
August 5-11, 1999
New Bay Times
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