'Big Lips' Aplenty, But Leave The Rockfish


September 14, 1990|By Capt. Bob Spore

By: Capt. Bob Spore; Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday and Sunday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.

The pretty woman in the pink dress said, "This is the last time I can wear this dress this year. Time for the orange and browns." Not being a slave to style, I mumbled something that was probably inappropriate and she disappeared down the elevator.

Summer may be gone as far as the fashion calendar is concerned, but the water temperatures are still in the high 70s and summertime fishing is still happening.

Before getting into what's happening and where, there is one serious subject to mention. Some anglers have been practicing their rockfish techniques. The water temperature is so warm and the fish so stressed by low dissolved oxygen that a high percentage of those caught, even though released, have died.

However, attempting to catch rockfish is still illegal. The season does not open until Oct. 5, by which time the water temperature will go down, thus lowering the mortality of rockfish that are released. The large rockfish caught after Oct. 5 will most likely go into the fish box unless you get lucky and fill your quota early in the day.

Although the temptation is great, save your rockfish action for next month.

Upper Bay bottom fishing is very good if you like whiskered trout or catfish. Currently, the fish prefer the deeper holes and are biting well on just about anything you put in front of their noses. Saturday we caught them on night crawlers, clam snouts and peeler crab. Size is running from 8 inches to almost 8 pounds, with the average about 2 pounds.

White perch are scattered because of all the bluefish. I did make a fair catch Saturday of nice perch, but you need to look around; they are on the move.

Bluefish are well up the Bay. Saturday they were caught above Swan Point on Hodges Bar, normally a good white perch haunt.

The bluefish continue below the Bay Bridge into Virginia. Some of the nearby hot spots are Hacketts Bar, Whitehall Bay, Thomas Point and Eastern Bay. Black drum, or "big lips," as they are affectionately called, have been discovered at Poplar Island and the Stone Rock.

Bluefish are most plentiful in the Deale/Chesapeake Beach/Tilghman Island area. The Stone Rock has been one of the most popular hot spots -- the fish run from Breezy Point to the Power Plant on the Western Shore. A few nice sea trout are still being caught on the Stone Rock, but conditions must be just right and you have to know what you're doing. Bottom fishing in the Choptank has become more interesting. Besides Norfolk spot, anglers are also catching hardhead, flounder and a few small sea trout.

The Cove Point to Point Lookout area is also experiencing excellent fishing. Bluefish and mackerel are scattered throughout, with specific hot spots at Point No Point and Cedar Point. Bluefish have also moved into the Patuxent by the Naval Air Station and by the Solomons Bridge. Flounder fishing near the mouth of the river is fair to good.

Flounder fishing at Cornfield Harbor in the Potomac is good and bluefishing in the Point Lookout area is excellent.

It has been said that a good offense is often the best defense. This month's editorial in the Waterman's Gazette, the voice of the Maryland Waterman's Association, argues persuasively that the striped bass, or rockfish, should be only a commercial fish.

This editorial is obviously in response to the Maryland Saltwater Sportsfisherman's Association support of legislation making the striped bass a game fish only, thus outlawing commercial fishing.

The MWA makes a good point that the controls built into the commercial striped bass fishing regulations will provide scientists accurate harvest data, while no one will be able to provide accurate data on the recreational fishing harvest. No one knows exactly how many recreational fishermen fish the Chesapeake (350,000 seems to be the accepted number) and there are no hard data regarding their catch.

The state plans monitoring stations at launch ramps, telephone surveys and volunteer in-person interviews by other sports fishermen to get a handle on the recreational catch, while each fish the commercial fishermen catch will be counted and weighed.

The rockfish battles between the MSSA and the MWA will make for interesting reading between now and the end of the General Assembly session in April. Unfortunately, it will do little for the fish.

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