This week ...
George Hermann and Reg Sullivan ran into a school of breaking rockfish when casting spoons to blues at the mouth of the Potomac the other day; the same with Scott Barker and Spud Cross at Hacketts, which raises another possibility for catching rock when the season opens Oct. 5.
Until then, one might practice with a fly rod, though not on rock themselves (see Question Box). Refresh saltwater fly fishing techniques by casting to blues. Fly rodding for rock was a growing sport in the upper and lower bay until numbers of fish and breaking schools went on the skids.
Fly tackle should take stripers, though casting room dictates only two or three anglers can cast from a boat at one time. But the thrills are endless.
Among fly selections that appeal to blues are the same that will take rock. So practice can be fun. Retired Sun outdoors writer Lefty Kreh, who used fly tackle for rock for 20 years, said fly selections should include largemouth bass poppers on 1/0 hooks. "They're good bets," added Kreh.
He prefers his own Lefty's Deceiver pattern -- and also suggests the Joe Brooks Blonde series, the platinum in particular. Kreh insists color is not important -- just keep the lure ahead of the fish and keep it moving.
Leader should be 12- to 15-pound test of 7 to 8 feet in length. A 9 or 10 shooting head would be helpful in a breeze.
Most fly fishing for rock was done from private boats before the moratorium, though Scheible's Fishing Center at Ridge catered to fly rodders, and will accommodate them again upon request in the coming season. Rates are $315 a day. If making reservations be certain to stress that fly fishing is your choice. Call 1-301-872-5158.
Tomorrow: Night Bite Fishing Tournament, 6 p.m. to midnight, bass, bluegills and crappies by boat fishing only, Centennial Park, Columbia, sponsored by Howard County Department of Parks. Call Laura Wetherald, 1-301-992-2463.
* Saturday/Sunday: Fourth annual Camrod Hunting Club Gun & Knife Show, 4-H Building, Timonium Fairgrounds. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission, $4; children under 12, free. Call 391-8883.
* Sunday: Metro Gun Club Trap Shoot, traps open 9 a.m., club facilities near Waldorf. Call John Stevens, 679-4199.
* Monday: DNR Striped Bass Advisory Board public meeting to discuss details of the rockfish season, 6 p.m., Department of Agriculture Building, Annapolis. Call Frances McFaden, 974-3365.
Planning ahead ...
Oct. 5: Reopening of the rockfish season, and if you've forgotten how, or are going to try for the first time, an excellent new videotape is now available to illustrate trolling methods.
Charterboat skipper Mike Pivec, who is also founder and past president of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, and Tim Fisher, MSSA activist, have put together a 52-minute show "Trolling for Rockfish."
"We targeted it toward young fishermen who never had the opportunity to fish for rock -- or others who have forgotten," said Pivec. "It's how to, when and where." The tape is $29.95, add $4.50 for tax, postage and handling. Write Sportfishing Productions, P.O. Box 36351, Towson, Md. 21286-6351. Call 882-9790.
* Oct. 10: Pre-registration now accepted for Bowhunter Safety Course, 10 a.m. until completed, Howard County Fairgrounds. Call Phil Waggenbrenner, 461-3007.
The Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association deserves a tip of the rod by all Maryland anglers thanks to its enviable record of service to the bay and its fishermen.
The other day, MSSA gave a check of $2,700 to fund radio tracking of rockfish (last year tracking indicated rock returning to the bay), and also put up $2,500 for rods and reels for kids fishing the Governor's Cup tournament.
Recently it gave $500 to Grasonville Fire Rescue Squad's boat to purchase a Loran C, and $20,000 is being raised to create an artificial bay fishing reef.
MSSA's impact is being felt on many fishing fronts, and its executive director Rich Novotny said the group will lead the fight against a spring fishery for rock, and for a limit of 10 blues a day. MSSA also is supporting a sea trout plan including a limit on sea trout -- especially at spawning time.
This 6,000-member conservation group can also be credited with increasing Gov. Schaefer's interest in rockfish and other aspects of the bay fishery. In addition it has created an effective lobby and political clout in Annapolis.
Its efforts to promote youth fishing programs are commendable; now if it would only come up with one to get senior citizens on boats for bay fishing. Countless old-timers who once fished the bay can no longer afford it, or have the transportation or tackle. But, they want to go.
MSSA's phone number is 768-8666.
Names and places ...