As the last of the bluefish pack their bags to leave Maryland for the year, we can take heart, for the white perch are almost jumping into fishermen's creels.
My party last Saturday had to go into the cabin to bait their hooks or the perch would have come over the side of the boat.
The white perch fishing right now is the best I've seen it this year, and some of the perch are the biggest we've caught all year. Saturday I had over six perch between 11 and 12 inches that were so fat they looked like largemouth bass. Awesome!
It's difficult to pinpoint the hot spots because there are so few boats still fishing. Generally, the perch have been found in 16 to 25 feet of water over hard bottoms such as Podickery Point, Dolly's Lump, Hacketts Bar and Thomas Point. I'm certain there are many other areas, but no one is out looking.
Bait is not a serious problem this time of year. The perch will bite on just about anything. We used grass shrimp, night crawlers and cut perch; most of our very big perch were caught on the cut spot that we had caught earlier in the day.
Early in the day, the better fishing was in 16 to 18 feet of water. When the tide slowed, the perch moved into deeper water, or at least the perch that I found bit in 20 to 25 feet.
I learn something on every trip. There were quite a few out fishing Saturday, and it was not uncommon to be drifting next to many different boats.
I enjoy this, because I can watch what others are using for bait, how they're rigged and so on. If my party is having success and the fishermen on the boat alongside are not, or vice versa, there must be a reason.
I've learned over the years that you want a minimum amount of junk on your line when bottom fishing. Hi-lo bottom rigs can be purchased in any tackle shop. Most of these have metal stand-offs that keep the hooks from tangling with your line.
It is also possible to find stiff, rigging monofilament to tie your own bottom rigs. A couple of loop knots in the stiff mono may not be as rigid as the metal stand-offs, but the homemade rig is much more natural looking.
A more natural-looking bait will catch more fish. It did Saturday.
Another tip is to use the smallest weight possible to keep the bait on the bottom. Saturday, the heaviest weight we used was 1 ounce. I noticed many anglers using much larger and obviously heavier weights. Again, these anglers did not seem to catch the number of fish as did my party.
The famed Waterfowl Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary, opens today in Easton.
A short 90-minute drive to the Tidewater Inn and you are at the headquarters of a festival that features the finest waterfowl art in the world. Almost every media is represented, and I guarantee you will enjoy it.
This non-profit activity has raised more than $2 million dollars for waterfowl conservation projects.
If you have spent any time on the bay this year, you know that the Coast Guard has messed up most of the sign posts. A large number of the navigational aids have either been renamed or moved, or new aids have added. This alone is not all that alarming, but there are no charts or maps available with all the changes.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration might have a chart available next spring that will contain all the new information. The popular commercially prepared chart books with the corrections probably won't be available until later in the year.
However, if you own an ADC chart book, you can get the information right now. Contact the ADC folks at (800) 232-6277 and ask for the changes.
To make certain that you are not trying to pull anything on ADC, company representatives ask that you request the changes based on the page numbers in their chart book.
*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.