Tournament waters for the BASS Masters Classic Thursday, Friday and Saturday include 12 major rivers, dozens of major creeks and hundreds of coves and feeder creeks.
The following is a look at the waters that Gene Kane of Totchterman's Bass Guide Service and DNR biologist Alan Heft believe hold the most promise for the 40 contenders in the Classic.
Magothy River, Western Shore
Although this area is open to contestants, in 20 years Kane never has heard of a largemouth bass taken. Not worth fishing.
Patapsco River, Western Shore
Tidal interface area of river does hold bass, especially areas near and above where river passes Belle Grove Road. A remote
Back River, Western Shore Shortcomings of this river center on lack of freshwater flow. The top of the river holds bass, but not many big fish. A long shot, probably not worth fishing.
Middle River, Western Shore
On the Western Shore, this traditionally has been the start of good bass fishing. Any creek in this river, heavily developed along its shoreline, will turn up decent bass. An area of man-made structures that will be heavily fished should produce good bass.
Seneca Creek, Western Shore A very good creek, it has bull rushes and grass beds toward the mouth, a power plant midway up the north shore with a coal pier and metal bulkheads. Should get heavy attention from fishermen.
Hawthorne Cove to Weir Point, Western Shore
Two deceptive areas for bass. The cove shoreline is fronted by bull rushes and there is some grass off the points. Weir Point is one of several exposed bay points that will turn up good bass. Look for three or four submerged trees off the point. Perhaps these are areas that could be hit in passing.
Gunpowder River, Western Shore
Passing Carroll Point at the mouth of the river, the prime bass areas begin to unfold. The river is bordered by Aberdeen Proving Ground to the east, and the shoreline can provide pockets of bass. But many of the creeks along that restricted military shoreline will be closed to fishing.
Bengies Cove, Western Shore
Bull rushes along the shoreline and filled side to side and front to back with grass. Unusual feeding patterns here because of amount of grass. Falling tide seems to pull baitfish and bass into the heavy grass and spread them out; rising tide seems to concentrate fish on the inside edges of the grass.
Saltpeter Creek, Western Shore
Lots of grass along the shoreline and out perhaps 100 feet. A more traditional feeding pattern with the outgoing tide pulling the baitfish and bass from the backs of coves and concentrating them on the outside edges of the grass.
Dundee Creek, Western Shore
The launch site at Dundee Creek Marina in Gunpowder State Park will be restricted, as will a portion of the creek. But the creek still holds enough big bass that under the right conditions -- cloudy skies, clear water, proper tidal pattern -- the tournament might be won right here.
Bush River, Western Shore
A good place to catch a daily limit of 1- to 1 1/2 -pound fish, but not considered a place where the tournament might be won.
nTC Susquehanna River, Western Shore
A place where a good fisherman might load up on 3- or 4-pound fish. Rainfall, flow from Conowingo Dam and wind direction all will determine water levels. Usually good fishing up to Spencer Island and beyond by boat when levels are good. Great potential. Club tournaments have averaged over 2 pounds per fish, with 5- and 6-pounders registered. A place to watch.
Northeast River, top of the bay
There is potential here for a one-day stringer of 15 to 20 pounds, but there is some question whether it will hold up through three days of fishing. If the wind is from the northwest or northeast, water will be blown out of the river and in effect the tide may never rise. River also is quick to muddy. Another spot with great potential, especially the Arundel Pier. Some of the biggest bass in the area have been taken here.
Susquehanna Flats, top of the main bay
Years ago, a vast area of underwater grasses and a prime area for bass fishing. Grasses are coming back, but perhaps not enough to make poling out worth the effort for the fish caught. Rough water, time-consuming. Probably will not be heavily fished.
Elk River, Eastern Shore
Some of the deep holes at the top of the river as well as marinas and private docks. But lower river has great potential, especially a milfoil bed near the mouth. Perhaps a sleeper if winds are out of the south and head of the river stays unroiled.
Bohemia River, Eastern Shore
Fishing is limited to below the Route 213 bridge, but Scotchman Creek will be hit and will produce some good fish. With some luck this river could turn up a good limit, but probably there are better places.
Sassafras River, Eastern Shore