It's not easy to define fishing right now.
The action is excellent when you are right over the fish, slow if you only find a fish every once in a while and downright poor if you can't find them at all.
Finding fish is usually a function of putting past experience together with current sightings.
You know where you normally would find green-winged orange fish, but this year's a little different in that the fresh water/salt water line is way up the bay. It is so weird that the crabs have made a major attack on the Susquehanna Flats.
Nothing is normal. Warm water and a lack of oxygen in the upper bay killed most of the clams. The warmer the water, the less oxygen it will hold.
Consequently, we might say that this year is a bit unusualwhen compared to last year or the year before.
So, we take our past experience, plug in what's new this year and go look for the fish.You are not alone. A network of charter captains is doing the same thing.
But, you can't always expect your buddy to help you during the day because you never know who is listening on the radio.
For example, let's say you are having a bad day of it. You know from previous radio conversations that your buddy is doing all right. He can't explain where he is without telling a whole host of uninvited guests.And if you motor over to his spot, you might draw a crowd. Fishermenwill pass by a single charter boat, but put two together and watch the crowd grow.
So what does he do? He probably says, "Give me a land line tonight," meaning a phone call. Next day, you're armed with information about where the fish were biting.
However, so few charter boats are fishing this year that it is very difficult determining the fishing pattern. Add to that the unusual water conditions we havethis year, and attempting to forecast fishing activity is a lot of "guess and by golly."
Solomons is seeing some very good sea trout fishing, so is the Tilghman Island/Chesapeake Beach/Deale area.
This is not easy fishing. In some cases, it is a very slow troll, bouncing the bottom as you would for rockfish. In others, it is dropping onsmall pods of trout when you are directly over them. Either way, youhave to know where and when to look.
Bluefish are either feast orfamine in several areas. Near the lower bay around the mouth of the Patuxent River, the blues are fairly thick and easy to find. In the middle and upper bay, the bluefish are constantly on the move; when you find them you do well, when you don't, you don't.
The 1989 rockfish class, which was the largest in 25 years, is moving out of the nursing areas in the tributaries and can be seen feeding on the surface. There is some question whether the large number of emerging rockfish has been over-feeding on recent soft crabs sluffs. This may be evident by the lack of sooks (mature female crabs).
There is still time for the sook run to materialize, but add this to the list of anomalies in the bay this year.
Puppy drum are running in the lower bay;some have been caught as far north as Hacketts Bar. The puppy drum can be found in the tributaries and will take small spinners or beetlespins, or on the hard bars where you would look for white perch and Norfolk spot. Minimum size for puppy drum is 14 inches.
This also is a good year for lizard fish. These ugly critters get up to about 13 inches and don't seem to be afraid of, or good for, anything. Lately, trollers have been catching them on spoons.
The 1991 striped bass young-of-year index will be released today. I should have more on that Sunday, plus a few words on how the Chesapeake Bay Foundation istrying to keep you from catching rockfish next spring.
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.