Welcome to fall fishing. When the "R's" start sneaking into the months one thinks of brrrr and oysters, but before we get too deeply into either we have some excellent fishing to experience.
Already, we have seen more breaking bluefish, rockfish and Spanish mackerel, often mixed, than anyone can remember. Recently we have seen school after school feeding on the surface from below the Bay Bridge to above Swan Point.
The bluefish should stick around through much of October so that after you catch your daily limit of rockfish next month, you will be able to chase a few blues.
The flounder appear to be moving north. We should have excellent flounder fishing into October which also will lengthen your fishing day after catching your daily rockfish quota.
Norfolk spot should begin moving out of the bay this month. Historically, they are one of the first fish to migrate to warmer waters. All in all, we should have an excellent fall fishing season ahead of us.
Currently, the best game in town is the breaking fish, or gas-burners as I call them. You'll burn a gallon or two chasing them as they pop up here, and then over there. The fish are feeding on small to tiny bay anchovies and immature silver-sides. These bait fish are only an inch long and the game fish open their mouth and plow into the huge schools, swallowing mouthfuls of minnows as they go.
Casting light action spinning tackle to the breaking fish is very sporting and a lot of fun. Ease your boat up to the outside edge of the activity and cast small lures (jigs or spoons) to the feeding fish. The retrieve should be quick and jerky, like a fish trying to escape.
Spanish mackerel are more likely caught on Clark and Cather spoons. Retrieve or troll almost twice as fast for Spanish mackerel as you do for bluefish.
Norfolk spot in the Bay Bridge area are becoming a little harder to locate. The majority have moved into deeper (20 feet to 30 feet deep) water. So if you can't find them where they should be, look deeper.
Flounder have been a big treat this year. Look for them on ledges above steep drop-offs in 10 feet to 25 feet of water. Cut spot works well in some areas, but live minnows have worked the best for me. Local flounder hot spots have been Gum Thickets, Poplar Island, Stone Rock, Hacketts Bar, and Holland Point Bar. Down the bay, good locations are behind the LP plant, Punch Island and Hoopers Island Light.
The secret of flounder fishing is in the touch. If you are a good plastic worm fisherman for largemouth, you'll probably be a good flounder fisherman.
Generally, drift fishing with the bait only inches off the bottom is the best way to catch flounder.
Flounder have both eyes on the top of their body and they just lie there watching the food go by. When they see something they like they swim along nibbling or sucking on the bait. Seldom do they hit a bait hard like a rockfish.
When you first feel something strange is happening to your bait, drop your rod tip and point it at the fish. Give the fish a second or so and test to see if there is additional weight on the line. If so, set the hook.
Sometimes the flounder will pick up the bait and swim along with the boat. There seems to be no weight on the end of the line. Set the hook!
The sea trout hearing Tuesday evening was attended by a small but vocal group that represented the commercial fishermen and charter boat operators.
To my knowledge not one recreational fisherman showed up to voice comments on whether he supported or opposed the proposed regulations.
The way I look at it, the recreational fishermen have no gripes coming if they don't get what they want. They didn't go ask for it. Ya gotta get off your butt!