Mackerel bring on the blues for anglers

OUTDOORS

September 05, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Some of the best saltwater fishing news of the year is that Spanish mackerel have invaded the Chesapeake again this year.

These tasty, tough-hitting fish began turning up in the lower Bay areas about two weeks ago and the middle Bay a week later.

At the last minute I had to cancel a lower Bay trip with Captain Eddie Davis a couple of weeks ago and missed out on some sizzling mackerel and bluefish action. I rescheduled for last Saturday and made up for lost time.

Joining me aboard Davis' Edith Rose were Tommy Cordy, Dave Barnes, Jenny Greene and Erin Croke of Pasadena plus southern Carroll County anglers Timmy and Clarence Newberry. Also aboard was young Tommy Croke, Erin's son, who was soon to catch his first fish -- a robust Spanish mackerel.

For years the Spanish mackerel passed up the Chesapeake for no reason that anyone could figure. Then, a few years back, just as mysteriously, they returned. The 1991 season was one of the best in memory, and last year's was even better. So far, this '93 season has indications of being an even better year.

On a couple of occasions last August and September, I remember catching more mackerel than blues. That wasn't true last weekend, though, when we averaged about two nice 2- to 5-pound blues for each mackerel.

I still put the bluefish at the top of my list for pure fish-fighting fun, but the mackerel more than holds its own, especially when the angler is using fairly light tackle. These fish strike hard and usually come to the surface to conduct their fights, which often are marked by long runs.

One of the best features about fishing for Spanish mackerel is that you usually catch them in with blues and both hit the same lures. We trolled small spoons behind small metal planers that kept the lure at about 15 feet and had almost continuous action. You also want to keep your boat speed up.

"I think about 7 knots is about right for these fish," Davis said. "That's about twice as fast as I usually go when after blues, but you'll notice, even when going that fast, we're still getting our share of blues. What happens is that the mackerel are around these schools of bluefish, picking them off. Of course, the blues are trying to return the favor, that's why we're picking them up, too."

The only thing better than catching Spanish mackerel is eating ++ them. Every one we caught weighed between 3 and 4 pounds. I simply fileted them, plopped a dab of butter on the top of each one, added a little lemon pepper and ran them in the broiler.

Davis kept us within sight of the mouth of the Potomac River all day, and we could not have asked for better fishing. The mouth of the Patuxent, the Middle Grounds, Hooper Straits and Point Lookout are excellent lower Bay spots right now. In the middle Bay area, head for the Gooses, Chesapeake Beach, Bloody Point and Thomas Point.

While on the subject of Chesapeake fishing, all indications are positive that we are in for some grand rockfishing this fall and for many years to come.

In traditional striped-bass hot spots such as the Potomac River, the Choptank, the Patuxent, the Bay bridges and north, you simply cannot keep them off the lines. And the best news is that they are in abundance in all sizes.

Though it isn't final yet, I'd be willing to bet that the proposed seasons will be approved.

The charter-boat dates would total 52 days, beginning Oct. 1 and continuing through Nov. 21. The recreational season would sport 38 days, beginning Oct. 1 and continuing through Nov. 7. Charter anglers would be allowed two rock a day at a minimum size of 18 inches, while recreational anglers would be allowed one.

Stoney Creek events

The Stoney Creek Fishing and Hunting Club located at 9090 Fort Smallwood Road has a full calendar of events open to the public this month.

Today, you can shoot rifle silhouette and come back Sept. 11-12 for handgun silhouette matches. Tomorrow, the public is invited to enjoy the club's sporting clays setup.

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