Don't be playing catch up when it's time for rockfish

OUTDOORS

April 10, 1994|By LONNY WEAVER

This year's trophy striped bass (rockfish) season, set to begin May 1, promises to be a good one. Right now is the time to lay in gear for rockfishing and to brush up on the basics.

On Saturday, former Evening Sun outdoors editor Bill Burton, Easton Star Democrat outdoor editor Bill Perry and famed rockfish pro and writer Keith Walters will pass on a wealth of first-hand experience at Chesapeake College.

The daylong class, "Catching Striped Bass" will tell you how, when and where to hook one of those magnificent fish. Call (410) 822-5400 to register.

Now is also the time to book your trophy season charters. A wise schedule would be to concentrate on that portion of the Chesapeake between the Bay Bridges and Chesapeake Beach the first week to 10 days, then from Chesapeake Beach south for the remainder of the monthlong season.

With a little luck, you should be hooking early bluefish coming up the Bay as the late rockfish go down around mid-month.

I think a charter boat makes a lot of sense during this early season. Unlike most sports anglers who will approach the opening days of the season with a lot of hope, but with little hard knowledge, the pros will have been monitoring rockfish movement for a couple of weeks.

Also, they will have loads of experience to fall back on and the right equipment for putting you and a trophy striped bass in the same photo.

If you have a boat and want to get into the thick of the action on your own, now is the time to get your gear into shape.

Trolling is the choice fishing method during the May season and you will need an outfit capable of handling 30- to 50-pound test line.

Braided Dacron, monofilament and wire are standard choices, but I also urge you to take a hard look at the new braided Kevlar line. This new braided line is great for trolling. It won't kink, stretches very little and is strong.

The standard Bay trolling rod measures 5 1/2 feet to 6 feet, almost always sports a roller tip and often has roller guides as well. Bolt on a Penn 309 level-wind, star drag reel and you'll be equipped the same as most Chesapeake charter boats.

Popular large trolling lures used for trophy-sized stripers include Tony Acettas up to #23, big bucktails trimmed with plastic twister-style tails, Huntingdon Drones and one of the current favorites, Crippled Alewives up to 11/0 size.

Surgical tube eels up to 18 inches in length are classic Bay rockfish trolling lures. I saw more Parachute lures last year than ever before and at times they were very hot. Many of these same lures serve double duty on bluefish.

Rec crabbers win one

I'm still in shock over the fact that the little guy actually won one for a change. What we managed to win was at least a year's LTC reprieve from the proposal to force recreational crabbers to purchase a license.

As I have said before, let the people who pull a living out of the Bay's crabs pay the tab, not the person who wants to catch a dozen or so for supper.

The crabbing season began April 1 and continues through Dec. 31 from 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Chesapeake Bay. You can crab until sunset in rivers, creeks and tributaries of the Bay, 24 hours a day from docks, piers, bridges and the shore.

The daily recreational limit is a bushel per person and you can use all the hand lines you wish. But, popular collapsible traps or rings are limited to 10 per person, except when you're crabbing from a boat when you can have 25.

You are allowed 1,000 feet of trotline but not more than two 1,000-foot trotlines per boat. You also might opt to use seines up to 50 feet in length.

County waterfront property owners are allowed to set up to two commercial pots from their pier or "attached by a line from the property or stake not more than 100 yards from shore" with their names and addresses on a sign. Each crab pot must have a 2-5/16-inch cull ring in the upper chamber.

Commercial crabbers can run their trotlines from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tend their pots from 4:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. They can use pounds, traps, rings, dip nets, up to 50 pots, trotlines, bank traps and scrapes. They have no daily limit.

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