Trophy striped bassing remains surprisingly good as I write today's column on the eve of the season's third week. Earlier this week Eldersburg's Lance Schiable brought his father, Lee, who was visiting from Pittsburgh to join me, Steve Scala and Mike Dew for a day's fishing aboard Captain Gibby Dean's charter boat, the Double A.
We boarded Dean's Double A at Tilghman Island, and he gave us a choice of staying in that general area "and probably getting a lot of steady but undersized fish, or we can make the hour's run down to the area of Cove Point where they're getting fewer total numbers of fish, but more trophy-sized keepers."
The run down the Chesapeake and off the western shore was the choice and one that we didn't regret. By day's end Scala had a keeper measuring a hair over 34 inches, but the rest of us had racked up a lot of close calls in the 24- to 31-inch range.
Scala's fish hit a green parachute/sassy shad lure not 10 minutes into Dean's trolling pattern. This has to be the hottest lure on the Bay. Area anglers began using the parachute early last year and it caught on like the flu. It's nothing more than a slightly revamped version of the traditional bucktain. The long strands of hair-like material fore and aft produce all kinds of teasing action around the leadhead.
Along about midsummer last year I learned that to really make this lure talk, add about a 6-inch sassy shad in matching color. I had equally good luck last fall on rockfish with white, yellow and green parachutes/sassy shads. But, for some reason so far this spring, green is the only way to go.
These fish were deep and Dean even set two downriggers -- one at 45 feet, the other at 50 feet. We also caught a number of the smaller rockfish on green metal flake sassy shads matched to appropriate-sized bucktails.
Dean agrees with me that 1994 could be a very memorable year of great fishing throughout the Chesapeake.
"I'll probably keep my boat at Tilghman until this spring season closes the end of the month," he said. "We should be starting to see some bluefish up there in about a week or so, and I understand a huge school of drum measuring up to 40 acres in size has been spotted heading up the Bay this week. So, by next week the middle Bay could be hot with both of them plus the occasional trophy rock."
From June to mid-September Dean's Double A operates further south, out of Hooper's Island. That lower portion of Maryland's Chesapeake was the hottest spot around last year and indications are this year will be super for spot, croaker (jumbo-sized croakers are there right now), and flounder as well as blues and striped bass.
In case you missed it, Maryland finally has gotten around to blessing striped bass catch-and-release fishing. However, anglers are still prohibited from fishing for rock by any means in spawning rivers through June 30 and below the Conowingo Dam between June 15 and Sept. 15.
Local fishing update
Good bass and panfish action is awaiting Carroll farm pond anglers from one end of the county to the other.
Remember, you cannot keep largemouth bass until June 16, but you can catch and release throughout the year.
Trout fishing on the Gunpowder has been excellent. No hatches reported as I write this, so use streamers and nymphs. Beaver Run, Piney Run, Westminster Pond, Farm Museum Pond and the Patapsco still are furnishing excellent trout catches as is Morgan Run's catch-and-release-only area.
Liberty crappie fishing is good with hot spots being the bridges at Route 140 and Nicodemus. Large crappie also are being caught at Piney Run Reservoir with small minnows.
The upper Potomac is still running high, though fishing is improving -- try plastic grubs and crayfish, live nightcrawlers and shiners around the rocks for smallmouth bass. Perch action reported to be picking up at Prettyboy.