Spring rockfish season expected to open tomorrow

On the Outdoors

April 25, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Rockfish season is expected to open tomorrow, although regulations setting season dates, size and creel limits had not been approved by the state as of last evening.

According to the Department of Natural Resources public information office, the parameters for commercial, charter-boat and recreational rockfish seasons were still being reviewed by members of the Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review committee. A decision is expected today.

The proposed spring striped bass (rockfish) season for recreational and charter-boat fishermen would run from tomorrowthrough May 31 with a 32-inch minimum size and a limit of one per day and five during the spring season.

Starting June 1, the minimum size drops to 28 inches and on June 17 to 26 inches. The creel limit would be one per day.

According to DNR, if no decision is reached beforehand, the spring rockfish season could revert to the parameters of last year, opening on April 28 with a 32-minimum, a daily limit of one and a season limit of five.

State biologists have said that this could be a very good spring season for rockfish because unusually cold weather the past two months altered the normal timing of the spawn.

Mature rockfish enter the bay's rivers and move upstream to sectors where the tidal salt water mixes with fresh water moving downstream, where they will spawn when water temperatures reach the mid to upper 50s.

After the spawn, the mature fish move out of the rivers and leave the bay waters to migrate northward along the Atlantic Coast. All legal-sized fish in the April-May portion of the season will be members of the migratory stocks.

And with only the mainstem waters of the bay open to fishing for rockfish, choosing the right points of intercept will have a lot to do with fishing success.

Postioning in narrow sections of the bay -- the Bay Bridge area is a prime location -- or along deep channel edges below river mouths are good locations.

But while the stripers are likely to be moving in deep water, they also are likely to be in the upper levels of the water column, where temperatures are somewhat warmer. Water temperature at Thomas Point yesterday was 55 degrees.

The state record rockfish caught last year was taken off Bloody Point, while trolling westward toward Thomas Point.

Big lures will help as well, with plastic shad or twisters 6 inches or longer very popular. Spoons, such as the larger Tonys or Crippled Alewives, also should be effective. Keep in mind that the fish these larger stripers are preying on often are 8 inches or longer.

If light tackle appeals, try a saltwater diving lure such as Mirrolure's 112MR or 113MR in green mackerel or Rapala's Sliver or Magnums. These lures tie directly to your line or shock leader, are not to be used with trolling sinkers and can be trolled faster than spoons.

State record set

Richard "Yogi" Sword of Clear Spring has set a state record for muskellunge, with a catch of 27 pounds on March 22. Sword was fishing at Dam No. 5 on the Potomac River, using minnows as bait.

Sword's record fish measured 46 inches long and 22.5 inches around.

Fishing updates

In fishing activity elsewhere, the action at Ocean City has been spotty, with some white perch in the creeks that feed the back bays, catch-and-release rockfish to 22 inches in the surf and sporadic mackerel catches offshore.

In the upper Chesapeake Bay area, white perch have been going well in deeper holes of the Susquehanna River, as well as in the lower Patapsco. Catfish have started to hit in the Bush, Gunpowder and Patapsco. One of the better local areas for catfish is the Carroll Island power plant.

Reservoir fishing has been heating up nicely, with Liberty, Loch Raven, Prettyboy and Piney Run good for crappie and bluegill.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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