Easy to get hooked on drifting for perch

On the Outdoors

July 11, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The two gentlemen on the Cindy Maru had it down, this business of drifting for white perch. And over the space of an hour or so yesterday morning, a parade of fishing boats formed at the mouth of the Severn River, following the lead of the Cindy Maru.

So, with a half-dozen bloodworms on board -- left in the cooler from the previous evening -- it seemed only natural to fall in line for a short while and ride the current and wind across the 23- to 22-foot flats to the rise of the bar at Tolley Point.

The breeze was up -- 15 knots and more at times -- and the perch were biting in pairs, banging the double-bottom rig frequently, bowing the light rod and creating a delightful end to an otherwise boring morning.

The day had started as a search for rockfish to take on the fly. Rumor had it that below Thomas Point the stripers had been on top in the morning, allegedly perfect stuff for fly rodding.

But the only fish marked along the bayside drop-off below the light were deep, and the wind was up.

In the shelter of the western shore, where the shallows are rocky, an epoxy minnow took one 14-inch rockfish in an hour while the wind played havoc with back-casts.

The Cindy Maru had a better idea for such a day -- find the fish on the depth sounder, mark the end of the drift with a buoy and motor upwind before shutting down the engine and starting the drift.

Bloodworms, grass shrimp, soft or peeler crabs, clam snouts, grass shrimp or -- in a pinch -- salted night crawlers work reasonably well as bait.

The double-bottom rig with just enough weight to hold bottom usually is the most productive setup.

Drifts will work for any species feeding on the bottom, and over the past couple of weeks bottom fishing has improved in Chesapeake Bay. Part of the reason is that fishing for perch, catfish, croaker, spot, flounder, sea trout and black drum has increased since the close of the rockfish season July 4.

In the upper bay, catfish action has been very good, with channel cats the hot ticket at Hawk Cove, the shell bottom off Tolchester, Swann Point to Gratitude, Belvedere Shoals and Hodges Bar.

White perch, which have been moving often in recent weeks, seem to have settled in over hard or oyster bottoms off the western shore from North Point at the mouth of the Patapasco River to Holland Point.

Good upper bay spots are Snake Reef, Podickory Point, Bodkin Point and in the Chester River at the mouth of Grays Inn Creek, Copper Hill and Cliffs City.

Along Kent Island, where the bay salinity is greater than that along the western shore, croaker catches have been reported as far north as Love Point.

And the croaker run this year is the best it has been in several decades, with some hardheads in the lower bay running to 22 inches.

In the middle bay area, from the Bay Bridges to the mouth of the Patuxent at Solomons, black drum action was hot again over the weekend with fish to 60 pounds taken at the Stone Rock and northwest of Poplar Island.

Spot, which have been plentiful in the lower bay recently, have moved into the middle bay, with catches reported as far north as Claiborne in Eastern Bay, where they are mixed with croaker.

Sharps Island Light, False Channel, James Island, Breezy Point, Holland Point and the Poplar Island area all have been good locations for croaker. Try to fish low-light conditions and edges 25 feet or deeper.

In the lower bay, the Middle Grounds continue to provide excellent croaker fishing and the first bluefish blitz of the season, with good numbers of 1- to 3-pounders showing in chum lines or breaking during low-light hours.

Sporadic catches of the blues have been reported as far north as Cedar Point.

Ocean City updates

Flounder are still numerous in the back bays, but there have been far more throw-backs than keepers. . . . There have been sea trout and rockfish at the inlet piers and jetties and the Route 50 bridge; tautog, rockfish, triggerfish and some Spanish mackerel at the inlet; sea trout, kingfish and small rockfish in the surf. . . . Offshore, bluefin tuna from the 20-fathom line to the Fingers, yellowfin from the 50-fathom line to 100 fathoms. . . . Big bluefish at the Fingers and Hot Dog; tautog and sea bass from the wrecks.

River and reservoir updates

In the Susquehanna River, bait restrictions are in place from Conowingo Dam to the power lines at Rowland Island until Aug. 30. . . . White perch and smallmouth fishing have been excellent. . . . Upper and Middle Potomac Rivers settling in, with water temperature 78 degrees at Williamsport and the river clear above Harpers Ferry. Shiners, grubs and small spinners should do well for smallmouth bass; good catfish action in the Dickerson area. . . . Deep Creek Lake continues to have great bluegill fishing on night crawlers . . . Oakland Point area and Morgan Run good choices for stripers at Liberty, with crappie and bluegill fishing good around shoreline brush and beaver huts. . . . Loch Raven grass beds good choices for bass.

Pub Date: 7/11/96

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