With rockfish season near, lure selection is a priority

On the Outdoors

August 22, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

As summer winds down, some of the most pleasant days of the year will settle over the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Already, there are signs of the good fishing that should be available in Maryland waters.

Bluefish, although rarely weighing more than 3 pounds, have moved into the bay in good numbers, with catches reported as far north as Worton Point; sea trout have moved as far north as the mouth of the Choptank, and Spanish mackerel are threatening to move north of Smith Point in formidable numbers.

But the staple will be rockfish, which as any bay angler will tell you, are everywhere -- and, for the most part, well fed and healthy.

During the early stages of the fall rockfish season, which opens Friday, Aug. 30, anglers should continue to handle their releases carefully because water temperatures could remain dangerously high during the first few weeks of the fall season.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, when water temperatures are above 70 degrees, rockfish are more likely to die from being hooked, landed and released than when water temperatures are cooler.

Two types of lures that seem to catch fish consistently and can make for easy release are the Rapala Magnums and Silvers and the MirrOlure 112Mr and 133MR series.

All are saltwater versions of crankbaits, with lips that cause them to move from side to side in a tight wiggle and to descend to about 12 feet without the use of weights.

Blue catfish record

Carol Fraley of Thurmont set a state record for blue catfish with a catch of 36 pounds, 8 ounces. The fish measured 40 inches in length and 26 inches in girth.

Fraley was fishing the mouth of Swan Creek near Fort Washington on the Potomac River when the record fish took a cut bait fished on 14-pound test line.

Rockfish clarification

Maryland's fall rockfish season for tributaries of the Potomac is the same as that for its portion of the Chesapeake Bay -- Aug. 30-Nov. 17 -- with an 18-inch minimum, two fish per day.

The Potomac River Fisheries Commission season for the mainstem of the Potomac is Sept. 14 to Dec. 15.

Tuna trouble

Recreational anglers fishing for yellowfin tuna in the waters off Ocean City are reminded that the season for bluefin tuna has been closed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, and should use care when catching and releasing bluefin.

The DNR has received complaints that some anglers have been gaffing bluefin in order to recover leaders and lures before releasing the fish.

A better procedure would be to use a de-hooker or to cut the leader once it has been established that the catch is a bluefin.

According to DNR, the simplest way to identify a yellowfin is to check the length of the pectoral fin, which on the yellowfin is long and extends to a point under the second dorsal fin. The second dorsal fin also is longer on yellowfin.

Fishing updates

Chesapeake Bay: In the Upper Bay, bluefish can be found along the Eastern Shore from the Bay Bridge to Worton Point, with the Love Point area getting the most attention and the most bites on red or natural surgical hoses. Catfish action continues to be very good, with shallows off Tolchester, Hawk Cove, Turkey Point and the mouth of the North East River top locations. White perch remain consistent over shell bottoms in the mouth of the Patapsco, Chester River, 7-Foot Knoll, Snake Reef and Podickory Point. Good largemouth bass fishing on the Susquehanna Flats.

In the Middle Bay, bluefish to 3 pounds have moved into the area in good numbers, with the eastern side of the shipping channel the best bet from the Diamonds to the CR Buoy. Best lures are medium-sized spoons and surgical hose. Sea trout catches have picked up at the mouth of the Choptank, but croaker reportedly are off.

In the Lower Bay, sea trout mixed with bluefish to 3 pounds have been abundant throughout the region, with the Mud Leads, Middle Grounds, Triangle, Buoys 72 and 74 and the lower section of Tangier Sound best bets. Flounder to 16 inches have been taken from the same areas, with edges the best locations. Spanish mackerel can be encountered as far north as Cedar Point, but Smith Point area has been the best choice.

Susquehanna River: Catfish to 6 pounds on clam snouts and chicken livers. Good smallmouth bass action on crankbaits and spinnerbaits fished on the edges of moving water near wood, rock or grass current breaks.

Tidal Potomac River: Good largemouth bass action at Washington Channel, Wilson Bridge gravel pits, Pomonkey and Little Hunting Creeks, Pohick Bay, Potomac Creek and Mattawoman Creek.

Liberty Reservoir: Striped bass to 9 pounds in the shallows just above Route 26 bridge and off Oakland Point. Crappie around the beaver huts; yellow perch in 8 to 12 feet of water.

Prettyboy Reservoir: Good white perch action for spinner-nightcrawler trollers over deeper channels. Perch range from 12 to 20 feet down.

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