Rockfish season has been open for 11 days, and according to Department of Natural Resources catch reports, "there is no shortage of big, bruiser stripers in the middle and upper bay."
"Stripers of this size class have not been encountered at this time of year in the sheer numbers we have been seeing over the past several days," said Martin L. Gary, DNR Fisheries Service biologist who tracks sport fishing across the state.
"RJ's Bait and Tackle in Breezy Point alone reported over 20 citation stripers checked in over the weekend."
To qualify for the state catch citation, rockfish must be 28 inches or longer.
"Striped bass in the 30- to 40-inch range have been more the norm than the exception from Love Point and along the western shore from Franklin Manor to the Flag Ponds," Gary said.
According to DNR, where some of the best rock fishing can be found: Upper bay -- Although fishing has been streaky, fish to 40 inches and 20 pounds have been hitting drifted eels or coming up in chum lines early in the day at Love Point, Hickory Thicketts, Black Beard's Bluff in the Chester and over the lumps off the Magothy, with smaller stripers taken from the lumps up to Poole's Island.
Middle bay -- The western edges from Franklin Manor to Flag Ponds have been hot for trollers using bucktails and sassy shad or parachutes, with chummers doing well for smaller fish at the Gas Docks. Bottom fishing at Hacketts and the mouth of the West River also are good locations for 18- to 24-inch stripers.
Other than rockfish, white perch are numerous and bluefish are scattered along the Eastern Shore above the Bay Bridge as far north as Gayle's Shoal, with occasional Spanish mackerel mixed in. Good locations for perch in the upper bay are Snake Reff, Belvedere Shoals, 6-foot Knoll, the eastern shore as far north as Tolchester, the lumps off the Magothy, the mouth of the Patapsco and Langford Creek and Gray's Inn Creek in the Chester River. The Susquehanna Flats and the Gunpowder-Middle River area are strong for bass and rockfish.
In the middle bay, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sea trout, spot, croaker, white perch and flounder all are possible in addition to rockfish. Bluefish and mackerel generally are more numerous on the eastern side of the shipping channel, where trolling small spoons will work well for mackerel and trolling and bottom fishing are good tactics for blues. Bottom fishing has been strong for spot, sea trout and flounder in the mouth of the Patuxent, Chinese Muds, Punch Island, the Diamonds, Holland Point Bar and Thomas Point Light to Hacketts.
In the Annapolis area, Thomas Point Light to Hacketts has been very good for large white perch and jumbo spot. Some of the best flounder fishing of the year, DNR reports, is occurring on the edge east of Buoy 84.
In the lower bay, bottom fishermen in Tangier Sound are doing well on medium to large spot and sea trout from 12 to 18 inches, with Solomons Lump and the Virginia line near Crisfield good choices. Croaker are still available, but spot and trout are more prevalent. Spot and sea trout are also abundant at the Mud Leads and SW Middle Grounds in deeper waters. Bluefish to 3 pounds are scattered through the area along with strong numbers of Spanish mackerel from Smith Point to Buoy 83A.
In Ocean City, croaker head the inshore bite in the surf, inlet and back bays. Sea trout are at the inlet and croaker, sea trout, kingfish, small blues, spot, occasional 28-inch stripers and small dusky sharks are in the surf. Offshore, yellowfin tuna at the Hambone and Hot Dog, dolphin along weedlines and big blues and some king mackerel at the Jackspot.
In fresh water, Deep Creek Lake continues to provide steady fishing for smallmouth bass in 6- to 12-foot depths, and trout are starting to concentrate around the dam. There is decent walleye action, too, with Don Ringer of Oakland checking in a 31-inch, 10-pounder at Johnny's Bait House.
White perch continue to hit for trollers at Loch Raven, and bass anglers can work the edges of the grass beds, while pickerel are in the grass.
Bluegill, yellow perch and smallish bass are at Piney Run; crappie and bass run deep at Liberty; and white perch are suspended at Prettyboy.
Pub Date: 8/28/97