Early fall perfect for upper Bay fishing

On the Outdoors

September 28, 1997|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

By midafternoon, the cloud cover had thickened and lowered. The breeze was building from the west-southwest and the day TC was turning uglier. But in the lee of Hacketts Point, hordes of bluefish were swarming near the surface, herding baitfish against the current, and there was time yet for a few more casts before the short run home upwind.

The half-inch, silver Kastmaster spoon was making quick work of the 1- to 2-pound blues, with almost every cast bringing in a fish over a 20-minute period. Cast, catch and release, a process made simple because the barbs had been removed from the treble hook.

The toothy blues had stripped away the white bucktail tied in above the treble. But the silver flash of the lure and the blues' need to feed while the tide moved and the baitfish were swept over the drop-off and into disaster kept the action hot -- and made for a pleasant change from a day of trolling for rockfish.

For middle and upper bay fishermen, it is the perfect season, these last days of September and early into October, when the waters begin to cool more quickly and white perch and rockfish feel the need to feed and fortify themselves for the coming cold season.

Blues and trout, spot and croaker sense the change, too, and begin to move more quickly south toward warmer waters.

It is a season of transition and fishing, too, changes with the season.

Chumming has been a mainstay for early fall fishermen and has increased in popularity in recent years. Drifting live eels, soft crab baits or live-lining small spot or perch works well, too. Trolling works in every season with varying success, ranging from moments of excitement to abject boredom.

And working the shallows with casting, spinning or fly gear has the potential for some of the best angling of the season, especially in a year such as this when salinities are high and the range of blues, sea trout, spot and croaker are expanded northward because of it.

Above the Bay Bridge, the mouth of the Chester River has been a good choice for chumming or drifting baits and eels, while in the evening the shoreline humps, edges and sloughs along Kent Island and Eastern Neck Island have been turning up good numbers of keeper rockfish for fly fishermen, spinners and casters.

The mouth of the Patapsco, too, has been a good choice in the evenings, as well as edges around Carroll Island and Fort McHenry. White perch action has been strong at the mouth of the river and over the humps south toward the Magothy.

Trolling and drifting live eels have worked well in the Poole's Island area and at Worton Point, although DNR catch reports indicate many days are hit or miss for stripers 18 inches and over.

One of the best bets for upper bay rockfish remains the Susquehanna River, where trolled hoses or cast plugs often take stripers to 30 inches.

The bulk of blues are along the Eastern Shore, with catches still being reported up to Tolchester, and sea trout have been holding in deeper holes off Love Point and Podickory Point.

Below the bridge, depending along which shore you fish, it is a matter of picking your poison.

Trollers have had their best success working the 35-foot contours along the western shore from Hacketts to Parkers Creek.

Chummers have been doing increasingly well for rockfish at The Hill, Flag Pole, Stone Rock, Gas Docks and Thomas Point.

In the evening, the shallows are producing some exciting fishing -- at Poplar Island, Thomas Point, Eastern Bay shorelines and into the Choptank River. All have been turning up fish over 30 inches on poppers, rattling plugs, crankbaits, spinners, spoons and flies.

Besides rockfish, blues are tightly schooled and breaking throughout the area, with river and creek mouths favored. Sea trout are schooling at the mouth of the Choptank, west of Poplar Island and scattered in smaller congregations from Thomas Point to Hacketts, an are in which white perch fishing continues strong along with spot, croaker and an occasional flounder.

Pub Date: 9/28/97

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