Class of '93 stripers brings 'one of greatest' cycles


July 23, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

So, with rockfish angling allowed only on a catch-and-release basis for the next few weeks, perhaps you're wondering what the prospects are for the fall season, which opens Aug. 15.

"It is worth reflecting on what we have experienced over the past 2 1/2 months," said Fisheries Service biologist Martin L. Gary, who tracks charter boat and recreational catches for the Department of Natural Resources. "It certainly will go down on the books as one of the greatest periods of fishing on Chesapeake Bay of all time.

"The irony is that the best may be yet to come."

The reason is the enormous 1993-year class of rockfish, which this year reached the 18-inch minimum allowed in the late spring-early summer season for the first time since the moratorium. Those same fish will be available for fall fishermen, too.

"We received reports from fishermen that previously had little or no luck with any kind of fishing," said Gary, "and they were having no trouble limiting out on stripers."

The 1993-year class is present in such great numbers that it alone would seem to ensure a bright future for a species once threatened by overfishing. But, Gary said, there is more good news to come.

"The 1993-year class will continue to mature into bigger and better quality size fish and ultimately produce a true trophy fishery of the likes one can hardly imagine," said Gary. "Then the prodigious 1996-year class will come into the fishery in the fall of the year 2000."

In 1985, when the state closed the rockfish fishery, there were legions of people who thought rockfish might never recover, and many who felt DNR hadn't a clue about bringing the fish back.

This fall, when the 1993 year class converges on your hooks, remember that it was DNR's Pete Jensen and his fisheries staff who played the largest part in bringing the stripers back.

Parade of power

Between noon and 2 p.m. tomorrow, a large portion of the racing fleet in town for the Chesapeake Challenge PowerBoat Race and Festival will parade through the Inner Harbor.

The parade, which will pass both the Pratt and Light Street pavilions, will coincide with the blessing of the fleet by Bishop Gordon Bennett.

Pre- and post-race activities will be headquartered at the Baltimore Marine Center. Racing begins at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on a course on the Patapsco River between Lazaretto Point and Fort Carroll.

Fishing updates

Upper Chesapeake Bay: Channel catfish to 6 pounds have been taken from Belvedere Shoals, Hodges Bar and off Tolchester. Oyster bars and humps at Podickory Point, Pooles Island, Hart/Miller Island, the lower Chester River and Bay Bridge pilings all are spots for white perch. Some spot and croaker at Love Point and off Gibson Island, with evening fishing best for croaker. Large spot on bloodworms at buoy 6 near Kent Narrows.

Middle Chesapeake Bay: Sea trout fishing continues to improve at Sharp's Island Light, James Island and the western edge from the Radar Towers to Parkers Creek, and some trout have moved into Eastern Bay near the state reef inside Kent Point. The edges from Wades Point to Tilghman Point, Prospect Bay and Parsons Island are good for perch, croaker, spot and increasing numbers of flounder. False Channel and west-southwest edge of Poplar Island also have been turning up flounder. Evening fishing at James Island, Holland Point Bar, The Diamonds, Summer Gooses, Chinese Muds and buoys 10 and 12 in the Choptank River has been good for croaker. Spot are in good numbers at the mouth of the Severn River, Todds and Cooks points in the Choptank and Holland Point Bar. White perch are plentiful on hard edges and bars from Thomas Point Light to Hackett's.

Lower Chesapeake Bay: Daytime anglers can load up on sea trout and bluefish on the Middle Grounds and along the edge from the HS buoy to buoy 72, and at dusk the croaker bite turns on for some of the largest hardheads in many years. An evening of fishing anchored over the edge near buoy 72 early this week filled the cooler with hardheads averaging about 16 inches. Tangier Sound has been producing spot, croaker and sea trout, with Kedges Straits and the lower sound most productive in 25- to 40-foot depths.

Ocean City inshore: Croaker are plentiful in the inlet and back bays up to the Route 90 bridge. Flounder in the back bays, but many of the fish are under the 14.5 inch limit. Best areas are the Thorofare, buoy 3 north of the Route 50 bridge, the airport and from the inlet to the Route 50 bridge. Tom Patton of Berlin, Md., caught a 26-pound cobia at the south jetty last week, a rare catch. Spot, porgies, bluefish, sea trout and mostly small flounder from the inlet piers. Blues in the inlet during the day and stripers and sea trout at night. Spot, trout, kingfish and blues in the surf.

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