Good rockfish season in sight, but not likely to match '98 catch

April 29, 1999|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Estimates of the early rockfish season range from good to excellent, but it already is clear that this year's spring season is unlikely to match last year's.

"Remember that last year saw perhaps the greatest spring fishery ever, fueled by a massive wave of emigrating stripers," said Martin L. Gary of the Department of Natural Resources' Fisheries Service. "The conditions that produced limits by 8 a.m. in last year's spring fishery might be difficult to duplicate in any given year."

This year, with a cool, wet spring, rockfish are expected to leave the spawning areas of Chesapeake Bay tributaries in smaller pulses over the next two weeks.

"Anglers just need to be in the right place at the right time," Gary said.

The peak spawn, he said, should occur in the Choptank, Chester and Patuxent rivers and the upper bay in the next week to 10 days, after which mature rockfish will begin to move out of the bay to the join the coastal migration.

Most of the early season action for rockfish, also known as striped bass, has involved trolling the channel edges on Chesapeake Bay. But a 9-year-old surf fisherman from St. Mary's County also recorded a nice catch on opening day.

Christian Montrose was fishing Hog Point at the Patuxent Naval Air Station with cut alewives when a 42 1/2-inch, 33-pound rock took the bait. The fish was checked in at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park.

While rockfish headlined the fishing activity over the past week, there also are reports of early catches of sea trout and croaker.

Scattered numbers of sea trout to 21 inches have been mixed with rockfish near Cove Point, and shore and pier fishermen report 12- to 18-inch croaker at Piney Point, Point Lookout, the mouth of the Patuxent and at Point No Point.

Bluefish also appear to be ahead of schedule this year, with a few 3-pounders being taken at Calvert Cliffs over the weekend.

Pub Date: 4/29/99

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