The springtime rockfish parade continues, but we doubt that many can duplicate what Charlie West of the nearby suburbs accomplished. West trolled a bucktail in the middle Chesapeake and came up with a 42-pound striper -- from a sailboat fairly "flying" at the awesome speed of four mph.
Winds have hampered the efforts of Cape Charles black drum anglers. When things calm down, however, the bottom-feeding brutes are reasonably plentiful and willing.
Closer to home, the Chesapeake Bay provides good opportunities to catch a seatrout or bluefish in chum lines or on trolled lures. The freshwater fishing outlook is bright, with sunfish and bass very active in local ponds and streams.
MARYLAND RIVERS AND LAKES
WSSC LAKES -- A personal guarantee for Triadelphia or Rocky Gorge: Try a broken-back Rebel or Rapala now around waterlogged brush. Cast, jerk back a foot, let it sit, then reel in while moving the rodtip to left and right. Hold tight!
POTOMAC RIVER -- Large catfish and carp are available from Knoxville down to the tidal waters at Mattawoman Creek. Western Maryland smallmouth hunters will score on smoke grubs or squirrelhair spinners. Bass and crappies are willing in brushpiles and protected boat docks around Washington. Beetlespin lures or short plastic lizards can produce keeper largemouths.
EASTERN SHORE PONDS -- A Salisbury bass angler claimed a 7-pounder from Leonards pond near town. The lure: A grape-color plastic worm. Crappies and fat sunfish are taken by the numbers at Urieville (Route 213), Wye Mills (Route 213), Unicorn (Route 313). Flyrod popping bugs or sinking Black Gnats will do a job on the sunnies.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Spinnerbaits, plastic worms and jigs will get bass right up to the dam. Conowingo Lake is good for sunfish and crappies.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND PONDS -- Small popping bugs and streamers are the byword for flyrodders seeking large bluegills at St. Mary's Lake (Route 5 below Leonardtown). The same holds for Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of LaPlata) where catfish also are willing if you use chicken livers. Myrtle Grove Pond (Route 225, west of LaPlata) is always good for a stringer of sunfish if nothing else.
Trophy rockfish have been dragged from the Chesapeake's depths by bucktail and spoon trollers around Bloody Point, the C&R Buoy, Buoy 71 and down around the Patuxent mouth at the PR Buoy. But all that will come to a halt quickly now as the cow stripers start heading back to the Atlantic. Never fear, the seatrout and bluefish can make up for lost action. Bluefish runs have developed as far up as Hacketts Point, although the chopper blues are more predictable in middle Bay and Southern Maryland waters. Seatrout and bluefish are taken on menhaden chum from the lower Potomac on out to the Middlegrounds and up into the Kedges Straits, as well as the mouth of the Choptank. Pray that the winds lie low. Ken Lamb of Lexington Park's "Tacklebox" is right when he warns Point Lookout surf and the Patuxent's Town Creek pier casters to use only fresh menhaden fillets for their seatrout. Make the longest casts possible and keep reel drags set lightly.
VIRGINIA RIVERS AND LAKES
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Local anglers Eddie Poteat and Gary Weaver had a whale of a float trip on the upper Shenandoah using live crayfish for the smallmouth bass. Small hooks, light line and a willingness to let the bass swim off with the bait turned the trick.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Continued success on lake stripers is noted by trollers and live-bait users. Large-and smallmouth bass catches aren't what they should be, but the crappies and sunfish are.
LAKE GASTON -- Bass hounds score on grubs or plastic worms in Jimmy's Creek, Songbird Creek and Hubquarter Creek. Some of the bucketmouths are on beds and need prompting.
KERR RESERVOIR -- Junior Westberry of Wilson, North Carolina, had a limit stringer of largemouths totaling 32 pounds this week. All came from near the Clarksville ramp in flooded willow brush on a brown Wee-R lure retrieved just under the surface. Stripers are at the dam. Crappies are everywhere you can find a sunken bush.
CHICKAHOMINY LAKE AND RIVER -- Lake bass anglers score heavily now and then on plastic worms or live minnows. River boaters do well on grubs and crankbaits, although some of the bass have ignored lures since the herring run started a few weeks ago. Flyrodders can murder the sunnies in the lake.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- Smallmouth bass chances are good around Rapidan confluence. Live bait or spinners work well. Catfish, bass and crappies are in fair supply throughout the tidewater parts, especially below Port Royal.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR -- Catfish, sunfish and crappies are plentiful for bait users. Bass are a little harder to come by, but hop a smoke grub through the shore brush and see what happens.
LAKE ORANGE -- Drive west of Fredericksburg on Route 3, turn left onto Route 20 and follow it to one of the finest little lakes in the state. Boat rentals are available. The bass, crappies and monstrous bluegills are waiting for you.
LAKE ANNA -- Crappies for all who want to dip a small jig or live minnow into a maze of shorebrush. Bass are busy bedding in upper lake mostly. Plastic worms and shallow crankbaits are the best lures.
BACK BAY -- When wind is down the bass are up and willing. Surface lures or smartly-fished Johnson silver spoons turn the trick from Sandbridge to Knotts Island.
OCEAN AND INLETS
MARYLAND -- Assateague Island surfcasters can find a few snapper blues on cut bait, but the big choppers are offshore. Seabass and tautog are the main fare for headboaters. Flounder drifters in back of Ocean City's inlet score occasionally. We've seen better days, however.
VIRGINIA -- To prove it can be done, charter skipper Don Stiles went out of Cape Charles recently and hooked 14 black drum in one day; he brought back seven. Wind has been a monstrous problem and a danger to the smaller boats. Bluefish are everywhere, from Virginia Beach into the Bay Bridge-Tunnel area. Some huge seatrout are taken on the bridge-tunnel's fourth island. Flounder fishermen are singing the blues from Chincoteague to Wachapreague. Yet, when I tried it with Chincoteague's John Shields (of Snug Harbor Marina) we found a stringer of fat ones near Wallops Island.