Fred Herbert lays it straight on the line: "You've got to drag yellow Ruby Lips bucktails with porkrind right off the bottom in about 35 feet of water, especially over dropoffs. Forget the guys who want to come back in by afternoon with their nylon lines and inline sinkers. I use braided wire and slow- troll long past sunset."
Just moments after the Waldorf tackleshop owner released the rigs, the rods doubled over. Three of them, mind you, with sea trout no smaller than nine or ten pounds straining against them. The place: Chesapeake Bay, just east of St. Jerome's Creek. The take: enough trout to feed a city block. That's vintage Fred. Unskunked in five consecutive sea-trout outings.
Elsewhere, Chincoteague Island flounder anglers are all smiles these days. The flatties aren't the biggest we've seen, but suddenly they're plentiful. One vacationer who came in Monday with 45 keepers said he released at least 50 others. MARYLAND RIVERS AND LAKES DEEP CREEK LAKE -- Slow going for most anglers, but those willing to fish deep around dropoff points with plastic worms or jigs will find the bass. WSSC LAKES -- Art Brigham wrote to tell us we made a mistake in last week's Fish Lines when we said the boats had to be in by sundown at Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge. "They can stay out until one hour past sunset," said Brigham. Actually, the sunset remark was intended to illustrate frustrated anglers who wish they could stay until the following dawn. Oh, well. All the same, things are slow now for bass hounds. POTOMAC RIVER -- Outstanding catches of channel catfish are made throughout the river, from Western Maryland to below Washington. Bottom- fished worm or liver baits draw the cats during the dark hours. Night bass fishing also can be productive, with surface buzzbaits producing smallmouths above Brunswick. Largemouth bass prefer grubs or plastic worms in Washington and Montgomery County during the cool hours. SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES -- St. Mary's Lake (Camp Cosoma Road, off Route 5 below Leonardtown) is a flyrodders delight. Bass and bluegills will tear up popping bugs before the sun heats the water. After that, use spinning tackle and short plastic worms for bass, small nightcrawler bits for sunfish or crappies. Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of LaPlata) has the catfish at sunset, some small bass and enough sunfish to keep the kids happy. Myrtle Grove Pond (Route 225, west of LaPlata) offers thousands of sunfish to flyrod fans, but many are undersized. It's also a fine spot for picnicking and shore walking. NANTICOKE RIVER -- Sharptown (Route 313) and upstream has been great for bass boaters. During early mornings or late evenings use surface buzz- baits in coves and shore cover. Plastic worms and grubs, as well as crankbaits will turn the trick during changing tides. CHOPTANK RIVER -- Greensboro to Martinak State Park stretches have given up bass on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and brown or black firetail plastic worms. But be sure to fish the early and late hours coupled to a tide change. POCOMOKE RIVER -- Shad Landing, Milburn Landing or Snow Hill areas can be great for crappies and sunfish during tide switches. Bass have been hard to come by. PINEY RUN LAKE -- This Carroll County beauty has been fine for boaters trying to find a few small bass and scads of eating-size sunfish. A gorgeous facility. CHESAPEAKE BAY Yellow bucktails with strips of yellow/white porkrind slow-trolled (real slow) across 35 to 40 feet of water around Point No Point, Buoys 50, 52 and 54, Southwest Middlegrounds, Hooper's Island and other quick-change bottom areas will result in big lower-Bay sea trout. It's a mystery to many, but bluefish are a little hard to find by some trollers although we had a breaking school of mixed blues next to our boat near The Targets last weekend that must have measured two football fields square. Surface plugs brought in enough to give us a case of fishing elbow. Sea-trout and spot fans, don't overlook the Potomac River's offshore stretches near Smith Point. Upper-Bay trollers and casters find a few bluefish, with white perch the main fare inside the rivers -- particularly at night, when bloodworm baits draw hefty perch at Severn, South, Magothy and West rivers. Eastern Bay has slowed a bit for bottom anglers, but perch can be found in the Kent Narrows early and late. VIRGINIA RIVERS AND LAKES CLAYTOR LAKE -- This southwestern Virginia impoundment has been fine for smallmouth and largemouth bass at night. Grubs, plastic worms and deep-running crankbaits have also produced bonus stripers and walleyes. SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Both forks of the river have been turning up smallmouth bass on short plastic worms or spinners. Bait users have little trouble scoring on catfish and sunnies. SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Slow going for most species. Waterskiers, however, are plentiful. LAKE GASTON -- Clearing waters, but few hefty bass. Deepwater brushpiles produce crappies. KERR RESERVOIR -- Striper trolling in the dark has been best between buoys 7 and 12. Cordell Red Fins and shad imitators will turn the trick. Underwater brush in the feeder creeks will give up crappies. Bass catches are down. RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- The upper river, particularly the Rapidan junction, has been good to smallmouth bass waders. Catfish are everywhere if you don't mind using liver or worm baits. OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR -- Fountainhead Park's manager says the bass, catfish and crappies are willing if you fish the shady dropoffs. Crappies and small schoolie stripers are in Occoquan Creek. CHICKAHOMINY LAKE AND RIVER -- The lake's catfish love worms and livers. They grow big down this way and now is the time. Sunfish are plentiful with bass playing hard-to-get. River bass fishing has been outstanding, says Maryland bass expert Pete Cissel. Cissel had 30 keepers just a few days ago. The lure: gray plastic worms. LAKE ANNA -- Get out there early or late and avoid the weekend waterskiers and cruisers. Crappies and catfish are the main fare, although a few fine bass are taken on plastic worms over deep humps and landpoints. BACK BAY -- Wind has played havoc with bass hunters. Buzz-baits and plastic worms will find bucketmouths when waters calm down. OCEAN AND INLETS MARYLAND -- Look for lesser catches of big offshore chopper bluefish. The blues have already declined somewhat in Virginia waters. Enough will be around to please average trollers, however. Big-game anglers are finding plenty of sharks and increased numbers of billfish. Headboats locate seabass and tautog, but the surf action at Assateague is nothing to write home about. Flounder-drifters behind Ocean City score mostly on small stuff. VIRGINIA -- The best news in some weeks is the sudden increase of flounder on Chincoteague Island's backwater flats. To be sure, many are throwbacks, but enough keepers are caught to keep minnow-drifters smiling. Snug Harbor Marina says the number of flatties they've seen has been astounding. Offshore action from Wachapreague to Virginia Beach includes tuna and increasing numbers of marlin. Bluefish- and sea-trout anglers prefer night hours at Chesapeake Bay Bridge- Tunnel, but catches have dropped.