"Moderately successful" is the way Maryland describes this year's crop of striped bass in its tidal waters. Sample seinings of 22 stations along the Chesapeake Bay produced 8.4 youthful stripers per haul -- hardly a bumper crop, but a glimmer of hope for the future.
The young fish are surviving, particularly since Maryland has ordered reductions in chlorine discharges from waste-water- treatment plants. But striped bass populations will continue to be low until 1984, owing to poor reproduction rates during the last two years. The state is considering stocking the Bay with striped bass from the Elkton and Cedarville hatcheries.
On a happier note, a wealth of bluefish and sea trout beckons the Chesapeake's weekend anglers. Freshwater bass and catfish fans can score in a host of nearby places. And surf fanatics may look to the beaches of Assateague Island, Maryland, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
MARYLAND RIVERS AND LAKES
POTOMAC RIVER -- If heavy rains stay away, this should be the weekend for smallmouth bass- hunters from as far up as Little Orleans in western Maryland to Montgomery County's Dickerson and other river haunts. Small, lipped crankbaits, spinners, early-morning topwater lures -- all will work around the rock pools where fast and quiet water meet. Largemouth bass and crappiesswill oblige from around the river islands near Seneca Creek down to the tidal waters of Washington. A spare rod, rigged with a 1/16-ounce curly-tailed white jig (under a bobber), draws the crappies in flooded brush and around wooden pilings. Citation- sized catfish are available in the tidal creeks and main river below Washington. Cut fish slabs or beef liver strips will get them.
WSSC RESERVOIRS -- Triadelphia (off Route 97, near Sunshine) and Rocky Gorge (off Route 29, north of Burtonsville) are ripe for the picking. Largemouth bass, surface spinnerbaits or buzzers, and early mornings are natural combinations now. Later in the day, switch to long-lipped crankbaits or a broken-back Rebel or Rapala. Zip the lure through brushy stickups . . . left, right, left, right -- and hold on. The bass will do the rest.
DEEP CREEK LAKE -- A northern pike nearly 16 pounds heads this week's notable fish catches. Bass are hopping onto retrieved Bagley and Norman crankbaits in crawfish colors. Walleye and smallmouth bass like the looks of a plastic jig hopped around rockwalls.
EASTERN SHORE PONDS -- Urieville Pond (Route 213, north of Chestertown) was good to Sonny Bragg of Baltimore. Bragg used a small hair jig under a float and came up with enough keeper crappies to feed the family. In addition, a 31/2- pound chain pickerel smashed into a spinnerbait. Wye Mills (Route 213, near Route 50's Chesapeake College) offers plenty of small crappies and some keeper bass. Unicorn (Route 313, near Millington) has seen many fine sunfish and crappies hooked this week.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND PONDS -- St. Mary's Lake (Camp Cosoma Road, south of Leonardtown on Route 5) shows above-average numbers of largemouth bass, sunfish and pickerel. Broken-back minnow imitators or plastic worms will get the bass and pickerel around the many stickups of the lake. Sunfish like flyrod sinking bugs as well as anything, but during a cool spell, switch to pieces of nightcrawler. Gilbert Run Park lake (Route 6, east of LaPlata) can be dynamite for catfish hunters using liver, cut fish or gobs of worms on weighted t will bottom rigs.
NANJEMOY CREEK -- Follow Route 6, west of LaPlata, to Route 425. Turn left and, soon after, look for Friendship Landing Road. You're at the Nanjemoy. With outgoing tides and quickly retrieved chartreuse color lures, a bass won't be long in coming. Fish at the edge of the many weedbeds if you have a boat. Shoreline anglers may as well be contend to use worm baits on bottom-weighted hooks for catfish or perch.
NANTICOKE RIVER -- The Sharptown ramp (Route 313) is the place to start for bass hunters. Plastic worms, chartreuse Firetiger crank lures or spinnerbaits have drawn many a hit upstream from the landing. Crappies and sunfish are active in the feeder creeks.
CHOPTANK RIVER -- Chain pickerel and crappies are happy if you throw a live minnow into the flooded brush during changing tides below Greensboro's Fire Department amusement park public boat ramp. Even the dock pilings around Martinak State Park (Route 404) provide some crappies and small bass during quiet weekdays.
ROCKVILLE CATFISH RODEO -- The Rockville Municipal Swim Center's outdoor pool will be stocked with 1,000 pounds of catfish for the 6th annual catfish rodeo, October 30-31. Hours are 8 to 4 each day; $1.50 per participant. Catfish cleaning and cooking demonstrations are provided by park personnel. The swim center is located at Mannakee Street and Martins Lane. For details, call 424-8000, ext. 440.
Bluefish are everywhere as long as the winds lie down. Trolled surgical tubing, bucktails, spoons, as well as still-fished cut spot and alewives will get the mixed-size choppers at Thomas Point Light, near Bay Bridge or from around Poplar Island to the mouth of the Choptank River, including Stone Rock and Sharps Island Light. Trollers also can score from the Crystal Ball to below the Powerplant on the western side of the Bay. Best of all, there still is a good number of sea trout available in the same places, although I'd prefer the lower Potomac River, Tangier Sound or the Point No Point area between Point Lookout and the mouth of the Patuxent. Bluefish and sea trout also cooperate inside the Patuxent around Town Creek fishing pier or in the evenings from the Solomons seawall. The best sea- trout catches seem to come on bottom-fished crab bait slivers. There's only one thing that can chase the weakfish away: a sudden cooling of the lower water layers.
VIRGINIA RIVERS AND LAKES
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Low, clear water unless it rains heavily. Smallmouth bass love a live minnow or any lure that looks like one. Plenty of catfish and sunnies are taken on worms.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Topwater buzz lures are drawing hits from striped bass around "S" curve and other lake bends. Largemouth bass are active, with chartreuse or crawfish color crankbaits or spinnerbaits working very well now.
LAKE GASTON -- Many of the visiting basshounds are singing the blues. Yet, crankbaits in the style of a Deep R and others can get lunker fish at times. Gaston can be a perplexing body of water. One day it's feast, another, famine.
KERR RESERVOIR -- The areas downlake from Clarksville have shown considerable schools of surface-feeding stripers. Try a topwater lure and rip it across the water as hard as you can. Largemouth bass and crappies are certainly far more active here than at next-door neighbor Gaston.
LAKE ANNA -- Model 2 and 3 Bagley "B" lures have done a job on largemouth bass during the past few days. Although many of the locals seem to prefer the upper lake, don't overlook the coves and brushpiles near the lower lake's dam. Crappies are stirring this week. Live minnows or small jigs will find them in shady spots.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- Excellent chances for smallmouth bass are present this weekend above Fredericksburg. Spinners, quarter-ounce crankbaits, plastic grubs or live minnows will find them in the riffles and rockpools. Catfish shouldn't be overlooked. Bait chunks on bottom-weighted hooks will draw "cats" up to nine pounds in the tidal sections of the river, from Fredericksburg to Port Royal. Scattered largemouth bass action on plastic worms and spinnerbaits can be had around tidal Leedstown. Bluefish, sea trout and flounder hang around the lowest parts of Rappahannock. Best bait: crab pieces.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER -- Lots of white perch are hanging around all the way up to Walker's Dam. Spinners or bait will draw hits from these tasty fish. Outgoing tides have helped bass fishermen who still prefer darkly colored plastic worms. BACK BAY -- Spinnerbaits, plastic worms, topwater buzz lures -- all have accounted for a number of lunker largemouth bass. One 9-pound, 6-ounce bass was taken on a canepole line baited with a shiner.
OCEAN AND INLETS
MARYLAND -- Assateague Island surf fishermen have landed snapper bluefish, a few sea trout and kingfish on cut-fish baits or strips of squid. Small "tiderunner" trout are more than willing over the offshore waters very close to Ocean City, with large southward-migrating bluefish still around the Second and Third offshore lumps. At the Ocean City inlet, bottom-fished peeler crab or squid strips attract sea trout and snapper bluefish. Night hours are best for Sinepuxent Bay's Route 50 bridge.
VIRGINIA -- The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has shown a surprising number of keeper flounder around the crossing's islands. Although very late in the season, the Eastern Shore seaside at Wachapreague still offers unusual flounder schools over the protected backwater flats. Flounder and thousands of young sea trout are taken by boaters just outside the Chincoteague and Wachapreague inlets. The Virginia barrier islands now provide fine channel bass opportunities. But you should know the area and have a boat that can run the treacherous shallows.
NORTH CAROLINA -- Offshore tuna and scattered king mackerel and wahoo fishing continue for charter boats out of Hatteras Island marinas, while surf fishermen at Buxton and Rodanthe are pleased with off-and-on runs of juvenile bluefish, flounder and kingfish. Piers may turn up a king mackerel or redfish on baited float rigs.
HUNTING NOTE -- Left out of the September 10 hunting issue was Eastern Shore goose guide Carl Brady, mwho offers excellent shooting in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, on Southeast Creek adjacent to the Chester River, at $50 per hunter per day. Call 301/556-6364 (or 6668).