The Virginia ocean communities of Chincoteague, Wachapreague and Oyster can often take a bow for their productive flounder fishing. So can Ocean City, Maryland, and the Delaware Bay area near the resort town. But who would have dreamed that the Maryland parts of Chesapeake Bay could give the ocean side flounder waters a run for their money?

Some say the high salinity in Bay waters and the lack of heavy seasonal rains have something to do with it. If so, enjoy it while it lasts. Next summer could see a complete turnaround.

The St. Mary's County portion of the Bay just outside of St. Jerome's Creek near the town of Ridge is one high-yield flounder stretch. As you leave St. Jerome's, find the rough, oyster shell-strewn bottom to the right of the creek mouth and start fishing no more than 200 yards from the shoreline. If the wind blows from the southwest, as it did for us a few days ago, let the boat drift until you feel only smooth bottom. Then turn back to shore and start over. When the east winds blow, simply reverse the process.

The bait: slivers of peeler crab, even hardshells, minnows or bloodworms. To rig a crab, remove the top shell and the finger- like gills. Break the body in half. Twist off the legs and backfin and cut your bait pieces between each leg joint. It's important to have a piece of shell with the leg socket as part of your bait. Pierce long-shanked standard bottom-fishing hooks through the leg holes and drift two baits with no more than three-ounce sinkers. The flounder will do the rest.

Other hotspots include the Point No Point area, the Solomons Bridge sector, Cornfield Harbor in the lower Potomac River, as well as the waters surrounding Point Lookout State Park.