THE TEMPTATION is to put the soundtrack of "Jaws" on the stereo, turn the eerie music up loud and say things like: "Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Bay . . . ."
You were worried about jellyfish?
As you probably already know, since it was reported extensively earlier this week, a 475-pound, 91/2- foot bull shark was caught off Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis this week.
What you may not know is that the catch neither surprised nor worried watermen familiar with the Bay.
There are plenty of sharks in the Bay -- especially this year with the high salinity level due to lack of rainfall.
Emmett Bailey, who runs Bailey's Tackle Shop at Cape Charles, Va., in the lower Bay wasn't surprised to hear about the shark. A 9-foot, 450- pound shark is "nothing special," he said. "We see a lthem down here."
Farther up the Bay, in Tangier Sound, "the sharks are on the prowl," says Capt. Bruce Scheible, who runs Scheible's Fishing Center near Point Lookout. "About every fifth fish we caught (this week) was a sand shark. A lot of places, the sharks are cutting other fish you hook in half before you can get them in the boat. Then you have to move and try to get away from them."
The sharks were averaging between five and 15 pounds, Scheible says, a far cry from the brute caught off Sandy Point.
Capt. Tim Johnson of Deale, who says he's been a student of sharks for years, says the bull shark can be found "from Argentina to as far north as New York," and it will go into fresh water.
Johnson is concerned that publicity about the catch could cause a "Jaws" atmosphere on the Bay. He calls the catch "a fluke."
One charter captain says most of the concern among charter captains was not about sharks in the Bay, but about fishermen carrying handguns on the Bay.
The three fishermen who caught the shark reportedly shot it with a .357-caliber magnum handgun to finally kill it.
"Nobody is crazy about a guy on the Bay with a .357 magnum. We're fishermen, not hunters," said the skipper. News of the gun "has alarmed a lot of people . . . That's something to be concerned about," he says. WHAT'S THE CATCH?
WASHINGTON AND VICINITY
The weather has been so hot that not many people are fishing on the Potomac, according to Ray Fletcher of Fletcher's Boat House.
"There are a few guys out catching a few catfish, and a few bass are being caught early in the morning or late in the evening. But we need some cooler weather, no sense in lying about it," Fletcher says.
Jose Calvino of Shepherd's Live Bait and Tackle in Alexandria reports that some rockfish are still around but says the fish are getting smaller. Few fish over 18 inches are being caught within the District limits, he says, noting that Virginia law prohibits a person from having rockfish less than 18 inches long in his possession. "So even if you catch them, you can't bring them into Virginia unless they are of legal size," Calvino says.
Calvino says the Duck Pond north of the airport is the most productive place nearby for largemouth bass, "but there is nothing to brag about. Most of them are two or three pounds. It is just too hot now." MARYLAND
LOWER POTOMAC -- "It's a lot better than what it had been earlier this year," says Tony Butler of Capt. John's Crab House and Marina on Cobb Island. If you fish in the Potomac around Cobb Island, you can expect to catch plenty of white perch and spot on bloodworms and croaker on soft-shell crab, he says.
Snapper blues also are being caught, but they're "leaving out," starting to head back to the Bay, Butler says.
UPPER POTOMAC -- A four-pound, 12- ounce largemouth bass was caught in the Potomac near Frederick on a black spinner bait with a pork rind trailer, according to Rob Gilford of The Rod Rack in Frederick. The same fisherman caught five more smaller bass by flipping a pig and jig, Gilford says.
"And a lot of guys are catching catfish like crazy by using helgrammites for bait. A lot of them are in the four- says.
Many of these fish are being caught by anglers who are fishing at night to beat the heat, he says.
Gilford also reported that the smallmouth bass were biting well in the Monocacy River on buzz baits. VIRGINIA
LAKE ANNA -- This is becoming Lake Ain't- None -- for us, at any rate. We did some night-fishing on Lake Anna last Saturday and finally gave up at 3 a.m. after nearly six hours of dead silence and no signs of life, except one satellite that we saw streaking across the sky.
The only things that we managed to hook were a bridge and a stump -- and that stump seemed to be moving so much we even hauled out the net. Of course, it was late and we'd been out there a while and we were almost out of beer.
Not everyone, though, had our luck. At the same time we were out there, one fisherman caught two six-pound largemouth, says Tom Goodwin of Sturgeon Creek Marina.
The fisherman brought them into Sturgeon Creek early Sunday morning to be weighed, and then, just to prove that he hadn't caught the last two fish in the lake, went out and caught a seven-pound, two-ounce largemouth, Goodwin says.
Some people have all the luck -- and lately it's not us. (Remember, only one type of fisherman catches fish ALL the time -- a liar.)
Goodwin acknowledges that things have been tough lately on Lake Anna. "Average people aren't catching a whole lot," he says.
Why? The bass don't like this heat any more than we do.
RAPPAHANNOCK -- "Smallmouth are the big-going thing," says Charlie Wingard of Chesley's Tackle Shop in Fredericksburg. Two weeks ago, the river produced the new Virginia state record for smallmouth (it weighed in at nearly seven pounds), and this week two five-pounders and a four-pound, eight-ouncer were caught, Wingard says.
"And there were a couple more just under four pounds that I didn't even bother to write down," Wingard says. "Just this morning a youngster came in with two weighing 3 pounds, 11 ounces, and 3 pounds, 12 ounces."
"This is a most unusual situation," Wingard says. Usually these sizes of smallmouth aren't caught in July and August. These smallmouth are reminiscent of spring and fall catches, he says.
The best place to fish for the Rappahannock's smallmouth is upriver from Fredericksburg, "from the dam on up," Wingard says. Early-evening and nighttime fishermen are having the most luck with jitterbugs, and daytime fishermen are using crayfish, hellgrammites and large minnows, he says. CHESAPEAKE BAY
ANNAPOLIS -- A lot of bluefish are being caught on the eastern side of the Bay, from Poplar Island up to Gum Thicket and off Kent Island, according to Ralph Steele of Angler's tackle shop.
Some blues are breaking on the surface early in the morning and late in the evening, he says, but your best bet is to troll small- diameter surgical hose weighted down with about six to eight ounces of lead in 20 to 30 feet of water.
There are also some reports of hardheads (croakers) being caught off Hackets Point just below the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and even some flounder. And, as noted above, some sharks are in the area.
Steele attributes the presence of the hardheads and flounder so far up the Bay to the extra salinity of the water this year, due to the lack of significant rainfall.
CAPE CHARLES -- "We've been catching some spot, croaker, flounder, trout and sea bass," says Emmett Bailey of Bailey's Tackle Shop. "And I weighed in a 52-pound cobia Saturday." It was caught by a Florida man, he says.
Cobia seem to have returned to Bay waters after a long dry spell. More and more cobia catches have been reported -- and for the first time in years. Bailey suggests that there are more cobia in the Bay than meet the eye. "Not too many people are fishing for them," he says. "So we don't see too many of them. It's a sit-and-wait type thing."
Bailey says he weighed in a 40-pound red drum, or channel bass, last week, but none this week. The red-drum run should be starting any day now. "It's time for them to start coming," he says.
DEALE -- "Our fishing has been unbelievable," says Capt. Tim Johnson. "There have been some hellacious catches" of bluefish in the five- says.
"It seems this part of the Bay to the Bay Bridge (at Annapolis) has more fish in it this year than the lower part of the Bay," Johnson says. The baitfish are still all over the place, and the water has been so calm "you could go barefoot skiing out there," he says. "People are having fun -- and that's what it's all about."
Johnson says you should "fish the same places" off Deale that he recommended last week: from marker 9B to marker 71, from marker 71 to marker 70 and from marker 70 north to Bloody Point.
Troll deep "with heavy weights," and this week concentrate on "mid-channel," Johnson recommends.
"When you troll from marker 71 to marker 70, you'll cross the channel," he says. Be prepared there. Some fishermen are just trolling back and forth between these two markers, he says.
Johnson recommends using spoons, although most people are still fishing with surgical hose.
POINT LOOKOUT -- As elsewhere, the story here is bluefish, bluefish, bluefish. Everywhere. "You can catch your weight in them each day," says Capt. Bruce Scheible of Scheible's Fishing Center.
"There are more this year than I have seen in 10 years. They are averaging three to five pounds, but we are catching an occasional 15- to 20-pounder," Scheible says. The charter and head boats "are chumming predominantly, but there are plenty to be taken trolling, as they are breaking on the surface for miles and miles sometimes."
Scheible also reports that some sea trout are being taken by jigging bucktails in the mouth of the Potomac River and some croakers are being caught by bottom-fishing at the mouth of the St. Mary's River.
The surfcasters on the causeway also are catching their share of bluefish, mostly in the two-ording to Pat Raley of Sister's Place. "They are catching a lot, but nothing too big off the causeway," she says.
SOLOMONS ISLAND -- They are catching bluefish "left, right and center," says Matt Gambrill of Calvert Marina.
"Even guys like me who hardly ever catch anything are catching fish. The charter boats are even catching them inside the harbor. Most of the fish are between three and four pounds, and they are hitting trolled little hoses and little spoons," Gambrill says.
TANGIER SOUND -- Spot, flounder, trout, hardheads and sharks are being caught in the sound. And, as noted above, sharks are particularly plentiful, according to Bruce Scheible.
Dave Watson of Dave's Sport Shop in Quantico, Md., reports trout biting at the mouth of the Honga River and in the Hooper Strait. He says there were some spot and some hardheads biting in the mouth of the Nanticoke River. ATLANTIC OCEAN
OCEAN CITY -- The headboats are catching trout "about six to nine miles out," says M.R. Duck of the Talbot Street Pier. The trout "started to come in about a week ago" and are running one to three pounds, he says. Not much else is being caught on the headboats, he says, but that doesn't matter "when you're catching trout."
Pier-fishing is slim pickings right now, Duck says, "except scattered flounder."
VIRGINIA BEACH -- Four boats coming back from fishing the Gulf Stream 60 miles out brought back five dolphins (the gill-type, not the Flipper variety), 10 yellowfin tuna and one white marlin Saturday, according to Ann Wright at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center. Only one boat went out Sunday because of heavy winds, she says, and "they got a 20- pound wahoo, three small skipjack and a one- pound dolphin."
A one-pound dolphin?
"Yeah, and they got beat up pretty bad, too, from the winds," she says.
WACHAPREAGUE -- The dolphin fishing has been "excellent," according to Bob Fate at the Wachapreague Marina. "They are catching dolphin from the No. 10 buoy eight miles out all the way out to the Baltimore Canyon 48 miles out," he says. Also excellent is the amberjack fishing, Fate says. "We've had three citations (over 5 pounds) the past few days. The largest one was 72 pounds, 12 ounces yesterday and one today was 691/4 pounds," he says. "This is the best amberjack fishing we've seen in years. We have a lot of (scuba) divers here and they are saying they are seeing an awful lot of amberjack around the wrecks."
Flounder fishing is spotty. "As hot as it is, you have to fish the tides for flounder and trout. The best time is the last hour and a half of the flood tide and the first hour and a half of the ebb tide," Fate says.