FOR THE FIRST time in years, anglers are chumming for bluefish in the mid and upper Chesapeake Bay.
Although chumming near the Bay Bridge isn't new, it was rarely used for bluefish in the past because of lack of fresh chum. Now it seems as if nearly every tackle shop is keeping a good supply of ground menhaden in the freezer and selling it almost as fast as it can be ground. If used correctly, a five-gallon bucket of chum should last six to eight hours. WHAT'S THE CATCH?
WASHINGTON AND VICINITY
POTOMAC RIVER -- Ray Fletcher at Fletcher's Boat House says good numbers of white perch remain in the area and are taking cut bait, bloodworms and small jigs trimmed with a chunk of nightcrawler. Huge catfish still dominate the fishing picture and scattered catches of good-sized largemouths are now being reported. Apparently, the bass are nearly finished with their spawning activity and are taking artificial lures.
WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE -- Fishing here has been excellent, reports Rudy Mattern at Angler and Archer in Rockville. This past weekend a bass tournament sponsored by "Hard Times Bassmasters" produced several largemouths of four to five pounds. The best catches were made on electric-blue plastic worms rigged weedless on a slide sinker or Texas rig. First place went to Harvey Kisner of Rockville. Most of the fish are now completing the spawn and are concentrated at the Spoils Area just above the bridge.
MATAWOMAN CREEK -- Excellent catches of largemouths are also being made in this shallow creek with Rapala swimming plugs. The secret to using this lure is to work it slowly, allowing it to wriggle naturally through the shallows. When retrieved quickly, the lure has the tendency to turn on its side making it ineffective.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE -- Largemouth catches have decreased during the past two weeks, says Bob Griffith at Fishing and Archery Outfitters in Laurel. "The fish are on the spawn and won't hit," he says, "but they'll pick up within the next week or two." Crappie fishing has also dropped off since they began migrating back to deep water.
POTOMAC RIVER, DAM 4 -- The Rev. Bill Zimmerman of Silver Spring hooked up with lots of smallmouth bass while fishing along the mill wall just above Dam 4 where the river was "still a bit high, but extremely clear." Deep water areas have produced the best catches on cast jigs trimmed with a live minnow. Although most of the bass have been running 12 to 15 inches, larger fish can be expected as the season progresses. In addition, there are some large catfish in the same area. (Dam 4 is just north of Sharpsburg, off Rte. 65.)
JAMES RIVER -- Fishing has dropped off a bit, says Earl Coppage at Timberlake Sporting Goods in Lynchburg. Scattered catches of smallmouths are still being made by casting small crankbaits such as the Rebel Crawfish. Good catches of large catfish are being made by bottom fishermen; these fish will remain active regardless of the weather.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- Remember, anglers, that striped bass season is closed in the Rappahannock until the end of June. Carl Gentry at Chesley's Sporting Goods in Fredericksburg reports the river is alive with good-sized stripers and mixed with them are some bragging-size largemouth bass. The stripers must be released if inadvertently hooked while bass fishing. Scattered catches of huge catfish are still being reported, but the catties are now spawning and the action has decreased over the past few days.
LAKE ANNA -- Striper fishing continues on an even keel at the third dike, according to Pete Sprague at Lake Anna Sporting Goods in Mineral. However, the bass fishing has dropped off a bit because of spawning. Crappies ranging up to 12 inches continue to come in nearly every day. Live minnows and small jigs are best for the crappies; the stripers are taking live gizzard shad.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- According to Wayne Smith at All Hunting and Fishing in Salem, bass fishing has been good at Giles Creek, a tributary of the lake. Some of the bass weighed more than six pounds, which is large for the lake. The most productive baits have been plastic worms and Pig and Jigs. Striper fishing is still holding up well, but it should drop off within the next few weeks. The best areas for the stripers are in the upper end of the lake where the fish make their spawning run.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- The white perch run is now in full swing, and anglers are lining the shores of the Susquehanna River from Conowingo Dam to Lapidum Landing. The lower river seems to hold the larger populations of perch while the upper end is producing fantastic catches of smallmouth bass. Small jigs trimmed with a chunk of bloodworm or nightcrawler have been the ticket to success for the perch, reports Terry Rhudy at Conowingo Bait in Darlington. The bass, however, are hitting most small crankbaits cast in the swift waters below the dam. Biologists running the fish trap at the base of the dam report catching from 100 to 300 American and hickory shad each day. Several shad will be radio-tagged to study migration patterns while others will be artificially spawned.
SUSQUEHANNA FLATS -- There has been a lot of excitement on the Susquehanna Flats during the past week. Acting on a report from sport fishermen, Natural Resources Department police staked out Tydings Park in Havre De Grace and snared illegal gill netters with a catch of striped bass and shad. A total of 30 citations were issued to Joseph Allen Jobes, James Pierce and David John Turner, all of Havre De Grace, who had in their possession one shad and eight rockfish totaling over 40 pounds, the department reported. In addition, they had 500 feet of gill net in their 15-foot boat, the department said.
If convicted, the three face fines of up to $8,000 each and possibly eight years in jail. In addition, all equipment, including the boat, could be sold at auction. All three are scheduled to appear in Aberdeen District Court on June 9.
GUNPOWDER AND DUNDEE RIVERS -- Fishing has been outstanding for the past several days, reports Rose Demaf at Gunpowder Bait and Tackle in Essex. Excellent catches of white and yellow perch are being made in the grassy areas near the mouth of the Gunpowder, Dundee and Seneca rivers. Live minnows and grass shrimp have been the best baits. Huge catfish are now being caught in Gunpowder channel near Maxwell Point. The largest was a 13-pounder caught on a nightcrawler. Tidewater bass catches have been fairly good in the back end of the Dundee. Plastic worms and crankbaits have accounted for lots of two- and three-pounders over the past few days.
UPPER BAY -- Good catches of white perch are being reported in Curtis Creek and the tidal ponds at Bellgrove Road. There are lots of good-sized catfish in these same areas, reports Bill Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop in Baltimore. Nightcrawlers and bloodworms fished on the bottom have produced the better catches of catties while the perch are taking live minnows or grass shrimp.
BAY BRIDGE AREA -- The blues are officially here and in good numbers, reports the Anglers Sport Center on U.S. 50 in Annapolis. Several boats chumming just off Hacketts Bar loaded up on 12- to 16-pounders. Trollers have been working the drop-offs on both sides of the channel and hooking up with a few blues also. Even the surfcasters are taking choppers at Romancoke and Matapeake.
SOUTH RIVER -- Captain George Cord on the Sea Dove trolled north toward the Bay Bridge last Saturday and hooked up with a few good-sized blues using large silver spoons. He reports the best action was at Hacketts Point, but it lasted only briefly. Captain Paula Shipley on the Fantasy Factory reports similar numbers for her party while trolling near the main shipping channel.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- Calvin Tyler at Tyler's Tackle Shop checked in an 8-pound, 12-ounce sea trout caught just south of the beach on Saturday. The weakfish took a trolled bucktail in about 35 feet of water. The charter fleet running out of the Rod N Reel Dock hooked up with good catches of blues ranging up to 18 pounds, reports captain Shaker Black. Tony Acetta and Crippled Alewife spoons were responsible for the better catches.
PATUXENT RIVER -- Although the blues haven't really blitzed the Naval Air Station Pier yet, they are still arriving in good numbers, reports Ken lamb at The Tackle Box in Lexington Park. Chumming has still proved to be the most effective method to take the choppers, but trollers are now managing to take a few using size 19 and 21 Tony Acetta spoons.
SOLOMONS ISLAND -- Captain Bill Meadows on the El Toro reports catches of some good-sized blues, including several slammers caught with surgical hose eels. Captain Lou Snyder on the Julie Lynn reports loading up on some huge choppers near the mouth of the Patuxent.
POINT LOOKOUT -- The blues are coming into the chum slicks in good numbers, reports Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center. In addition, a few good-sized sea trout are also showing up in the same areas near the mouth of the Potomac. Captain Doug Scheible on the Bay King II reports catching a nice-sized weakfish on Monday while chumming for blues. Captain Paul Kellam on the Patty Lee has also been taking his share of huge chopper blues just out from Point Lookout and says there are also some summer-sized fish mixed with the big guys. By far, chumming has been the best method to catch the blues in this area.
CAPE CHARLES -- Captain Otis Asal on the Bucaneer says the drum have officially arrived. Excellent catches of black drum have been made by most of the charter fleet running out of Kings Creek Marina. Some weighed more than 75 pounds. A total of 40 drum were caught at the mouth of the Chesapeake this past week, according to Don Stiles at the marina, and the run is just starting. Bluefish, however, have been sporadic. And some days the surface will be covered with them; on others you can't even find them. Most of the locals blame this on the constantly changing weather patterns. Once the weather gets warm, the blues will migrate north toward Point Lookout.
CHINCOTEAGUE AND WACHAPREAGUE -- Flounder fishing continues to improve in both areas. Several anglers report catches of 30 or more per boat. Although most of these fish are just legal size (12 inches), larger fish caught in the shallows have weighed up to four pounds. Live minnows and squid strips have accounted for the better catches.
OCEAN CITY -- Large blues are now showing up just out from the inlet at the Bass Grounds and The Jackspot. The choppers are running nearly 15 pounds and taking Hoochy Trolls trolled over the lumps. Sea bass and ling have congregated at the wrecks, according to Captain Coleman Bunting, and are taking bottom-fished squid strips.
DELAWARE BAY -- The first of the sea trout have shown up at Brandywine Light. The trout are huge and should begin coming in good numbers by this weekend, according to folks at Fisherman's Wharf in Lewes. A 15-pound weakfish was taken at Brandywine this past Sunday. Good catches of medium-sized blues are also being made in the same area.