THE BLUEFISH have really responded to the warmer temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay. Tackle shops and charter boats are reporting excellent catches of blues ranging from 2 to 19 pounds.

"It has been a crazy spring," says Captain Bruce Scheible of Scheibles Fishing Center at Point Lookout. "Big fish are still at the Middle Grounds and acres of breaking smaller fish are everywhere you look in the Potomac."

The first of the large blues have also shown up in the shallows near the Bay Bridge. Several choppers ranging from 12 to 18 pounds were taken last week on surface plugs in less than four feet of water along Kent Island. Additionally, a few blues were caught in Goose Pond just inside Hacketts Point where the water is only two feet deep.

In both instances, the anglers reported seeing baitfish leaping for their lives and began casting their plugs close to the swirls. The resulting strikes were described as similar to a grenade going off in the water.

WHAT'S THE CATCH?

WASHINGTON AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER -- Striper fishing has been excellent throughout the metropolitan D.C. portion of the river, according to Ray Fletcher at Fletcher's Boat House. Fletcher says many anglers are now trolling with deep diving plugs for the rockfish, and as a conservation move, they are removing the barbs from the hooks and releasing the majority of their catch. Some good-sized largemouths are also being caught in the same area by anglers using live minnows or casting small crankbaits along the edges of structure. Downriver, at Swan Creek, a fair number of bass have been taken by casting crankbaits, but most were only medium-sized. If you're looking for a mixture of stripers and largemouths, The Spoils, just above the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and along the hydrilla line in some of the coves, has been a good bet. Rebel plugs cast along the edge of the grass have been the ticket.

MARYLAND

TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE -- Bill Poole of Laurel hit the jackpot while casting a small surface plug at Rocky Gorge last week. He checked in five largemouths ranging from four to seven pounds at Fishing and Archery Outfitters in Laurel. All were caught on the same lure during the first few hours of daylight. Crappie fishing is just a bit above average, and the majority are barely keepers. However, there have been a few big crappies taken near the bridge at Triadelphia during the past week. Live minnows are the best bait. VIRGINIA LAKE ANNA -- "If you're coming down to the lake for stripers, you'll do a lot of searching," says Pete Sprague at Lake Anna Sporting Goods in Mineral. Although a few stripers are still being caught with live shad at the third dike, the run has slowed considerably since last week. Bass guide Gene Hord reports hooking up with lots of small- to medium-sized bass, but the large fish are getting tougher to find. Crappies and bluegills are still pleasing shorebound anglers working the deep-water areas close to shore. Within the next few days, fly rod fishing for bream should be good. SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Striper fishing continues to hold up well in the upper end of the lake, according to Cecelia Bowman at J&W Sporting Goods in Moneta. The stripers are hitting bucktails fished close to the edge of the drop-offs. Largemouth bass fishing has been best at night; anglers are casting small topwater plugs for these fish. Daytime anglers are managing to hook up with a few bass on plastic worms and small crankbaits, but most are only medium-sized. JAMES RIVER -- Fly fishing for Smallmouth bass has become a new attraction hereabouts, says Earl Coppage at Timberlake Sporting Goods in Lynchburg. The interest seems to be growing by leaps and bounds since local anglers found this can be a highly productive method and lots of fun. Small- to medium-sized bass are now being taken in the James, and the action should continue until late fall.

CHESAPEAKE BAY

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- The river is still a bit off-color, but the smallmouth bass fishing has been outstanding for the past several weeks, says Terry Rhudy at Conowingo Bait in Darlington. Excellent catches of bronzebacks are being made from Conowingo Dam downriver to Lapidum Landing. Some good-sized largemouths are also beginning to show up in the grass beds surrounding Garrett Island. Both species will take sassy shad and small crankbaits worked close to shore. SUSQUEHANNA FLATS -- Scattered catches of largemouths are now being made on the Susquehanna Flats, according to Herb Benjamin at Herb's Tackle Shop in North East. Most are still spawning and somewhat reluctant to hit a lure. However, those that have completed the spawning cycle are taking jointed Rebel plugs cast along the edges of the weed lines. For the first time in many years, a good crop of eel grass appears to be growing on the flats. It may signal a significant improvement in Upper Bay water quality. GUNPOWDER AND DUNDEE RIVERS -- Scattered catches of white perch are being made in the mouths of the Gunpowder and Dundee rivers. The best fishing has been for catfish, which are abundant in the Gunpowder Channel. Cut bait has been best for the catties; the perch are taking grass shrimp fished close to shore. UPPER BAY -- Bill Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop in Baltimore reports scattered catches of blues are now being made by trollers at Craig Hill Light at the mouth of the Patapsco River. Additionally, white perch are now showing up at Fort Smallwood and in the tidal Ponds at Bellgrove Road. Within the next week or two, you should be able to hook up with some good-sized blues while surf fishing at Fort Smallwood, and the white perch fishing should improve dramatically. BAY BRIDGE AREA -- "Fishing Charlie" Ebersberger at the Angler's Sport Center on U.S. 50 in Annapolis reports two separate and significant catches of large blues taken on plugs in the shallows during the past few days. On the other hand, one of the largest blues of the season was caught by Ronald Raffo of Severna Park. The chopper tipped the scales at a whopping 22 pounds and hit a Crippled Alewife spoon just below the Bay Bridge. If you're looking for some good-sized white perch, the back end of the Magothy is a good bet. Grass shrimp and small spinners cast close to shore have been the most productive. SOUTH RIVER -- Captain George Cord on the Sea Dove has been trolling a few miles below South River where some medium-sized blues seen to be concentrated. Although Tony Acetta spoons have accounted for good catches, chummers working the same area have also scored heavily on huge fish. CHOPTANK RIVER -- Good concentrations of white perch are now at the U.S. 50 Bridge, according to Tommy's Sporting Goods in Cambridge. This past week anglers lining the bridge were hooking up with loads of 10- to 12-inchers using grass shrimp and bloodworms for bait. Scattered catches of small spot are also being made in the same area, which means the blues will be right on their heels. The lower end of the river is seeing a few big blues in the shallows near the mouth of Trappe Creek, but fishing for them has been sporadic. SOLOMONS ISLAND -- Good catches of sea trout are now being made just out from the mouth of the Patuxent River, says Captain Bill Meadows on the El Toro. Meadows is using his special bucktail with a pink head and yellow hair. Captain Lou Snyder on the Julie Lynn has been hooking up with some good-sized blues and a few trout in the same area. The deep channels seem to be the hot spots for the trout, which range from 8 to 11 pounds. PATUXENT RIVER -- Ken Lamb at The Tackle Box on Route 235 in Lexington Park says surf casters using cut bait are still having difficulty catching big blues from the Naval Air Station pier. Although the blues have been extremely large, for some reason they've become a bit scarce during the past week. Good catches of white perch and spot are now showing up at Bushwood, but fishing for them has been limited to late afternoon. Fresh peeler crab baits have been best when fished over the oyster beds. POINT LOOKOUT -- Captain Doug Scheible on the Bay King II reports chumming has been somewhat difficult for the past few days, but breaking blues have taken up the slack and trollers are loading up. Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheibles Fishing Center says every boat has been returning to the docks early with coolers bulging with medium-sized blues. The snappers have been breaking from Smith Creek to Smith Point on the Virginia side of the Potomac. Captain Eddie Davis had a fantastic day on the Edith Rose with 14 good-sized sea trout and a fish box filled with snapper blues. Captain Paul Kellam on the Patty Lee and Captain Phil Langley on the Tracey Ann say the bluefish are breaking everywhere you look in the Potomac. Trolling with small surgical hose eels, bucktails and spoons has brought them back to the docks early with every cooler stuffed. REEDVILLE -- The mouth of the Potomac has been the hot spot not only for blues, but also for some unusual species. According to Bill Bond at Jett Hadware in Reedville, a 70-pound, 8-ounce channel bass was caught by Jim Morrisett of King George, Virginia, as he chummed for blues. In addition, an 84-pound black drum was caught by Grant Knighton of Yorktown, Virginia, while he was bottom fishing in the same area. The large blues are now concentrated about three miles below Buoy 48 near the main shipping channel; just ask Max Pasquali of Williamsburg, who bagged an 18-pounder while chumming. CAPE CHARLES -- Some 1,700 black drum have been taken by the charter fleet at Cape Charles this year, and "the number keeps climbing," says Don Stiles, who charters the boat Elizabeth out of Kings Creek Marina. Captain Otis Asal on the Bucaneer says this has been one of the best years on record for the drum. Asal will soon be concentrating his efforts on the tuna, which are just arriving on the ocean side of the penninsula.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

WACHAPREAGUE -- Although flounder fishing hasn't been outstanding this season, anglers who know the shallow structure have been catching 20 or more good-sized flatties per day. Sea trout fishing, both inside and outside the inlet, has been excellent, with catches of weakfish ranging up to 8 pounds. Offshore wreck fishing has been top drawer. Maurice Banks of D.C. hooked up with a citation tau-tog of 11 pounds while fishing at the wrecks. Richard Marshall of Annapolis bagged a 5-pound sea bass and Eddie Gilchrist of Upper Marlboro landed a 10-pound, 8-ounce tog. Those were only a few of the many citation-size fish caught last weekend, according to Bob Fate at Wachapreague Marina. CHINCOTEAGUE -- Flounder fishing has been running hot and cold, says Steve Flinchbaugh on the Canyon Connection. However, some huge blues and lots of false albacore are now being caught at the 21 Mile Hill. Within the next few days, the first of the big tuna should arrive and be followed by white and blue marlin. OCEAN CITY -- Only scattered catches of blues are being made here, but some huge mako sharks are being caught at Baltimore Canyon. A huge 450-pounder was landed on Bob Lord's Poor Boy last Saturday along with four others that weighed more than 200 pounds. One 80-pound, yellowfin tuna was also caught in the same area. DELAWARE BAY -- The best areas for trout have been at Brown's Shoals and Brandywine Light, says Captain H.D. Parsons at Fisherman's Wharf. Bucktails trimmed with squid strips and jigged close to the bottom produced the better catches.