THERE HAS BEEN lots of speculation on the Governor of Maryland lifting the striped bass moratorium in Chesapeake Bay and allowing limited fishing for the species. The word thus far is that the ban will stay in effect.
Most of the pressure to lift the moratorium is coming from the Maryland Waterman's Association, not the sportfishing industry. With luck, the governor will listen to the sport fishermen, who are the vast majority, not a special-interest group. Last season nearly 190,000 saltwater fishing licenses were sold to anglers fishing the Chesapeake. I seriously doubt there have ever been more than 20,000 watermen in the state who make their living solely by netting fish. WHAT'S THE CATCH? WASHINGTON AND VICINITY POTOMAC RIVER -- Guide Glenn Peacock has been taking largemouths in the hydrilla and eelgrass at the mouth of Broad Creek with spinner baits during early morning hours. Peacock says bigmouths also are hiding in vegetation in the main river between Wilson Bridge and Swan Creek, but fall for Fire Tiger Bombers and plastic worms. Upriver smallmouth fishing continues excellent with minnow/jig combinations. Bill Offutt of Fox's Sport Shop in Frederick checked in a 3-pound smallmouth caught at the mouth of the Monocacy this past week. The most productive areas for larger fish have been in deeper pools near Dam #4. Catfish action has been outstanding near Fletcher's Landing; several 3- to 5-pound catties have been hoisted by anglers dunking nightcrawlers and cut bait. MARYLAND TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE -- Largemouth bass fishing has been fairly productive at both WSSC reservoirs. Bob Griffith at Fishing and Archery Outfitters in Laurel reports bass from 1 to 3 pounds hitting plastic worms and large live minnows. Crappie fishing has dropped off, probably till late fall. DEEP CREEK LAKE -- Good catches of smallmouths are still being made in this Western Maryland lake. Most action has been in deeper coves. Good catches of crappie and walleye in the same areas. CONOWINGO LAKE -- Excellent catches of smallmouths near Holtwood Dam, on minnow/jig combinations fished in the cuts between the islands. Crappie fishing has been good along the Harford County shoreline and big catfish are being caught throughout the lake. VIRGINIA LAKE OCCOQUAN -- Fishing has really dropped off here. Park officials say the fish have migrated to deeper, cooler water. LAKE ANNA -- Campbell Edenton at Sturgeon Creek Marina reports excellent striped bass fishing early and late. Edenton says stripers average about 10 pounds and are taking live shad worked along the drop-offs. Fair catches of bass by anglers working plastic worms in deep water. The problem now is recreational boating traffic is extremely heavy this time of year, which makes quiet fishing tactics nearly impossible. JAMES RIVER -- Striper action is fantastic below the I-95 Bridge in Richmond and lots of 1- to 3-pound largemouths are coming in from the same vicinity. Bluegill and spotted bass catches are excellent in pits along the edge of the river on both artificial and live baits. RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- "There are lots of smallmouths in the river, but only a few anglers are really fishing for them," said Charlie Wingard at Chesley's Sporting Goods in Fredericksburg. Wingard says the weather has been extremely hot and most anglers are just trying to find a cool place. SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Striper fishing has been excellent throughout the lake as fish begin to school on the surface during daylight. Guide Bob King reports night fishing for both stripers and largemouths continues to hold up and some bass are tipping the scales at more than 6 pounds. Good catches of smallmouths are also being made in the shallows with Heddon Tiny Torpedos in shallows. CHESAPEAKE BAY SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- It's summertime fishing at Conowingo Dam with loads of medium catfish, carp and a few smallmouth bass. Catties are taking cut bait, nightcrawlers and chunks of peeler crab fished in fast water. Downriver, bass fishing has been best early and late, when the water's cooler. Smallmouths are taking pearl-colored sassy shad and tiny torpedos at heads of pools. Carp approaching 30 pounds are in slow water just below I-95 bridge, taking whole-kernel corn on the bottom. GUNPOWDER AND DUNDEE RIVERS --
According to Dave Anderson at Stonewall Sports, anglers are still catching lots of fair-sized catfish in the Seneca, Gunpowder, Dundee and Bush rivers, on bottom-fished cut bait. Anderson says several customers have found it worthwhile to run to the Eastern Shore side of the bay with grass shrimp, peeler crab and bloodworms to tempt white perch. UPPER BAY -- "White perch are here in big numbers," said Bill Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop in Baltimore. Anglers located huge schools of keepers under Key Bridge. Peeler-crab baits and grass shrimp have been best. Charter captains from Bluefish Fishing Guides report concentrations of white perch at the mouth of Curtis Creek, Seven Foot Knoll and Craig Hill Light. BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Good white perch action is still taking place in the upper end of the Severn River, but blues are nowhere near the bridge. According to Charlie Ebersberger at the Angler's Sport Center on U.S. 50, blues are still holding to the south, but should arrive soon. Crabbing has been excellent near the bridge and some sport crabbers are filling bushel baskets while handlining with chicken necks. SOUTH RIVER -- Most of the charter boats running out of South River are heading a few miles to the south for blues from 3 to 7 pounds. Captain George Cord of Sea Dove reports good catches near the Radar Towers and also just out from Poplar Island. CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- "I've been smokin' a lot of blues," said Calvin Tyler at Tyler's Tackle Shop. Although there was a lull last week, blues began breaking again out in front of the Radar Towers just south of Chesapeake Beach. Tyler also reports the headboat Optimist has been running up inside the Choptank to Castle Haven and hooking good numbers of spike trout and jumbo spot. Another good bet for the blues has been just below The Gooses near the false channel where blues of 3 to 5 pounds have been breaking during late afternoon. TILGHMAN ISLAND -- The charter fleet from Chesapeake House reports good catches of 3- to 5-pound blues just north of Poplar Island on red surgical-hose eels trolled in about 35 feet of water. Scattered black drum are still being taken at Stone Rock just above Sharps Island Light, on bottom-drifted soft and peeler crabs. HOOPER ISLAND -- Captain Henry Gootee of Striker has been cleaning up on sea trout in the mouth of the Honga River, using chunks of peeler crabs. Bottom-fished bloodworms are bamboozling jumbo spot. SOLOMONS -- Unbelievable numbers. George Lauterbach at First Marine says jumbo spot can be caught as far north as Brooms Island. Captain Bill Meadows of El Toro has been taking all the trout he can handle at the mouth of the Patuxent and loads of huge spot just south of the Naval Air Station. Captains Lou Snyder of Julie Lynn and Brian Rohrback of Cindy Lou have been providing parties with a mixed bag of spot and trout while bottom fishing near Cove Point. Bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab fished on the bottom are producing outstanding catches of both. Captain Glenn James of Amelia-S reports fine catches of trout and spot inside the river and on the Eastern Shore near Hooper Island Light. POINT LOOKOUT -- "Bottom fishing has been fantastic," says Norma Ince at Rick's Marine. The charter fleet out of Scheible's Fishing Center has been hitting the Middle Grounds with menhaden for 5- to 8-pound blues. Captains Phil Langley of Tracy Ann and Steve Seigel of Misty Gail report excellent catches of blues and a few sea trout about five miles east of Point Lookout near the target ship. Seigel also reports excellent night fishing for trout of 2 to 13 pounds near the mouth of the Honga River. TALL TIMBERS -- Captain Mopey Barber of Mopey Rose located good concentrations of jumbo spot at Ragged Point and the mouth of the St. Marys River. These are some of the largest spot of the season, many over a pound; they're taking bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab fished on the bottom. SMITH POINT -- Bill Bonds at Jett Hardware in Reedville reports some larger blues are now being caught near Buoy 48. A citation blue over 16 pounds was taken there this past week by Richmond resident Lawrence Campbell. Bottom fishing for flounder, spot and croaker has been good near Black Berry Hang. CRISFIELD -- Outstanding fishing here. Captain Leroy Yingling of Doris K III reports bottom fishing is beyond his wildest expectations. Captain Curtis Johns reports excellent catches of sea trout, jumbo spot and a few flounder. Flounder are increasing in both size and numbers, which is a good sign for fall. Captain Carmine Coiro of Miss H.B. Good has been fishing the sound and catching loads of sea trout, jumbo spot and some fair flounder. CAPE CHARLES -- Although last week's winds plagued the area, anglers hooked up with loads of good-sized sharks, cobia, pan trout and flounder. The sharks are primarily duskies from 25 to 80 pounds. The cobia are everywhere, especially around Buoy 16 near the Bay Bridge Tunnel. ATLANTIC COAST VIRGINIA BEACH -- The first billfish of the 1987 season were caught last week. According to Karren Feller at Virginia Beach Fishing Center, two white marlin and one blue marlin were caught and released. Tuna fishing has been outstanding for two weeks and several bluefin and yellowfin were caught at the South East Lumps. Headboats continue to do well on sea bass at nearby wrecks and a few chopper blues are roaming in the same area. OYSTER -- Captain Otis Asal of Buccaneer has been fishing 26 Mile Hill for tuna and hooking loads of both bluefin and yellowfin while trolling skip baits. Huge bluefish are also in the vicinity. Captain Monty Webb of Safari reports outstanding tuna catches just east of The Hill. WACHAPREAGUE -- Both inshore and offshore fishing have been outstanding. According to Bob Fate at Wachapreague Marina, flounder catches are running good to excellent in the back bay and offshore wreck fishing has been producing fantastic catches of sea bass and ling. CHINCOTEAGUE -- Bill Robbins at R&R Boat Rentals says flounder fishing has been excellent, with most boats bringing in 20 to 30 a day. Squid strips and live minnows have been most productive. Sea trout catches have improved at the mouth of the inlet, with several of up to 6 pounds. OCEAN CITY -- Flounder fishing has picked up in the back bay and although they're barely legal, the action's been red-hot. Scattered catches of sea trout are now being made at the South Jetty and, according to Tom Dedick at the Ocean Front Fishing Pier, kingfish are plentiful in the surf. DELAWARE COAST -- Surf fishermen at Delaware State Park and Indian River inlet are finding good catches of kingfish. According to Bill Hamilton at B&R Tackle, kings are hitting bloodworms during the falling tide. Offshore, anglers are running to canyons and hooking all the tuna they can handle. Wreck fishing continues to be rated excellent with good catches of sea bass and ling while bottom fishing with squid strips. CAPE HATTERAS -- Anglers fishing from the Oregon Inlet Bridge are hooking loads of snapper blues and fair flounder. Pier fishermen are doing quite well on spanish and king mackerel, bluefish, spot and trout. Offshore, three billfish were caught last week and tuna fishing has been outstanding.