FEDERAL REGULATIONS for Atlantic billfish have been in effect since the fall of 1988. Undersized white marlin, blue marlin and sailfish have been landed in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina ports during the 1989 and 1990 seasons. The minimum sizes are: blue marlin, 200 pounds or 110 inches; white marlin, 50 pounds or 81 inches; sailfish, 30 pounds or 76 inches. Two Florida anglers were recently fined $3,000 for possession of an undersized white marlin.
WHAT'S THE CATCH?
WASHINGTON AND VICINITY
POTOMAC RIVER -- If you're an avid bass angler, this is your best opportunity to hook trophy-size largemouths. Through the end of December, huge largemouths will be prowling the tidal waters. Guide Glenn Peacock is fishing downriver at the mouths of creeks where 2- to 4-pounders are in the grass beds. His best luck has been at Mattawoman and Chicamuxen creeks, casting 4-inch plastic worms near the lily pads. Guide Ken Penrod says the best action for him is in the Boundary Channel, the Virginia side of Roosevelt Island, among the pilings of Wilson Bridge, North and South Point at Smoot Bay and the deep water next to Belle Haven Marina. He touts casting Bomber Firetiger crankbaits, plastic worms and pig and jig combos. At Pohick Bay, among the partly submerged trees on the southern shore, even bigger bass go for Hart spinnerbaits and Guido Bugs. Ray Fletcher at Fletcher's Boat House reports lots of 2- to 5-pound channel catfish are hitting cut bait and bottom-fished nightcrawlers. Smallmouth action in the upper river is hot despite muddy water; in fact, this often raises success rates because the fish can't readily see the angler above.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE -- According to Bob Griffith at Fishing and Archery Outfitters in Laurel, the big fish action continues to improve. Griffith touts plastic worms and small crankbaits.
LAKE ANNA -- Guide Gene Hord says warm water temperatures have made stripers lethargic. They're mainly feeding at night. The best action is bass and crappie which are less affected by water temperature.
LAKE OCCOQUAN -- The folks at Fountainhead Park report bass action is hotter than a week ago. Several 1- to 3-pound largemouths have been checked in, plus lots of 2- to 8-pound channel catfish.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- Catfish are plentiful just downriver from Fredericksburg and smallmouths teem in the fast water above town. Carl Gentry at Chesley's Sporting Goods says the smallmouths are hitting small lures fished in deeper pools and at the base of small riffles. The freshest baits produce the larger fish.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Scattered catches of stripers at night only. According to at All's Hunting and Fishing in Salem, the most productive striper fishing is when the water temperature cools to below 72 degrees; now it's in the low 80s.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- The river is still a bit muddy, but bass action is excellent. Randy Hunton at Hunton's Sportfishing Center says loads of smallmouths are above Garrett Island. In the grass beds below the island, largemouths of 1 to 3 pounds are hitting plastics. The bronzebacks prefer sassy shad and small crankbaits worked in fast water.
POOLE'S ISLAND -- Dave Anderson at Stonewall Sports says snapper blues of 1- to 3-pounds are breaking on the eastern side of the island when the boating traffic is moderate. White perch are holding over lumps southeast of the island and they'll take bottom-fished chunks of peeler crab.
UPPER BAY -- "We have breaking bluefish from Fort Smallwood to the mouth of Curtis Creek," says Bill Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop, with 1- to 3-pound blues being caught throughout the lower Patapsco. Captain Chris Slomski on Daddy's Toy II said the blues will take cut bait when they're not breaking and lures when surface feeding. Karl Kidd at Bowley's Bait and Tackle reports good bluefish action at Craig Hill Light and white perch at Hodges Bar and Swan Point. Grass shrimp and chunks of peeler crab draw the perch. Captain Dave Lessner of Wedidit Charters says he's harvesting bluefish while trolling small spoons on the Eastern Shore side of the main shipping channel.
ROCK HALL -- Captain Wayne Gatling on Lara Lynn IV is hooking a mixed bag of bluefish. Gatling is mainly fishing late afternoons and evenings when the boating traffic subsides. The blues range from 1 to 3 pounds, but a few 15-pounders are caught nearly every night. Francis Toy at Toy's Outdoor Store says most white perch are now taking refuge from marauding bluefish in the mouths of creeks. Toy says lots of catfish remain, hitting bottom-fished cut bait, chunks of peeler crab and nightcrawlers.
BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Currently, breaking blues of 1- to 4-pounds are being caught by trolling, plug casting, fly fishing and bottom fishing. Barry Ebersberger at Angler's Sport Center reports excellent catches of blues near Hackett's Bar and the bridge. Captain Preston Hartge says a few Spanish mackerel are mixed with the blues.
DEAL -- Captain George Prenant on Stormy Petrel is trolling small spoons tight against the bottom in about 30 feet of water.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- Calvin Tyler at Tyler's Tackle Shop says 3- to 6-pound weakfish are being caught at Stone Rock. The best action is from 3 to 9 p.m. when most boats have quit for the day. Captain Shaker Black at the Rod 'N' Reel Dock says bluefish action is red hot for the charter fleet with many 5-pounders being caught. Captain Tom Rails is running the Tom Hooker to the mouth of West River, catching lots of medium and jumbo spot and even a few keeper flounder.
CHOPTANK RIVER -- The folks fishing from the old Route 50 Bridge continue to find the best white perch action at night. Chuck Prahl at Tommy's Sporting Goods says the perch are holding close to the bridge pilings and they'll hit bottom-fished bloodworms or chunks of peeler crab. Prahl says crabbing from the bridge is excellent using collapsible traps. Captain Mike Murphy on Tiderunner is finding large schools of breaking bluefish at the mouth of the river. He says acres of 1- to 4-pounders are active just south of Poplar Island along with good-sized Spanish mackerel.
SHARP'S ISLAND LIGHT -- The charter fleet running out of Harrison's Chesapeake House is trolling for blues, hooking lots of 1- to 3-pound snappers plus Spanish mackerel.
PATUXENT RIVER -- Captain Glenn James on Bounty Hunter is chasing large schools of breaking blues near Hooper Island Light. Captain Bill Meadows on El Toro is concentrating on Spanish mackerel with excellent catches of 2- to 4-pounders near the Gas Platform. Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box reports good catches of jumbo spot, croaker, flounder and a few spike trout at the artificial reef near the mouth of the river.
POINT LOOKOUT -- Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center says the area about a mile south of the target ship American Mariner is loaded with 1- to 5-pound blues. Captain Stan Harris on Joy Lynn is finding lots of bluefish on the western side of the main shipping channel. Buzz Orebaugh at Buzz's Marina said flounder are in the shallows near the mouth of Saint Jerome's Creek and they'll take strips of fresh spot during moving tides. According to Rick Ince at Rick's Marine, fishing from the Point Lookout state pier is good with catches of bluefish, spot, flounder and occasional puppy drum. Ince says weakfish are concentrated along the 20-foot ledge from Saint Jerome's Creek to Point Lookout, hitting chunks of peeler crab or fresh-cut spot.
MID-POTOMAC -- Captain Mopey Barber on Mopey Rose is running downstream for bluefish and upriver for white perch, spot and flounder.
TANGIER AND POCOMOKE SOUND -- Tim Carson at the Pines Motel says the best catches of trout and spot are by charter boats running far to the south. Captain Curtis Johns on Karen Ray is working below Tangier Light, hooking spot, croaker and spike trout. Captain Charlie Mariner is running the Traveler to Pocomoke Sound for spot, porgy, croaker, spike trout and a few flounder. Captain Dick Arnold on Robin-l is fishing closer to home and reports fair catches of spike trout and medium spot. Captain Charlie Coiro on Miss H.B. Good and Captain Gerald Dawson on Carolyn D II say the action closer to Crisfield has improved.
REEDVILLE -- Lots of snapper blues here with big schools near Buoy 62. According to the folks at Jett Hardware, the charter boats are limiting out early every day, then switching to bottom fishing for spike trout and flounder. A few red drum linger near the Cut Channel, but will soon move south.
CAPE CHARLES -- Jim Jenrette at the fishing center says he's weighed in several cobia and red drum for citations.
DELAWARE BAY -- Good catches of weakfish and flounder in the lower reaches. According to Captain Jerry Blakeslee on Grizzly, there's hot action at The Shears, 14-Foot Light and Brandywine Shoals. Cut spot are best for both; when spot isn't available, strips of fresh squid are a good second choice.
INDIAN RIVER -- The folks at B&R Tackle in South Bethany say lots of snapper blues are inside the inlet and trout show up at night. Most of the blues are 1- to 3-pounders, but a few run up to 10 pounds,
OCEAN CITY -- The charter fleet is traveling to the Washington Canyon where they're hooking a few white marlin and lots of small dolphin. Tuna catches are down and the outlook for the rest of the tuna season is bleak.
WACHAPREAGUE -- Captain Bob Starr on Are Starr fished the southern tip of the Washington Canyon last week and hooked a 29-pound wahoo and some medium-sized dolphin. Bob Fate of Bob's Offshore Tackle reports fair numbers of flounder inside the inlet, but most are under the 13-inch minimum size and must be released. Just outside the inlet, anglers are hooking excellent catches of Spanish mackerel.
VIRGINIA BEACH -- Alexandria resident Steve Rutledge boated a 74-pound wahoo while fishing offshore. Karen Schubart at the Fishing Center said large numbers of blue and white marlin were tagged and released in the same area.
OUTER BANKS -- Offshore it's wahoo, an occasional bugeye tuna, sailfish and lots of small dolphin. The big news is inshore and surf fishing: lots of bluefish in the 2- to 6-pound range. Also, Spanish and king mackerel being taken from fishing piers.