The Maryland Department of Natural Resources was scheduled to hold a public hearing yesterday, in the Tawes State Office Building, to hear public comments on a variety of proposals for reducing striped bass fishing. According to the latest data from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), larger striped bass have been caught at rates substantially higher than prescribed by the striped bass management plan. Consequently, ASMFC is calling for a reduction in fishing mortality for next year's striped bass seasons. Options include changes in seasons, creel limits, a one-fish creel limit for Atlantic coast recreational fishery, proportional reductions, quota allocation reductions for the commercial and trophy fisheries and slot limits. For those who were unable to attend, written comments may be sent to Howard King, DNR Fisheries Service, Tawes State Office Bldg. C-2, Annapolis, MD 21401. Comments may be faxed to 410/260-8279 or e-mailed to hking@dnr.-state.md.us. Comments must be received by Oct. 5. For additional information, visit ASMFC's web site at www.asmfc.org.

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

POTOMAC RIVER -- Guide Ken Penrod of Life Outdoors Unlimited said the best smallmouth bass action comes from areas upriver of Whites Ferry, where tube lures rigged to 1/8-ounce leadheads produced excellent results. Downriver, water temperatures are currently in the mid-60s near Woodrow Wilson Bridge, where Penrod said he found the best largemouth bass action of the week. Firetiger crankbaits cast to the concrete chunks at the Spoils produced several outstanding largemouths and an occasional striper. Inside Washington Channel, particularly along the channel's Fort McNair shore, a mix of striped bass and largemouths were found lurking in the remaining grass beds.

Pennsylvania

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service said, "We just finished two days of shooting a TV show with Shaw BASS Pro Grigsby and absolutely smoked the smallmouths on spinnerbaits. There were lots of fish on the remaining grass beds, but the majority of the larger fish were out in the center of the river behind the ledges."

Maryland

DEEP CREEK LAKE -- John Marple at Johnny's Bait House reported good weekend fishing action for walleye, yellow perch, chain pickerel and crappie. The week's largest fish was a 14-pound, 8-ounce northern pike caught by a Mount Pleasant, Pa., resident dunking live minnows.

LOCH RAVEN AND LIBERTY RESERVOIRS -- Doug Lyons at Old Reisterstown Bait & Tackle reported that for the first time in nearly two years, Liberty Reservoir is near normal level. Hurricane Floyd may have improved largemouth bass action by flooding the shoreline scrub brush and willows and creating excellent habitat for both nesting and feeding. Most anglers reported good to excellent bass action while casting a variety of lures close to shore. Lyons said stripers up to 15 pounds and catfish up to 12 pounds were caught from shore near the Route 26 Bridge and the end of Oakland Mills Road by anglers dunking chicken livers and large shiners. Kevin McComas at Loch Raven Fishing Center said anglers found large numbers of bass and chain pickerel feeding close to shore. White perch catches remained good to excellent for anglers trolling inline spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler at Pierce's, Dead Man's and Hampton coves.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Dave Fauntleroy at Anna Point Marina said largemouth bass seem to be scattered about, however, a few 5-pounders were taken by anglers casting small crankbaits along the shores of most deeper coves. Carlos Wood at Highpoint Marina said weekend trollers hammered stripers, some weighing up to 12 pounds, near Jett Island, Stubbs Bridge, the mouth of Terry's Run and the mouth of Sturgeon Creek.

JAMES RIVER (Richmond area) -- The river is still quite muddy and running hard, however, a few blue catfish in the 25-pound category were taken just below Richmond's I-95 Bridge by anglers fishing close to shore with cut bait.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Trace Noel at Shenandoah River Trips said, "The river is clear, water levels are excellent and smallmouth bass to 22 inches were caught during the past week." Noel said the best catches were made with various chartreuse-colored lures and flies fished behind submerged ledges in deep pools.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Herb Benjamin at Herb's Tackle Shop said local angler Norman Ames caught a huge number of 2- to 3-pound channel catfish from the North East River while fishing from the shores of Elk Neck State Park with night crawlers. Clyde Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop said most of the striped bass caught above the Chesapeake Bay Bridges were too small to keep. Francis Toy at Toy's Outdoor Store said he thinks most of the larger stripers have migrated into the shallows to feed on small baitfish and white perch. He said a few anglers fishing from shore caught rockfish up to 24 inches while fishing for white perch.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- John Lacalzi at the Angler's Sport Shop said weakfish are stacked up at the Bay Bridge's rock piles, some measuring up to 16 inches. Scattered catches of stripers were made off Hacketts Bar and locations to the south near West River while chumming with ground menhaden or live lining with live white perch.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Keith Turner at Tommy's Sporting Goods in Cambridge said, "Fishing's great. We have lots of trout, blues and rockfish and some of the trout measure 22 to 26 inches. Stripers to 24 inches were caught while casting Rat-L-Traps along the river's shoreline between Chloras Point and Cook Point and schools of breaking bluefish to four pounds are just about everywhere you look."

CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- The headboat Tom Hooker reported good weekend catches of spot, weakfish and a few rockfish. At night, the headboat caught considerably larger weakfish and stripers. The charter fleet is primarily chumming for stripers at the Hill, the Gooses, the mouth of South River and Sharps Island Flats.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said schools of breaking stripers can be found just about anywhere outside the river's mouth, but most of these fish measure less than 18 inches. A few keeper rockfish measuring up to 37 inches were caught from the shallows of Cedar Point Hollow and at the Gas Docks by anglers live-lining small white perch. Schools of migrating weakfish are showing up along the bay's channel edges near Cedar Point and the Targets, locations where squid strips and chunks of peeler crab produced fish to 28 inches. Flounder are active between buoys No. 72 and No. 74 in depths of 25 to 30 feet. Live minnows and squid strips produced flatties up to 20 inches at this location over the weekend.

POINT LOOKOUT -- Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center said a 6.37-pound porgy measuring 24 inches long with a 24 1/2-inch girth was taken by Tom Horan of Clarksville, Md., while fishing aboard the Gracie-Dale at the Middle Grounds. The fish was caught on a bottom-fished squid strip and is a pending new state record.

TANGIER SOUND -- Most of the Crisfield headboats are fishing for spot, weakfish and flounder at Terrapin Sands, Fox Island Buoy and the Puppy Hole Buoy, locations where bottom-fished squid strips were effective over the weekend. Crisfield's charter fleet is running out to the Mud Leads and Southwest Middle Grounds and chumming for stripers or jigging for weakfish, both of which seem to be in good supply.

CAPE CHARLES -- Several red drum were caught at The Cell and Cabbage Patch on days when the winds cooperated. The largest, a 45-inch behemoth, inhaled a live spot attached to a fish-finder rig. Several citation-size flounder were weighed at Cris' Bait & Tackle, two of which topped 6 pounds.

Atlantic Coast

Windy weather again hampered most of last week's offshore action, however, a few charter boats running from Ocean City, Wachapreague and Virginia Beach were able to venture out to the canyons where they reported good catches of exceptionally large yellowfin tuna, a few wahoo and several small dolphin. Outer Banks anglers have enjoyed great catches of jumbo spot from the fishing piers since the passage of Floyd, but no one has been able to venture offshore since the storm.

Hear updates on this week's hottest fishing spots by calling Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and entering category 3474 (FISH). Fishing columnist Gary Diamond files audio reports weekly. The call is free wherever 202 area codes are free. From Prince William County call 690-4110.