NOAA Fisheries Service has published management measures for the recreational summer flounder, scup and black sea bass fisheries. The 2005 coastwide recreational harvest limits are 11.98 million pounds for summer flounder, 3.96 million pounds for scup and 4.13 million pounds for black sea bass. This final rule contains management measures that are intended to keep annual recreational landings from exceeding harvest limits. For more on state-by-state recreational management measures for 2005, including minimum fish size, possession limits and fishing seasons, visit www.nero.noaa.gov/nero/regs/frdoc/05sfsbsbrecfr.pdf.
What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- While largemouth bass action seems to have waned, there have been fair catches of bucketmouths downriver at Wades Bay, the mouth of Aquia Creek, the submerged riprap boulders near the mouth of Powell Creek and inside Mattawoman Creek from among the spatterdock and grass beds adjacent to the 6 mph zone. At nearly all of those locations, spinnerbaits, shallow-running crankbaits and tube lures were effective early and late in the day. When the sun gets high, plastic worms, live shiners and deep-diving crankbaits will maintain the action. The secret to success seemed to be getting on the water early and working the shallows near piers. In Washington Channel, scattered catches of stripers to 20 inches were made by anglers casting a variety of lures for largemouth bass. Similar catches were also reported by anglers fishing cut herring baits for channel catfish near Fletcher's Landing, where good numbers of both rockfish and catfish were boated and beached by weekend warriors. Upriver, some sheltered coves and backwater eddies provided a bit of excitement when bottom-fished night crawlers lured monster carp to 25 pounds.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river is clear, levels are near normal and smallmouth bass action at Lander, Point of Rocks, Whites Ferry, Edwards Ferry and Dam No. 4 was excellent for anglers casting tiny crankbaits, tube lures and live shiners. Most of the fish were small, just eight to 10 inches at best. The most productive locations were near the heads of deeper pools.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- Conowingo Lake's upper reaches provided outstanding smallmouth bass action. Among the most productive locations was the cut between Big Bear and Little Bear islands, the mouth of Muddy Creek and upriver in the fast water just above Muddy Run Pumping Station.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Essex, Md., resident Koretic Zeljko was casting a small tube lure in Triadelphia Reservoir's upper reaches when a monster crappie bit. The fish was weighed at Brighton Dam and tipped the scales at 1 pound 6.5 ounces. Good catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass were taken at both impoundments, most on live minnows and shallow-running crankbaits.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Weekend anglers trolling inline spinners trimmed with a small piece of night crawler continue to catch large numbers of white perch ranging from eight to 12 inches while fishing between Dulaney Valley and Loch Raven Drive bridges. The same lures produced good catches of chunky bluegills to nine inches and an occasional chain pickerel. The pickerel are holding close to the edges of grass beds, which currently grow to depths of 15 feet or more. Open pockets in the grass held a few big bass.
LAKE ANNA -- Rising water temperatures triggered a migration of the lake's bass to deeper, cooler waters. Weekend anglers fished 7.5- to 9-inch plastic worms, mainly black and blue combinations rigged to half-ounce leadheads, lures that produced some hefty bucketmouths for Frank Sipe Jr. of Fluvanna, Va., who caught a 5-pound 2-ouncer last weekend. Darren Bache and Larry Meadows of Fredericksburg, Va., had a five-fish stringer that weighed nine pounds. Striped bass action was good for early morning anglers from the mouth of Sturgeons Creek to the Splits, and Jett's and Rose Valley islands. Most of the action took place in the main lake, where Sassy Shad, Sea Shad, Storm Wild Eye Shad and three-quarter jigging spoons were effective. Live bait also worked well.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Good catches of smallmouth bass were made by weekend anglers fishing near Bentonville. Most were taken on small black Roostertails and tiny Rapalla crankbaits. Fly anglers casting tiny poppers caught excellent numbers of smallmouth bass and panfish.
UPPER BAY -- Upper bay anglers battled high winds through much of the week, and many took refuge in the Susquehanna River's lower reaches, fishing the tailrace waters just below Conowingo Dam. Live-lined white perch and bluegills lured rockfish to 26 inches for those using surf rods and casting their offerings as close to the dam's base as possible. Boating anglers trolling shallow-running crankbaits below the power lines near the mouth of Octoraro Creek caught rockfish ranging from throwbacks to 20 inches when fishing during periods when water flowed through the dam's turbines. Downriver, near the mouth of Deer Creek and above Robert Island, scattered catches of striped bass to 20 inches, channel catfish to six pounds and smallmouth bass to 15 inches were reported by anglers casting tube lures and small crankbaits early and late in the day. Trollers and chummers alike scored well on keeper-size stripers at Belvedere Shoals, Hickory Thickets, Swan Point Bar, the north end of the Dumping Grounds and across the bay near the mouth of the Patapsco River near Bodkin Point. Most were taken on dark red surgical hose eels and mid-size silver spoons.
BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Anglers established chum slicks at Brickhouse Bar, Bloody Point Light, The Diamonds and the lumps just west of Poplar Island, locations that lured stripers ranging from 15-inch throwbacks to 24-inch keepers. Most were taken on cut menhaden strips, but the largest fish gobbled down live-lined white perch worked well back in the slicks. Larger fish, some measuring 36 inches, smacked jigging spoons worked tight against the bottom.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Croaker to 20 inches were caught along the channel edges from the river's mouth upriver to the Route 50 bridge fishing piers. Nearly all were taken from sundown till midnight, most hit squid strips, bloodworms and bait shrimp, and as soon as the tide slacked, the action abruptly stopped.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Most of the region's charter boats have switched over to chumming for striped bass and bluefish, and the vast majority reported limit catches of rockfish to 20 inches while chumming at The Gooses, False Channel and near the mouth of Parker's Creek. The bluefish smacked cut menhaden baits intended for rockfish.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Croaker fishing is hot in the bay's waters at buoys 72 and 72A and at the Mud Leads. The Chinese Muds, at the Patuxent River's mouth, holds large numbers of big croaker; most were caught in the evening and at daybreak. Catches of croaker were also reported upriver at Broomes Island. White perch are very active on the oyster bars in the Patuxent.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- River shallows continue to provide anglers with good catches of stripers from 14 to 20 inches, and a few lunkers in the 26- to 30-inch category.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- The guts and sloughs of Smith, Tangier and South Marsh islands all hold striped bass ranging from throwbacks to 20 inches.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- The Potomac River's lower and middle reaches provided good croaker fishing for anglers playing the waters of Cornfield Harbor, Piney Point, Saint George Island area and the Wicomico River's mouth. Most were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms, peeler crab, soft-shell crab, squid strips and Fishbites Bloodworm Substitute, a relatively new form of bait. Ragged Point, also in the lower Potomac River, holds huge numbers of big white perch.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Croaker dominated the action along the bay's eastern channel edge from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel north to The Cell. Most measured just 12 to 14 inches at best, but the action was nonstop with double headers coming over the boat's rails as fast as baits hit bottom.
CAPE HENLOPEN/INDIAN RIVER -- Anglers fishing Cape Henlopen Pier are catching a mixed bag with flounder, weakfish and small stripers, but a 20-inch flounder, two 15-inch weakfish, a 4-foot shark and large numbers of skates were caught. The Outer Wall area of Delaware Bay is still holding tautog in good numbers. Local angler Roxanna Davis caught a citation tog caught on green crab that weighed 7.65 pounds and measured 22 inches long. Limit catches of tautog were also reported by anglers fishing The Haystacks using sand fleas. Lewes Canal is still yielding flounder, small, stripers and blues at night. Anglers casting Tsunami bucktails from the boulders of Indian River Inlet caught striped bass to 20 pounds nearly every evening.
OCEAN CITY -- Offshore anglers were elated when large numbers of bluefin tuna arrived along the 20-fathom curve, fish that ranged from 28 to 40 inches fork length and hit trolled cedar plugs and Green Machines. Slammer bluefish to 12 pounds were also found lurking in the same location, and they hit anything that got within range. Inshore, good catches of stripers to 20 pounds were made while casting bucktails in Ocean City Inlet during the day, while stripers to 32 inches were caught from the Route 50 bridge at night.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- There were lots of flounder in the back bays but mostly throwbacks. Offshore, bluefin tuna and slammer bluefish were found at the lumps and bumps near the Parking Lot, Lumpy Bottom, 26 Mile Hill and 21 Mile Hill.
OUTER BANKS -- Lots of yellowfin tuna, some tipping the scales at nearly 60 pounds. The tuna are often mixed with wahoo to 50 pounds, lots of gaffer dolphin, and fair numbers of blue marlin and white marlin.