Predicting fishing can be like predicting the weather, upon which good fishing often depends. Look a few days ahead and you can be accurate, but long range forecasts are tenuous.
With that disclaimer aside, the fall forecast for Chesapeake Bay angling is good. Here's why.
In the upper Bay the bluefish that worked this summer up to Fort Smallwood, Love Point, Nine Foot Knoll, and even as far north as Pooles Island will be leaving soon. As the predacious blues leave, the rockfish will school up. Excellent fishing often results and lasts until the rock leave or go deep when the water temperature drops to 55 degrees. Pan size rock have already begun to school at Buoy 15 near Havre De Grace. Quarter-inch red surgical hose lures with bloodworms attached have been effective for those trolling 12 to 15 feet deep. Other good catches of rock are coming from Pooles Island.
Largemouth bass should start soon in th Northeast River and continue to hit well until the water freezes, according to Herb Benjamin who runs Herb's Tackle in Northeast, Md. He recommends spinnerbaits, plastic worms, and 1/4 to 5/8-ounce bucktails. Some crappie will also be available at the Old Arundel Pier in Northeast; Until the water freezes try small minnows.
In the middle Bay, the larger blues have started to move out early. According to the Angler's Sport Shop in Annapolis, they should all be gone by early October, and the rock should soon school up. The best area for rock has usually been the dumping grounds north of the Bay Bridge. White bucktails, size 1/10 and 2/0, will be most effective trolled on the bottom in 50 to 60 feet of water. Good fishing lasts until the end of October. When the rock slow in November, you might try creek fishing for pickerel. Use shad darts, minnows, and daredevils.
Good blue fishing - trolling spoons, bucktails and hoses or chumming cut bait - will continue around Chesapeake Beach until the first freeze.
Occasional sea trout may also be taken during the next few weeks by fishermen jigging yellow bucktails near Stone Rock. Last year produced a good run of rock during late September and early October near Parker's Creek and in the Gooses. If history repeats itself, try bucktails in 40 to 50 feet of water.
The lower Bay could provide the best fall fishing. The fall run of sea trout last year was excellent; the spring run this year was phenomenal. The only cautious note is that in the middle Bay the late summer sea trout run has been weak this year compared to the strong run of last year.
With all this considered, the vote is for a good run of fall sea trout in the lower Bay. October will be the peak month. The best areas will be between the Targets and Point No Point, and from buoy 54 to 50.
Pan rock should be picking up first in the shallows near Blackstone Island, Coan River, Sandy Point and Ragged Point. After the water temperature drops to 55 look for th rock in 30 to 50 feet of water at the Cedar Point Rip, the P&R Buoy, Cove Point, Punch Island, Hooper Islands, Point No Point, and outside the Targets.
The blues, which have provided excellent summer fishing, will be gone by early October.