- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association in the Virginia Beach area writes, “The striped bass fishing is nothing short of fantastic. Fish are still available in the Chesapeake Bay and up and down Virginia’s coast. The hot area over the past week has been from the Cape Henry Lighthouse on down to the Sandbridge Fishing Pier. This has made it very easy for boats fishing out of Rudee Inlet.”

Neill is so enthusiastic that he swears anglers need only to stick their noses out of the inlet and begin to fish. That’s how close in the rockfish are. That has been good news for people using large offshore boats with powerful engines, because it keeps fuel costs way down.

But Neill also suggests heading east some 50 miles and fishing over the deep-water wrecks where jumbo-sized sea bass are available, as well as tilefish and a few groupers.

Close to shore, the wrecks at the mouth of the bay and out at the Tower Reef turn up plenty of tautogs, while speckled sea trout might cooperate at the Hot Ditch.

What also has raised the Peninsula anglers’ adrenaline are the flounder catches.

“Plenty are being caught by striper fishermen,” said Neill, who also suggests checking the latest regulations that are coming down from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. To be sure, it’s almost guaranteed that flounder will have to measure around 18 or 19 inches long this year. More information is available by sending an e-mail to Jack.Travelstead@mrc.virginia.gov.

Expect new regulations concerning Virginia’s tautogs. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has mandated a 29 percent reduction in “tog” catches, plus there might be some new rules concerning the fishing for tilefish and grouper because of the tremendous catch rates by grouper and blueline tilefish anglers — particularly those who fished aboard Neill’s boat, the Healthy Grin, as several members broke world records in 2006.

Fisheries Advisory panel to meet — The meeting of the Maryland DNR’s Tidal Fisheries Advisory Committee at 6 p.m. Monday, in the C-1 conference room of the Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis will be restricted to committee members,. However, there will to be a joint meeting of the Sport Fish Advisory Commission, the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission and the Striped Bass Ad Hoc Committee at 7 p.m. to discuss Maryland’s spring migrant striped bass fishery options. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Questions? Contact the DNR’s Martin L. Gary at mlgary@dnr.state.md.us.

Fishing swap meet and seminar — The annual Maryland Saltwater Sportfisherman’s Association will have an Offshore Fishing Swap Meet and Seminar on Feb. 24, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Annapolis Elks Lodge in Edgewater. This annual event is sponsored by the Annapolis Chapter of the MSSA to help recreational anglers learn more about deep-sea fishing off the Maryland and Virginia coasts.

Seminars will be held at 9, 10, and 11 a.m. and they will deal with tournament fishing, tuna chunking and offshore trolling techniques. In addition, the chapter will have more than 70 tables of new and lightly used offshore and bay tackle for sale at great prices by local tackle dealers and individuals. Admission is $5 (children 12 and under get in free). For more information, call Pete Abbott, 410/758-2071, or e-mail abbottgru@aol.com.

Funny tasting crappies — Bass guide Andy Andrzejewski and his former colleague, Vic Mercogliano, went crappie fishing over the weekend and found a number of fine specimens in the Spoils Cove vicinity as they used short, scented plastic worms. Later, after filleting and frying some of the fish, Mercogliano said, “They tasted like Blue Plains.” Ugghh! He’s talking about the waste treatment plant. Oh, no.

For some, it’s too cold — Our Shenandoah River friend Dick Fox, who lives in Front Royal, said, “The river is freezing up. I have enough brains to stay home, clean my reels and prepare for warm weather.” The guys in the lower Chesapeake Bay would pick on Fox if they met him. They’re out in some of the darndest cold anyone has ever seen in these parts.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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