- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 14, 2008

It began when my Charles County neighbor Dale Knupp fished for white perch in a Patuxent River feeder creek and suddenly hooked a species that provided a much tougher fight than a perch can.

“Hey, take a look at this,” Knupp said. “What is it?”

He had caught a redfish, also known as red drum or channel bass, a species that is not generally a plentiful local catch. The juvenile redfish measured 15 to 16 inches, too short to meet the 18-inch minimum size requirement in Maryland waters. Knupp caught six more of the little red drum, all of them on 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits.

Then came reader Bart Richwine, who sent an e-mail saying he fished from his pier on the Wicomico River in Charles County, hooking mostly perch, but then caught two fish “looked like hardheads except they had a black spot on the skin next to the tail.”

I sent an answer informing Richwine he had hooked juvenile redfish.

Now add boaters Jim Smith and Ben Zeigler, both of Potomac, who last weekend fished somewhere in the Chesapeake Bay near Solomons, where Smith decked a 44-inch, 40-pound-plus red drum. Smith and Zeigler said they saw hundreds of the big redfish cruising the surface, which is a rare event, to be sure.

Not to be outdone by all the red drum news, trollers, surface lure casters and chummers in the Chesapeake are getting lots of action from the upper bay’s Swan and Love points down to the channel edges east of Herring Bay and Chesapeake Beach, and on to the lower Eastern Shore and the western side’s Southern Maryland.

Lexington Park’s Tackle Box proprietor, Ken Lamb, said the striper catches have been outstanding all summer. Live-lining spot produces good catches, but even topwater lure slingers can connect frequently as schools of rockfish chase bait.

“The rockfish are breaking from the Targets to the HI Buoy to Hooper’s Island Light to Buoy 76 to the Gas Docks,” he said.

Lamb also passed along news that flounder have been hooked at Buoy 76 and at Butler’s Rock out of St. Jerome’s Creek, as well as the 3-legged marker in the mouth of the Patuxent River, also in the Potomac River at Steuarts Pier in the Piney Point sector, Cornfield Harbor and Point Lookout Bar.

From Buzz’s Marina in Ridge (St. Mary’s County), Christy Henderson said, “The Spanish mackerel fishing is getting better. There were good concentrations of them between Buoy 1 and Buoy 3 in the mouth of the Potomac and on the Middle Grounds. The bluefish are everywhere, and more in the 4- to 5-pound range were caught this week.”

Potomac bass aren’t bashful - The recent days and nights of slightly cooler weather appear to have perked up the tidal Potomac’s largemouth bass. It’s not unusual for a bass angler to hook 25 to 30 bass in a five- or six-hour outing. However, to do this you must have a sharply declining tide - the last two hours of ebb tide are best - and all the better if it’s in the early mornings or late evenings because then they will strike topwater poppers and buzzbaits, followed by wacky- or Texas-rigged plastic worms or crankbaits anywhere along creek marsh banks or wooded shorelines that feature shallows and close dropoffs. All the creeks have been productive, save perhaps for the Nanjemoy in western Charles County.

Occoquan enters summer mode - Fountainhead Park ranger Smokey Davis says the crappie and catfish bite remains strong, but bass are a little tougher to come by.

“Early and late topwater baits have worked well, but come sun-up the bass suspend in deep water and are tougher to catch,” he said.

But folks, it’s summertime. You have to expect a bit of a slowdown in freshwater lakes.

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