- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2008

Just hear what awaits Chesapeake Bay anglers this weekend. Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina, along St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County, said that there has been a tremendous change in the fishing.

“It has gotten so much better. The rockfish showed back up [and] the mackerel are out of control,” she reported.

Henderson said just about everybody who’s trolling small Clarke spoons and the like can return to port with well more than a dozen Spanish mackerel. She added that bluefish continue to get bigger and are still all over the place and even some day-time bait dunkers have gotten jumbo croakers. Much the same kind of enthusiastic talk is heard up and down the Bay, although the better fishing right now is found in lower Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland Bay waters.

If it’s croakers you’re after in the upper Bay, be reminded that the time has come when many of them are beginning to think of heading south. More than one Bay fan has said that the croakers now are tough to come by. But from the uppermost bay parts down to and beyond the Bay bridges, toward Chesapeake Beach and the Eastern Shore’s Tilghman Island, trollers, surface lure casters and live-liners find juvenile bluefish and keeper rockfish add a nice mix of small bluefish and striped bass from the Brewerton Channel south to the Bay Bridge. Spanish mackerel have been hooked in fine numbers around the Sharps Island area.

Elsewhere, the Atlantic Ocean east of North Carolina’s Outer Banks produced a whopping 1,228-pound blue marlin, which is a pending North Carolina blue marlin record. The huge billfish was caught during a Pirate’s Cove, N.C., tournament by angler Trey Irvine, of Weston, Fla., while fishing competitively aboard the “Mimi.” All the same, Irvine’s trophy still is quite a bit shy of the world record Atlantic blue marlin that weighed 1,402.20 pounds. It was caught in Brazil in 1992.

Here is this week’s fishing outlook:

(Ratings key: ★★★★=excellent fishing; ★★★=Good; ★★=Fair; ★=Poor.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (★★★) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) the normal summertime fare can be expected. Catfish and a handful of bass make up the majority of catches. Downstream, the bass boaters score nicely early and late in the day whenever falling tides coincide with the cool hours. The fishing has been good from the Fox Ferry rock line down to the Piscataway Creek and onward toward the Mattawoman and the Virginia creeks on the opposing shore.

Falling water has been crucial to bass catches. One day last week we had no bass as the tide began to drop, but in the last two hours of ebbtide the largemouths went nuts, inhaling every type of soft plastic bait we threw, but also crankbaits (if the weed beds allowed it), and also surface poppers when cloud cover kept the water shaded. The lures that seem to have lost their appeal to bass are the weedless grass frogs or grass rats. More than one boater said that the fish aren’t interested in them, but they were effective a couple of weeks ago.

Downstream, past the Port Tobacco River, Anthony Lee says he has had excellent catches of various fish species within sight of the Route 301 bridge in Charles County. “During an outgoing tide I caught 76 white perch, 22 stripers (all undersized), bluefish up to 12 inches, 35 yellow perch up to 11 inches, and 15 puppy drum (under 18 inches) — all on a [1/8]-ounce Beetlespin lure or a lime-color Mister Twister.”

No, Lee didn’t keep all those fish; he just wanted to pass along the word that the fishing was fine. Good trolling for small rockfish, blues, even a few Spanish mackerel, is had up and down the river, especially as you approach the mouth near Point Lookout.

WICOMICO RIVER:55 miles (★★) — Increasing numbers of anglers say the croaker fishing has taken a serious dip, but white perch and small stripers are inside the river. Check for the latest with Quade’s Store (301/769-3903) in Bushwood. Some rockfish are hooked just outside the mouth of the river.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (★★★) — The state warned of a serious algae bloom inside the creek, but we’ve been catching bass and haven’t noticed anything terribly wrong in the parts we’ve fished in.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (★★) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) turns up surprisingly large bass now and then. Give it a try. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) the bass fishing during overcast or early hours of sunny days can be remarkably good. Use small plastic worms on the lightest slip sinkers possible, or small shallow-running crankbaits. Bluegills, pickerel and crappies are taken as well.

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