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Gene Mueller: Rockfish invading Bay waters
Question of the Day
Everyone is talking about the large striped bass that have left the Atlantic and now are invading the Chesapeake Bay to feed on menhaden and fatten up for the winter. Whopper rockfish are hooked from Smith Point in Virginia’s Northern Neck up to and past Maryland’s Hooper’s Island Light, Calvert Cliffs and beyond Bloody Point.
At the Lexington Park Tackle Box, Ken Lamb says the big sea-run rockfish were feeding in the Potomac and the main stem of the Bay last week with reckless abandon.
“The best areas seemed to be from Buoy 70 to 72. Good catches were also made at the HI buoy and in the Potomac near Stuart’s Pier,” he said.
Charter fishing captain Greg Buckner, who runs the Miss Susie out of Calvert Marina in Solomons, landed five trophy stripers up to 45 inches Friday. On Saturday morning, Capt. Jim Gray on the Mary R got his limit of six stripers up to 48 inches long in an hour and a half running due east out of St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County.
JJ’s Tackle Shop reported that Tiffany Cureau of Lexington Park caught a 57-pound, 53-inch rockfish near Point Lookout on Sunday. The tackle shop said it was the biggest striper seen there this year.
If smaller rockfish will satisfy you, excellent catches of resident stripers in the 20- to 28-inch class have been caught in the Potomac and Patuxent, the mouth of the Choptank, the Chinese Muds, inside the Targets, the area just north of Point No Point, the Gas Docks and Cove Point.
- From the mouth of the Bay, Julie Ball (drjball.com) reports that anglers are seeing striped bass activity on all fronts with school-sized fish around all the lower Bay bridge tunnels. They’re finding success during moving tides, casting Storm Lures, bucktails and even speckled trout rigs. Tackle shops are reporting that rockfish of around 40 inches are taken around the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, the small boat channel of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the bridge-tunnel’s third and fourth islands.
“The bigger fish are [mostly caught] by those using live bait and are wire-lining along the bridges and tubes,” Ball said. “Plenty of snapper bluefish are also around, so keep that in mind when opting for plastics.”
- Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association in Virginia Beach said he and a few friends fished the Triangle Wrecks and hooked an abundance of trophy-size bluefish, including one by Charles Southall that weighed 21 1/2 pounds. Of the seven biggest bluefish they caught, the smallest weighed 16 1/2 pounds, and two others weighed 19 1/2 pounds. On Sunday, Neill went out again, this time with his wife, Tricia, and in the afternoon the fishing turned on big time. They jigged up big blues, including Tricia’s 19 1/2-pounder and another that weighed 19 1/4 pounds. Folks, those are huge bluefish.
- The tidal Potomac River’s feeder creeks, from the Nanjemoy up to Broad Creek and the Wilson Bridge’s Spoils Cove and adjacent Fox Ferry Point, are delivering a wide variety of fish right now. A smartly cast plastic grub, such as the 3-inch Mann’s Sting Ray, or a drop-shot rig with a 2- or 3-inch plastic Power Bait shiner will attract bass, crappies, stripers, carp, catfish, white perch and yellow perch. Where else is the fishing this productive? Nowhere around these parts.
- Ranger Smokey Davis said the Fountainhead Park facility on the popular Occoquan Reservoir is closed for the season.
“We will reopen around the middle of March 2009, weather permitting,” he said.
The front gate will remain open for the next two weeks, allowing fishermen to launch their own boats or fish from the pier or boardwalk. Boat, canoe or kayak rentals will not be available.
- From Marty Magone, who lives on the shores of Virginia’s Lake Gaston, comes word of good bass catches.
“The main lake areas have been slow, but the back ends of the feeder creeks have shad, and the bass are feeding on them,” he said. “Look for areas near the creek channel in about three to four feet of water. Shakyhead jig worms in pumpkinseed color and spinnerbaits have done the trick.”
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