- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Thanksgiving Day weekend can deliver good fishing action, but it depends on the waters you choose. Of course, unknown factors like sudden high winds, rain showers or severely dropping temperatures can affect your chances of hooking something. But always remember that bad weather often affects humans more than it does fish.

In the Maryland portions of the Chesapeake Bay, anglers continue to catch large, ocean-size striped bass. Lexington Park’s Ken Lamb said: “Trollers found plenty of rockfish all up and down the ship channel this week. The blustery days were best as the rockfish seem to love the rough and tumble of high winds even though it is miserable for the boaters.”

He is right. I’ve found rockfish to enjoy the kind of rotten weather normally preferred only by ducks.

Lamb said the better fishing seemed to be moving south toward the 72a and 72 buoys, but he warned that time and patience are required by the trollers before they can catch their limits. The same points were made by charter captain Jeff Popp, who takes clients into the lower Maryland Bay parts from his St. Jerome’s Creek berth at Buzz’s Marina in St. Mary’s County.

“We’ll catch fish eventually, but you need to be willing to hunt awhile before you hook some good fish,” he said.

Big stripers also have been hooked below the HS buoy and off the Targets on the western side of the Bay while many boats around the HI buoy and northern waters did not fare well. Don’t give up, though. For example, a lot of rockfish showed up north of the Gas Docks around Parker’s Creek over the past weekend. They should still be in the area, and one happy fisherman said the Potomac can turn up decent rockfish as far up as the Route 301 bridge. The river, however, sees many off days that send boaters home empty-handed.

Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association in the lower Virginia parts of the Bay said rockfish are the top quarry now.

“There are a lot of school-sized fish available,” Neill said. “The James River crossings are very productive, and there are a lot of fish at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. More large fish are showing up all of the time.”

Neill said some decent 44- to 45-inch stripers are taken at the Bridge-Tunnel’s third and fourth islands and at the high-rise section.

“The first reports of large fish at the Concrete Ships [also] occurred this week,” he said but added numbers weren’t big just yet. However, some rockfish 40 inches and bigger were in the area. Many more ocean stripers are on their way.

If you’re heading to the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, be reminded that fat tautogs are hooked there. In addition, local anglers say the lower Bay and adjacent oceanfront are offering the best speckled trout action in history.

“The bite has been good all along the western shore of the Bay from the Mobjack Bay area on around to Rudee Inlet,” Neill said. “Rudee Inlet and the Elizabeth River have been particularly hot with a lot of large trout caught.”

- Front Royal’s Dick Fox says he has been catching some fine crappies in the Shenandoah River.

“I’ve had a number that measured over 14 inches. I fished Sunday and was breaking thin ice going down the river. The water temperature was 33 degrees,” he said.

- Anne Arundel County’s Bob and Pam Lunsford completed their annual pre-Thanksgiving Day ritual, traveling to the Coosaw River near Beaufort, S.C., to go after redfish (aka red drum, channel bass or smaller specimens known as puppy drum).

“We fished with Richard Sykes of Bay Street Outfitters in Beaufort [baystreetoutfitters.com],” Lunsford said. “He’s one of the easiest-going guides I’ve ever been with, and he put us on fish on a day when the wind and tide were opposing each other and bright sun made fishing for mere mortals like us difficult at best.”

The Lunsfords used Carolina popping corks and live shrimp or minnows. “Circle hooks were all we used,” Lunsford said. “In four hours of fishing along a stretch of oyster beach, we caught 12 reds from 3 to 6 pounds.”

Incidentally, Pam Lunsford outfished her husband.

cLook for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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