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By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Shad Landing
Atlantic croakers finally have decided to show up in Southern Maryland waters. The species is a warm-weather favorite for thousands of local saltwater anglers who use two-hook bottom rigs, baited with pieces of (very expensive) bloodworms, peeler crab, or more reasonably priced squid and small, uncooked grocery store shrimp.
Now that the catching of 18-inch striped bass is legal anywhere south of the Hart-Miller dike in the northern Chesapeake Bay, most Maryland boaters are delighted simply because the large trophy stripers that had to measure at least 28 inches have not been the easiest fish to find of late. Incidentally, the 18-inch rockfish also are legal in Virginia's Bay waters.
If you're among the hundreds of boaters trying to troll up a 28-inch-or-longer striped bass during Maryland's current trophy rockfish season, don't be upset if you come back to port without the fish you're after.
In some parts of our region fishing could not be better, but biologists are concerned that the shortage of precipitation might affect spawning activities of certain fish, including smallmouth bass in such rivers as Virginia's Rappahannock and Maryland's Potomac.
A little more than a week ago, when water and air temperatures were unusually warm, there were fears that, like the largemouth bass, the striped bass of the Chesapeake Bay would arrive sooner than normal and begin their spawning run.
April is a time of year when most fish species begin to think of reproducing. Piscatorial love is in the air, or rather in the water.
The time has come when many of our area's warm-weather fishermen begin to stash away their boats and tackle. However, hard-nosed anglers who prefer to seek their quarry in the Chesapeake Bay, the tidal rivers of Maryland and Virginia, as well as the not-too-distant Atlantic Ocean, are not giving up - not by a long shot.
Rain might raise the water levels of mountain rivers, but Western Maryland fishermen don't believe it can stop them from going after smallmouth bass in the Potomac.
Can you feel the difference in the air and water? Both are cooler and because of the ever-so-welcome autumn temperatures the fishing for certain species will improve with every passing day. This is particularly true of largemouth bass, stripers and blue catfish in Maryland and Virginia.
Generally speaking, the weekend outlook for local anglers of all stripes appears to be good in spite of renewed rains in some areas. Much of the precipitation has been strongly localized. For example, a cloudburst in parts of Frederick County on Tuesday muddied a Potomac feeder. But the Monocacy, the waters above the rain-soaked area, was in good enough shape for smallmouth bass fishermen. In fact, the Washington County portions have given up good numbers of bass, even a few heavy walleyes.
Every saltwater fisherman from New England to New Jersey by now has heard that a potential world record striped bass (aka rockfish or striper) of 81.88 pounds was caught by Greg Myerson, of North Branford, Conn.
Good news for Chesapeake Bay boaters who haven't enjoyed decent sea trout fishing in some years.
We'll stick our neck way out and predict that the recent rain and wind (even tornado warnings) that visited the Washington area will not affect the weekend fishing.
"Everybody complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it," a tongue-in-cheek Mark Twain said long, long ago. The sad fact is that our area's anglers would love to change the weather, but, alas, they can't.
For anglers who live in the nation's capital and the surrounding suburban counties of Maryland and Virginia, things are about to break wide open even though the weather hasn't been very cooperative.
"If sight fishing isn't your particular sporting style, try nearby staging areas with crankbaits and spinnerbaits and give the next bass generation a fair chance," he added.
He also said that the crappie fishing has been pretty good for numbers, but not great for size this past week, with the best crappie fishing found up-lake in the North Anna branch.