- The Washington Times - Friday, May 31, 2002

The only bad note we're sounding this week is the apparent lack of sufficient numbers of black drum in the Chesapeake Bay areas where they're supposed to be this time of year. We gave it a shot earlier this week and even had one on the hook for a few seconds, but the big brute shook it, and that was it. Neighboring boats fared as poorly. Still, they should bite big-time over the next several weeks because we know they're coming into the Sharps Island and Stone Rock sector of the Bay, which is a fairly straight run east of Chesapeake Beach, to the other side of the ship channel, usually in less than 30 feet of water. They'll munch on a bottom-rigged soft crab attached to a 6/0 or 7/0 hook. Pork chop-sized pieces cut from the fillets of black drum are delectable. Do an egg batter/seasoned flour deal and fry the drum slices in a well-oiled skillet.

If it's rockfish you want, that shouldn't be a problem. From the Bay Bridges near Annapolis down to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel close to Norfolk, you'll catch striped bass of various sizes. In fact, the entire Chesapeake currently provides a smorgasbord of fish catches this week. In its southern-most portions you'll hook spadefish, flounder, bluefish, stripers, sea trout, channel bass (redfish), croakers, spot, a few northward-migrating black drum and cobia. As you near the Maryland line, it will be mostly rockfish, croakers and increasing numbers of sea trout and bluefish with the Eastern Shore side of the Bay delivering black drum but normally only in tightly confined areas.

Spinnerbaits and plastic worms have done well on the largemouth bass in the tidal Potomac River, while the upper, mountain sectors of the Potomac, James and Rappahannock rivers again are under a "muddy water" watch because of strong rains that fell earlier this week. With a little luck, these smallmouth bass rivers will be fishable by tomorrow and Sunday.

Ocean anglers, particularly those who run to the distant offshore waters of Virginia and North Carolina, are finding a few marlin, some tuna and a sure harbinger of summer dolphinfish. Surf anglers connect on stripers, bluefish, some flounder and croakers.

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