- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2003

The first week of Maryland's trophy striper season is almost over and reports of catches range from fair to excellent. It all depends on who is talking. We'll say this much: During a trophy rockfish outing that began at 7a.m. Tuesday just east of the Radar Towers, we didn't get a strike on the umbrella rigs and all the chartreuse Sassy Shad bodies that dangled from them until noon. After that, it was one of those wonderful rockfish afternoons. The wind started blowing, the water began to roll, the boat started pitching a bit just the kind of weather the stripers like. Everybody got one rockfish over 28inches in length and the biggest of the day was a 36-incher that weighed 22pounds. It was wonderful.

Meanwhile, if it's croakers you're after, they're caught on bloodworm pieces, or squid strips, even small pieces of store-bought raw shrimp throughout the Southern Maryland waters, even up in the Bay around North Beach and one report had it that the mouth of the Choptank River gave up hardheads, as the locals call them. Best of all, my neighbor Dr. Peter Malnati, who lives on the shores of the Port Tobacco River, has caught some fine keepers that measured well over the required 9 inches. Several of his fish were in the 15-inch range. Anglers are finding croakers in the Port Tobacco, fishing from the Chapel Point State Park shoreline.

In the Northern Neck of Virginia, charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin reports bunches of croakers up to 15 inches long starting at the Rappahannock River around the White Stone bridge, up the Chesapeake to the Great Wicomico River and inside the Potomac to the Coan River. The Coan is on the Virginia side, but Marylanders in St. Mary's County who want action can get it from the Point Lookout Pier, the St. Mary's River, Piney Point and up at Bushwood in the Wicomico River, across from Cobb Island.

And how about 9-year-old Daniel Wells of Lutherville, Md., who went fishing with his uncle in the Phoenix Trail area of Gunpowder River and caught a 14-inch, 1 pound, 7 ounce white perch. The perch had an 11-inch girth and it qualified as a Maryland freshwater record. Good show, Daniel.

Locally, the Fletcher's Boat House area of the Potomac River, off Canal Road in Georgetown, continues to give up fine hickory shad even some white shad along with catfish, catch-and-release stripers, herring and occasional bass.

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