- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003

From his St. Mary’s County shop, the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb says, “… big rockfish were caught all up and down the ships channel [in the Chesapeake Bay]. Trollers reported large specimens [outside of] the mouth of the Patuxent River, the PR and HI buoys, Marker 77, and the dropoffs off Cove Point.”

Lamb also points out that fat rockfish were present in the narrow channel between the Gas Docks and at Punch Island. The striper parade continued from Point No Point up to the Targets on the western side, and from Hooper’s Island south to the Virginia line on the eastern side of the bay. The mouth of the Potomac River and the waters just east of Point Lookout also saw good catches.

However, there seem to be no big concentrations of these fish in any particular spot. Scattered singles and doubles are the rule.

If the huge bait schools that are now near Smith Point, Va., make their way up to Maryland’s Middle Grounds and to the Point Lookout area in the next week, watch out for big-time rockfish action if it also coincides with a good cold front that stripers enjoy.

Umbrella rigs loaded with Sassy Shads in chartreuse or white are your best bet, but Lamb says big spoons, surgical eels, parachute bucktails and the like also will attract these sea-run stripers. Smaller breaking stripers are just about everywhere now, and beneath the younger, feeding rockfish you might find sea trout that can be hooked by jig bouncers.

From the Northern Neck of Virginia, captain Billy Pipkin reports that the jumbo rockfish, usually in full force by Thanksgiving, are slowly filtering into the region. Water temperatures stand at 57 degrees, a little warmer than last year this time. “Help is near as the cold front this week is expected to bring much needed chilly air,” says Pipkin.

Virginia’s stripers are found between the Cut Channel and Smith Point, as well as between Windmill Point and Wolftrap lights, the Cell and Cape Charles. On many occasions, the shallow areas are holding smaller fish than those found in the deeper channels. The best results have come along the edges of the shipping channel in 50 to 70 feet of water.

If you would like to know more about Pipkin, check his Web site, captbillyscharters.com.

River fishing can be good — In the upper Chesapeake region, the Susquehanna River and the Susquehanna Flats deliver enough stripers to make outings worthwhile.

The Potomac River Angler Club (PRAC) recently held its annual rockfish tournament out of Shymansky’s Marina on Cobb Island. A total of 43 boats fished the tournament, and captain Jeff Hammett, aboard the boat J-Days, won with a 343/4-inch-long striper that weighed 13.7 pounds. Meanwhile, lure casters report off-and-on success around the river points above the U.S. Route 301 bridge in Charles County.

The Potomac’s tidal water bass, however, can be hooked along drops and gravel bars, in sunken wood and trees or boat docks from the Nanjemoy Creek up to the Wilson Bridge area. The best bet for weekend anglers would be the Wilson Bridge vicinity, including some of the sunken barges outside the Spoils Cove, the back of Belle Haven Cove, Hog Island and the lower parts of Smoot Bay.

The upper, freshwater Potomac shows walleyes and smallmouth bass around dams Nos.4 and 5. Small crankbaits, jigs, tubes and plastic grubs can score. Liver or worm baits will draw channel catfish.

If it’s keeper-size tidal rockfish you want, don’t overlook the stripers that are cruising the shallows during moving tides. Try casting toward land spits and river points with Rat-L-Traps, Sassy Shads, bucktails, or surface poppers inside the lower to middle parts of the Choptank, Patuxent, Rappahannock and James rivers.

Ocean action — Maryland and Virginia offshore boats can’t go after bluefin tunas, even though they’re abundant now, but yellowfin tunas in the 25- to 40-pound range will give you a jolt if you can get out and the wind is kind. Closer to shore it’s mostly wreck fishing for sea bass and tautog.

First Sunday hunt since 1723

Heather Lynch, the public information officer for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, reminds us that Saturday marks the start of the firearms deer hunting season, and for the first time since 1723, Maryland hunters can go after deer on a Sunday.

Note, however, that Sunday hunting is limited to certain counties. A person may hunt whitetailed or sika deer on Sunday on private lands in Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s, Talbot, and Washington Counties.

Good luck and be extra careful.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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