- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2005

Local fishing guide Dale Knupp passed along an interesting item from a friend who was trying to hook rockfish around the Potomac River’s Morgantown Power Plant in Charles County. Knupp said his pal went to the power plant’s warm-water discharge twice on Saturday.

“He didn’t catch a thing the first time, but during the second go-round caught a couple of 18-inch keepers,” Knupp said.

“The stripers obviously haven’t stacked up there yet, but the watermen already have their nets out. My friend watched them pull up the nets and they only had some gizzard shad and no stripers. Doesn’t that tell you something about the shape of the striper population in the river when a netter can’t even catch one?”

Don’t forget — The Maryland Chesapeake Bay rockfish keeper season ends today. However, in Virginia it’s not over. From the Northern Neck, charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (www.captbillyscharters.com, 804/580-7292) said Virginia boaters are landing more striped bass from the Cell to the upper Cut Channel.

“They’re in the 34- to 44-inch range, and they continue to enter the bay from the ocean,” Pipkin said. “A few 40-pound-class stripers are being caught as far north as Smith Point.”

Catches are possible if you’re patient and remember the water temperatures are in the mid 40s throughout the region.

Lower bay and ocean delivers — Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association down in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk corridor, reported: “You have two choices when heading out after rockfish. You could run south along the [Atlantic] coast where there has been a fantastic bite of mostly 30-something-inch fish. Big bluefish are available in the same area, or you could go in the other direction. If you do, you have a much greater chance of not catching anything but you also have had the chance at a monster rockfish.”

Neill said stripers from 40 to nearly 60 pounds have been caught in the Chesapeake Bay, from the Eastern Shore side up to the Cut Channel.

Big rockfish also have come to trolled lures in the nearby waters of the Atlantic, from Fisherman’s Island to Wachapreague. Then there are the bluefin tuna in the 60- to 100-pound class that continue to pass by the Virginia coast. Closer to land, sea bass are available on the ocean wrecks, while the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and other lower bay structures, such as the Cape Henry wreck, deliver tautogs.

On Monday, two Peninsula fishermen, Bob Allen and Jack Lawson, found working birds on the ocean side of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel between the second and third islands and began to fish. They caught 50 stripers up to 30 inches long.

Record smallmouth reinstated — After an intense investigation of documents, many from 50 years ago, the International Game Fish Association, which maintains world records for both freshwater and saltwater game fishes, has reinstated a record for the biggest smallmouth bass ever caught.

While fishing Dale Hollow Lake on the Tennessee/Kentucky line in July 1955, Kentuckian David Hayes caught an 11-pound, 15-ounce smallmouth that measured 27 inches long. Field & Stream magazine — at the time the keeper of freshwater records — granted Hayes the world record for heaviest smallmouth bass ever taken with a rod and reel. In 1978, when the IGFA took over freshwater record keeping from Field & Stream, it gave a world all-tackle record to Hayes.

On August 17, 1955, unbeknownst to Field & Stream or the IGFA, Raymond Barlow submitted an affidavit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating that Hayes’ fish had only weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces, and that three pounds of metal had been stuffed in the fish’s mouth and stomach to make it a record.

It wasn’t until 40 years later when the affidavit was uncovered that the IGFA was informed about the sworn statement. Consequently, in 1996, the IGFA rescinded Hayes’ record and a 10-pound, 14-ounce smallmouth caught by John Gorman in 1969, also on Dale Hollow Lake, was recognized as the IGFA All-Tackle record.

Recent documentation, however, including polygraph results, was supplied to the IGFA indicating Hayes’ fish was never tampered with. His record has now been reinstated.

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



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