- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Maryland portions of the Chesapeake Bay will be a beehive of activity Saturday when the trophy rockfish season gets under way. Test runs by charter and private boats have shown a good presence of soon-to-spawn female stripers that have come into the Bay from the ocean. Catch-and-release trollers so far have noted that umbrella rigs with multiple chartreuse Sassy Shad bodies have been favored by the fish.

The trophy season runs Saturday through May 13. Anglers may keep one rockfish a day, but it has to measure 28 inches or more. The rockfish catches must stop May 14 and 15, but the regular resident striper season begins May 16 and will continue through Dec. 15, when two fish of at least 18 to 28 inches or one 18- to 28-inch striper and one of more than 28 inches will be legal.

Meanwhile, catch-and-release rockfish hookups on the Susquehanna Flats in the northern parts of the Chesapeake have been good. Small-boaters who cast chartreuse or white 6- and 9-inch Bass Assassin and Striper Kandy bodies pierced to lead-headed jig hooks can score.

Warm sun brings croakers — Charles County’s Peter Malnati echoes the Tackle Box’s Ken Lamb concerning the arrival of croakers in the Wicomico River.

“Two friends phoned me from their boat, and while I talked to one of them, the other shouted, ‘You have a fish on your line.’ It was a 17-inch croaker,” Malnati said.

Others were caught as well. George Quade of Quade’s Store in Bushwood (St. Mary’s County) reported croakers, and some fine catfish have been hooked from the pier next to his store.

Lamb said he has heard of anglers within sight of the store who have caught as many as 15 of the “hardheads” using bloodworms, squid strips and even fresh cut bait. Farther into the river, the Chaptico Landing area also has turned up the tasty fish.

Rattle up a Potomac bass — Rat-L-Traps, Strike King’s Red-Eye or Sugar Shad — all will work on the tidal Potomac’s largemouths. The main stem and most creeks show steadily emerging vegetation, and all you need to do is cast the lipless rattlers across such emerging weeds and, bang, a bass is on.

Occoquan bass ready to spawn — With longer daylight hours and water temperatures nearing 60 degrees, buck bass are moving into the creeks and staking out spawning areas, says Smokey Davis, the park ranger at Fountainhead Regional Park.

“With warming temperatures later in the week, look for the bigger females to move up with them,” Davis said. “Buzzbaits early in the morning and Texas-rigged lizards and jig’n’pigs have taken some very quality fish this past week, but the crappie bite remains a mystery. Catfish are being caught on cut bait and clam snouts.”

Lake Gaston bass active — From Lake Gaston on the North Carolina-Virginia border, Marty Magone, who has the unnerving habit of sending photos while wearing a Dallas Cowboys cap to a Redskins fan like me, hooked a bunch of bass and one 21-pound carp on spinnerbaits. The bass also go for lipless rattle baits.

Fly and light tackle contest — Ready to test your fishing skills June 7? That’s when the annual Coastal Conservation Association Maryland Kent Narrows Fly & Light Tackle Tournament will be held from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Participants must be members of the CCA. Tournament boundaries are from Rock Hall to Cedar Point. There will be prizes in light tackle and fly-fishing divisions, and tournament shirts will be given to all contestants. The entry fee is $30. Refreshments and food will be available at the Jetty Beachside, Kent Narrows. For more information call Ed Liccione, 410/829-5771; for information about the CCA MD, contact Brooke McDonald at 888/758-6580.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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