- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chesapeake Bay boaters who know how, when and where to go after quality striped bass are beginning to salivate in anticipation of the arrival of ocean rockfish - and that’s where the fun begins. There are fishing insiders who swear the only way to tell a new rockfish that has come in from the Atlantic is to check for the presence of sea lice in the gills, but marine biologists don’t always agree with that.

Gill lice are a commonly found parasite of coastal and inland striped bass populations, but the scientists say the presence of this parasite actually decreases if the fish lives in waters that reach salinity levels of 32 parts per thousand or more. In other words, ocean stripers actually should not play host to those critters. Either way, local striper fishermen now talk about sea lice.

Meanwhile, 40-inch-plus trophy specimens are not yet in the Maryland waters, but plenty of good-sized rockfish are found at the Cedar Point rock pile (around the old lighthouse foundation) and many other spots. Ken Lamb said boaters and even some shoreline anglers are hooking stripers up and down the Patuxent and Potomac rivers. The same goes for the Choptank River mouth and the False Channel. From the upper Bay down to the Calvert Cliffs sector, expect a good mix of bluefish and 18- to 20-inch stripers.

Just in time for the reopening of the Virginia striper season Sunday, the waters of the Northern Neck are showing good numbers of rockfish, as is the mouth of the Rappahannock River. Down at the mouth of the Chesapeake, Julie Ball reported that the fall season’s red drum (aka redfish, channel bass) procession is gaining momentum.

“Good catches continue to come from the lower Bay and coastal waters,” Ball said. “Surf and pier anglers are camping out along the Virginia Beach shorelines with [heavy-duty surf rods] and cut bait, anticipating the first run of big channel bass off Sandbridge.”

Ball said inshore boaters along the Eastern Shore barrier islands are finding good redfish action as the fish hunt for food in the breakers and white water.

Tidal bass do their thing - Other than spring, you couldn’t pick a better month than October for tidal river bass. Crankbaits, plastic worms, topwater poppers and spinnerbaits now can score heavily. Remember that many of the larger fish appear to have moved from dense weeds and marsh edges to shoreline wood, such as submerged branches, trees or docks. It’s fall, and that means a small bass migration to new quarters.

This was true two days ago in the Potomac River’s Mattawoman Creek, and it should hold for the other feeders as well. Unfortunately, high winds prevented me from checking all of them.

Potomac trout stocking - The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said the catch-and-release season in the delayed-harvest trout-fishing areas begins Thursday and the upper North Branch Potomac River and Youghiogheny River should have received generous deposits of trout by Thursday. Other delayed-harvest trout areas include Western Maryland’s Casselman River and Town Creek. The put-and-take trout fishing areas of Bear Creek, Savage River, Wills Creek and Evitts Creek will be stocked during October.

Occoquan shows action - Ranger Smokey Davis of Fountainhead Regional Park said a Fountainhead Bass Club tournament was won with six bass weighing 20 1/2 pounds. “The fish were caught in the Bull Run arm of the reservoir on Shaky-Head jig worms,” Davis said. “The biggest fish weighed 5.92 pounds.” As the weather cools, the bass are moving into the creeks such as Wolf Run, Ax Handle and Little Beaver, Davis said. Shallow running crankbaits have worked, as have spinnerbaits and Senko worms. “The fall crappie bite is just beginning,” he said.

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. Also check out Mueller’s weekend fishing report and his Inside Outside blog at washingtontimes.com/sports.

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