Gone Fishin' - Oct. 14, 1991

October 14, 1991                               By Charlie Taylor

Striper mania reached a peak this past week, as thousands of anglers, starved for a chance at catching this hard fighting fish, ventured forth on the local tidal waters. The harvesting of striped bass, banned by a moratorium for the past five years, was opened on a limited basis last fall. The response to the opening was so great that the season was closed after less than half the period, due to the entire anticipated catch having been made.

This year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has delayed the opening of the season, reduced the period of open season and reduced the limit of fish taken. This should allow most anglers the opportunity to catch these tasty fish.

While the Maryland season is slanted to charter boat operations, where it is felt that most anglers will experience the catch of a lifetime, recreational anglers are being slighted. The limit of two fish per day on charter boats and only two per season for recreational anglers, is felt to be a slap in the face to citizen anglers. Likewise, the charter boat season running until November 11, while private anglers must stop fishing on October 26. The information has been leaked that the recreational season will be reopened in early November with a two fish per day limit, with no tag required, but this is not official, and hence, may not happen.

Most of the action this past week was centered in the tidal rivers, as the normal humps, rockpiles, etc. in the bay, are not yet holding fish. The rockfish have started their Winter migration out of the freshwater creeks into the rivers, on their way to the Bay, but warm water temperatures have kept them in the rivers. Most seasoned watermen expect the fishing can only improve as the water temperatures drop.

Currently, most of the success experienced by local anglers seems to be centered in the Cobb Island, Md.-Colonial Beach, Va. portion of the Potomac River. A large number of Chesapeake Bay captains have moved their charter boats up the river for the rockfish season. Among them is perennial favorite, Captain Eddie Davis, who has moved Miss Valerie and Edith Rose to Shymansky's Marina at Cobb Island. Captain Davis relates that his boats have been averaging 75-80 fish per boat this past week, with each person taking home a limit of two rockfish. Rates are $325 for six persons, with an additional charge for each passenger over six. Openings are available. Contact Captain Davis at (301) 872-5871.

For those anglers opting to fish from private boats, look for the fish to be located on uneven, hard bottom, adjacent to deeper water. Rocks, oyster beds, grass beds, etc. should be available to provide food for the fish. Rips at the mouths of creeks or around structure will also hold the fish, particularly on flood tides.

Although most larger fish are caught on live bait, such as shad, eels, jumbo minnows, etc., larger numbers are taken on artificial baits. Some of the better baits are white bucktails, artificial eels, chrome spoons, Shad Raps, Sassy Shads and the ultimate Potomac River striper bait; the Rebel FasTrac jointed minnow, with Guanine finish. This minnow-shaped bait is perfect for both casting and trolling. It dives 5-7 feet on 12 pound line and the "G" finish attracts big stripers from long distances. The finish on this bait appears to be three feet deep and the bait glows when sunlight hits it. Evidently fish can see it well, even in low light conditions, as some of these fish take the bait within one hour before dawn.

Enforcement of the striped bass regulations is the responsibility of the D. C. Harbor Police in D. C., Natural Resources Police in Maryland, Marine Resources Police and Game and Inland Fisheries Wardens in Virginia, and all of the above in the Potomac River. Do not make the mistake of thinking that a Virginia Game Warden or DNR officer cannot ticket you in the main stem of the Potomac River. They can, and will.

Good fishin....