October 5, 1992 By Charlie Taylor
When striper season opens, phone calls from anglers wishing to catch these magnificent fish occupy a lot of time. This year is no different. During the past week, no fewer than fourteen anglers called wanting to go fishing. Accordingly, a trip was set for Sunday with three anglers anxious to battle some hard fishing fish.
We decided to head for the lower reaches of the Potomac River as there are more stripers available and the salinity is greater, making it easier for the fish to survive the process of catch and release. We headed out into the Potomac River to an area where someone had built a wooden seawall and multiple wood breakwaters along the shore. The water in the area was 2-5 feet deep, with an oyster bar at the upper end. We originally began casting around the breakwaters with Rat-L-Traps, varying the retrieve. Other than catching clam and mussel shells on the bottom, the only action came from small flounder chasing the baits back to the boat.
Moving further out from the shore, we began casting into deeper water and immediately hooked up. On four successive casts, we hooked four fish. Unfortunately, hooks pulled out of the first two, the line broke on the third and only the fourth fish was landed. It was a good fight, however, which only set the stage for the balance of the day. Continuing to fan cast the deeper water off the oyster bar, we continued to catch stripers. Most of the fish were in the 14-20 inch class, not keeper fish, but lots of fun. In addition, there was always the chance of catching a larger fish.
As the tide slowed, the action also slowed and we decided to try another spot. We had seen a small creek mouth on our way up the river, and decided to try the outgoing tide at the mouth of the creek. This turned out to be a great move. Arriving at the creek mouth, we noticed that the creek broadened out into a shallow bay, that should hold baitfish. We headed into the bay, noted the channels and fished the humps and bars throughout the bay.
We were throwing Rat-L-Traps and picking up shells from the bottom in the slow moving tide. As the tidal movement increased, fish were noted chasing baitfish across the bars. The Rat-L-Traps began to do their job, luring fish after fish to the baits. At this point, we switched to Rebel FasTrak Minnows with "G" finish. The first cast produced a keeper sized striper, as did almost every cast thereafter. A couple of exceptions were a pair of one pound white perch. One hookup produced a fish that came through the water jumping up and down. I mentioned that "this is one wild fish", when I noticed that the fish was not a striper, but a two pound flounder. This flatfish must have been very hungry to take a six inch plastic minnow.
We continued to cast the lures across the bars, taking fish on every other cast. The fish ranged from 6-15 pounds, with the majority being 7-10 pounds. For the entire three hour period following the flood tide, stripers were chasing bait throughout the bay. We continued to catch fish until the tide slowed. At this point, we were concerned about getting out of the creek mouth while there was still enough water to do so. Even then, our trolling motor props were churning the bottom and we had to rock the boat to get out.
Much to our surprise, the wind was blowing and the sky was dark grey. This was the "mostly sunny" our weatherman had predicted for the day. Rain was called for on Sunday night or Monday. Once again, the prediction was right on the money, as we had just taken the boats out of the water at about 1:00 p.m. when the sky fell out.
For those of you who are considering fishing for stripers, try small bays or coves off the main river, with rockpiles or bars breaking the tidal movement. These areas will concentrate the baitfish, bringing stripers in to feed on them. Casting to these fish will provide lots of fun. Remember to use needlenose pliers to unhook the fish in the water by holding onto the hook shank and twisting. This will help to eliminate stress on the fish.