Rockfish fever seems to be fading a bit as we enter the last two weeks of the recreational season on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and part of the reason may be that the catch rate is down from last year.
If your rock season has been like mine, there have been some very good days during the week and some very bad days on weekends when boat traffic and fishing pressure have been heavy.
During these last two weeks of the season, while the weather gets colder, more and more occasional fishermen will put away their boats, convinced that the chill of autumn mornings and evenings is not worth enduring for the opportunity to catch one rockfish (striped bass) per day.
They will be wrong, because some of the best fishing for bigger fish will be late in the season, once the rock are well schooled up and feeding heavily before winter.
The later season also is a time when the stripers are likely to be found at any level of the water column and can be especially aggressive when chasing baitfish on the surface. As the water temperature drops, they know that they must build up body reserves for the coming winter.
Keith Walters, once a maniacal striper fisherman and who for a while held the state record for rockfish, has written a booklet that can be of great help to fishermen who have yet to consistently get their piece of the rock.
It is called "Catching Striped Bass, Modern Tackle and Techniques" and costs $3.95. Within its 43 pages are explanations of how and why everything from heavy trolling tackle to fly rods should be used.
So, if you are feeling frustrated, Walters' booklet may help you straighten the problems out in time for what could be some of the best fishing of the season.
Stoney Forest permits
Stoney Forest in Harford County will be open to 10 hunters per day during the 13 days of deer firearms season between Nov. 27 and Dec. 11. The hunters will be picked by a lottery at 9 a.m. Nov. 10.
Permit applications or information on the Stoney Forest hunt may be obtained at the DNR Regional Service Center in Bel Air or by calling (410) 836-4551. Completed applications must be received the service center by 4 p.m. Nov. 9.
A permit will be required for hunters wishing to hunt McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Montgomery County Nov. 27, opening day of deer firearms season this year. DNR has set a limit of 80 permits for opening day, and hunters will be selected by lottery at 10 a.m. Nov. 12.
Applications and information may be obtained by writing the the Seneca District Wildlife Division office, 11960 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, Md. 20878.
Applications must be received at the office before the time of the drawing.