The fall season for rockfish in Maryland opens tomorrow, and many anglers will throttle up and head for the mainstem of the Chesapeake Bay. But there are rock spots with potential closer to home.
And a large, fast boat isn't necessary, and when the weather turns bad there always is shelter nearby.
Whether trolling, chumming, casting or jigging, a check of the navigation charts of the area to be fished can get you started.
In the fall, river rockfish are a good possibility in and around the deeper holes, where they are likely to gather during the bright hours of the day early in the season. In the low-light hours those same rockfish are likely to move up over the edge to feed.
In the Middle River area, Hart and Miller island should hold rock in the fall season, with Drum Point, the mouth of Browns Creek, Hawthorne Cove and the holes and humps north of Hart-Miller good possibilities.
Not to be overlooked is the Patapsco River, where rockfish can be caught even in the Inner Harbor. When the Columbus Cup was sailed on the river in past Octobers, during breaks in the action, rockfish were frequently caught from rocky rip rap, marina pilings, old dry-dock walls, the drop-offs at Fort McHenry and Carroll Island and Key Bridge.
Possibilities in the Magothy include the holes and humps off Mountain Point, the 12- to 15-foot edge inside Gibson Island, the 10- to 18-foot basin south of North Ferry Point, and the mouth of Deep Creek.
In the Annapolis area, the rock walls around the Naval Academy athletic fields, where the Severn River and Spa Creek meet, are a good bet, as is the deep hole between the mouth of Back Creek and the shoal marker adjacent to the main river channel.
At the mouth of the Severn, rockfish to 30 inches have been present all summer, with the 20- to 25-foot depths along the north edge of the river channel entrance usually reliable.
The fall season runs through Nov. 17, with a minimum size of 18 inches and a limit of two fish per day. Fishing hours are 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Upper Chesapeake Bay -- Catfish action continues to dominate here, with the head of the bay, the Elk and North East rivers, Tolchester and Poole's Island good choices. White perch fishing continues to be good, with the Bay Bridge pilings, the lumps off the western shore from the Magothy into the Patapsco and the lower Chester River good choices. Inconsistent bluefish action from Love Point to the Bay Bridge.
Middle Chesapeake Bay -- Large white perch hitting from the mouth of the West River to Tolley Point and north toward Hacketts over shell bottoms. Bluefish action has been catch-as-catch-can, with fast-moving schools reported most frequently at the Diamonds, Clay Bank and Gooses. Sea trout, croaker and spot action has been erratic, but the Diamonds is a good bet in the evenings.
Lower Chesapeake Bay -- Sea trout to 20 inches are abundant but moving often. Lower Tangier Sound, the Mud Leads, Middle Grounds, Kedges Straits and Buoy 74 are good choices. Middle Grounds also the best bet for bluefish to 24 inches, which might be encountered throughout the area.
Susquehanna River -- Catfish action good on clam snouts. Smallmouth bass to 18 inches on crankbaits or minnows.
Tidal Potomac River -- Recent rains have river murky, but creek backs and the downstream edges of eddies created by shoreline breaks should produce largemouth bass.
Liberty Reservoir -- Good smallmouth bass action off rocky drops and near shoreline cover adjacent to deeper water. Striped bass action mostly for smaller fish, and crappie and white perch action slow.
Prettyboy Reservoir -- White perch tightly schooled but moving and hard to find. Smallmouth bass action good.
Loch Raven Reservoir -- Largemouth bass active around weed beds and white perch schooled over deeper channels.
Deep Creek Lake -- Smallmouth bass action improving, with some catches reaching 18 inches. Bluegill and yellow perch around piers and docks.
Non-tidal Potomac River -- Before the rains, catfish action was fair and smallmouth anglers were catching mostly smaller fish.
Ocean City -- Inshore, flounder from the channel behind the Convention Center to the commercial harbor. Increasing numbers of sea trout in the back bays up to the Route 90 bridge. Small blues, sea trout and rockfish at the inlet piers. Small sea trout and small blues in the surf. Flounder along the edges a mile offshore and croaker and sea trout schooled at Great Gull and Little Gull shoals. Offshore, chunkers have been doing well or yellowfin tuna at the Hot Dog and Ham Bone. Small dolphin around the bass pots.
Pub Date: 8/29/96