Striped bass bonanza could be on way


You may have to do a little traveling or put some innovation into your techniques, but the striped-bass fishing continues to be good and promises to border on the terrific later in the month and into June.

Last Monday morning, I fished the Chesapeake a bit south of Bloody Point with Capt. Gordon Haegerich (410-255-5792) and his brother, Bruce. I always enjoy fishing with Gordon, because he is a professional who truly loves to fish. In fact, this was his day off, so naturally he went fishing.

"We can troll off the main channel for awhile if you guys want," he said as the Casey J made her way out of Kentmoor Marina, on Kent Island. "I picked up a 38-incher with yesterday's party, but I have a feeling we might do surprisingly well by chumming."

Gordon had mentioned the idea to me the night before, so I had packed a light-action spinning rod and reel in the car and was quick to speak up: "Captain, I think trolling is about as interesting as watching grass grow in the middle of an August drought. Let's go chumming."

Bruce Haegerich quickly seconded the idea, and Gordon confessed that he had a bushel of bait-fish on board, knowing that was the way we would vote.

By 7 a.m., we had made the run to just below Bloody Point, and 30 minutes later, Gordon hooked and released the first fish of the day, a plump 26-incher. Almost before he could get his baited hook back into the chum line spreading behind the boat, Bruce and I also battled a pair to the side -- both healthy, fat 18-inch fish.

Through June 14, anglers are permitted to keep a single rockfish measuring a minimum of 28 inches. From June 15 through the scheduled end of the summer striped bass season -- July 12 -- the minimum size drops to 18 inches and the daily possession increases to two stripers daily.

Last year, I caught more rock longer than 24 inches throughout June and early July than during the spring season.

For the most part, we were using alewives for chum and bait, though chunks of herring did just as well. The water temperature was 61 degrees and at a gathering of experienced anglers at a Tilghman Island banquet that evening, just about everyone was surprised that I had successfully chummed in such cool water.

Monday morning found me with no keeper, though I, too, managed to hook and release another 26-incher. But we caught in excess of 50 striped bass inside of about four hours of fishing.

From Kent Island, I went to Tilghman Island for the annual Buddy Harrison Pro-Am Fishing Tournament. This was my 15th year of participation in what has turned into a rite of spring for me.

I was pleased to be assigned to the Dawn Marie, captained by one of the best, John Motovidlak (410-886-2529), on Tuesday morning. Others assigned to fish with me were Jim Furlong and John Pazdernak, both from the south Carroll area; John Meyers and Jess Koch from Pittsburgh, and Quentin Moulsdale of Ocean City.

"We're going to have to run a ways because these fish have left the Choptank," the captain said. "Our best bet is from the area of Solomon's Island and south. Sunday, I had a party of four down on the Clay Banks, and they limited out with 118 pounds of striped bass."

Captain John decided on the 45-minute run to Solomon's, while the other nine boats in the tournament opted for a two-hour ride to the area of the Potomac River.

We set our 10 trolling lines rigged with umbrella rigs in 55-60 feet of 62-degree water, and in no time John Meyers reeled in a 26-inch fish that was quickly returned to the water.

Minutes later, Furlong wrestled aboard a 34-incher that went into the cooler. I was next up and was rewarded with a very plump, 17-pound rockfish that measured 32 inches. We had been fishing less than an hour.

Thirty minutes later, Koch caught what turned out to be the best fish of the day, a 40-inch striper that tipped the weigh-in scales at 35 pounds.

Pazdernak was the next to hit a keeper, another 32-inch fish, and then there was nothing for two hours. That's when Meyers came up with a keeper measuring 30 inches.

Finally, late in the afternoon after four throwbacks, Moulsdale conceded that it just wasn't his day, and we turned for home.

Pub Date: 5/13/98

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