Bay, horizons expand for rock anglers


Tomorrow at 5 a.m., the entire main stem of the Chesapeake Bay opens for striped bass fishing, and upper-bay anglers can begin to get their piece of the rock without making the run south to waters below Brewerton Channel at the mouth of the Patapsco River.

Since the spring rockfish season opened at the end of April, the main stem above Brewerton Channel has been closed to anglers targeting rockfish (striped bass).

According to statistics for the last few years from the Department of Natural Resources, and biological trends this season, the first two or three weeks of June could provide excellent fishing for stripers, even though the 28-inch minimum will remain in effect through June 14.

Martin L. Gary, who tracks recreational and charterboat catches for DNR's Fisheries Service, said last week that rockfish catches have been sporadic in the areas immediately below Brewerton Channel.

"But that could change sooner than anyone thinks," Gary said.

"The past three years have found some of the hottest fishing on the Chesapeake at the mouth of the Chester River from mid-June through the July 4 weekend -- and we are not just talking about numbers of fish, but size, too."

Up to this point, with the closure in effect, the best striper action has been at Swan Point and below Baltimore Light, DNR reports, but trolling has been hit or miss and chumming has turned up rockfish largely under the 28-inch minimum.

However, during this El Nino spring, fishing in the bay has been ahead of schedule, and perhaps that will translate to an excellent early June in upper-bay waters.

"Large numbers of stripers in the 26- to 34-inch class have shown up off Swan and Love points beginning around the second week of June in each of the last three years," Gary said. "With everything seemingly running ahead of schedule by two weeks this spring, we may just see the fishing break out in this area in the next two weeks."

Starting June 15, an expanded summer season for stripers opens, with a minimum length of 18 inches and a creel limit of two a day. During the summer season, which runs until July 12, all Maryland tidal waters are open for rockfish.

Chumming is popular and productive during the late spring and summer season, but also can result in serious injury to under-sized fish that are deeply hooked and then released. The use of circle hooks has proved to greatly reduce such injuries and usually results in a lip-hooked fish that is more easily released.

Rock Hall tournament

Friday through next Sunday, the third-annual rockfish tournament will be fished out of Rock Hall in Kent County on the Eastern Shore, with more than $20,000 in cash and prizes disbursed to winners from first to 20th place.

First prize is worth $10,000.

The competition is a pro-am event open to all anglers and licensed guides. The entry fees are $100 a day per recreational boat and $125 a day for licensed fishing guides, with or without charter.

Entries are limited to 200 boats a day. Fishing will start at 5 a.m., and fish must be checked in by 4 p.m. at Rock Hall Harbor.

Daily weigh-ins will begin at 11 a.m. each day. Winners will be announced a week from today at 5: 30 p.m.

The entry deadline is Friday.

For more information, call 410-269-6622.

Pub Date: 5/31/98

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