A great time to do some fish­ing

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake

I’m not a big fan of bucket lists, mainly be­cause I’m still con­vinc­ing my­self I’m far too young to be mak­ing one. But re­cently a list came across my email in­box that got me think­ing about mak­ing one. This list is the 2016 top 100 fam­ily fish­ing and boat­ing spots in the United States as voted by more than 650,000 en­thu­si­asts across our na­tion.

As­sateague State Park was the only lo­ca­tion in Mary­land to make the list at num­ber 74. Our neighbor, Vir­ginia, made the rank­ing at num­bers 91 (Smith Moun­tain Lake) and 93 (Lake Anna).

I’ve been fish­ing in quite a few of the places on the list, but many of those trips took place when I was a kid. So now it’s my turn to start plan­ning some mem­o­rable fish­ing trips for my own kids. Lake Lack­awanna in Penn­syl­va­nia (num­ber 43) ranks first on my list of new fish­ing spots to visit with my fam­ily.

I’m pretty fa­mil­iar with this area, as my Great Aunt Joan hails from the nearby town of Car­bon­dale, Pa. She moved to Mary­land a few years ago, and although Penn­syl­va­nia will al­ways be home, she is quick to tell you that she doesn’t miss the snow one bit.

There’s a scenic train ride that leaves from Steam­town. And in Scran­ton, about 10 miles away from the lake, you can sleep in a his­toric train sta­tion that’s been con­verted into a ho­tel. All this is just ic­ing on the cake, for the fish­ing at Lake Lack­awanna is out­stand­ing for wall­eye, cat­fish and large­mouth bass.

This week­end would be a great time to do some fish­ing, and you don’t have to travel to Florida or even Penn­syl­va­nia for a good time. Even though Mary­land didn’t make the top 50, you can still do some great fish­ing here.

And what’s even sweeter, Mary­land is of­fer­ing a free fish­ing day on Satur­day. Recre­ational an­glers won’t need a li­cense to fish, but ev­ery­one must still fol­low the size and pos­ses­sion rules on free fish­ing days.

South­ern Mary­land lakes and ponds — The fish­ing has been ex­cel­lent at St. Mary’s Lake. Joe at the Tackle Box (301-863-8151) said the bass are off their beds now and bit­ing. Fish­ing is bet­ter in the shal­lows and an­glers are find­ing them sus­pended in six to eight feet of wa­ter. Top­wa­ters are your best bet in the morn­ing and you’ll want to switch to a slower pre­sen­ta­tion with soft plas­tics in the af­ter­noon.

The pan­fish are bit­ing, and you’ll find crap­pie in deeper wa­ter. Pick­erel are be­ing caught on in­line spin­ners, bass baits and all man­ner of lures.

Po­tomac River — Reel Bass Ad­ven­tures guide Capt. Andy An­drze­jew­ski (301-9321509) said the grasses are a good place to fish for qual­ity bass, with a few tour­na­ment an­glers bring­ing in six pounders re­cently. Top­wa­ter lures are good in low light and plas­tics, jig and craw com­bos, spoons, spin­ner­baits, and even rat­tle­traps will catch fish. The spin­ner­bait bite is hot around sparse grasses on the low end of the tide. Buzz a spin­ner up to a clump of grass and let it fall. Strikes will be ex­plo­sive.

Some bluegills are close to the shore­line along marsh banks and near some downed wood. A crap­pie tube or fly rod popper will catch them. Cat­fish con­tinue to in­ter­cept bass baits in shal­low wa­ter. Aqua­land Ma­rina (301-259-2222) re­ports a strong cat­fish bite on a va­ri­ety of baits. They now have rental boats and an­glers fish­ing the chan­nel edge are sure to load up on tasty blue cat­fish.

Croaker are yet to ar­rive in full force. but the warmer weather should bring more fish each day. Perch fish­ing is still slow.

Patux­ent River — Ken Lamb from the Tackle Box said the perch are stay­ing in the rivers as the creeks are still cold and stained due to per­sis­tent rain and show­ers. The rocky out­crop­pings in the Patux­ent are where the white perch are ac­tive. Bee­tle spins, small spoons and tiny rat­tle­traps have been catch­ing perch up to 11 inches this past week.

Croaker are ev­ery­where. They in­vade the shal­lows when the sun goes down and shore fish­er­men are get­ting plenty on squid, blood­worms, shrimp and peeler crab. The Town Creek Pier is a good place to drop a line for some croaker.

Ju­ni­ata and Susque­hanna rivers (Pa.) — Life Out­doors Un­lim­ited guide Ja­son Shay (717-507-4377) re­ports that bass in the open ar­eas are very ac­tive and healthy. Bright col­ored spin­ner­baits in rocky ar­eas with good cur­rent flow is the ticket right now. The clo­sure will end on June 18.

Deep Creek Lake — An­thony Las­caris from Bill’s Out­door Cen­ter (301-3873474) re­ports that the busi­ness has been a lit­tle slow be­cause of the cooler tem­per­a­tures, but that’s a bless­ing to the an­glers who are fish­ing right now be­cause the lake is putting out some nice fish. Small­mouth bass fish­ing is good near docks with tubes and jerk­baits. North­ern pike are bit­ing on large min­nows. And if you can find sandbeds, you will catch some wall­eye.

Lake Anna (Va.) — Jim Hemby Lake Anna Striper Guide Ser­vice (540-9673313) re­ports large­mouth bass are

hun­gry and bit­ing on top­wa­ter baits. Bass will rise out of 20 feet of wa­ter to hit a Pop R, es­pe­cially in clear wa­ter. The deeper the wa­ter you fish, the slower you should work your bait giv­ing the bass time to lo­cate and blow up the bait. In low-light con­di­tions, stripers are feed­ing heav­ily in the up­per wa­ter col­umn. When the fish move deep, a sure­fire method to catch them is to use live bait rigged on down­lines. Put the baits at the ex­act depth of the fish to max­i­mize your catch.

Cat­fish are plen­ti­ful and can be caught just about ev­ery­where on the lake on her­ring or large min­nows.

Ch­e­sa­peake Bay — Capt. Den­nis Flem­ing from Fishama­jig Guide Ser­vice (240-538-1260) re­ports that good num­bers of stripers are lo­cated just out from Ch­e­sa­peake Beach in 35 to 40 feet of wa­ter and they re­spond well to 1-ounce jigs tipped with 5-inch plas­tic. Ex­plo­sive top wa­ter fish­ing can be had at day­break around rocks and jet­ties.

Lamb said trollers are find­ing tons of rock­fish in the 20- to 30-inch range from Park­ers Creek to the Bay Bridge and in the mouth of the Chop­tank River. Capt. Brady Bounds (301-9040471) took a party out last Tues­day from Ch­e­sa­peake Beach and found fish im­me­di­ately on struc­ture close to the ramp. The fish­er­men cast sur­face

pop­pers and landed fish un­til their arms were too tired to con­tinue.

At­lantic Ocean — Bob Foster of Oys­ter Bay Tackle (410-524-3433) re­ports lots of blue­fish in the bay from the Route 90 bridge to the in­let. An­glers toss­ing Gotcha plugs, speck rigs and buck­tails are catch­ing blues up to 36 inches.

The floun­der bite has picked up a lit­tle with sev­eral keep­ers from the east chan­nel, the thor­ough­fare and around the Route 90 bridge. A few king­fish were caught from the Fen­wick, Delaware beach on blood­worms and Fish­bites.

Tip of the week

This week­end you can fish with no li­cense in Mary­land wa­ters, which makes it a great time to give fish­ing a try or get back into it.

Be­fore you go, you’ll need to learn a ba­sic knot to tie your lure or hook onto the fish­ing line. The first knot my dad ever taught me was the im­proved clinch knot and it’s the one I use over and over. An­other easy knot to learn is the Palo­mar. You can find lots of howto videos for ty­ing these knots on­line.

No mat­ter what kind of knot you try, the key to get­ting it good and tight is to wet the line be­fore cinch­ing it.

jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

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