What’s the best eatin’ fish in South­ern Md.?

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake

What’s the best eatin’ fish in South­ern Mary­land? Ask around and most lo­cals will tell you rock­fish is tops on their list. But a sea­soned fish­er­man might put red drum in the num­ber one po­si­tion when it comes to a tasty fish din­ner.

Even though it’s a na­tive Ch­e­sa­peake Bay species, you may not have heard of red drum be­fore. That might be chang­ing be­cause red drum have been mak­ing their pres­ence known in our lo­cal wa­ters over the past decade and an­glers are catch­ing on to the fun and ex­cite­ment of bring­ing in one of these strong-fight­ing fish.

Red drum go by a lot of dif­fer­ent names which can be a bit tricky to keep track of. Red­fish, chan­nel bass, spot­tail or reds are all per­fectly good monikers to de­scribe these fish. Add to them puppy drum, which is a ju­ve­nile red drum and bull drum, the largest, ma­ture red drum that can top out at al­most 5 feet in length.

This fish is mak­ing a come­back thanks to strict con­ser­va­tion laws up and down the east coast. Cur­rently, recre­ation­ally caught red drum must be at least 18 inches but no big­ger than 27 inches and an­glers can keep one fish per per­son, per day. Any red drum smaller than 18 inches or larger than 27 inches has to be re­turned to the wa­ter. And it’s good to throw those bulls back be­cause the mas­sive big reds don’t taste as good any­way.

These ef­forts to pro­tect red

drum seem to be work­ing as more and more reds are part of the fish­ing re­port each sum­mer. South­ern Mary­land lakes and

ponds — You might ex­pect the wa­ter tem­per­a­tures to be cool­ing down now and the fish to have more of an ap­petite, but the day­time tem­per­a­tures are still hot. Right now, you’ll need to be up early or out late if you want to catch some fish.

Start out with top­wa­ters for bass, and if you don’t find fish with a buzzbait or popper, try a tiny tor­pedo for a dif­fer­ent kind of look. A meal­worm sus­pended un­der a bob­ber will tempt the bluegill to bite.

Patux­ent River — Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lex­ing­ton Park (301-863-8151) re­ports keeper rock­fish are be­ing caught off the Town Creek Pier. An­glers cast­ing top­wa­ter plugs have done well at sun­set. Spot, croaker, white perch and puffer are also part of the evening’s catch at the pier. There are plenty of un­der­size reds in the creeks, and they are get­ting big­ger ev­ery day. This is the best crab­bing year in as long as many folks can re­mem­ber. Po­tomac River — Reel Bass Ad­ven­tures guide Andy An­drze­jew­ski (301-932-1509) re­ports that bass fish­ing has im­proved with cooler night­time tem­per­a­tures. The top­wa­ter bite re­mains good with grass frogs,

pop­pers and hard jerk­baits work­ing best. Plas­tic worms, spin­ner­baits and small crankbaits will all catch bass in grasses and from hard cover.

The bet­ter grass beds have good bait fish pop­u­la­tions and craw­fish ac­tiv­ity, usu­ally in­di­cated by feed­ing birds. The last part of the in­com­ing tide and most of the out­go­ing tides have the bet­ter bite. Ju­ni­ata and Susque­hanna rivers (Pa.) — The West Branch has been suf­fer­ing the ill ef­fects of a ma­jor drought and many ar­eas of wa­ter suf­fer from lack of oxy­gen. Fish­ing in the main stem has been very good.

Life Out­doors Un­lim­ited Guide Matt Greene (717-576-3735) said that with cool­ing tem­per­a­tures

the fish are get­ting more ac­tive and the 20-inch class of fish is com­ing into the boat on a more reg­u­lar ba­sis. His staples for this time of year are top­wa­ters and spin­ner­baits.

Deep Creek Lake — The crowds have dis­persed now that La­bor Day has come and gone. Boat traf­fic will be much less these next few weeks and the wa­ter tem­per­a­tures will plunge soon. That’s all good news for fish­er­men.

LOU Guide Bret Wine­gard­ner (301-616-9889) said the top­wa­ter bite has been re­ally good lately. Small­mouth have been smash­ing stick­baits. The re­main­ing float­ing boat docks will be mag­nets and grass is still the large­mouth’s fa­vorite din­ing area. Lake Anna (Va.) — High Point Ma­rina (540-8955249) re­ports the bass fish­ing has been good with plenty of fish in the shal­lows around stumps and docks and will­ing to take just about any top­wa­ter lure of your choos­ing.

Stripers are hold­ing in the main lake from the power plant to the bridges. Top­wa­ter fish­ing in the morn­ing and trolling in 20 to 25 feet of wa­ter dur­ing the day­time will put fish in the boat. Crap­pie are start­ing to school up and move to shal­lower wa­ter. Min­nows and 2-inch grubs work best.

Ch­e­sa­peake Bay — Lamb re­ports the fish­ing was good un­til the trop­i­cal storm hur­tled through the area over La­bor Day week­end. Chum­mers and chun­kers were catch­ing co­bia near Buoy 70. Good days pro­duced one or two fish, while great days counted as many as five.

The Red Osprey from Bunky’s Char­ters (410326-3241) hooked four big reds in the 50-pound cat­e­gor y while trolling. There is a mix of Span­ish mack­erel, blue­fish and striped bass to be found in the lower bay. Sight cast­ing to break­ing fish is al­ways fun but jig­ging with light tackle can be just as ef­fec­tive.

At­lantic Ocean — Bob Foster at Oys­ter Bay Tackle in Ocean City (410-524-3433) re­ports the fish­ing has picked up with snap­per blues in the surf. The king­fish bite re­mains good with a few spot and croaker mixed in oc­ca­sion­ally.

Lots of floun­der are in the bay, but most are shorts. The floun­der bite off­shore is still good. Try jig­ging a Spro buck­tail tipped with Gulp for the off­shore floun­der. The U.S. 50 fish­er­men are catch­ing snap­per blues and short stripers at night throw­ing Gotcha plugs and speck rigs.

Tip of the week

From LOU Guide Ken Pen­rod (240-4472206): Mary­land’s early res­i­dent Canada goose sea­son be­gan last week. An­glers and recre­ational boaters should al­ways be aware that they could be float­ing through a shoot zone. A bunch of de­coys in the wa­ter is the sig­nal to hurry on through. A hunter should flash a light to alert oth­ers of his lo­ca­tion.

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