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