Telling fish sto­ries

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out doors @out­ South­ern Mary­land lakes and ponds —

This week marks the 44th an­nual White Mar­lin Open (WMO) tour­na­ment in Ocean City. While I’ve been en­joy­ing the cooler weather in South­ern Mary­land this week, the an­glers fish­ing for al­most 5 mil­lion dol­lars in prize money were less-than-thrilled with the wind and rain ear­lier this week, with just 12 of 353 boats ven­tur­ing out on Tues­day.

Only 30 miles away in Sal­is­bury, an EF-1 tor­nado touched down on Mon­day, caus­ing dam­age to build­ings, shat­ter­ing glass win­dows and doors, and top­pling over ve­hi­cles. Off shore, storms can be dan­ger­ous and deadly, and tak­ing a day off for safety’s sake is a pru­dent de­ci­sion. Ac­cord­ing to the rules, boats can fish 3 of the 5 days of the tour­na­ment and the lat­ter half of the week had the bet­ter fish­ing days.

The scales close tonight at 9:15 p.m. and the weigh-in is bound to be a nail-biter. As I’m writ­ing this, just one white

mar­lin has been brought to the scales and while that one mea­sured over 67 inches, it didn’t meet the min­i­mum weight of 70 pounds for the cat­e­gory so the big prize is still up for grabs.

I have men­tioned in the past that many big-time fish­ing tour­na­ments stip­u­late in the rules that win­ners may have to sub­mit to a poly­graph test to re­ceive prize money. Very clearly spelled out in the rules of the WMO, an­glers agree to take a poly­graph test for any fish worth $50,000 or more in award money. Even with the 2017 WMO go­ing on this week, a dis­pute over 2016’s 2.8 mil­lion dol­lar win­nings is still in fed­eral court. A judge ruled ear­lier this year in WMO’s fa­vor, dis­qual­i­fy­ing Phillip Heasley and the crew of the Kal­lianassa from col­lect­ing the money in ques­tion.

The case is com­pli­cated, but the crux of the mat­ter is WMO as­serts that the Kal­lianassa was in the wa­ter be­fore the 8:30 a.m. start time and fal­si­fied records. What didn’t help Heasley and the crew’s ac­count is that ev­ery sin­gle one of them failed mul­ti­ple poly­graph tests. We may never know ex­actly what tran­spired that day in Au­gust 2016, but in this day and age, a go-pro cam­era or cell phone pic could pro­vide solid proof if ques­tions arise about the le­gal­ity of a catch. Heasley has ap­pealed the rul­ing and it looks like this year’s prize money will be dis­trib­uted well be­fore we hear the fi­nal word on last year’s stand­ings.

What a dif­fer­ence a few days make. While the weather has cooled down quite a bit, the fish are still re­li­ably in a “sum­mer pat­tern.” Ac­cord­ing to An­thony Han­cock, as­sis­tant man­ager of Gil­bert Run Park, bass are bit­ing best early and late in the day on top­wa­ter lures and soft plas­tic baits fished slowly around shore­line cover. Bluegill and re­dear sun­fish will ea­gerly eat pieces of nightcrawler or crick­ets (which can be pur­chased at

pet shops) when fished un­der a bob­ber. Han­cock has even heard of some nice crap­pie caught by fish­er­men jig­ging small, soft plas­tic lures around deeper dock or bridge pil­ings.

The spot, perch and croaker bite re­mains strong. Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, the white perch pop­u­la­tion is up quite a bit so the good fish­ing is here to stay, at least for a few years. A dou­ble hook bot­tom rig baited with bits of blood­worm is the pre­ferred bait, but a lit­tle peeler crab will do the trick too. Po­tomac River — Reel Bass Ad­ven­tures guide Andy An­drze­jew­ski (301932-1509) says sum­mer pat­terns re­main sta­ble with grasses the place to be. Frogs or pop­pers will get ag­gres­sive strikes along with some in­ter­est from snake­heads. Ned rigs, jig worms, and fi­nesse worms worked around hard cover are catch­ing bass with the big­ger fish go­ing for swim jigs and wack­yrigged stick worms. Grass beds in creeks

or along the main river with bait­fish ac­tiv­ity are primo places to tar­get.

Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box (304-862-8151) says rock­fish showed up Sun­day in the Po­tomac in big schools, break­ing and at­tract­ing sea gulls, with the mouth of Her­ring Creek on the stones a good place to look for them. Lamb also re­ports shore fish­er­men are find­ing spot and croaker at Piney Point in the pub­lic fish­ing area un­der the St. Ge­orge Is­land Bridge.

Ch­e­sa­peake Bay — Wall­eye Pete (703-395-9955) re­ports huge num­bers of stripers break­ing on sil­ver­sides now and the late sum­mer pat­tern is on. He’s been en­coun­ter­ing huge num­bers of stripers with blues mixed in from South River all the way to the gas docks. He just re­cently moved his boat back to Solomons Bea­con Ma­rina for the late sum­mer/fall run of wildly ag­gres­sive and nu­mer­ous stripers, blues, and specks in the Eastern Shore is­lands of Hooper, Blood­sworth, Adam, Hol­land, Spring, and South March is­lands. He highly rec­om­mends us­ing binoc­u­lars to lo­cate schools of fish, stop­ping of­ten to look

for birds over fish or just the fish break­ing with­out birds nearby. Once lo­cated, use a 1-ounce Hard­head Cus­tom baits jig­ging spoon in white, char­treuse, or a mix of both col­ors worked vertically or cast across the school and worked back quickly.

Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box (301-863-8151) re­ports blue­fish and Span­ish mack­erel are tak­ing trolled sur­gi­cal eels from Point No Point to Point Look­out. No birds or jump­ing fish will give away their lo­ca­tion so fish­er­men must troll blindly or rely on depth find­ers. An­glers can find spot about half­way out onto the Point Look­out Pier with blue­fish on the end. Lake Anna (Va.) — Bass are mov­ing a bit closer to shore due to the cooler weather and top­wa­ters in the morn­ing and at night

re­mains the best method to get one on the end of your line. Dur­ing the day, tar­get the out­side edges of grass beds up­lake. Crap­pie are hold­ing on bridge pil­ings and will take live min­nows in 1015 feet of wa­ter.

At­lantic Ocean — The floun­der bite has been re­ally slow the past few days in the Tho­ro­fare, be­hind the air­port, off the Route 90 Bridge, and in the East Chan­nel. A Gulp! and min­now com­bi­na­tion works best, but 9 out of 10 are throw­backs. Last Satur­day was the 10th an­nual Floun­der Fish­ing Tour­na­ment hosted by the Ocean Pines Chamber of Com­merce. One hun­dred and sixty-eight an­glers en­tered the tour­na­ment and only 12 fish made it to the scales, with the win­ning floun­der mea­sur­ing just un­der 20-inches.

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