View Full Version : Tough get going when the stripers are biting

12-23-2008, 11:32 AM
Outdoors: Tough get going when the stripers are biting
By BILL BURTON For The Maryland Gazette
Published 12/20/08

Perhaps in recent years I have underestimated the stamina and willingness of Maryland fishermen to accept inhospitable elements on the water.

As one might recall, not infrequently I've suggested they don't make outdoorsmen like they used to, if fishing isn't comfortable and/or promising on a given day many stay home.

But, when big fish are available as they now are with stripers there are times when I see as many boats on the bay as I did in the dog days of the past summer when one had to go to the bank to fill up the boat's fuel tank.

There are few perch and pickerel fishermen working from small craft in the tributaries, but in the bay where sea run rockfish remain present and hungry, also at the Ocean City/Assateague Island complex where the same species make stops as they scoot down the coast, there are more than a few with rod and reel accepting the challenge.

The thinking is one can always get warm and dry again, but there might not another chance for a legitimate trophy fish. Keep that in mind; the bay season continues through the end of the month - at the ocean front it doesn't close. The fish are in, snooze and you lose.

In recent days the catching up our way has shown signs that the chill in the bay is finally getting to the big stripers. Water temperatures have dropped to the high 30s and rockfish lose much of their appetites when the mercury gets down to 40, but trollers say they read big fish on their electronics. And Rod Murphy of Crofton took a 44-incher on a big white bucktail and Sassy Shad near the Stone Pile at the Bay Bridge. Horace Johnson of Glen Burnie trolled an umbrella rig and No. 21 Tony spoon (an all white combination) at the Dumping Grounds where he caught a 43-inch whose gills were loaded with sea lice.

Few reports of any catches at Hacketts or Gum Thickets, those with trailerable boats or are chartering are going further south where water temps are a degree or two warmer - and it doesn't take much to mean a difference in the willingness of these big stripers to grab a bait. Look at it this way, they've got to eat at some time. Also, these fish are continually moving. The odds aren't as good hereabouts as 10 day ago, but fishermen are always facing the odds game. Close to bottom in deeper waters is usually a bit warmer - that's where your baits should be. Give Bloody Point a try, also worth a shot is the Thomas Point sector.
Some white perch continue to bit; they're also deep in the bay and tributaries, Hank Wilson of Glen Burnie took an 111/2-incher near the Bay Bridge's Stone Pile on a grass shrimp bait. Bloodworm and jigs will also produce.

In the mid bay the catching is better and most fishermen are trolling umbrella rigs with large bucktails, parachutes and spoons trailing. White seems to have a slight edge over chartreuse. These fish keep moving, work the bottom along steep channel edges. I'd try waters off Chesapeake Beach down to Breezy Point where Walt Zielezinski got a 41-incher on a lone parachute.

The lower bay is where the best catching is reported. Greg Forte of Washington took a 50-incher on a tandem bucktail rig with large Sassy Shads added near Point-No-Point. The party also reeled in a 38-incher of better than 19 pounds and a 33-incher of 15 pounds. The best catches appear to come from Buoys 70 and 72, also the HS buoy. Give Crippled Alewife or Tony Accetta spoons a try, choose the larger versions.

Down Ocean City/Assateague way the rockfish catching is best on drifted eels or spot in deep back bay holes, at night try swimming shads or bucktails. Fresh menhaden baits do best in the Assateague surf - and some boats are trolling off the mouth of the inlet within the three mile limit for stripers. There is some tilefish and sea bass catching in deep waters offshore.