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Reel Report

James Drake

Transition means going from one state or condition to another.

That seems to pretty much describe some of the fishing around here right now.

This 2012 fishing year has been exceptional for bluefish in our local Chesapeake Bay waters and that continues with many of these sharp-toothed fish caught now approaching 24 inches long. Striped bass catches out there have been inconsistent lately, but then there are finally reports of some 35-inchers being caught.

Bottom fishermen aren’t getting their normal mix of species anymore, but the white perch continue to be very cooperative.

These consistently cool nights we’re all enjoying are really getting the attention of many freshwater species, too. They know the lean times are coming, so their feedbag is on.

Picking your pleasure among all these opportunities is only made more difficult with our duck season opening Saturday. Choices, choices, choices.

One option that’s a sure winner is at 7 p.m. Monday is the next meeting of the Coastal Conservation Association Patuxent River chapter at Stoney’s Kingfisher in Solomons. It’s free and open to the public.

Capt. Mike Starrett will be there to discuss “Catching Monster Catfish” and absolutely everyone in the room should be a kindred spirit.

As a bonus, the doors will be open at 6 p.m., so you’ll have ample time to order something scrumptious off the Stoney’s menu. This is most definitely a win-win-win choice.

For history/bicycle devotees, a scenic bike ride is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday along the Western Maryland Rail Trail beginning in Hancock.

A park ranger will lead the group and promises to give history buffs plenty of information about local sights there along that historic path.

Meet at the C & O Bike Shop, 9 South Pennsylvania Ave. in Hancock (301-678-6665), and they can even happily rent you a bike if you don’t have your own ride.

This ride is about a 20-mile trip along mostly a level and paved surface and said to be suitable for all ages and fitness levels. It will go on rain or shine and you’re encouraged to dress for any weather and to bring along insect repellant, sunscreen, water and a few snacks.

Everyone is encouraged to wear a helmet, but children 16 and younger must have a hard hat on. For more information, call 301-842-2155.

Now, let’s get to the fishing.

Southern Maryland lakes and ponds All that mist rising off of our waters in the mornings mean heat is being given up. The fish have noticed and are beginning to feed more in earnest.

At Gilbert Run Park in Dentsville, assistant park manager Anthony Hancock told me that lots of bluegill are being caught on worms under a bobber or with a cricket imitation on a fly rod. Hancock also said crappie are biting well on minnows along the grass edges and any deeper drop-off, while the wood cover throughout the lake often holds a mix of crappie, bluegill and bass.

Mattawoman Creek Ken Penrod, boss guide with Life Outdoors Unlimited (301-937-0010), had a guided trip in here a few days ago and went upcreek into the 6 mph zone.

“We had a great outgoing tide,” Penrod said, and then nothing. The trip was a dud.

I hear equally distressing news from the nearby Leesylvania jetties, Chicamuxen Creek and Possum Point. Like I said above, we’re in transition and the fish will work out these up-and-down temperatures and better fishing will return soon.

Tidal Potomac River Andy Andrzejewski with Reel Bass Adventure guides (301-932-1509) told me that early mornings coupled with the beginning of an outgoing tide have plenty of undersized stripers hitting topwaters along rock jetties.

White and yellow perch are showing up in more numbers, said Andrzejewski, and they’re being caught along the edges of grass lines in shallow water. The grasses in creeks and out in the main river continue to produce some bass and the RBA pros like throwing plastic baits or jig and craw combos as well as swim baits and spinnerbaits.

The ramps at Smallwood State Park won’t open until 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday because the park is hosting a triathlon during the day.

Lower Potomac River Bottom fishermen are having a ball on numbers and some excellent-sized white perch. My Cobb Island connection, Franco Foraci, told me that the birds were working and a pretty good run of bluefish was recently discovered off Swan Point a few days ago. Puppy drum continue to be caught in the shallows.

Patuxent River Some exceptional action is being found right around the mouth. Joe Tippett from the Tackle Box in Lexington Park told me just a few days ago that schools of rockfish and blues have been breaking near First and Second Beach.

Upriver, look for lots of red drum in the shallows. Tippett recommended targeting those drum anywhere from two to 12 feet of water. Peeler and squid baits are working well.

Deep Creek Lake A recent big bass tournament in here averaged 4.2 bass per fisherman, and that’s not too shabby with a five bass limit. Rat-L-Traps have been fooling some of the bass and fly rodders get in on the action with green over orange flies that imitate perch. That’s one report.

Ron Nichols at Bill’s Outdoor Center in Oakland told me earlier this week that he has noticed the fishing really slowed down in the past few days. Water temperatures are in the mid-60-degree range.

Lake Anna For the largemouths, “Get away from the main lake and move into the creeks,” said Carlos Wood at High Point Marina.

The fish are spread out as they move into shallower water and you can reasonably expect catches to come anywhere from topwater to down about 20 feet. Typically, the smaller bass are the most aggressive in the shallows, but Wood said that’s not always the case right now.

Stripers are moving uplake following bait, while the crappie bite is on around bridges and docks as long as you’re in at least 10 to 15 feet of water.

Chesapeake Bay Mel Kaplin from the Rod ‘N’ Reel dock in Chesapeake Beach told me that their private charters are still finding plenty of rockfish and now some truly nice bluefish in the 18- to 24-inch range on most every outing.

A few bigger rockfish, up to 35 inches, have begun to show up in the lower bay. It seems though when they start biting, the smaller fish are sometimes nowhere to be found.

Tippett reported some black sea bass being caught down around the Target Ship. He said that they’re there in pretty good numbers, but the general size isn't that great as yet. Live-liners are finding their spot now around the 30-foot depths and then are heading just north of the Gas Docks for the rockfish.

Atlantic Ocean This is a great time to visit Ocean City for the crowds are way down and yet the fishing right now is in high gear. Bring your surf stuff for Sue Foster at Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City reported lots of bluefish and some kingfish, spot, pompano, sharks, redfish and trout coming daily to surfcasters.

Big red drum releases have been happening around Assateague Island in recent days and the party boats working the near offshore wrecks are finding tautog and flounder.

Way offshore, yellowfin tuna are still being caught out in the Wilmington Canyon and wahoo are being taken from Washington Canyon.

zbasser@aol.com