- Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 11:08
- Published on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 09:02
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The croaker reports we have been getting the past few weeks said the fish were there, but nothing super good was reported until two weeks ago. So I went out personally, to try to catch some fish and caught plenty of small croaker 8-10 inches. They were not big enough to worry about filleting, but nevertheless, they were there. This past week, I was able to slip out for a few more hours early one morning and finally got into some decent fish.
Croaker we caught measured 12-16 inches in length and were definitely big enough to filet. The fish fry in our house was quite good, with fresh-sliced tomatoes, corn and squash as sides. It is hard to beat fresh fish and fresh vegetables, too.
Hung ‘em on the drift
The current where we were fishing was rolling fast on the outgoing side, and the ledge we fished was actually the edge of a shoal. My goal was to fish the edge were the depth dropped off. Hanging an anchor in that situation is a tough trick to pull off, so I decided to be lazy and just drift along with our squid-covered hooks. The call paid off with multiple hookups. When one area slacked off, we moved the boat to another area. The “Lumps” also was a good location to try.
I think the three of us racked up 25 or so nice croaker before calling it a morning and heading in.
Perch were caught on the shoal. Some of the perch were quite pretty, measuring up to 10 inches. The key was staying in shallower water with a hard bottom. Once we dropped off the ledge, the fishing turned to croaker and catfish.
I enjoy catfishing, but honestly, I do not make a habit of regularly eating catfish out of the Potomac River. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has some consumption advisories on eating channel catfish, as well as advisories about blue catfish. http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/Marylander/CitizensInfoCenterHome/Documents/Fish Consumption Docs/Maryland_Fish_Advisories_2014_Web_bluecatedit.pdf
In all fairness, most rivers have some sort of eating advisory, and I much rather eat local fish that I know where they came from, than something from a chain market somewhere.
Anyway, the catfish population seems to have exploded in recent years on the Potomac. There have always been good catfish to be caught on the Potomac, but last year and this year, I have found it tough to keep them from biting any bait you decide to toss overboard. We caught plenty of pretty-looking catfish up to 18 inches on our drifts all over the river the past two weeks. Our trips were below the Rt. 301 Bridge. If you are a catfish lover, there are more than enough fish out there for a family reunion fish fry of epic proportion. They will hit the whole gamut of bait that can be dropped overboard. Cut bait, squid, shrimp and Fishbites will all work well.
The fishing trip we took on the 11th yielded a rockfish on my father’s first cast. Then, my nephew caught two in a row. We were using jerkbaits on jig heads. I tossed out a large crankbait, hung something big, and fought it for a little over a minute before it turned and popped the line. I felt bad losing the fish with a crankbait in its mouth. I sure wish I knew what it was. I think there are some decent striper out there, but with my limited trips the past few years, I am not acquainted or in tune with their summer haunts as of late.
We were unable to find any striper around #33, #30 or Lower Cedar Bar, or even the Lumps the last trip on the 17th, but I think the tide and timing may have been off. The good news was that there seemed to be a few healthy schools of what looked like peanut bunker roaming around.
Last year, the puppy drum were keeping anglers busy. This year, the reports are few and far between on puppy drum. There are a lot of theories out there about what happened, or why we are not seeing them up our way yet. I won’t speculate. I will say, I miss their presence. They fight hard and taste very good. There is still time. Perhaps we will get into them next month.
Don’t forget about NSWC
If you plan on fishing out on the River below the Rt. 301 Bridge, don’t forget about NSWC and their mission to test weapons. They have range boats out on the river in their range area to keep boaters and anglers safe. If you see a boat with an orange-painted cabin headed your way (they are marked, too), then stop and find out what they need to tell you. They are also on the radio on channel 14. My experience over the years has shown them to be very accommodating. Many of those guys are charter captains or anglers, and they will work with you best they can while keeping everyone safe and getting the job done to get the weapons tested at NSWC. Cooperate with them, and they will return the favor. Typically, they won’t start shooting until 0800 hours, but range use varies.