Opening Day Blues
The cold continues and, contrary to predictions, the fish are not amused.
I gave the predictions of a late spawn and good fishing at this time, but that was all wrong. I have heard of exactly eight fish so far as we pass the third day of the season: three from the bay and five from the Potomac. None of these fish have been presented at The Tackle Box for the twenty dollar gift card award given to the first ten fish brought in. The awards are usually given out on opening day as plenty of big stripers are readily available.
So, where are the fish? The most popular theory is that the Rockfish are in the shallows awaiting weather warm enough to get the water temperature up to at least 53 degrees, or to the target 55 degrees to spawn. Then, a mass exodus of post-spawn Stripers will pass through the bay and eagerly bite trolled or jigged lures.
Others think that the fish are still in the Atlantic awaiting warmth to begin the spawning run. Word from up the coast is that there are huge schools of big Stripers off the New Jersey coast where everyone is getting their limit. If these are our spawners maybe they will show up here next month. After all, all nature seems to be a month late in the lingering winter of 2018. In the spring of 2000, we caught spawning fish well into June.
The best fishing I can report is for Catfish. The Potomac and Patuxent have plenty of big Catfish. They can be caught right off Bushwood Wharf which is public access. An average fishing excursion there can net a dozen or so channel and blue cats in the 3 to 10-pound size. The Patuxent has catfish in the Benedict area in good quantity and size. Catfish love cut bait; fresh alewives is the most popular.
St, Mary's Lake has good Crappie fishing on live minnows or night crawler. The bait fished under a bobber cast out as far as possible and slowly reeled in is the technique best for shore fishermen. Boaters will find Crappie in the standing timber and close to the overflow and along the dam. The Bass and Pickerel are active in the lake too.