A few years ago, the “Hooked on Fishing” youth program hosted an all day fishing derby at the Point Lookout State Fishing Pier in May. Though the camaraderie and picnic was wonderful, the kids only landed a couple fish.
I recommended to the Community Services Director who hosted the drug intervention event that the months of June through the Fall would be a better time to catch fish off this pier.
At the next year’s event, in early June, dozens of fish were caught, measured, photographed and released.
The kids got lots of prizes for the biggest, smallest, most, and most unusual fish.
Hopefully, with the knowledge of a great healthy recreational activity available all around us in Southern Maryland, these kids will choose to get high on fishing rather than drugs or alcohol.
Catching fish from our public piers in May is a challenge as most piers are in relatively shallow water while the migratory fish are elsewhere.
The rockfish and perch are still out in the channels waiting for the shallows to warm up. There are three very good piers to fish in May that are all on the Wicomico River. Bushwood Wharf, Chaptico Wharf, and Wicomico Shores Pier are very good places to hook up on the jumbo croaker (a.k.a. hardhead) that make a Spring migration up this river. The best place to start in early May is Bushwood Wharf.
Quade’s Store is right beside this historic steamboat landing and wharf that has an adjacent boat ramp. Mrs. Quade and her son George have amazing memories of two lifetimes on the Potomac and Wicomico Rivers.
They will also give you a daily catch report along with Mrs. Quade’s internationally famous crab cake sandwich. In addition, they carry a good selection of the tackle needed to catch the local fish.
Further up the Wicomico River, Chaptico Wharf is a good bet as May progresses and those big croaker over sixteen inches long move upriver.
This is another historic steamboat landing, wharf, and boat ramp, but there are no public facilities beyond a parking lot, porta-potty, and a trash can. So, make sure you bring your bait, tackle, soda, and a sandwich before you hit the pier. After Mid-May, the Wicomico Shores Pier is a good bet to fling out a line for those big hardheads as well as picking up big channel catfish that are prowling for a meal. This is a pier rather than a wharf.
It was built about fifty years ago as part of the Wicomico Shores Aviation and Yacht Club. The pier was built, the landing strip never materialized, and the development scheme went bust.
Such a large facility with excellent showers and restrooms seems out of place at the end of Aviation Yacht Club Drive but it is a public facility available to the neighborhood and fishermen wanting to catch a stringer of fish or later in the season, a basket of crabs.
There is also a new boat ramp for the more affluent boating fisherman.
Catching croaker, perch, catfish, and an occasional rockfish from these wharves and pier works best with a spinning rod capable of flinging a double hook bottom rig a long distance.
An ounce or two drop sinker clipped to the bottom of the spreader rig is enough to hold bottom. 1/0 hooks are about the right size though I often use smaller when I have a hard time hooking up the nibblers.
Most important of all is good fresh bait. Live soft crabs are showing up in the local seafood stores. Cut fresh soft crab will catch almost any fish that swims in the salty side of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. One hook baited with soft crab and the other baited with table quality frozen squid cut in strips is a good one combo to hook up on big croaker or other fish swimming by in May.
A croaker bites fairly aggressively and one sharp hard set of the hook is enough to drive the point home. Then, hang on! Though croaker are considered pan fish, pound for pound, they fight much better than many gamefish.
If the common Atlantic Croaker grew as big as a trophy Striped Bass, the croaker would be the most sought after fish on the East Coast. Expect to have a ball on 12 lb. class light tackle.
The flakey white meat fillets fried in a crispy batter are just plain delicious. Might you expect to catch some good eating fish for dinner this month? Yes, you may.