Considered one of the best months of fishing all year round, September is an especially opportune angling time in Southern Maryland waters. The Lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers are alive with bluefish and stripers all vying for the huge schools of baitfish that have been here during most of the passing summer months. The 19 inch minimum size for flounder during Maryland’s 2010 season has been a challenge for some anglers, but these popular fish often provide their best hook and line action this month.
Those 18 inch throwbacks from late May and June could very well be legal fish if caught again this month. Tackle busting red drum were a real surprise for Southern Maryland anglers this summer and there may be some still around to test your endurance in September. Even though all of these red drum (aka channel bass) have to be released if over 27 inches in Maryland waters and 25 inches in the tidal Potomac, it is a great thrill to wrestle one in via rod and reel.
Keep those same trolling rigs ready that were used for surface action last month. Diving birds and baitfish splashing on the surface means bluefish, stripers and for the next few weeks even Spanish mackerel could be stirring things up. Planers in sizes #1 and #2 are a tactical way to go, but don’t forget to also carry some in-line trolling weights in 4 to 6 ounce sizes. Planers are handy tackle as they get the lures down to depths where the fish are and trip when the fish hits, letting you fight only the fish itself. On smaller boats with less beam, it is sometimes hard to troll more than two planers at a time without constant tangles, so you can put one or two other rigs out there with in-line sinkers at varying length behind the boat.
Whether planers or in-line trolling sinkers are being used, the rest of the terminal tackle and rigs should be the same. Clarks, Drones and small Crippled Alewives or Tony Accetta spoons area all good choices for trolling in September.
We have been enjoying lots of action with the #1 Clarks in silver color with chartreuse or red mirror back reflectors. Another good lure for us this summer has been a gold colored drone spoon with red or hot pink reflector backs. Use 20 to 25 feet of 30 pound test monofilament leader with barrel-snap swivels at the connecting end to the sinker or planer. Some anglers prefer to directly tie the lure to the other end, but small sturdy snap swivels at this side of the leader can help further reduce lien twists experienced at higher trolling speeds.
Casting and Jigging Action
If you are in the right place at the right time and see lots of surface feeding action by fish underway, ease alongside the fray, shut your boat engines down and try some casting and jigging. Bucktails in 1 to 3 ounce sizes can be popular if tipped with twistertail soft baits, but if the bluefish are around, they will chew the bucktails and soft baits to pieces. Surface plugs with enough weight to cast or spoons with chrome or gold colors are good options. Among our favorites are the Stingsilver jigs. In one to two ounce sizes they will cast well and also can be dropped down and jigged to see if there are any larger fish below.
Baitfish and the species that feed on them are on the move throughout the month of September. Angling strategies should include being able to move fishing locations quickly and sometimes on a daily basis. Once the shiner minnows (aka bay anchovies) begin the leave the Lower Potomac and Patuxent Rivers, the Channel edges of the Chesapeake Bay main stem will be get another boost in frantic fishing activity. Trolling just north of the channel in the Lower Potomac from Deep Point at the mouth of St. Mary’s River to offshore of Cornfield Harbor at Point Lookout will be a good area to be this month. Across the river and closer to the Virginia side, consider fishing the drop-offs near the Ragged Point Lighthouse and downriver towards Bonum Creek. The 30 to 40 foot contour near the Target Ship and Middlegrounds are other good areas to watch for baitfish and feeding stripers and blues.
Labor Day Finish Line
Maryland’s 2010 Fishing Challenge contest continues through midnight, on Labor Day. Those who have won awards will be honored during the 43rd Annual Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point State Park on September 11, 2010. Visit the Maryland DNR website at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp for rules, regulations and information on what to do if you catch a tagged fish during the 2010 Maryland Fishing Challenge.
For additional information, e-mail Keith Lockwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (410) 226-0078, Ext 107.