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Rivah Visitor's Guide

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The Fishing Line with Billy Pipkin

Ralph House of Topping displays the 89-lb., 66-inch citation cobia he caught on August 16 between Buoy 42 and the Cell using  a flounder rig baited with cut squid  as bait. It is the largest cobia weighed this year by Queen’s Creek Outfitters of Mathews.
To some folks, Labor Day marks the end of the summer boating season. This couldn’t be further from reality. September offers a new dawn of fishing, a heightened migration and a diversity of species unmatched during the spring and summer.

During the first week of September we should find plenty of trolling action.  This will consist mainly of bluefish and Spanish mackerel. The action heats up with large schools traveling along the western Virginia shores on their southward trek out of Maryland waters.

SPANISH MACKEREL should continue to school from Point Lookout along the western edges of the shipping channel down to Smith Point.  These fish can be found on the shallow bar between Smith Point and the lighthouse while they continue to move southward and should last throughout the first half of the month.  The mackerel coming out of the Potomac River usually follow the western side of the bay past the Great Wicomico River down to Windmill Point where they disperse.

Sometimes the edges of the shipping channel hold large populations of migrating fish where they are rarely found surface feeding and can be caught at depths of 15-20 feet by using both #1 and #2 planers.

BLUEFISH  can be caught one of two ways during September. 

Trolling is good in many of the same locations as mentioned for mackerel.  It is understood that bluefish and mackerel tend to school and feed together.  The schooling blues will continue to run in the 2-5 pound class and then, at month’s end will decline in number.  Catches tend to consist of larger specimens as this month matures. These voracious feeders have beefed up over the past month for the fall run to the ocean.

Chumming will provide bluefish of 5-8 pounds in Maryland on the Southwest Middle Grounds.  In Virginia, the Northern Neck Reef and Buoy 62 area will provide nice bluefish hauls as well. These areas will gradually give way to striped bass as the month wraps up.

STRIPED BASS will be the buzzword near the end of September when they become more plentiful in chum lines in southern Maryland waters.  With the season not opening up in Virginia until October 4, many anglers will be traveling north across the border for a warm-up. Many of these fish remain well to the north at this time with the majority being above Point Lookout.  As water temperatures drop we will see a greater number migrating into Virginia waters.

We will also find that over the next few weeks an influx of striped bass will pepper the trolling scene with all three species feeding together. Top water lure action will be the ticket to great fun this month.

BOTTOM FISHING efforts will likely shift from croaker to spot action in September when the big yellow-bellied Norfolk spot hit the lines.  

SPECKLED TROUT will linger locally until mid-October.  Expect a strong run at month’s end.  The grassy flats between the Great Wicomico River and the Piankatank River are good bets for shallow water action. The feeder creeks to the bay and rivers hold speckled trout as well. Both artificial lures as well as live offerings like spot, peanut bunker and large bull minnows will entice action.

FLOUNDER will linger into late month and should be abundant until that time.  We’ve had fair action this year and should get another quick blast this fall.

This will be a very exciting month as we step into our traditionally hot fall fishing.  Be safe and until next month…fair winds.

Capt. Billy Pipkin owns and operates Ingram Bay Marina and Capt. Billy’s Charter Service in Wicomico Church. 804-580-7292.

posted 08.27.2009

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