Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips “The Spot are here!”
“The Spot are here!”
Driftin' Easy

Article by Sue Foster

 “The Spot are here!”

Norfolk Spot (Leiostomus xanthuru) is a versatile fish. It’s a member of the drum family and looks similar to a croaker. There’s no size or creel limit in MD at this time in 2012. Kids can have fun and have multiple hook ups. Anglers can catch them to use for bait, either whole or filleted. In addition, they can also be eaten as a pan fish! A mature Spot runs 7 to 8-inches in length in the Chesapeake Bay. Spot rarely get over 14-inches in length. We would be real lucky to get one that large in the Ocean City area. Spot tend to run 2 to 6-inches in our area. That’s a perfect size for bait on the small end. The larger ones are big enough to eat and certainly big enough to fillet for bait.

Spot are here early this year, probably because of the mild winter we had. This is good on two fronts. First of all, the little kids have a fish they can catch almost anywhere. You can catch little Spot in the canals, lagoons, marina basins, in shallow parts of the bay near the Route 90 Bridge and from the shallower piers in North Ocean City such as Northside Park, the Pier behind Convention Hall and the pier on the Isle of Wight Bay off of Route 90. For many youngsters, a Spot may be their first fish they catch.

Second of all, small Spot make great bait for predator fish such as flounder, stripers and sheepshead. Anglers keep these Spot in large, round cages, or overnight in their livewell. They then have a larger bait than a minnow that works really well.

“How do we catch Spot?”

Catching Spot is easy as long as you have some sort of worm on the end of the hook. Anglers use little pieces of bloodworm, Artificial FishBite bloodworm or a night crawler. The hooks have to be small! Bait holder type hooks in the size #10 or #8 will do the trick. You can set these up on a top and bottom rig. If you are seriously fishing for bait, use a Sabiki rig and bait each tiny hook with a piece of bait. If these rigs tangle or are just too long, you can cut them in half and make two rigs. We like to make a 3-hook spot rig by taking loose #8 bait holder hooks and making small dropper loops in 20-pound test leader to make an effective rig. Add a sinker to the bottom of your rig, just heavy enough to hold the bottom. Spot like to feed on the bottom. If you are fishing in the canal, lagoon or a Marina basin where there is little or no current, you can get away with ¼ or ½ ounce of weight. Spot feed primarily during the day.

“The kids want to use a bobber!”

If you use a bobber, position it up on your line so the hook comes very close to the bottom. Kids like the visual of a bobber; it will go down or at least wiggle around when a spot hits the hook! These early season Spot are pretty small so don’t expect to catch any that are real big in the bay. It is a fish and the little kids can have fun. Spot feed where anglers catch crabs so families can set up the crabbing equipment and also bait up a little fishing rod at the same time.

“How do I keep the Spot alive for flounder and striper fishing?”

When Spot run out of oxygen, they will die, so the best thing for you to do is set up a portable aerator on a 5-gallon bucket while you are fishing. If you are keeping them for an extended period of time you will need to change the water occasionally when it gets dirty. (Spot poop - especially when they are first caught!) Anglers living on the water usually invest in a Spot keeper of some kind so they always have some live Spot before going fishing. Only a few will live overnight in one of those yellow Flow Trolls that you keep your minnows overboard in. If you try this, keep only a dozen small Spot or even less. If they die but are still fresh, they will still work for bait.

“Are there any eating spot around?”

Pan-size Norfolk Spot are excellent to eat. They never get real big, but if you get one the size of your hand they are good to eat. Most people scale and “head and tail” them before frying them whole. Larger Norfolk Spot can usually be caught from your boat around the Route 90 Bridge channel. Smaller spot are usually found in 3 to 4-foot water while larger spot generally hang in the 5 to 8-foot of water. Spot can also be caught in the Thorofare next to the green marshes, the bay behind Assateague and near the Bridge going into Assateague. Anglers without boats find the Ninth Street Pier, Ocean Pier and the Oceanic Pier good places to catch Spot. Anglers fishing off Homer Gudelsky Park in West Ocean City also see some nice sized spot.

Larger Spot can be caught from the surf with small, size number 6 or 8 hooks baited up with worms or Artificial Fishbite Bloodworm. Larger Spot can be immediately filleted and striped and baited on a larger hook to catch flounder, trout, blues or anything else that’s biting! A Spot head also makes an excellent bait to catch and release sharks in the surf!
Fishing for spot… fun on the fishing front…

Good fishing….

Sue Foster is an outdoor writer and owner of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City, MD and Fenwick Tackle in Fenwick, DE.