- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2001

Even if it appears that summer has returned, don't believe it. The fish in the Washington area tell a different story. From the tidal water bass portions of the Potomac, Patuxent and Rappahannock rivers to the wide Chesapeake Bay, there's action galore.

"The Potomac's bass seemed to be on a rampage this week," said top river guide, Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509), "My clients were hooking nice, fat largemouths inside the Mattawoman Creek using simple crankbaits along the edges of marsh banks, just clear of snagging weeds. On many occasions, the bass were suspended from three to five feet down and it didn't matter how deep the rest of the water was. The fish would be there, and they'd slam a quarter-ounce shad-finish crankbait."

The same type of action is experienced in some of the Potomac's Virginia feeder creeks, including the Aquia, as well as other creeks on the Maryland side of the river. The best lures: Deep Baby N's, quarter ounce Storm and Rebel crankbaits that look like a small shad or a fat minnow. Work blown-down trees, grass edges, and sharp drops between shallow marsh banks and deeper channel ledges. If that doesn't work, always have one rod ready with a 4-inch scented worm in blue fleck or watermelon.

Chesapeake Bay fans will have an absolutely awesome time hooking rockfish, bluefish and a few sea trout. Sure, the croakers are starting to head out and fewer are available, but you won't believe how many rockfish are seen all over the Chesapeake.

It starts with our friend Ken Lamb, who reports from his Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, St. Mary's County. Lamb says whenever you have settled weather (like this weekend), there'll be no shortage of fish. Rockfish and blues will dominate over large Bay areas, from Point No Point Light to Point Lookout in the west and Tangier Sound in the east. Not only that, flounder will take drifted minnows around markers 74 and 76.

"The rockfish are acting like it's the end of October instead of the beginning," says Lamb. "The schoolies are everywhere, breaking on bait. Many are small, just at the 18-inch limit, but there are plenty of 20- to 22-inch fish mixed in. Everyone is anxious for the first of the ocean run of rockfish to begin. These are tackle breakers in excess of 40 inches, but it will be a couple of weeks before we see the first of them."

Lamb also reports that rockfish in keeper sizes are up in the rivers now with nice specimens taken in the St. Mary's River, off the Potomac near St. George's Island. The stripers can be caught in shallow water in the evenings on Sassy Shads, Rat-L-Traps or Bomber Long A's. The Patuxent also shows rockfish on all the points and rocky shore lines for trollers and casters. Trolling a Tony #14 or #15 spoon is a good way to bring home a fish dinner.

Bluefish are taken with the rockfish at the Gas Docks. The blues generally measure from 14 to 24 inches and many of the fish are hooked by surface lure casters. Some heavier bluefish have been taken down by the Target Ship.

In freshwater action, the upper parts of the Shenandoah, Rappahannock, James, Potomac and Susquehanna rivers are alive with smallmouth bass, sunfish and channel catfish. The smallmouths go ga-ga over a root beer-color tube bait or small topwater poppers early in the day. If you find a rocky stretch of river that is not loaded with floating or still growing grass, try a lipped crankbait in the quarter-ounce size for often terrific catches.

Local reservoir fans should give Maryland's Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge a shot. The Prince George's-Montgomery-Howard counties water supply lakes have been fine for bass, sunfish, pike and walleyes. The catches are far better than one would think of old water reservoirs.

The Atlantic Ocean fronts deliver flounder, increased numbers of sea trout and some fat croakers in the backwaters of Ocean City, Chincoteague Island, and Wachapreague. Offshore waters have been a washout, what with the recent horrific winds, but the tunas are still out in the distant canyon waters of Maryland and Virginia.

Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Friday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller @washingtontimes.com.

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