- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Hurricane winds and rains that visited the beaches of North Carolina — and Virginia, to some degree — are moving off the coast and well out into the Atlantic Ocean. Weekend fishing along the Maryland and Virginia coastlines still might face a breeze, although the sun will shine and temperatures will be pleasant.

Expect at least some successful inshore and back-bay angling from Ocean City south to Virginia Beach.

The Chesapeake Bay should continue to deliver the goods as striped bass, bluefish, white perch, croakers and Norfolk spot make up the bulk of the catches from above Maryland’s Bay Bridges down to the Virginia line, with the lowest parts of the Chesapeake being good for sheepshead, bluefish, a few big cobias and scattered sea trout.

The heavy rains we’ve had again this week might keep some of the mountain rivers in iffy shape, although current forecasts call for sunny, cooler weather. By the weekend, a lot of clearing could take place in the Potomac, Rappahannock, James and Susquehanna rivers.

Locally, the tidal Potomac is good for largemouth bass. The fish can be found in patches of hydrilla and milfoil inside the creeks or on the main stem. Early hour topwater lures do well, followed by soft plastics as the sun brightens the surface far too much for the bass to be in a rising mood.

Here’s a reminder: Cable TV’s Outdoor Life Network will have a special episode of “Fishing with Roland Martin” tomorrow at 8 p.m. Martin will visit with President Bush on his Crawford, Texas, ranch, where the two spend the day fishing for Florida-strain bass in an 11-acre lake. The two anglers will be accompanied by the presidential pooch, Barney.

You can e-mail us at gmueller@washingtontimes.com

EVENTS

• Trout Unlimited chapter meets — Today, 7:30 p.m., at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, 400 Center Street. The Northern Virginia chapter of Trout Unlimited invites the public to meet Tim Freese, a smallmouth bass fishing guide on the upper Potomac and Shenandoah rivers who can point the way to vastly improved catches. Check the NVTU Web site, www.nvatu.org, for details.

• Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show — Aug. 13-15, at the Showplace, 3000 Mechanicsville Turnpike, Richmond. Lots of displays of hunting equipment. Hunting seminars will be conducted by Tony Knight (of Knight blackpowder rifles), Tom Stuckey and bird dog trainer Waverly Coleman. The NRA Collection of trophy heads will be there. Information: www.sportsmanshow.com or call 804/748.7529.

• Freestate Flyfishers meet — Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m., at Davidsonville Family Recreation Center. Guest speaker Joe Evens will present photos and anecdotes from a week-long trout trip in the southern Andes. Evens was on assignment for Sporting Classics Magazine to fish new waters with guides from Cinco Rios OutFitters In Coihayque, Chile. Information: Mike Price, 410/230-0080.

• Surf fishing school — Sept. 9-12, Oct. 21-24, Outer Banks in Nags Head, N.C. Each session is scheduled to coincide with productive fishing periods. Pro guides Joe Malat and Mac Currin are instructors. Cost: $250. Contact Malat, 252/441-4767; joe@joemalat.com. Motel reservations, 800/334-3302.

(RATINGS KEY: ****=EXCELLENT FISHING; ***=GOOD; **=FAIR; *=POOR.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — In the District, in the stretch near Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461, fletchersboathouse.com), there will be some murky water from heavy early week rains, but by Saturday the water should clear up a lot and allow casting for catfish and bass. River guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) say a good tidal water topwater bite has returned. Bass have been striking poppers and jerkbaits around grass bed edges. When the surface fishing slows, both switch to crankbaits and spinnerbaits. I was with Knupp earlier this week inside a Charles County tributary when he proved how good a 1/8-ounce spinnerbait can be. Casting to small patches of hydrilla and wild celery (wrongly called eel grass by many anglers), he had a bass in the 3- to 4-pound range slam the little spinnerbait just as the tide began to recede. Moments later, another good-sized bass inhaled the lightweight lure. In the Route 301 bridge area, pontoon boat captain Steve Riha (804/224-7062) says he has seen better croaker fishing days, but he locates deep-water white perch and plenty of channel catfish, as well as some croakers. The hardheads simply aren’t biting as well as they have in years past. The lower Potomac, however, say from Piney Point and the St. George’s Island area south to Point Lookout, seems to show better croaker, spot and even some flounder fishing. The Wicomico River croaker bite also isn’t the best right now, but white perch are in the grassy edges of the river.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Bass can be caught on hard jerkbaits and soft, 4- and 5-inch scented plastic worms, such as Berkley’s Power Worm or Strike King’s Zero. Fish around marsh and spatterdock edges during receding tides up and down the creek. The bass will come along eventually. Catfish are in the channel waters, and they like bottom-fished cut baits, liver or clam necks.

40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) should continue to offer sunfish and small bass, while St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) is fine with bluegills, a fair number of largemouths, some decent catfish and small pickerel. Shoreline anglers who bring the kids can score on sunfish with a plain small hook, a little piece of nightcrawler and a bobber set up the line about three feet.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (**) — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117, near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) will turn up sunfish for hook-and-bobber set or flyrodders, as well as some decent bass and channel catfish.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (**) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) There will be some discolored water in the upper ends of the two reservoirs, but by the weekend enough clearing should take place to allow for bass fishing around lake points and submerged structure with plastic worms, spinnerbaits and even some medium depth crankbaits.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Fort Washington’s Andy Corley writes, “Fished on Monday from 4:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. at Hog Point and the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Caught five 12- to 14-inch bluefish, a 20-inch healthy rockfish and two good spot.” Corley says he would have caught more blues had he thought to start out with a steel leader on his line. He lost several when they bit his monofilament line in two. Croaker catches in the river have slowed, but there are still some around. Even a few flounder have been scored around the 3-legged marker in the mouth. The tidal creeks from Solomons up to the Magruder launch ramp in Prince George’s County give up white perch. All you need is a small inline spinner or a 1/8-ounce spinnerbait in white or chartreuse.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (**) — From the area of Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) up to Bull Run there will be a few bass hooked in the side pockets and creeks, but the fishing has not been good because of all this rain we’ve had. Don’t expect great things.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (..) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Rain doesn’t affect this lake as much as it will some others. Bass will take plastic worms or a hard jerkbaits around stickups and points this weekend. Sunfish are readily available, but crappies have scattered.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (*) — We just don’t know what to say. The moment we report the fishing is going to improve, a deluge arrives, and that’s the end of catches for nearly a week. However, good weather is forecast, and there might be some decent smallmouth bass and catfish chances in the next several days.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — Get out early and flip brown or red shad color tubes under boat docks or into grass beds. The smallmouth and largemouth bass will go after them sooner or later. Large bluegills and yellow perch are possible in the deepwater ends of the coves, and some walleyes are caught by bait drifters.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (**) — Weekend bass hounds might score around grass beds and rocky rip raps and boat docks inside the river and out on the grassy Susquehanna Flats, where rockfish show up on the same lures the bass like: soft, white or blue/white jerkbaits and spinnerbaits.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Rockfish trollers and chummers in the upper bay get a few fish, but not many are 18-inch-and-over keepers. The chum boats and bucktail trollers that hang around the Diamonds, Sharps Island, Choptank River mouth, James Island or around the Calvert County side anywhere from the Power Plant down to the mouth of the Patuxent find some nice rockfish now and then, as well as increasing numbers of bluefish. The inshore duck blinds and breakwaters are good for light-tackle white perch catches. All you need is a white inline spinner lure or a Beetlespin. Croakers have been tough to find some days, but the Norfolk spot are hooked if you use bloodworm or crab pieces. In the Southern Maryland waters of St. Mary’s County, chum boats do well, as do some small boaters who watch the seagulls diving on surface bait and then approach quietly to cast topwater poppers, Rat-L-Traps or small gold or silver spoons. The results most often are snapper bluefish or barely legal rockfish, even though the chummers on the Middle Grounds report occasionally hooking stripers in the 4- and 5-pound class, which is well over the required 18-inch minimum. Some flounder come into the chum lines now and then, but sea trout are oddly absent.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck captain Billy Pipkin (804/580-7292) finds bluefish, throwback stripers and some decent croakers. If it’s flounder you want, there have been fair numbers of the flatties around Buoy 42 and the Cell area. Most will be undersized, but you will find a few good keepers during each trip. Bluefish and rockfish have surfaced around the Smith Point Light and provide sport for light tackle users. In the lowest parts of the Chesapeake, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Sport Fisherman’s Association reports big sheepshead continue to be caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Yes, some hefty cobias are seen, but those tough fighting fish are not as numerous as last year. Bluefish are available, but the flounder fishing has slowed considerably.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Some rockfish and snapper bluefish catches are possible at the mouth, but croakers have been hard to come by. At the Cambridge fishing bridge, expect to hook white perch and maybe a spot now and then but not much else. The upper river is murky. Bass fishing has suffered from heavy rains.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Small bass — but plenty of them — are just below Snow Hill, especially where spatterdock fields and sunken wood are plentiful. Four-inch Power Worms or Mann’s Baby 1-Minus lures generally are all you need.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (**) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) The water has been discolored and the fishing isn’t quite as good as it could be, but by the weekend the river around Sharptown and above should give up bass to plastic worms, spinnerbaits and jerkbaits.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) You will need to learn how to fish fairly deep in 10 to 15 feet of water to get your bass now. Of course, the early-morning hours will see some surface or near-surface action around docks and lake points when various poppers and buzzbaits might elicit a strike. The landlocked stripers are on a feeding rampage now and then, but figuring out just when is a chore. They don’t do it in the same place at the same time every morning or evening.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (*) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) The catfish catches have been super in the tidal water, but bass fishing leaves a lot to be desired. If the next several days remain rain-free, the smallies will bite above Fredericksburg clear up to and past I-95.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (**) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Fair to good sunfish and catfish angling will occur tomorrow and over the weekend. The bass picture is fuzzy. The local rains have not helped, but if the weather remains clear, the water also will get better.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (**) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Catfish are almost guaranteed but not bass. They have played tough to get. Sunfish are available to worm-and-bobber users. Crappies are scattered.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (**) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bass fishing could be better, but this is summer doldrums time, so some sluggishness is expected. Again this week, walleye trollers, using electric motors to propel their bass boats, are scoring.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (**) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Catfish again are the top catch. Bass anglers aren’t happy.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) Most of the locals are catching fat bluegills. They’re everywhere, along with some white perch. Bass fishing isn’t the best now.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (***) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Flathead and blue catfish dominate. Some of these catfish are in the 20- to 40-pound range. Where are the bass? Bass anglers are really complaining.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (**) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas continue to show below par catches of smallmouth bass and not many largemouths. Some bass are taken on Zoom Flukes and small grubs and spinners.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (*) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Still slow sledding for largemouth or smallmouth bass, but a few stripers are hooked.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (**) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) The fishing has not been as productive as it should be. Live baits have become the choice for smallmouth bass anglers because the fish have been so finicky.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) The distant offshore fishing still might be hampered by stronger than normal winds, but if it doesn’t blow too much, there will be billfish, dolphinfish and tuna biting. A few wahoos will be on the boats when they return. A little closer in, from the Jackspot to the Fingers, there will be bluefish, while the headboats locate sea bass over the wrecks. Inshore surf fishing should produce a number of kingfish, small flounder and bluefish, while back bay flounder drifters do only fairly.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association says, “The tropical season has gotten under way. Depending on the storms, this can be a great time to fish. It’s the best time of the year to catch a billfish, and wahoos are showing up in good numbers.” He also pointed out the tuna bite hasn’t shown any sign of a letup. But the weather will dictate changes on the drop of a hat. You can be out on fairly calm seas and in a matter of minutes be in the middle of a frightening thunderstorm. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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