- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

With Maryland’s striped bass season closed in the tidal rivers and the Chesapeake Bay (it ended yesterday), only Virginia waters remain open to trollers and bottom jiggers. And some are doing very well, thank you.

Fair numbers of stripers, or rockfish as they’re popularly known, are hanging out between the mouth of the Rappahannock River and the Smith Point Light, around the southern corner of the Potomac River’s mouth. Some of these are trophy fish measuring more than 40 inches.

The problem, as one reader pointed out, is locating the roving bands of rockfish.

“I just about wore the paint off my lures, trolling around the Virginia line,” said the man, “and never had so much as a strike.”

Ken Lamb, who operates the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, knows not all trollers will score.

“These fish stray from one side [of the Chesapeake Bay] to the other on any given day,” he said, “but it is a sure thing that you will find them if you get below the Cut Channel where gulls and gannets are diving into the water.”

The seabirds are trying to snatch scraps of baitfish that remain when the stripers tear into menhaden.

The season remains open until Dec.31 in Virginia waters, but in Maryland it’s over until next year.

Lamb also reminded hard-core cold-weather anglers that white perch remain in the deep holes in the Patuxent River.

“Bottom fishermen who use bloodworms, squid, bare jigs, even night crawlers, can score between Point Patience and the Solomons bridge,” he said. “There seems to be no end in sight.”

No end to the bass either — Potomac River bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) said the winter-style fishing continues. Yes, it’s cold and blustery, but if you wear warm clothes, a life vest, and pay attention to your depth finder to look for dropoffs near deeper water in the tributaries and main stem coves, you’ll catch fish.

“I’ve done very well around the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the Belle Haven area,” he said. “This is a great time of the year for a mixed bag. Quality bass continue to take the avocado Sting Ray grubs coated with Smelly Jelly fish attractant. Most of our bass are being caught in water three to 10 feet deep. I’ve also caught bass on a small, deep-diving crank bait, the Rebel Deep Humpy.”

The pro guide says that this lure is no longer in production, but you might still have a few.

Other small, deep divers should do well also. Dark-color tubes also take a few bass, as will blade baits like the Silver Buddy or small spoons. Large crappies are in the same areas, and they, too, will inhale the Sting Ray grubs.

“Crappies are located at the bottom of the drops in 10 to 14 feet of water,” Andrzejewski said. “Some are also suspended around boat docks that are located adjacent to deep water. A crappie tube fished under a bobber works well around such docks.”

Lukewarm action at Lake Gaston — Our friend Marty Magone fished in Lake Gaston, Kerr Reservoir’s sister impoundment on the Virginia/Carolina border.

“I didn’t exactly set the lake on fire,” he said, “but I managed one 8-pound striper and one 5-pound bass. Both came on spinnerbaits. The upper lake was high and muddy from last weeks rains; down-lake was nice. The water temperature stood at 53 degrees. Stripers and gulls were fighting for the shad on any number of main-lake points, including those around Pea Hill and Pretty Creek.”

Magone added that he saw some anglers catch stripers on Hairy Worm jigs. The Hairy Worm looks like a bucktail, only it’s dressed with artificial hair; a plastic worm in white or chartreuse is rigged onto the hook.

Striper decision postponed — The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says it will wait until 2005 for the results of a new striped bass stock assessment before deciding whether to reopen federal waters to striped bass fishing.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission had recommended that the fisheries division of the NOAA remove the current moratorium on Atlantic striped bass in federal waters.

To determine what action should be taken in response to this recommendation, NOAA Fisheries began preparing an environmental impact statement, but completion has been delayed because of uncertainties in the 2004 Atlantic striped bass stock assessment.

For updates on the development of the striped bass impact statement, go to www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/state_federal/state_federal.htm.

EVENTS

Trout Unlimited chapter meeting — Jan.6, 7:30p.m., at Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. Information: nvatu.org.

Chesapeake fishing series — Starts Jan.10, 7:30 until 9:30p.m.; also Jan.24 and 31; Feb.7, 14 and 28, and again March7 and 14, at Maplewood-Alta Vista Recreation Center, Bethesda. $85 ($95 for non-Montgomery County residents). To register, call 240/777-6870 or go to mcrd.net.

Fly Fishing Show — Jan.15-16, 9a.m.-5p.m., at Reckord Armory, University of Maryland, College Park. Information: flyfishingshow.com or 800/420-7582.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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