- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

Our friend Ken Lamb, who runs the Tackle Box shop in Lexington Park (St. Mary’s County), says the rockfish catches continue to be good for trollers and jiggers in the Chesapeake Bay.

“Most of the activity centers around buoy 72 and Smith Point, Virginia,” he said. “But notice the description: good. Not excellent, just good.”

Lamb said most charter fishing boats now return to their St. Mary’s and Calvert counties docks with limit catches for each customer. In fact, a party of my friends, including local river guide Bob Troup, reported on a charter outing aboard the Miss Susie with skipper Greg Buckner out of the Calvert Marina in Solomons.

“He found good-sized fish for all of us,” Troup said. “The man was a pleasure to be with.”

Lamb added that the big white perch continue to bite well under the Patuxent River’s Routes 2/4 bridge, but they’re in deep water that is not easily fished. Trollers who work the Patuxent upstream of the bridge are finding plenty of stripers from 18 to 27 inches. They have been hitting small white bucktails.

At the mouth of the Patuxent, small rockfish have struck jigged metal Hopkins lures or bucktails. One angler said he caught and released dozens of undersized (smaller than 18 inches) rockfish, then hooked one that measured 41 inches and weighed 32 pounds. It goes to show how frantic and odd the catches can be this time of year.

Back out in the Chesapeake, a few bottom jig bouncers have found gray sea trout at buoy 72, but this kind of fishing demands knowledge of depth sounder readings and lots of patience.

Keith Lockwood of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said fishermen in the upper Chesapeake continue to catch stripers from the mouth of the Susquehanna River down to the Bay Bridge. Most of the boaters troll slowly or, when they spot a school of fish on the depth finder, jig with bucktails or heavy spoons along channel dropoffs and around deep bay points.

In the Deale and Chesapeake Beach vicinity, the boats troll slow and deep in 40 feet or more and usually find plenty of small fish. If you see a surface-feeding school, smart jigging under the breaking school can result in keeper rockfish. Lockwood said the mouth of the Choptank seems to be one of the better present locations for this type of action.

Surf catches can be good — Ocean City and Assateague Island surf rodders are hooking large bluefish while standing along the beaches. Some well-fed striped bass also have been seen.

As far as bait goes, cut mullet or whole finger mullets are the way to go. Most of the surf anglers use Hatteras fireball rigs, which consist of a snelled 4/0 hook that has a bright red float attached directly ahead of the hook’s eyelet to keep the bait above the bottom. There’s also a snap swivel onto which a pyramid sinker is attached. Sinker weights range from 3 to 4 ounces for the best holding action.

Freshwater fishing is on — In Maryland, walleyes can be found in Deep Creek Lake near Penn Point, Turkey Neck Point and the Glendale Bridge areas. Brightly colored crankbaits, tubes and soft stick baits will do the job, although a live minnow or shiner might work even better. Smallmouth bass are striking tubes, jerkbaits and medium-sized crankbaits.

In the upper Potomac River, most of the leaves have floated downstream. From Washington County down to Montgomery County, the chance for smallmouth bass in deep pockets is good as tubes, jigs, crankbaits or a live madtom catfish attract bites. The chances for walleyes and tiger muskies are fair to good around Dam No.4 in Washington County.

Much the same kind of fishing (with the exception of tiger muskies) can be expected in Virginia’s James, Rappahannock and Shenandoah rivers.

The big Virginia lakes produce good bass catches. Our friend Marty Magone says he latched onto bass up to 5 pounds in Lake Gaston, using spinnerbaits. Similar reports come from Buggs Island Lake (Kerr Reservoir) and Lake Anna, where crankbaits, grubs, pig’n’jig combos or spinnerbaits turn the trick.

Tidal Potomac still my choice — The tidal Potomac and its feeder creeks continue to deliver bass, crappies, yellow perch and occasional stripers — all on Sting Ray grubs, Road Runners or blade baits, such as the Cicada or Silver Buddy.

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge area’s Fox Ferry rocks or Fox Ferry Point; Spoils Cove; Belle Haven Cove; and downstream creeks like the Occoquan, Mattawoman, Quantico, Potomac or Aquia are giving up bass and crappies.

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

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