- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 9, 2004

“Bass are firmly on their winter patterns,” local Potomac River bass guide Andy Andrzejewski reports. “Ledges with deep water adjacent to shallower ledges are the places to visit. The deep creeks like the Mattawoman and the Occoquan, as well as the areas around the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, is where we spend most of our time.”

The guide uses avocado color Mann’s Sting Ray grubs on 1/4-ounce ball jigs and fishes the lure with the exposed hook coming out about halfway down the grub’s body.

“Smelly Jelly fish attractant works wonders for us in these colder waters,” he added. “Tubes and small plastic worms, as well as jigs’n’ pigs, also work. Silver Buddy-type lures or spoons, such as the half-ounce Crippled Herring, should not be overlooked.”

The guide says his Sting Ray grubs and the Silver Buddy lures also latch onto large crappies, adding, “They really like Sting Ray grubs. Vertically jig them under the boat in about 12 to 14 feet of water. Slowly move the grub about four inches off the bottom and let it drop back down. Bites are subtle.”

By the way, local river bass fans will be kept out of the Smoot Bay area for a while. The perimeter of the bay is being dredged to a depth of 17 feet. Andrzejewski says the dredging will be done within 1,000 feet of the shoreline and a bulkhead will be built around Smoot Bay. All manner of underwater obstructions already have been removed.

“However, sometimes man-made features present fishing opportunities,” the guide says. Here’s hoping that will come to pass.

Red-hot rockfish in Virginia — From Virginia Beach, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association says, “What a week! We have rockfish coming out of our ears. Striped bass are being caught throughout the bay and up and down the coast. The hard part is deciding on which location you want to try. More and more fish over 40 inches are being caught every week. Big chopper bluefish are also roaming around, while speckled trout are being caught in the Elizabeth River.”

Tuna fishermen took note that warm water entered Virginia’s offshore portions, allowing for some great yellowfin tuna catches. Areas like the Triple 0s and the Norfolk Canyon were good places for tasty tuna last weekend.

Meanwhile, the giant bluefin tuna bite off Morehead City, N.C., is nothing short of fantastic. Neill said 700-pounders are being tagged and released 12 miles from the Beaufort Inlet.

… and in Maryland — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Keith Lockwood says there are fishing opportunities for striped bass in the lower Susquehanna River “whether you’re casting lures from the river banks or drifting live bait.”

However, the rockfish action slows down over most of the upper Chesapeake Bay and doesn’t pick up again until you reach the middle parts of the bay.

“The lower bay [including Calvert, St. Mary’s, Dorchester and Somerset counties] at present holds the best prospects for catching a few more nice-sized striped bass before the season ends next week on the 15th,” Lockwood says. “Boats trolling along the deep edges of the shipping channel are catching fish.”

The stripers, however, have not been coming as fast and furious as is now happening down in the mouth of the bay. Northern Virginia’s John McCaslin reports a two-boat charter trip out of Solomons a few days ago resulted in few strikes.

“The fishing was slow. I never reeled in a rockfish, but our party did catch a couple,” he says.

McCaslin reminds us of a wise saying. “In the old days, you’d put out four rods to catch 40 rockfish; now we put out 40 rods to catch four fish,” he says with a smile.

Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if you still encounter breaking schools of rockfish in the waters around the HS Buoy and Buoy 72A. Small metal lures like the Hopkins and Tony spoons and also Rat-L-Traps and other lures that can be fished close to the top and down in the water column are fine when used with spinning rods.

Schools of young rockfish also are seen off Cedar Point at the mouth of the Patuxent River and farther south in the bay at Point No Point.

Freshwater can produce — The upper Potomac from Montgomery County to Washington County can deliver smallmouth bass and walleyes. Jigs and tubes in a variety of colors work well in the calmer eddys.

Bass and crappies also are possible in Virginia’s lakes Anna, Gaston, and Kerr, with Kerr — along the Virginia/Carolina border — giving up the biggest and best crappies, even though the serious crappie hunters down around the lake’s Clarksville area use live minnows on small jigs and slip-bobber rigs.

EVENTS

Chesapeake fishing series — Starts Jan. 10, 7:30 until 9:30 p.m.; also Jan. 24 and 31; Feb. 7, 14 and 28; and March 7 and 1; at Maplewood-Alta Vista Recreation Center, Bethesda. $85 ($95 for non-Montgomery County residents). Call 240/777-6870 or go to mcrd.net on the Web.

Fly Fishing Show — Jan. 15-16, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at Reckord Armory, University of Maryland, College Park. Admission, $14; children under 12, $2. Information: flyfishingshow.com or 800/420-7582.

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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