- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004

The hottest scuttlebutt this week concerns bass boaters who suddenly and unexpectedly find vicious strikes from river rockfish as they cast topwater and rattling, shallow running lures and even some paddle-tail grubs in minnow colors around river points, sand bars, rock piles and gravel dropoffs in the Potomac River north of Nanjemoy Creek.

There have been striper catches inside the Aquia and Potomac creeks, around the PRFC Buoy alongside the Possum Point Power Plant on the Virginia shoreline and by some of the bridge abutments in Powell and Chopawamsic creeks. The Mattawoman has turned up some rockfish, as have some of the rockpiles upriver toward Marshall Hall.

Meanwhile, the Patuxent River’s small-boaters are casting Rat-L-Traps and Sassy Shads around long, jutting river points and rip-rap, starting with the Chalk Point area and heading downstream toward Golden Beach, Sandgates and Greenwell State Park. The best times usually are just before sunrise and again in the late afternoon, just before the sun creeps behind the treetops.

The big ocean stripers are making an appearance in the Chesapeake Bay, but the fish aren’t jumping onto the trolled umbrella rigs by the hundreds. Rather, the charter and private boats find a whopper now and then but also see quite a few hits from smaller stripers and bluefish.

If the rain isn’t severe today, the weekend promises to be fine for smallmouth bass up in the mountains of Virginia and western Maryland. Largemouth bass will cooperate in secluded, quiet tidal creeks near and far.

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

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

0-35 miles (***) — In the District, the portion of the river near Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461, fletchersboathouse.com) should be fine for some crappies in the cove and a few bass and heavy catfish out in the river. Bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are busy hunting bass but often get a chance to find stripers for their clients. They have been hanging around river points, feeder creek bridge abutments, gravel bars and rock piles. Mann’s Sting Ray grubs are dabbed with Smelly Jelly, or they use Rat-L-Traps and Sassy Shads. Bass jump on the same lures. The weekend won’t be warm, but the creeks will deliver catfish and bass and maybe some nice crappies. Striper trollers are scoring now and then south of the Harry Nice Bridge (Route 301) in Charles County. They troll across toward Colonial Beach and over to the Maryland side and the Wicomico River, then down toward Piney Point and St. George’s Island. Make sure you keep your boat in at least 23 feet of water. Rockfish have been trolled up near the Coan River in Virginia and across in Maryland at Point Lookout.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Don’t be surprised if a striper hangs around and grabs your Rat-L-Trap or Sting Ray grub around Deep Point and the points directly at the mouth. Inside the creek, from Grinder’s Wharf up to Slavin’s ramp in the slow zone, some bass can be hooked on crankbaits, grubs or sinking worms. Crappies are tough to find, but the catfish are crazy about a clam neck or chunk of fish.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) has slowed a bit with the sunnies, but some small bass are available if you cast-and-retrieve shallow to medium diving crawfish-pattern crankbaits. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) the bass will jump on a tube jig or Little N crankbait. Crappies are beginning to school in brushy spots.

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) should deliver bass, sunfish and catfish, but with the onset of colder weather a lot of anglers will hang it up.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) DNR biologists rightfully point out that a lot of fish now need to eat to store up survival fat for the winter time. Take advantage of it. Chances are you will find some bass on crankbaits and sinking, scented worms around lake points and sunken structure. Crappies are getting a little more active now.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb says shoreline casters actually hooked keeper rockfish Sunday inside Oyster Creek in the backwaters of Solomons Island. People were hooking rockfish while standing on marina docks, casting small Acetta spoons. Elsewhere, stripers up to 6 and 7 pounds have been jumping on blue/chrome Rat-L-Trap lures and white Sassy Shads around river polints from Benedict down to Greenwell State Park. Early and late hours are best. White perch also are around.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — From the area of Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) up to Bull Run, it’s time to go after crappies and bass. The crappies are starting to school inside brush and sunken structure. Live minnows under a bobber are deadly. The bass like crayfish color crankbaits.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Let’s repeat last week’s suggestion: Try a small shad dart no bigger than 1/16-ounce 21/2 to 3 feet under a bobber and cast into brush piles and fallen trees. The crappies will do the rest. Bass are likely to look at a crankbait.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) — A good time to look for smallmouths, although there will be a lot of leaves and dead water grasses making your life miserable. Stick to it. Fish a tube or grub. Hop it around the rock-filled bottoms between Knoxville and the Seneca Breaks, and you’ll score.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — The DNR’s Keith Lockwood says the lake really has turned on. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are jumping on a variety of lures around the deep-water rock-filled points. Crankbaits, tubes, jigs, spinners and spinnerbaits — all can work well. Water temperatures are falling. They’re down in the 50s now.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (***) — A variety of striped bass (many of them small) and largemouth bass are available from Port Deposit down to the Susquehanna Flats. Some stripers are taken on topwater poppers.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — The upper bay around the Susquehanna Flats on down toward the mouth of the Chester River shows some keeper stripers that attack trolled bucktails and spoons. In the areas below the Route 50 Bay Bridges, the chum boats are slowly giving up and switching to trolling. There are huge amounts of juvenile stripers swimming about, and some boaters are growing tired of them, taking them off the hooks and releasing them, because everybody is hoping for a November trophy rockfish. Some people are getting a whopper now and then. Captain Randy Powers (301/872-9321) on the Shannon IV trolled around in Southern Maryland waters, and an 11-year-old aboard, Travis Clarke, caught one that measured 43 inches. Powers also had one 34-incher and a 36-incher. Charter captain Greg Buckner (301/873-1327) had a 38-inch rockfish between Buoy 72 and Hooper’s Island Light, but the majority of trollers say the catches of large rockfish are not yet up to par. It will get a lot better shortly.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck captain Billy Pipkin (804/580-7292) says striper fishing is great. Many boaters are still chumming and finding 22- to 26-inch fish. Chummers do well at the Northern Neck reef, as well as the Asphalt Pile. As usual, bluefish catches have dropped off as cooler weather arrives, although there are some breaking blues seen daily inside the Rappahannock River. Sea trout have been tough to find. Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association reports that in the lowest parts of the Chesapeake, small- to medium-size stripers are found around any bridge pilings, but sea trout anglers need to go to Lynnhaven Inlet or the Poquoson Flats and Goodwin Island.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Upper river bass fishing above and below the town of Denton can be good some days. The lower river at the mouth shows some rockfish, but it’s nothing special.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Tons of small bass but also an occasional 3- and 4-pounder between Snow Hill and Pocomoke City. Crankbaits and plastic worms continue to produce in sunken brush and stumps.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) The Marshyhope can turn up a few bass, but it’s the Vienna area where bass hunters get a surprise as they cast a topwater lure or a spinnerbait and suddenly find a rockfish at the end of their lures. Marsh bank points are good places to look for the rockfish.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) You will find good catches of bass on shallow- to medium-depth crankbaits around lake points and brush piles, rip-rap and dock pilings. Occasional rockfish catches are reported.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (**) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Upper river smallmouth bass will take grubs, tubes, jigs or small crankbaits this weekend if there is no sudden heavy rain. The tidal water sectors below Fredericksburg have delivered catfish and some decent-size bass.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Crappies are the fish to look for. Check out brushy areas, sunken brush piles, etc. There are good bass chances also with shallow crankbaits, such as Mann’s Baby 1-Minus.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (**) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass catches have slowed, but crappies still deliver the goods if you can find a concentration of them in sunken brush or trees.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and sinking “fat” worms will be looked at by bass in all the creeks and main lake rocks or grass. The grasses, by the way will die off and make fishing a mess.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) — (Route 58, Clarksville) It’s crappies for many visitors who use live minnows and slip-bobber rigs to fish in 10 and 12 feet of water. Bass are inside the creek points, and they will hop on a crankbait.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (***) — (Williamsburg area) There are good bass catches, at least by the fellow who was in the BASS shootout tournament. Jigs, worms and crankbaits were attacked inside the river. Catfish also continue to bite.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (***) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Catfish are active, but bass catches are only so-so.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (***) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas will be fine for bass, channel cats and redbreasted sunfish.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Some stripers are found down around the “S” Curve. Bass have been cooperating around boat houses and in stump fields if you cast and retrieved a medium-depth crankbait.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Smallmouth bass will bite almost any lure in your tackle box. Some fine catfish and sunnies are hooked as well.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Offshore fishing has been slow, but that in part can be blamed on wind and rapidly cooling water temperatures. A few yellowfin and bluefin tunas are found, however. Large bluefish are still out in the ocean, but they’re ready to head south. The best action is coming from the Ocean City Inlet where tautog are fooled by green crab or sand flea baits.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says good seabass catches are made on the wrecks from the Tower Reef on out. Triggerfish and an occasional sheepshead are found on the same wrecks. The Triangle Wrecks are great for sea bass, and the same area also delivers bluefish. At the Fingers, you’re likely to happen into a tuna or two. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

EVENTS

• Trout Unlimited chapter meets — Today, 7:30p.m. Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. Meet Craig N. Roghair, a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Blacksburg, Va.

• Free firearms safety locks — Today-tomorrow, at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Arundel Mills in Hanover, Md., noon to 6p.m. Named Project ChildSafe, this is a national program which hopes to distribute 20million gun safety kits nationwide.

Waterfowl Festival — Nov.12-14, throughout the city of Easton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Informaton: waterfowlfestival.org, 410/822-4567.

Reach us via email at gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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