- The Washington Times - Friday, October 1, 2004

Here we go again. This time let’s blame Hurricane Jeanne and whatever was left of her storm-driven rains that inundated the Middle Atlantic States. The Potomac River in Washington looks like coffee with cream, its water runs swift and it’s rising. The same river along its mountain course from Washington County down to Montgomery County isn’t in much better shape. In other words, forget the fishing for smallmouth bass and other species for a few days.

All the same, some of our tidal water bass hounds will fish and probably do quite well in the river’s Charles County and Prince William County tributaries. Early mornings are perfect for casting loud, gurgling popper lures along weedbed edges and, as the sun rises, for switching to shallow crankbaits or plastic worms that rigged “wacky-style.” It simply means you run a hook through the middle section of the worm and cast it without added weight into the weedy patches, then slowly retrieve it. The bass will do the rest.

The Chesapeake Bay’s upper portions will be discolored from muddy waters blowing through the Conowingo Dam in the Susquehanna River, but the lower Chesapeake from the Calvert Cliffs area down into Virginia will be fishable. Rockfish, bluefish, sea trout, spot and white perch should make an outing worthwhile.

If the wind is kind and doesn’t blow up a gale, there will be catches of tunas, billfish and bluefish taken in the Atlantic from Maryland’s offshore regions into Virginia and North Carolina. Even some surf action is possible as the channel bass (red drum) begin their autumnal feeding sprees in shallow ocean waters.

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

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

0-35 miles (***) — In the District, Danny at Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461, fletchersboathouse.com) said, “The water is muddy, swift and rising. I don’t think there’ll be a lot of fishing done in the next several days.” River guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) find some decent bass catches in the feeder creeks from western Charles County, Md., across to Prince William County, Va. The fishing actually is quite simple. Find a weed-line or a big grass bed, and if the sky is overcast, start throwing Frenzy Poppers or Pop-R topwater lures and hang on. Quite often the bass will do the rest. Also work a “wacky-rigged” Zero or Senko worm and watch the bass climb aboard in the weedbeds. The edges of the green stuff are fine for casting and retrieving shallow- and medium-depth crawfish-pattern crankbaits. Nothing much is happening right now at the Route 301 bridge, but from just a little downstream of there and on toward St. George’s Island and Smith Creek and across the Potomac to Virginia’s Coan River, expect a mixed bag of snapper bluefish, various sizes of rockfish, white perch and perhaps a sea trout or two. Some spot and croakers are available as well.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Bass continue to smack a topwater popper or small buzzbait around obstructions or spatterdock pockets, as well as hydrilla beds. Catfish love cut bait, clam snouts or liver strips.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (**) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) shows some sunfish and, if you’re lucky, a trout or two. The place was supposed to be stocked Tuesday. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) there’s a good chance for bass and sunfish. The fishing can be quite good, but a small johnboat can double your catches over those made from the bank.

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 some channel catfish of note, but after the heavy rain the bass fishing will slow down.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (**) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) The upper ends of the reservoirs will be discolored from rain runoff. The fishing has been kind of slow, say bass anglers who are regulars.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — The upper river will be all messed up again after the heavy area rains. We don’t see any decent bass or perch catches coming from around Jug Bay and above. But in the salty waters above and below Benedict you can catch all the white perch you want. Use crab or bloodworm bait or a small spinner or spinnerbait, such as a Beetlespin. In the mouth of the river, breaking schools of rockfish and bluefish are common. Catch them trolling small spoons or cast rattle baits or topwater poppers to feeding fish. Think small when it comes to lure size.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (**) — From the area of Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) up to Bull Run, expect discolored water and diminished bass catches, although the channel catfish will strike clam necks or cut fish chunks.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) There will be some decent bass hooked early in the day around lake points and obstructions. The catfish and sunfish also will bite even after the rains we have had.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (*) — Forget it for a few days. Many parts are swift and discolored.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (**) — Bass fishing has slowed a bit, but that was during a time of heavy rains. Could improve greatly by tomorrow.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (.) — Nothing doing. A bunch of flood gates are open to discharge muddy rain water from the Pennsylvania parts of the river. Fishing will come to a grinding halt.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — It will be a hit-or-miss affair for many Bay boaters this weekend. The upper Bay is sure to be murky with lower than normal catches of rockfish. However, as you head down the Chesapeake, you will be fine with many rockfish, bluefish, sea trout, spot and white perch holding court in shallow and deep water, depending on the species you’re after. Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box says the chumming is excellent. Rockfish are steadily getting bigger on the Middle Grounds, where chummers are hooking quite a few 22- to 25-inch rockfish every day. Blues are roaming over vast areas of the Chesapeake, and they will cooperate if you troll a spoon, a surgical tubing lure or an umbrella rig made up of Sassy Shads or bucktails. Many of the bluefish are caught as they raise a ruckus on the surface and anglers cast rattle lures or topwater chug baits at them. Tangier Sound will be alive with blues, rockfish and some decent flounder.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck Capt. Billy Pipkin (804/580-7292) didn’t get in touch with us, but we expect he’s finding plenty of bluefish, rockfish, sea trout and spot along the Northern neck from Smith Point clear down to the Rappahannock River mouth. In the lowest parts of the Bay, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association says, “The spot bite has been absolutely ridiculous. Fishing has been good inside Lynnhaven Inlet. It’s not unusual to fish for a couple of hours and catch over 100 spot.” Many of those hooked will be of citation size. The Baltimore Channel near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has been good for flounder drifters. If it’s speckled sea trout you want, Mobjack Bay, Poquoson Flats and Lynnhaven are home to the trout.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) There are fair spot, bluefish and striper chances in the mouth, but we don’t expect much to happen in the upper river because of the recent awful weather.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) The saltwater portions deliver spot, sea trout, rockfish and some schools of surface-feeding bluefish. Inside the river, especially from Pocomoke City upstream, there’s a chance for bass but expect some discoloration.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (**) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) Bass fishing will be on a downward slide for a few days until things clear more.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Some decent bass will be taken on early morning topwaters or slow-fished spinnerbaits around lake points, stickups and private docks. Fish a Senko or Zero worm along creek points and drops and see whether a bass won’t inhale it.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (*) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Upper river smallmouth fishing should be at a standstill considering all the rain we’ve had. That rainy, muddy mixture is washing into the tidal parts at Fredericksburg and beyond. The largemouth bass chances will be way down.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (**) — (Route 793, off Route 29) A few bass and quite a few catfish will cooperate even though you can bet the place is discolored.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (**) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Catfish, maybe. Not much of anything else until the lake settles down and things clear up.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (**) — (Route 46, Gasburg) For some reason, the bass fishing simply hasn’t been delivering the goods. Some are caught to be sure, but it’s not as good as it has been in years past. Some walleyes and stripers are hooked on live shiners.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (**) — (Route 58, Clarksville) The water is up from rain runoff. The bass fishing is poor, but some fat catfish are taken. Stripers have vanished, it appears, yet we know they are there. Crappie action is fair.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) Rain has hurt bass catches. Some blue catfish are hooked on cut herring bait.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (*) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Wait until all the muddy water reaches Richmond and beyond, brought on by the heavy mountain rains.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (*) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas are not fishable.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (**) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) A few stripers are hooked, but the water isn’t in good shape.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (*) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Forget it. Muddy and fast water doesn’t make for ideal fishing.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Depending on wind forecasts, if it doesn’t blow there will be plenty of tuna, some billfish and sharks, bluefish and even a few dolphinfish. Inshore waters deliver sea bass, and once you come into the Ocean City surf areas, there will be snapper blues, kingfish, some flounder and perhaps a red drum or two. It’s time for the redfish to start showing up.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association reports continued good tuna, false albacore and billfish action in the offshore canyon waters. In close, in places like Rudee Inlet at Virginia Beach, you can catch large spot and speckled sea trout. Haven’t heard anything good about the flounder fishing on the Eastern Shore. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

EVENTS

Free State Fly Fishers meeting — Oct.6, 7:30p.m. at Davidsonville (Md.) Recreation Center’s Ford Hall. Fly fishing guide Larry Coburn will speak about trout fishing tactics and will provide a wealth of tips. Information: Jim Pryne, 410/674-2596.

U.S. Sailboat Show — Oct.8-11, 10a.m. to 6p.m., City Dock and Harbor, Annapolis. Admission $16 ($8 for children 12 and under), less if bought in advance. More than 250 sailboats from daysailers and catamarans to ocean-going high performance boats, marine apparel, electronics, booths that sell sails, cookbooks, sunglasses — you name it. Ticket information, 410/267-6711; show information, 410/268-8828.

U.S. Powerboat Show — Oct.15-17, 10a.m. to 6p.m., at City Dock and Harbor, Annapolis. Admission $16 ($8 for children 12 and under), less if bought in advance. Come and see dozens of sportfishermen, offshore and cruising boats, center consoles, yachts, jetboats and runabouts. Buy nautical equipment, accessories, marine electronics. Ticket information, 410/267-6711; show information, 410/268-8828.

Reach us via e-mail at gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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