- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2005

Today marks the resumption of our expanded warm-weather fishing reports. For newcomers to the area, we’ll point the way to dozens of angling spots in Maryland, the District and Virginia.

Included are catches, water conditions when available, driving distances from downtown Washington and occasional telephone numbers of concessionaires, guides and charter captains in case you’re looking for professional help.

The fishing begins with the tidal Potomac River, where weekend bass tournaments already are under way, and sometimes they can tax your patience. Imagine planning an outing at a local public boating facility, such as a state park, and being told you have to wait to launch your boat because the Hawg Beaters from Crooked Knee, Pa., are having their annual Mister Bass contest. Lord, give me the strength to make it through another summer.

The main stem of the river continues to look murky and quite discolored, with floating debris seen from recent rain storms. However, some of the feeder creeks in Charles County, Md., and Prince William County, Va., are quite fishable, delivering largemouth bass, catfish and perch. The bass have shown a preference for 4-inch red plastic worms, medium-diving red crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps, or slow-rolled white spinnerbaits.

On the Chesapeake Bay, many boaters are doing the catch-and-release thing now, practicing for the Maryland trophy striper season that begins April16. Only 28-inch-and-over specimens will be legal, and one fish an angler per day is the limit.

A reminder that the Coastal Conservation Association’s Northern Virginia chapter is conducting a Striper Fishing Super Seminar next Wednesday, 6:30p.m., at Fairfax City’s Old Town Hall, corner of Main Street and University Drive. Captains Charlie Sisson and Bruno Vasta promise to share their secrets for successful trophy striper trolling in the middle Chesapeake’s waters. A question-and-answer session follows the experts’ presentation. For details, call Rob Allen, 703/626-2668.

(Ratings key: ****=excellent fishing; ***=Good; **=Fair; *=Poor.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (**) — In the District, a new concessionaire has taken over the old Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road), but water conditions have prevented boats from being rented. The river needs more clearing, but herring, white perch and early arrivals of hickory shad are sure to make their presence known when things settle down. The main stem of the river is still strongly discolored, but the various feeder creeks of the Potomac show fishable waters with willing bass, crappies, some perch and strong channel catfish. Bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are busy hunting bass in the usual places from Charles County creeks across to Prince William County feeders. Four-inch plastic worms in red with a black vertical line have been deadly on bass, but don’t forget to try Rat-L-Trap lures in red or firetiger colors, as well as slow-rolled spinnerbaits with flashy blades. The saltier parts of the river from the Route 301 bridge down to the Wicomico River and beyond are not yet showing spring arrivals of croakers (hardheads), but soon-to-spawn stripers are heading up the river toward the District.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (**) — Because of recent southwest winds, this creek was affected by muddy water and poor conditions, but the insides of the creek, from Grinder’s Wharf up to Slavin’s ramp in the slow zone, shows some bass and crappie activity. If things clear up more, herring will be dipped up at Mason Springs in the Route 225 sector.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (**) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) has shown little thus far, but some trout and sunfish are available and diligent bass hounds get their fish while working grubs and jigs, small spinnerbaits and the like. Forget St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) for a while. Repairs are being made at the dam outflow system and the lake waters have been lowered. If you can reach underwater brush or stickups, crappies are beginning to school.

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 and catfish, but rains and wind haven’t made things easy here.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Bass, crappies, bluegills and even occasional walleyes have been active. Deep-diving crankbaits along rocky points, or working a jig, grub or plastic worm in the backs of deeper coves can result in a good bass, but it has to be released because the season isn’t open yet.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (*) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb says local charter fishing captains are mostly out in the bay practicing catch-and-release fishing for stripers in anticipation of the April16 opener of the trophy rockfish season. Lamb says no croakers are taken yet. Even the commercial netters aren’t finding many, although quite a few rockfish are found in the mesh. Upper river is muddy and slow to clear, but white perch are in the upper reaches, along with spawned-out yellow perch and some bass.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (**) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area, ranger Smokey Davis says the reservoir isn’t in the best of shape because of the heavy rains. If things clear up a little, crappies would be willing to take a live minnow in shoreline brush, and a bass or two might pick up a scented worm or grub.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (**) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Try a small shad dart no bigger than 1/16-ounce some 2 to 3 feet under a bobber and cast into brush piles and sunken tree branches. 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 (*) — Not now. Water hasn’t settled down. But next week might be perfect for smallmouth bass.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (**) — Wind has been awful up here, but at least the ice is gone. A few trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass are hooked, with the coves giving up yellow perch and scattered crappies. It’s still slow, though.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (**) — Wind, rain and muddy water haven’t done much to improve the fishing here. White perch are in the river, as are stripers and a few bass. The same holds for hickory shad in Deer Creek, but fishing conditions aren’t yet suitable.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (*) — Upper bay has been a windy mess what with muddy rain runoff from the Susquehanna. Discolored water is seen clear down past Poplar Island and Tilghman Island. But boaters are out trying their trolling techniques as they run lures in anticipation of the trophy striper season which is to start April16. Now, however, all rockfish must be let go. In the Southern Maryland bay waters, nothing doing yet on the croakers everyone is waiting for. It might happen this weekend. They’re due. By now they should be up in the Potomac toward the Route 301 bridge, yet no one has caught any.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (*) — Stripers are heading up the bay and soon will be taken by Marylanders as their trophy season begins April 16. In Virginia the trophy season in the Chesapeake and its tributaries runs May 1 through June 15. Minimum size limit is 32 inches with one fish allowed a day for each angler but no striper of 32 inches or larger can be kept in upper spawning reaches of Virginia’s tidal waters. Croakers are showing up in commercial nets down around the James River and lower Rappahannock River. Still, the large number of croakers we should be seeing has not yet materialized.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Upper river is murky but fishable with white perch the main fare. Some decent bass are seen in the Denton area. Don’t be surprised if you latch onto a hickory shad in the Red Bridges sector.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Good water color and plenty of bass action say DNR personnel. Plastic worms and shallow crankbaits will turn the trick.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) The Marshyhope Creek and the main stem have seen good bass catches during falling tides. Plastic worms, jigs, grubs, tubes, crankbaits and spinnerbaits will see action along marsh drops and water-logged tree root systems.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Now’s the time to fish Anna. You might not hook 100 bass a day, but what you catch might be a wallhanger. It’s time to break out the dark-colored lizards with chartreuse feet. You can use chartreuse dye if you can’t find ready molded worms in that color. One fellow I know took black Senko and Zero worms and dyed just the very end tips of the worms in chartreuse, then caught some nice bass in anywhere between the Splits and the upper lake areas’ brush piles, shore drops and creek points. Slow-rolled, large spinnerbaits also work. Crappies are active.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (*) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Nothing doing because of runoff and muddy water, but it’s time for herring, white perch and shad to come into Fredericksburg. Nowadays, of course, they won’t stop there. They’ll keep going upriver since the Embrey Dam was blown.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Crappies are the fish to look for. Check out brushy areas, sunken brush piles, etc. Good bass chances also with shallow crankbaits, such as Mann’s Baby 1-Minus or short plastic worms. Hopefully, by the weekend there’ll be more clearing.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (**) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologist John Odenkirk says this is the best of the public fishing lakes in his district. “Plenty of crappies, bass, sunfish and catfish, even some heavy walleyes,” he said.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bass hound Marty Magone says, “Went down to the lake, water temperature was 60 degrees, caught some nice fish on rocky points, but for more consistency had to cast to boat docks in 10 to 12 feet of water.” Magone used a Sting Ray grub or a Senko plastic worm.

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’ll hop on a crankbait, but expect high, dingy water.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) White perch, catfish and a few bass. Perch are way up in the river, near Walker Dam.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (**) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) The big blue catfish haven’t been as active this week or last. River water color isn’t good, but it could be fished for cats. Some stripers are seen, caught by catch-and-release Sassy Shad users. Bass catches have been down.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (**) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas are higher than normal with plenty of discoloration, but Front Royal angler Dick Fox says it’s fishable. Some largemouths and smallmouths are possible. Numbers are not high, however.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (**) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Some stripers are found down around the “S” curve. Bass might bite around boat houses and in stump fields. Soft plastics and medium diving crankbaits are the ticket.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (**) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Smallmouth bass are possible if it doesn’t pour this weekend. Some decent 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. Blame it on strong wind and constantly changing weather conditions. Offshore boats can find seabass and tautog on wrecks and the surf has seen a few stripers, but that’s it.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says good tautog and seabass catches are possible over the offshore wrecks. Tuna catches have been great down in North Carolina waters and they’ll be here before you know it. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

Want to reach us via e-mail. It’s gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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