- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb says stripers in Southern Maryland waters are plentiful for trollers, casters, chummers and live liners. Best of all, it appears the fish are getting bigger in his part of the Chesapeake.

“Some big rockfish have been smashing topwater lures at the rock pile in the mouth of the Patuxent River at Cedar Point,” he adds. The striped bass also are found inside the river on most of the bars and ledges, but it’s best to fish an ebb tide after the sun sets or during the pre-dawn hour.

Good rockfish action also is reported in the upper parts of the Chesapeake, where bucktail and spoon trollers find enough 18-inch keepers to make an outing worthwhile. The ratio roughly has been one keeper for very four or five fish hooked. The stripers cooperate from the Chester River’s Love Point south to the Bay Bridge and then onward from Thomas Point to the Diamonds and down to the general Gooses vicinity.

The tidal rivers in the Washington area have been an absolute delight as concerns the catching of white perch, catfish and, in many cases, Norfolk spot. The Potomac and Patuxent deliver the goods, as do some of the upper Chesapeake’s rivers, including the Choptank, Chester, West and South. We’ve hooked the perch and channel “cats” by simply casting small spinnerbaits into shallow waters around rip-rap and duck blinds.

The upper tidal Potomac River continues to deliver largemouth bass on soft plastics fished inside the weeds, but many are small and you need to work long and hard to find a few whoppers. It can be done, especially during falling tides.

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

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — The Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road, 202/244-0461) reports more typical summer catches: a few bass, plenty of catfish. Much the same happens as you head downstream. Charles County bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) says, “You can limit your time on the water to the last 21/2 hours of an outgoing tide and the first hour of an incoming tide. We are having only limited success on the high end of the tide but are catching up to 40 bass a day on the few hours of the low end. Our best bait has been the 4-inch Wacko worm in basic pumpkin colors. Work the drops in the creeks, especially in front of any marsh run-off. In the shallower areas, we rig the worm weedless and weightless. Near the deeper drops, we add a 1/16-ounce slip sinker and sometimes peg the sinker about 12 inches above the lure. Many of the bass are small, but action is fast. Crush the barbs on your hooks for catch and release fishing. We have noticed a good number of dead bass on the grasses in Chicamuxen Creek. It could be from the heavy fishing pressure the creek is receiving and the deep hooking of the bass. Meanwhile, Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) has been finding bass upriver in the general Woodrow Wilson Bridge area, where he finds action in coves and ditches, over sunken wood and gravel bars. The main lure is a small plastic worm, sometimes fished on a drop-shot rig. Downriver, Ken Lamb reports that spot and perch are the mainstay in the mouth of the Wicomico between Cobb Island and Bushwood. Boat renters at Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) are loading up on spot and perch, and a few croakers are also in the mix. Spot are plentiful in the Potomac at Ragged Point, Cornfield Harbor, Piney Point and most everywhere in between.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — The bass catches can be quite good if you happen to catch a good moving tide very early in the day. Soft, scented plastic worms can do the job, and a loud blunt-nosed popper will be looked at around weed bed edges before the sun boils the water.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (..) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) delivers some bluegills and young bass, while more bluegills, bass and a few catfish are the ticket for shore walkers who visit very shallow St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road).

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) don’t turn up great catches during the middle of the day, but if you get there when it isn’t steaming hot, you’ll find willing sunfish, catfish and some fine bass. The bass will jump on a scented Power Worm or a blunt do-nothing worm like the Senko or Zero.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) are excellent choices even in the heat of summer. Always remember that a lot of fish in either of these lakes die of old age; that’s how safe they are. Don’t ever think that there’s a lack of fish here. For bass, work with a plastic worm or a slowly retrieved spinnerbait around obstructions, rocks, fallen wood, lake points. Early hours are good for a Pop ‘R surface lure cast and splashed about in brushy spots or around sharp lake points.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) —Norfolk spot are plentiful in the river from Benedict to the mouth where it joins the bay in the area known as the Chinese Muds. The spot come in all sizes, from tiny to jumbo. Bloodworms or the artificial Bag ‘O Worms by the Fishbites Co. will bring eager strikes from spot in all the usual locations including the Hawk’s Nest in the mouth of Cuckold Creek, Drum Point, Seven Gables, Town Creek, Green Holly, the Three Legged marker, Point Patience and other places. White perch and rockfish are in the shallows, with the stripers especially hanging around river bars and points very early in the day.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area, park ranger Smokey Davis reports, “Carolina-rigged plastics were the method and lures used by the majority of tournament bass anglers over the past weekend. The winning six-fish bag totaled 161/4 pounds, with the biggest bass weighing 51/2 pounds. Long, deep, main lake points and the mouths of deep coves were primary target areas. The crappie bite was very good for this time of the year, with fish up to 14 inches caught off the boardwalk on small jigs tipped with minnows. Catfish continue to take chicken livers and clam snouts, and some nice bluegills are taken on Mepps spinners. The lake is clear with water temperatures between 82 and 86 degrees.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Surprisingly good numbers of bass are available if you get here early or on an overcast day, then cast scented plastics, like the garlic-flavored Zero worm from Strike King around lake points and stickups. Bluegills and catfish are in good supply.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (…) — The river is running low and clear says the DNR. Fishermen are finding mostly small bass on a variety of tubes, jigs, grubs, worms and topwater lures from Washington County down to Montgomery County’s Edwards Ferry.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (301/596-5712, evenings) and friend Oatus Oakum found largemouth bass along grass bed edges in the lake, as well as under floating docks, using fringed tubes or 4-inch finesse worms in watermelon seed and crawfish colors. Big bluegills and yellow perch will suck in a piece of nightcrawler fished under a bobber.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — Not much water has moved through the Conowingo Dam lately, so the water flow is slow. But bass and perch are available in good numbers throughout the Port Deposit to Havre de Grace stretch. The Susquehanna Flats’ grass beds show bass, perch and a few fat stripers.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, buzzsmarina.com), in St. Jerome’s Creek, St. Mary’s County, says, “I still think the heat has been keeping some of the boaters away, but the ones who have braved it have found nice fish. The rockfish are still around in good sizes and numbers, mixed with blues. This weekend there were breaking fish right outside the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek. The Point No Point Lighthouse produced 30-inch rockfish, while one of our customers decided to avoid the crowds at the Southwest Middle Grounds so he fished the edge of the channel north of the Target Ship at the 19-foot ledge. He and a friend chummed up blues and stripers when the lines suddenly got heavier, and they started pulling in red drum. On the Middle Grounds down to the Target Ship, plenty of croakers were found. Charter captain “Walleye” Pete Dahlberg headed to the Tangier Sound with cut bait and found beautiful flounder for his customers.” Meanwhile, Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box says the rockfish seem to be getting bigger. “We had many rockfish from 25 to 35 inches brought in this week by anglers using live spot on the edge of the ship channel from Punch Island all the way to the Target Ship. Some cobia and red drum have shown up the the chum lines below Buoy 72 and in the Triangle area south of Point Lookout. Surf casters find a few rockfish off the seawall at Point Lookout State Park, casting bucktails and Sassy Shads. Moving up the Chesapeake, trollers and chummers have scored from Parker’s Creek and the Goose up toward Thomas Point Light and the Diamonds. In the upper bay, the number and quality of striped bass is wonderful. Keith Lockwood says they’re biting from the Bay Bridge to Brewerton Channel. Fish are caught at Baltimore Light, the Triple Buoys, Swan Point, Love Point, Hickory Thicket and Sandy Point Light. Trollers stay in at least 35 feet of water.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Northern Neck charter captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com or 804/580-7292) says, “There has been a noticeable increase in the number of Spanish mackerel moving through the Northern Neck region. These swift predators are feeding on massive schools of tiny shiners between the mouths of the Rappahannock and Great Wicomico rivers. Often mixed with bluefish, these tasty fish add yet another dimension to our local fishing.” Pipkin adds that 1- to 3-pound bluefish are roaming vast areas of the bay’s waters, many of them erupting on the surface as they feed on baitfish. Breaking fish have been caught by topwater lure casters outside of the Rappahannock River mouth, east of Buoy 62, and Smith Point, as well as the lower Potomac. Quite a few rockfish are mixed in with the bluefish. Chummers continue to get results with willing rockfish and blues around the Northern Neck Reef. The eastern channel edge from the head of the Cut Channel up to Buoy 62 is holding mostly croaker with a few spot and gray trout in the mix. Late afternoons have been best in that stretch of channel, but fishing in depths of 55 to 70 feet will produce during the daytime. The RN2 marker south of Tangier Island has been a focal point for anglers wishing to find croaker along with a few trout. Flounder catches have slowed around the Cell.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (…) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Norfolk spot of all sizes are in the mouth of the river, along with white perch and some pansize rockfish. Cambridge area delivers some spot and perch, maybe a croaker now and then, and the upper tidal river could come up with a largemouth bass if you get to Denton and upstream parts very early and the tide is receding.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (..) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Bass can be caught on small spinnerbaits, 4-inch rib worms, and topwater poppers. The fishing, however, isn’t as good as it was in spring.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) Marshyhope Creek bass like the early mornings when a topwater popper or jerkbaits can result in vicious strikes. Main-stem bass have been taken from spatterdock fields and blowdowns clear up to the Delaware line.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) If you’re good at fishing soft plastics or jig ‘n’ craws in water up to 20 feet deep, you’re in business. Many of the bigger bass have moved into lake point dropoffs that are at least that deep. Live shiners or bluegills fished in up to 30 feet down near the Splits can bring a striper to the hook.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (…) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Catfish are the main fare in tidal water, some of them hefty blue cats of 25 pounds or more. A few scattered bass are available, but the bass fishing is slow. Upper river has been great for smallmouth bass that like 1/8-ounce jig heads attached to 2- and 3-inch tubes in chartreuse/black pepper colors.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Sunfish, catfish and bass are surprisingly active if you fish as early as possible. Short plastic worms, especially scented models, do well in blowdowns and around lake points. Catfish like liver strips or clam necks.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass fishing has been better in weeks and months gone by, but a few largemouths can be hooked. The same holds for catfish and sunnies. Only the crappies are hard to find.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Upper lake bass fishing continues as topwater lures and plastic worms are the main attractants. Surprisingly good walleye catches are reported by slow trollers who use deep-running minnow imitators, such as the Rapala Countdown and Redfin lures. Catfish are hanging around the various creeks’ bridge abutments.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Stripers are hungry. Try going after them with jigs or trolled Sassy Shads and jerkbaits. Huge catfish have been the rule here, but the largemouth bass fishing isn’t what it could be.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) Small bass and many catfish are reported. The bass like plastic, scented finesse worms or shallow-running jerkbaits anbd crankbaits.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (..) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Fair bass fishing, but the catfish aren’t bashful in the tidal portions below Richmond.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (…) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretch gives up many young smallmouth bass on a variety of flies, streamers and spinning lures, but no trophy bass have been caught. Catfish and sunfish are in fair supply.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Striped bass in the 6- to 9-pound class are feeding fairly often, but staying with these roving bands of rockfish takes skill and a good electronic fish locator.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (…) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) As we warned last week, heavy rains from thunderstorms did arrive, but it apparently hasn’t hurt the fishing. Typical smallmouth bass outings result in up to 30 bass per angler. A few trophy “brown” fish are hooked on grubs and tubes.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Keith Lockwood of the Maryland DNR reports numbers of white and blue marlin are taken in the distant offshore canyon waters, along with many average size dolphinfish. Bluefin and yellowfin tunas continue to bite, also wahoos, scattered king mackerel and, of course, the big chopper bluefish. Wreck fishing is fair to good for sea bass, with Ocean City surf anglers finding small bluefish, kingfish and sea trout. The inlet at Ocean City still holds fat striped bass and sea trout that like drifted, live spot. The backwater flounder catches are fair.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Offshore billfish and tuna catches are holding up nicely. Yes, most of the offshore boaters also tie into dolphinfish, large king mackerel, sharks and fat bluefish. Closer to land, on the light tower rigs, spadefish, a few sea trout and hefty amberjacks await your baits. Eastern Shore flounder drifters from Chincoteague to Wachapreague find flounder but not many legal keepers. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

You can e-mail us at gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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