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Fishing Report

- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2007

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (...) — At Fletcher's Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) anglers will find unusually good numbers of largemouth bass on soft plastics in the rocks on the Virginia side, along with well-fed channel catfish. Down in town and toward Prince George's and Charles counties, every milfoil bed in the main stem and in feeder creeks can provide a potential bass bonanza for anglers skilled with plastic worms and "crashing" the baits through the greenery. They do it by using heavier-than-normal pegged slip sinkers. Grass frogs and topwater poppers do well early in the day. Don't forget that sunken wood and dock pilings also attract bass. In the more saline parts of the river, croakers, bluefish and some rockfish are possible anywhere south of Swan Point, but especially so heading down toward Point Lookout. At last report, the St. Mary's River on the east side of St. George's Island offered large white perch for spinnerbait and Tiny Trap users.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (...) — Quade's Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) says the croaker bite is still happening, but here's fair warning: The best croakers come after sunset if the tide is moving. Yes, white perch and spot are available, too.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (...) — Milfoil beds hold most of the bass and if there before the sun bakes the water, catch them on topwater poppers, slow-rolled spinnerbaits and scented soft plastics.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (..) — Gilbert Run Park's Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) produces sunfish and a few catch-and-release bass. At St. Mary's Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) the good bass fishing continues. Try 3-inch Rapala jerkbaits and Baby 1-Minuses around the dam's rip-rap, but any sunken wood should be approached with 4-inch plastic worms.

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) turn up bluegills, crappies, catfish and bass — in that order. Unless more heavy rains visit, the lakes will be nice to fish in.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (...) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Early hour bass fishing can be productive. Use crankbaits where weeds aren't prevalent, but switch to plastic worms when the sun hits the water.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (...) — White perch are still as active as ever if casting and retrieving Beetlespins and such in main river rocks and around duck blinds, as well as creek points and sunken wood. The lower river is god for deep-water croakers, many spot and the always present chance for rockfish and blues, maybe even a flounder or two.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (...) — At Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis reports, "Bass continue to be taken early and late on topwater lures, but when the sun gets over the tree tops it's time to hit the main-lake points with Carolina-rigged plastics. A few small crappie have been taken off the pier on minnows and bluegills are plentiful for the fly-rodders. The water is low. Rain is needed to flush things out and energize the fish."

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (..) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Bass catches have slowed, say contacts from the lake, but sunfish and catfish are easy targets.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (...) — Walleyes are biting even in this heat if fishing to the sunset hours just about anywhere in Washington County. Use 4- and 5-inch-long Husky Jerk lures and other jerkbaits in less than six feet of water. The smallmouth bass will strike smaller crankbaits or plastic tubes, but as you head downstream toward Frederick and Montgomery counties, expect thick weed carpets in the river, which can make the fishing tough.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (...) — Lake guide Brent Nelson (240/460-8839) reports, "Fishing has been fair, sometimes tough, but we continue to have a good smallmouth bass topwater bite when light is low. Big pickerel are caught on drifted shiners. Largemouths are playing hard to get."

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (..) — A few bass are taken in shoreline wood below Havre de Grace and in grass beds on the Susquehanna Flats, but most of the catches seem to come to the more skilled bass hounds.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (...) — From St. Jerome's Creek in St. Mary's County, Christy Henderson (www.buzzsmarina.com) reports, "This week it's a tie between Spanish mackerel and flounder. Cornfield Harbor in the lower Potomac was really hot over the weekend for the flounder. We only had two people actually catch the mackerel, but many have seen them jumping. We're also seeing breaking rockfish and blues. The bluefish are of good size, better than last year. [Local angler] Joe Heber was fishing in the Potomac around Buoy 7 and he got into bluefish for hours. He caught about 50. Live-lining spot at the Point No Point lighthouse can be good for stripers." From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb says action for rockfish and blues is good throughout Southern Maryland waters, with bonuses provided by Spanish mackerel. The best way to hook the "Spanish," as they're called by locals, is to troll a long line behind the boat, perhaps with little more than a 3-ounce inline sinker some 20 feet or so ahead of a bright silver 3- or 4-inch-long spoon. Think small. Spanish mackerel don't like big lures. The middle and upper Chesapeake delivers barely legal rockfish and 2- to 5-pound bluefish for trollers and chummers from near the Bay Bridges down to Sharps Island Light and across to the Radar Towers area.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (...) — From the Northern Neck, charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (www.captbillyscharters.com) finds a fine mixture of bluefish, Spanish mackerel and rockfish from the state line into practically all Northern Neck area waters that are more than 25 feet deep. Croakers are taken with squid or shrimp baits on bottom rigs, fished in dropoffs and holes from Smith Point down to the Rappahannock River. Some cobias, flounder and spadefish are available in the lower Chesapeake around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and general vicinity.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (...) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Expect a mix of croakers, spot, perch, rockfish and snapper blues at the mouth. The Cambridge fishing bridge shows scattered white perch, spot and croakers. Crabbing has been below average.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (..) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) This sounds like a broken record, but it's true that the heat hasn't helped the bass fishing here. Some are caught in waterlogged tree roots and pad fields early in the day.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Marshyhope Creek ramp outside of Federalsburg) Upper river bass fishing along spatterdock edges has been fair, with soft plastics the best bet.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (...) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Four-inch-long finesse worms fished around rip-rap and rock piles adjacent to lake and creek points will bring bass strikes. The early morning hours might coincide with a school of feeding rockfish. Have a rod ready that holds a Rat-l-Trap or some kind of jerkbait.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (...) Sunken shoreline wood produces bass especially above Port Royal. Plastic worms and crankbaits do the job. Upper river smallmouth bass like tube jigs or spinners in mid-river rock-surrounded holes.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (..) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass can be caught, but you need to be fishing before the sun bakes the water. Soft plastics are the best "baits." Crappies are sluggish, but the sunfish and catfish bite can be good.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass, sunnies and catfish are willing early and late in the day.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (...) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Marty Magone reports, "Grass and docks fished with plastics will produce bass down-lake. Early risers can run up-lake for a variety of species. The cooler water above [Interstate] 85 bridge will produce bass, stripers and nice catfish without [bothersome] jet-ski traffic. Topwater lures, spinnerbaits and jigs will do just fine. The Route 1 bridge has a decent ramp for fishermen trying to cut back on the fuel costs of running up the lake."

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (...) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Land-locked rockfish, bass, crappies and catfish are available in waters that have run as high as 82 degrees this week.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (..) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) It's mostly catfish right now, but even they're not always cooperating. In fact the big blue "cats" of this river bite best when the weather is cool.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (...) — (Williamsburg area) Good chances for 1- to 2-pound bass up and down the river. Other species bite, too, such as catfish and perch.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas have slowed considerably, but the water has been clear and a few bass will bite.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (...) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Early and late hours are definitely recommended for bass and landlocked stripers. The fishing can be quite good considering the time of year.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (...) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) There'll be some decent smallmouths hooked on white Zoom Flukes, but the water is low and warm, so fish early or after 6 p.m.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (...) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Surf anglers find some sand sharks, kingfish and experience occasional runs of snapper bluefish. Cut bait is used on all three. Out at the Jackspot and moving on toward the Baltimore and Washington canyons, expect bites from tunas, large sharks, a few billfish and dolphins (the fish, not Flipper). Headboats connect on seabass, with backwater Ocean City boat drifters connecting on mostly throwback flounder, a few small blues and occasional rockfish.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (...) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association reported, "We had a very good inshore wahoo bite around 30 fathoms, with good numbers of billfish and scattered tuna mixed in." Neill and friends also got into bigeye tuna on the southeast corner of the Norfolk Canyon. He also got into several billfish, but the white and blue marlin they had on the hooks broke off. For additional Virginia saltwater information, go to www.drjball.com. For charters, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/491-8000.

c Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.