- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 11, 2007

With all the recent wind and rain, the fishing slowed a bit — but not by much.

At the tidal Potomac River, enterprising bass boaters, even those in smaller johnboats, have been scoring on largemouth bass around the Fox Ferry rockline upstream of the Wilson Bridge. The best “baits” have been paddle-tailed grubs in avocado green dabbed in fish attractant. (Our favorite flavor has been garlic.)

The adjacent Spoils Cove delivers a mixed bag of crappies, catfish and bass — all on various grubs or Silver Buddy blade baits. For either lure, be mindful that strong line is usually required to dislodge a hook that might have found a sunken tree branch or the crevices in a chunk of cement as you hop the lure across the bottom. That’s why I prefer something like Berkley’s FireLine in 20-pound test strength. The line diameter is the same as 8-pound monofilament. It helps free a lure.

Some bass also have been hooked in Mattawoman Creek, as well as in the Occoquan River, where a mixed bag of juvenile stripers, perch and largemouths is possible before you reach the I-95 highway bridge.

Shenandoah River catches — Dick Fox of Front Royal, Va., reports that some days ago he picked up nine Shenandoah River bass, most of them smallmouths, although a few turned out to be largemouths: “The water was 46 degrees, and the fish were still deep. We dragged flat tail grubs or tubes, and that did the trick. The water was stained, but it was fishable.”

Surprise for a rockfish troller — Virginia rockfish troller Wayne Dunn last weekend dragged a Mann’s Stretch 25 lure behind his boat in the waters around Cape Henry. Something struck the lure hard, and Dunn instantly knew that if it were a rockfish, it would have to be an absolute monster. The pump-and-reel battle took two hours before Dunn saw what he had. It was a 130-pound bluefin tuna, a fish not normally thought of as preferring the inshore waters of the Atlantic close to the Chesapeake Bay.

Talking about surprises, Bob Manus, a member of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association, last weekend fished with Ken Neill in the offshore waters east of Virginia Beach. When they reached the 50-fathom curve, they dropped their lines in the hope of hooking delicious tilefish. But Manus outdid his fellow anglers by hooking a 36-pound, 9-ounce snowy grouper that was only a couple of ounces shy of the world record, which incidentally was caught last year by another club member, Jason Ferguson.

Virginia to toughen flounder regulations? — The Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association — an active fishing group from around the Virginia Beach and Norfolk area — believes new flounder regulations will be issued by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission that might include an 181/2-inch minimum, five-fish bag limit and closed seasons of January through March and July 23 through July 29. That is not definitive yet, but changes are coming. Currently, there’s a six flounder a day limit that calls for a 161/2-inch minimum.

Stripers aplenty in Virginia waters — The ocean waters from Cape Henry south toward the North Carolina border are producing many 30- to 40-inch rockfish for trollers, while boaters working the waters of the lower Chesapeake Bay are doing catch-and-release outings now, but fishermen say they’re experiencing some of the best fishing ever. The first and second islands at Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel are turning up speckled sea trout, some of them in the 21-inch class. In addition, well-fed tautogs are available at the bridge-tunnel’s dropoff waters.

Crab regulations hearing change — The Maryland DNR’s Fisheries Service has changed the date of the public hearing to deal with proposed blue crab regulations. It now will be Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis. The proposed regulation seeks to clarify and correct regulations concerning crab pots, channel pounds, bank traps and recreational crab catch limits. Public comment will be accepted through Jan. 22.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail:gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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