AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY
POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (...) — At Fletcher"s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) Ray Fletcher says not many fishermen are showing up because of the heat. "We're catching a few large- and smallmouth bass and some hefty catfish," he said. Downriver, because of this bullish heat, bass guide Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) tries to get out early and return early. "But the fishing can be very good," he said, pointing out that dawn-hour topwater lures do well around grass beds and wood, followed by midmorning plastic worms and craws. This applies to the main stem and the creeks between Washington and western Charles County. Farther down, south of the Route 301 bridge, croakers are found in deep pockets clear down to Point Lookout. Flounder catches are increasing, with the river's Cornfield Harbor the best bet, though some are taken near the St. George's Island shoreline's deepwater dropoffs.
WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (...) — Quade's store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) sees rental boaters coming in with croakers, but the darker the day and higher the tide, the better the catches will be. Even pier anglers score then.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (...) — Has everybody grown tired of seeing bass tournaments coming out of the Smallwood State Park area? Our group of bass anglers has, and we wished the state would step in and restore some normalcy. The bass fishing could be fine, but you can't move without bumping into a tournament boat.
SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (..) — Gilbert Run Park"s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) sees reduced bluegill and bass action because of the heat. At St. Mary's Lake (south on Route 5 past Leonardtown to Camp Cosoma Road) it's pretty much the same, but chances for bass and panfish are better.
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) deliver early hour bass, sunfish and catfish. Forget it during the noon hour.
WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (...) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Lake points with sharp dropoffs on either side can turn up sizable bass if you use scented plastics. Sunfish and crappies are in sunken brush.
PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (...) — There are croakers during the dark hours, some rockfish for trollers of small bucktails inside the river and lots of white perch in the creeks. Flounder numbers are slowly increasing around the mouth.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (...) — At Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis reports, "Hot weather and low water have made bass harder to come by, but those who know how to fish Carolina-rigged plastics and drop-shot rigs can catch quality fish off main lake points, humps and deep blowdowns. The catfish bite has been very good with chicken livers and clam snouts the baits of choice. Lots of hand-sized bluegills are caught from the pier and boardwalk on mealworms or small pieces of nightcrawlers."
BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (...) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Early hour sunfish, bass and crappies are possible, but the heat has taken a mighty toll on anglers and fish.
AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (...) — From the DNR's John Mullican comes the following: "Water conditions on the upper Potomac are low and clear, and aquatic vegetation is becoming extensive in many areas. At Seneca, Edwards Ferry, and Whites Ferry vegetation is beginning to impede navigation and is making fishing more difficult." However, smallmouths are willing to look at grubs, jigs, spinners, streamers and even topwater poppers from as far down as Edwards Ferry and as far up as Taylor's Landing in Washington County.
DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (...) —It's summertime; speed boats and jet skis rule, but some bass and walleyes are caught, not to mention well-fed bluegills and yellow perch. Call Brent Nelson, 240/460-8839.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (..) — Low water continues. The fishing is mediocre. Some bass and small rockfish are taken between Conowingo and Havre de Grace.
AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY
MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (...) — From St. Jerome's Creek, Christy Henderson (www.buzzsmarina.com) told me, "Capt. Rafiq Munir and Dennis McCain hit the lucky red drum beat south of Buoy 72a in 60 feet of water after drifting for hours and picking up nearly three dozen nice croakers on shrimp, bloodworms and squid. All of a sudden two big red drum hit the lines, but they were too big. They exceeded the legal slot limit of 18 to 27 inches and had to be let go." Henderson also mentioned a local angler came in with plenty of croakers, and he had a 28-inch-long cobia strike his peeler crab bait. The Southwest Middlegrounds are full of small bluefish and rockfish. From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb said for rockfish, go north. The stripers are active on the western side of the bay from the nuclear plant up to Parker's Creek. Blind trolling produces fish all day and lure casters do well at sunset and sunrise casting to breaking fish. The trolling can be good from Buoy 77 north to the Gas Docks. Trollers and chummers are catching plenty of snapper blues in the bay from Smith Point to Hooper's Island Light. The fish are small but plentiful. Much the same happens above the power plant as trollers score with small bucktails and Sassy Shads from near Shadyside up to Hackett's Light and across to the Eastern Shore.
VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (...) — From the Northern Neck, charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (www.captbillyscharters.com) reports bluefish up to four pounds are feeding in chum lines between the Northern Neck Reef and Buoy 62. Trollers experience success east of Buoy 62 during the morning and evening hours. The Windmill Point bar up to Dividing Creek, Buoy 68 and the flats surrounding the "Hannibal" target ship off Smith Island and in the lower Potomac river from Buoy 7 to the mouth. Clark and Drone spoons work well. Bottom fishing can be good along the edges of the shipping lane from the lower Cut Channel up to the state line as croakers, a few flounder and trout bite well in the evenings. From down around the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Julie Ball reports that flounder are taking baits in the lower bay area that shows varying structure. "The best areas are any rubble on the bottom, the island tubes of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, bridge pilings and wrecks. Most any live bait will work, but small spot are always the top choice for live-baiting doormats. Keep in mind that the season will close from July 23 to the 28."
AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.
CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (...) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Croakers, spot and perch are possible in the mouth and inside the river clear up to Cambridge. Bass fishing has been poor.
POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (..) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Slow going for bass. The heat has hurt your chances.
NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313 or use the Marshyhope Creek ramp outside of Federalsburg) Daytime temperatures in the high 90s have put a clamp on decent bass fishing.
AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA
LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (...) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Get to Campbell Edenton's Sturgeon Creek Marina or go to the Anna Point Marina and launch your boat in the dark. Look for breaking rockfish just at first light and cast Zara Spooks or any brand jerkbait at the stripers. The bass will look at a popper or buzzbait around submerged weeds but be sure to switch to soft plastics as the sun heats and brightens the water.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (...) It's slow going this week for tidal water bass, but upriver smallmouth bass above Fredericksburg have jumped on 1/8-ounce jig hooks holding chartreuse tubes with small black specks. The tube color is known as a chartreuse pepper grub.
LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (..) — (Route 793, off Route 29) This week's heat apparently shut the mouths of bass and crappies and kept many anglers home.
LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (...) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) There are good ratings for catfish, bluegills and crappies, but bass have played hard to get.
LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (...) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Marty Magone reports, "The recent heat wave means you should get out early and locate some grass. Otherwise it's pitching plastics to docks for your bass. Night catfishing is picking up with some 20-pound-plus specimens taken."
KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (...) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Catfish can be caught by the dozens if you soak a herring or perch slab on the bottom. Bass fishing has slowed because of the heat.
JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (...) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) It"s mostly blue catfish on slabs of bottom baits from below Richmond down to the Appomattox.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (...) — (Williamsburg area) Early hours might turn up a couple of bass along marsh banks. Use 4-inch finesse worms on light slip sinkers or use a slider rig.
AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA
SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretches will come up with some bass. Front Royal's Dick Fox reported, "The fishing is still OK, but the bass are kind of small. Water temperature is 82 degrees, and the river is low — perfect for wading."
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (...) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Night anglers have found willing rockfish and the bass catches have been fine. That's because the water is cooler here.
UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (...) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Waders and float fishermen score on smallmouth bass early and late in the day.
AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN
MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (...) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) The Ocean City surf turns up mostly small stuff on shrimp or squid-baited hooks. Croakers and a few flounder bite along with snapper bluefish. Headboat skippers who fish offshore wrecks return with fat seabass. Distant offshore boaters in canyon waters score on yellowfin, bluefin and bigeye tunas, scattered dolphin and wahoo.
VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (...) — For charters, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/491-8000. Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association has been taking whole croakers down to the South Tower and feeding them to hoards of hungry amberjack. He and friends are also catching wreckfish, blueline tilefish, blackbelly rosefish, sea bass and snowy grouper. On Monday Neill fished the Cigar area. "We had multiple tuna bites," he said after he brought home five 60-pound yellowfin tunas. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.