AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY
POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (...) — At Fletcher"s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) There's warm water and not many boat renters, although they could find some decent catfish and bass action if they tried. In the main-stem and all the downstream feeder creeks, bass guide Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) finds good numbers of bass, fishing grass beds, marsh banks and some sunken wood. He prefers small finesse worms, topwater poppers and shallow crankbaits. In the lower Potomac, from Blackiston Island and Tall Timbers down to Point Lookout, anglers will find croakers, some scattered flounder and mixed sizes of rockfish.
WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (...) — Lexington Park's Ken Lamb says, "Boat renters at Quade's Store in Bushwood [301/769-3903] report catches every day with no off-days as in the past, when the fish would disappear for short periods." But I had an off-day last week when a low tide didn't deliver the goods, yet we caught enough croakers for dinner. The spot have arrived, too.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (...) — Every weekend angler will see bass tournament after tournament launched at Smallwood State Park. We're talking big events here, and the local residents are beginning to get fed up with the madness. Meanwhile, the creek offers decent bass catches along marsh banks and in milfoil grass beds.
SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (...) — Gilbert Run Park"s Wheatley Lake (Route 6 east of La Plata) provides the usual bluegills and mostly small bass, which must be released. A few crappies are hooked. At St. Mary's Lake (south on Route 5 past Leonardtown to Camp Cosoma Road) the pace picks up with crappies, sunfish, bass and even some pickerel providing decent fishing when the sun isn't boiling down.
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) are good for early and late hour bass, sunfish, catfish and a few crappies.
WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (...) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Fish the "cool" hours and angers might find a willing bass or two. Crappies and sunfish are available mostly in shore brush.
PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (...) — Anglers will hook a few flounder in the mouth, but they're totally unpredictable. Not so with croakers and white perch. The perch are in every creek and main-stem rip-rap and boat dock. White 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits will do. Croakers are caught around deep pockets and lumps from below Sheridan Point out to the mouth, but evening hours and high tides are best.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (...) — At Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County), ranger Smokey Davis reports, "The bass bite remains very good as evidenced by the winning weight of 23 pounds of bass [for six fish] at last week's Fountainhead Club tournament. Carolina-rigged plastics fished over main lake points continue to be the best producers. Crappies and catfish are hooked and some nice bluegills are caught."
BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (...) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Fish early or as late as possible and anglers will hook bass and crappies, along with some catfish and sunfish. Bass like soft, scented plastics.
AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (...) — Low, warm water. Good fishing for smallmouth bass, even some walleyes, from above Brunswick down toward White's Ferry. Look for a deep-water eddy or deep rock pools in the river's center, then drop fringed tubes, curly-tailed grubs or spinner lures into them. The Department of Natural Resources agrees that anglers shouldn't fish for tiger muskies in the river. A lengthy fight might tire them too much, and a live release might not be successful.
DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (...) — Anglers could do a little drift-fishing with live minnows along sharp dropoffs near lake points. The walleyes might cooperate. Bass, perch and fat sunfish are taken in the backs of deep coves or from under boat docks. Anglers will see lots of bothersome jet skiing and water skiing now. Need a fishing guide? Call Brent Nelson, 240/460-8839.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (..) — Live-lined white perch can result in rockfish anywhere from the Conowingo Dam down to Port Deposit. Low water flows are the norm. The Flats haven't shown an abundance of bass or striper catches.
AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY
MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (...) — From St. Jerome's Creek, Christy Henderson (www.buzzsmarina.com) said her husband, Mike, caught fat bluefish on the Southwest Middle Grounds and reported that whatever underground structure anglers find will hold fish. Charter captain Jeff Popp's customers landed many croakers, stripers and bluefish, but he now has moved to the northern parts of the bay, where he lives. Bowie's Norman Hendrickson said he had a great outing with charter captain Keith Allston (cell, 301/399-4504) aboard the Rodbender in Solomons. Hendrickson and friends live-lined spot for rockfish and had no trouble connecting. "We had fast and furious action," he said. "I highly recommend his services." From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reports, "Trollers are finding rockfish from 18 to 30 inches on the western side of the ships channel, from Buoy 77 to Parker's Creek. Breaking rockfish are inside the Targets at sunset and sunrise. Bluefish have invaded the Middle Grounds from Buoy 72 to the Target Ship. The blues are snapper sized, but bigger blues are caught trolling in the same area." Moving up the bay, rockfish trollers and chummers have been doing fairly well from Sharps Island's general area up to Bloody Point and on toward the Chester River.
VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (...) — Northern Neck boaters find bluefish, catch-and-release rockfish, big croakers and fat spot now from Smith Point down to the Rappahannock River. In the lowest parts of the bay, Julie Ball reports cobia chummers find action at Bluefish Rock, the Inner Middle Grounds and Latimer Shoal. Spadefish are hooked at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, where the Fourth Island produces steady action. Most of the black drum catches are coming from the four islands of the Bridge-Tunnel. Casters are picking up nice fish on bucktails and Storm Lures. The same area also turns up some sheepshead if anglers use crab or clam baits. "The flounder scene is finally looking up," Ball said. "Those bouncing live bait over structure began harvesting consistent doormat catches up to 11½ pounds along the Bridge-Tunnel."
AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.
CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (...) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The mouth of the river has been delivering croakers, white perch and increasing numbers of spot. Some rockfish are hooked by chummers here. Inside the river toward Cambridge, white perch, croakers and small rockfish are possible. The bass fishing around Denton is only fair.
POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (..) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) The heat hasn't helped this river as low oxygen levels slow down the bass catches.
NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313 or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) A few bass are hooked in the feeder creeks and main stem, but good news came from down around Vienna, where blue/chrome Rat-L-Trap lures cast to marsh bank points early in the day resulted in rockfish, some of them keepers.
AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA
LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (...) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) The earliest hours of the morning, long before sunlight arrives, turn up some surprising topwater striper catches at the Splits and other lake areas. The bass have gone deep and jig'n'craws or plastic worms work around drop-offs adjacent to lake and creek points.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (...) Tidal portions from Leedstown up to Hicks Landing haven't shown much improved bass activity, although above Hicks anglers will do well with plastic worms and small spinnerbaits. Upper river above Fredericksburg delivers decent smallmouth bass fishing if anglers use tubes, grubs and small crankbaits in the rocky pools and eddys.
LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (...) — (Route 793 off Route 29) Fair to good crappie and bass action if anglers concentrate on the "cool" hours. Fish early and late if possible.
LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (...) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass have jumped on early hour topwater poppers and buzzbaits around stickups and lake points. Catfish and crappies can be caught fairly quick.
LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (...) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Marty Magone says, "With summer boat and jet ski traffic, it pays to get out early. Upriver grass is still producing nice bass and pickerel. Flukes and spinnerbaits work well. When the sun gets up, try points or docks near deeper water with plastics [jig worms have been hot]. Crappie fishermen are doing well around brush-laden docks."
KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (...) — (Route 58, Clarksville) This lake's blue catfish population is increasing tremendously. Some heavy-duty specimens are hooked on bottom baits. The bass fishing in brush-filled waters can be dynamite now and then.
JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (...) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Catch-and-release rockfish are taken below the Appomattox River, but it gets even better toward the mouth of the James. Catfish are hooked around Dutch Gap with sunset periods best.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (...) — (Williamsburg area) The Walker's Dam area is still closed. Bass and perch are plentiful along marsh banks.
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 said, "Fishing is decent, but expect 8- to 12-inch smallmouths. I hope all the big ones didn't die off."
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (...) — (Route 122 east of Roanoke) Early and late hour bass fishing can be great if anglers use scented plastics around boat docks and lake points.
UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (...) — (Route 6 south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Smallmouth bass catches are fine. Tubes, jigs, grubs and streamers can do the job in rock pools and deep-water pockets behind large river boulders.
AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN
MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (...) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Surf anglers connect on small flounder and sea trout, kingfish, snapper bluefish and even some croakers. Sea bass are taken along with a few triggerfish and spadefish over offshore wrecks by headboat anglers. In the distant canyon waters, the blue-water fleet finds yellowfin tuna in the general Poorman"s Canyon area. The DNR's Keith Lockwood said a lot of bluefin tuna were reported to be in the Jackspot area. The first blue marlin and several white marlin were released over the past weekend.
VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (...) — Virginia Beach's Julie Ball says if Spanish mackerel fishing is your thing, go to the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The spotted fish are found around ocean front piers, along with small blues, spot, spadefish and a few keeper flounder. Rudee Inlet anglers find Taylor blues, flounder, speckled trout, puppy drum and large spot. Amberjacks are caught in and around the offshore navigational tower footers. Julie said Norfolk Canyon showed good catches of yellowfin tunas. Dolphinfish are caught as well as a few billfish. "The big news is the pending Virginia State record bluefin tuna hauled aboard the Episode, skippered by Johnny Savage. Bo Haycox of Virginia Beach fought the monster for four hours in 1,000 fathoms on the 400 line. [It weighed] 573 pounds," she added. 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: email@example.com.