- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 7, 2008

Although I don’t care for trolling, there are times when it can be productive. Right now, for example, trollers find good numbers of Chesapeake bluefish, Spanish mackerel and keeper rockfish. A lot depends on the location, but some kind of trolling action can be had from the northern Bay portions down to the most southern parts.

Charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (www.captbillyscharters.com) of Ingram Bay Marina on the Great Wicomico River in the Northern Neck of Virginia agrees that trollers have done well throughout the lower tidal rivers and the Bay.

“Schools of surface-feeding bluefish mixed with Spanish mackerel have been located right out my back door in Ingram Bay,” he says.

He says good trolling is found near Buoy 62, on the flats below Tangier Island, Smith Point bar, the Rappahannock River near Windmill Point and at GW 1 off the Great Wicomico River.

Pipkin says diving seagulls often point boaters to the action in his area, but that is true of the entire Bay, even as far north as the Bay Bridges.

However, for some the bottom fishing is best during hot weather. Pipkin says inshore oyster beds can turn up jumbo Norfolk spot but adds that the croakers he has seen lately have been small.

From Maryland’s part of the Bay, Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina in Ridge says, “The rockfish are scattered, but they are picking up a few by live-lining spot in mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek.”

Henderson also says rockfish are being hooked around Point Lookout and that the flounder fishing really has picked up in the usual spots, such as the lower Potomac’s Cornfield Harbor.

“You have to weed through the smaller ones, but big ones are there,” she says.

Henderson also says big croakers still are caught behind Buoy 72 and the Middle Grounds, especially at night.

“We had one customer catch several red drum Tuesday, along with bluefish, croaker and flounder, while he was chumming and bottom fishing,” she says.

If it’s bluefish and Spanish mackerel you want, Henderson says trollers use small Clarke spoons for best results. Buzz’s Marina, by the way, was chosen as one of the 10 cleanest marinas in Maryland, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Elsewhere, bluefish and some rockfish are found by trollers and occasionally even topwater lure casters from the Calvert Cliffs area up toward Thomas Point Lighthouse and across the Bay to the Gum Thickets and above.

Despite heat, river bass bite - With the water temperature in the 80s you would think the tidal Potomac River’s largemouth bass would be lethargic and not prone to striking lures, but the opposite is true some days. If you’re an early bird who can parlay a nicely receding tide with the “cooler” morning hours, you will catch bass along the edges of creek marsh banks, on sunken wood and along weed beds.

The action lately has come from places like Broad Creek, not all that far from Wilson Bridge, and from the Pomonkey and Chicamuxen creeks, but that doesn’t mean the other feeder creeks can’t deliver the goods. The bass are everywhere. Throw early hour topwater lures followed by 4-inch soft plastic worms, and if there’s enough open water near the fish-hiding obstacles, go for a shallow-lipped crankbait.

Hungry Occoquan Reservoir “cats” - Fountainhead Regional Park ranger Smokey Davis says, “The big news this week was the strong catfish bite. Channel ‘cats’ up to eight pounds were brought in. Clam snouts and chicken livers were the best baits. The bass are suspended and are tougher to catch. Early morning or late evening topwater lures work well, but finding fish in the middle of the day is a challenge. The crappie bite remains very good, and fly-rodders can clean up on bluegills. The reservoir remains at full pool, slightly stained, with surface temperatures in the mid-80s.”

Low Shenandoah shows bass - Front Royal’s Dick Fox says the Shenandoah River is low, but the fishing can be quite good. Smallmouth and largemouth bass can be found in the same areas with plenty of bluegills mixed in

“I use Senko style soft baits, topwater poppers and in-line spinners to catch my fish,” he says.

Lake Gaston bass schooling - Local Gaston resident Marty Magone says, “Main lake points between Stonehouse Creek and Eaton’s Ferry Bridge have been producing school-size bass during the past two weeks. Most anglers here are casting jigs into the 12 - to 20-foot drops in the early hours. Uplake, the flats still hold schools of shad in the grass, making for some exciting topwater action for bass and small stripers.”

Dead fish at Gilbert Run - James Drake, who writes for the Maryland Independent, tells us that Gilbert Run Park and its 60-acre Wheatley Lake in Charles County are having problems.

“There’s been a fish kill at the lake, mostly little shad but some bluegills also,” he says.

Drake suspects an algae bloom might have been the culprit. On the good side, he says he heard of a bass caught in the park’s Wheatley Lake that weighed nearly nine pounds.

Check out Inside Outside - Have a look at Gene Mueller’s new outdoors blog, Inside Outside, on The Washington Times’ Web site at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

cLook 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