- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 10, 2008

From blue catfish that can weigh up to 40 pounds to largemouth bass and the occasional striper, the Potomac around the Fletcher’s Cove in Georgetown promises better than average summertime fishing. It gets even better as you head downstream through the District and into the various tributaries on the Maryland and Virginia side of the river. Largemouth bass have been very cooperative for boaters, even shoreline walkers from the Spoils Cove down to the Piscataway, and from the main stem of the Potomac into Virginia’s Pohick Bay and south to Leesylvania, Quantico, Potomac and Aquia creeks, as well as all the feeders on the opposite shore. However, a new twist has been added. Dozens of bass fishermen report hooking northern snakeheads on the same lures that the largemouths prefer. If you catch a snakehead, don’t forget to kill it. It’s the law. Please, don’t throw it ino the water. It must be disposed of on land — preferably in a frying pan. It’s supposed to be delicious.

In the saltier waters of the Chesapeake Bay, croakers, spot, perch, bluefish and striped bass are holding court from above the Bay bridges, near Annapolis, down to Southern Maryland’s Point Lookout and across to the Eastern Shore’s Tangier Sound.

The upper parts of local and distant freshwater rivers are alive with smallmouth bass that like small tube jigs, crankbaits, spinners and topwater poppers. Included in the list are the far upstream portions of the James, Rappahannock, all of the Shenandoah, Potomac and Susquehanna rivers. What can possibly ruin this good fishing? Prolonged, heavy downpours.

Now here’s this week’s fishing outlook:


(Ratings key: ****=excellent fishing; ***;=Good; **Fair; *;=Poor.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: **** — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461), Ray Fletcher said, “It’s more of the same, just like last week. Plenty of big catfish, also largemouth bass and an occasional striper. The river is in good shape for fishing.” Downstream an increasing number of bass fishermen report excellent bass catches, but some are alarmed about a steady increase of Chinese northern snakeheads, the foreign invaders with a sharp set of teeth. The snakeheads like the same lures the bass go for and we receive catch reports from the Piscataway down to Dogue Creek, Pohick Bay, Pomonkey, Mattawoman, Chicamuxen, Quantico, Potomac and Aquia creeks. The bass fishing has been very good with fallen trees, weed bed edges and marsh edges turning up fine catches mostly on soft plastics, but also on shallow crankbaits, spinnerbaits and topwater frogs and poppers. Downstream, from the Route 301 bridge clear to Point Lookout, including the Virginia shore from Ragged Point to nearly Smith Point, slow-trollers find some keeper rockfish and snapper blues, but stationary fishermen locate schools of hardheads, lots of spot and white perch. For example, rockfish have been caught trolling small, white bucktails around Blackistone Island, to name one place. Croaker, spot and perch will take bloodworms and squid baits at Ragged Point. And don’t forget Cornfield Harbor on the Maryland side where flounder, croakers, spot and perch bite for bottom fishermen.

WICOMICO RIVER:*** — The Bushwood area near Quade’s Store (301/769-3903) delivers big white perch that are found on the edges of the oyster bars. “There are plenty of spot and croakers, too, but the perch fishing is really good,” Ken Lamb said.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: *** — Fine catches of bass can be made during strong, ebbing tides from Burn Point and Deep Point clear up the creek toward Hancock Cove. Yes, some snakeheads are caught along with the bass. Catfish are hungry in the creek’s channel waters. Use clam necks or strips of liver.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: ***Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) Things have been slow, save perhaps for plenty of sunfish, which is good for flyrod popping. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) largemouth bass, sunfish, bluegills and chain pickerel are awaiting your visits.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: *** — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117 near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and the nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) are turning up good numbers of bass that like 4-inch finesse worms, or small crankbaits, even early morning poppers. Sunfish and catfish action is good.

WSSC RESERVOIRS:***(Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Once again, the earliest hours of the morning are likely to turn up the best bass catches. Use poppers and buzzbaits at first, then switch to soft plastics, even pig’n’jig combinations along sharp dropoffs around lake points. Sunfish and a few crappies are hooked.

PATUXENT RIVER: *** — The Tackle Box in Lexington Park reports croakers are plentiful in the river from Kingston Hollow clear to Benedict. Large schools of spot are found inside the mouth and around Solomons, with occasional flounder and stripers scored by minnow dunkers.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: ***From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis said, “The fishing has been excellent at Fountainhead Park this past week. The early morning bass bite was very good with topwater baits and crankbaits. Senkos and swimbaits have worked well after sunup. I don’t recall a better week for crappie in several years. Medium and large minnows, fished 6 to 8 feet under a bobber, have taken big crappie all week off the pier and boardwalk. Several 3- to 5-pound channel catfish were caught as well. The reservoir is at full pool, clear, with surface temperatures between 78-83 degrees.”

BURKE LAKE: *** — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) The early bird not gets the worm, he or she also gets the largemouth bass. Soft, scented plastic worms can score nicely around lake points and stickups. Catfish and sunfish are hungry, but crappies are not heavily concentrated in any one area.

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