- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

The weekend fishing again begins with the tidal Potomac River, where catches of 20 and 30 bass an outing are not unusual.

Wednesday, one of the river bass guides fished the upper Mattawoman Creek’s marsh edges and sand bars for a few hours, using finesse worms and a rattling shallow-water crankbait.

“I had over 20 bass,” he says, though none of them were of bragging-size. “All the same, I had a lot of fun.”

Similar reports come from other tidal parts of the river. Bassboaters find action from above Wilson Bridge downstream to the Potomac and Aquia creeks even when it’s hot and humid. Bass easily endure 80-degree water temperatures as long as they have a shady hiding place they can disappear into.

Occoquan Reservoir delivers - From Fountainhead Park on the shores of Occoquan Reservoir, ranger Smokey Davis reports topwater baits, fished early or late, continue to attract plenty of largemouth bass.

“It’s the time in between that’s a lot tougher,” Davis says.

Davis also mentioned that a strong crappie bite continues, with several citation-size fish brought in this week.

“Fly-rodders who use small poppers are catching some nice bluegills,” he says. “Catfish were taken on chicken livers. The reservoir is still at full pool, clear, with surface temperatures in the low to mid 80s.”

Lake Gaston bass cooperate - From Lake Gaston on the Virginia-North Carolina border, Marty Magone says, “Went out today and found that baitfish and grass in the flats can make for exciting topwater activity. Try to get out early and throw any Chug Bug-type lure near feeding bass, then hold on.”

Magone also says he switches to jig worms and Chatterbaits after 8:30 a.m.

Patuxent River alive and well - Local angler Andy Croley fished the Patuxent River from the Naval Air Station shore and caught a dozen Norfolk spot, five croakers, five bluefish and a 19-inch rockfish. Croakers are hooked inside the river, sometimes as far up as the deeper dropoffs near Sheridan Point. The feeder creeks of the river are loading up with white perch; small spinnerbaits or a Tiny Trap can do the job.

Maryland Bay shows action - From Buzz’s Marina (buzzsmarina.com) on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County, Christy Henderson reports, “Big blues and croakers have been caught all week.”

Henderson adds that Spanish mackerel and gray trout were landed by anglers using jigs on the Middle Grounds.

The Chesapeake Bay produces bluefish especially well at the Southwest Middle Grounds, where large croakers are frequently caught on pieces of cut bait dropped beneath the chum, but the fishing for croakers, blues and stripers can be quite good above the Patuxent River mouth. Start fishing in the lower Potomac River, then go around Point Lookout - the pier gives up croakers and blues after dark - and up toward Point No Point in the main body of the Bay, where a mix of croakers, bluefish, rockfish and the occasional Spanish mackerel are caught.

Virginia’s Northern Neck is hot - Charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (captbilly@captbillyscharters.com) reports that the bluefish his customers are catching have been getting bigger and now are available with more consistency.

“Blues up to four pounds are feeding between the Northern Neck Reef and Buoy 62,” he says. “I’ve been having great success while chumming by using a long-shank hook with 30 pound test mono leaders. There will be a few cutoffs, yet that combination entices more bites. I suggest chumming lightly and staying away from a crowd of boats. Overfeeding will shut them down quickly.”

Northern Neck Virginians find plenty of trolling action during both the morning and evening hours east of Buoy 62, as well as at the Windmill Point bar at Rappahannock River mouth, Buoy 1 just off the Great Wicomico River, Buoy 68 and the area around the “Hannibal” target ship near Smith Island. Small silver spoons work well when trolled with a planer, and there’s always a chance of hooking a Spanish mackerel on the same lure rig. Up and down the Bay, trollers find bluefish and a few keeper rockfish, but the majority of the blues are on the light side.

Lower Chesapeake Bay - Virginia Beach master angler Julie Ball (drjball.com) says, “There are plenty of 2 to 5-pounders ganging up on suspended clam near the Bay Bridge-Tunnel islands and the Cell.”

Look 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.

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