Weekend fishing report

If the high cost of gasoline forces you to stay close to home, be thankful that at least you have some of the finest largemouth bass fishing in the country as close-by as the tidal Potomac River. The late spring is turning up excellent numbers of the fish. They’re caught from downtown Washington south to Charles County’s feeder creeks on a variety of lures, from topwater poppers to deepwater plastic worms.

In the lower tidal rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay, don’t overlook the Patuxent and Potomac, where increasing numbers of Atlantic croakers are making their presence felt.

Shrimp, squid, bloodworm or artificial FishBites pieces on weighted bottom rigs do the job from the Potomac’s Swan Point to the mouth of the Wicomico and inside to Bushwood, then downstream again in the main stem to Piney Point, St. George’s Island and south to Point Lookout.

Trollers and lure slingers out in the Bay connect on a mix of striped bass and bluefish from Virginia’s Rappahannock River mouth north into Maryland, from the Point Lookout Pier area to the Middlegrounds, Buoy 72, Hooper’s Island Light, Gooses, Calvert Cliffs stretches and up to the Bay Bridge and beyond.

From the Virginia Beach area, Ken Neill reports that along with the weather, the fishing is hot. “Everything is here now,” he said. “Billfish have joined into the offshore mix off the Virginia coast. In fact, offshore action is good from Morehead City, N.C., to Ocean City, Md., and we are right in the middle of it. Tuna, dolphin, wahoo, marlin and sailfish are all being caught offshore.”

Here’s this week’s outlook:

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

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461), the blue catfish continue to bite cut baits on the bottom. Many anglers find a couple of keeper rockfish now and then and one man caught a large walleye a few days ago. The river is fishable even after Tuesday night’s rains. In the tidal creeks below the District, largemouth bass are taking topwater poppers, Baby 1-Minus crankbaits and soft plastics of every type from near the Wilson Bridge down to Mallows Bay and across the river to the Aquia Creek.

WICOMICO RIVER:55 miles (***) — The Bushwood area up to Chaptico Wharf is beginning to turn up better numbers of croakers now. The trick is to find a good high tide and some movement in the water. Crabbers are complaining. Trotliner Mike Roselle said he ran a baited 1,000-foot line a few days ago and came home with 18 — 18 crabs, not 18 bushels — a poor outing, to put it mildly.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Good early hour topwater fishing for bass (maybe even a snakehead) around massive weed carpets and spatterdock fields. The DNR has found snakeheads in the Marsh Island area. Soft plastics work well upstream toward Hancock Cove.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) gives up sunfish, small bass, even some crappies. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) the bass fishing has been very good, as have crappie and bluegill outings.

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) show excellent sunfish fly-rod action, but also good bass and catfish opportunities for those who prefer conventional gear.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) A good pick in the early and late hours for crappies and bass. Sunken rocks, brush and trees hold the fish. Small live minnows under a bobber will catch both species, but bass purists prefer to use soft plastic worms.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Croakers have been hooked around Greenwell State Park, the Hawk’s Nest and a number of other river areas, including portions of the Patuxent Naval Air Station side of the river, while flounder drifters look for the flatfish under the Route 2/4 Bridge in Solomons. The mouth of the river has been home to rockfish and snapper blues.

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