- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2008

It seems that half the saltwater anglers in the Maryland/Virginia area want to know where croakers can be caught, and there is good news, for the most part.

The delectable “hardheads” are found in large numbers if you use peeler crab, bloodworm, shrimp or squid baits throughout the lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers in Southern Maryland, and also in increasing portions in the middle and upper Chesapeake Bay, including the mouth of the Choptank River, and in Eastern Bay and the Bloody Point area. Sadly, the reports of catches from the upper western shore generally are meager; they include stretches from below the South River toward Chesapeake Beach, but some hardheads are caught along with Norfolk spot and white perch. Of course, Virginia’s Northern Neck and Bay areas clear down to the Rappahannock and James rivers deliver plenty of the tasty croakers.

If heavy rains stay away over the next four days, you’ll have superb smallmouth bass fishing in the upper Susquehanna, Potomac, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and James rivers where the “brown fish” attack small plastic worms, grubs, tubes, spinners and topwater lures, but also fly-rod streamers and poppers.

However, the best fishing for us over the past two weeks came courtesy of the tidal Potomac River where largemouth bass have been wonderfully cooperative, striking with abandon just about any soft plastic or surface lure, even small crankbaits. The river’s main stem grass beds will hold bass, but the feeder creeks have been even better for us so far.

Here’s this week’s 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 that rockfish continue to be caught by those anglers who are serious and skilled fishermen. “Of course, there are the blue and channel catfish and some bass, not to mention a snakehead that was caught recently. Downstream, largemouth bass and fine catfish numbers are possible from Columbia Island to Hains Point, and then on toward the Wilson Bridge area and Fox Ferry rock line, some of the edges of Smoot Bay and then on to Broad, Piscataway, Hunting and Dogue creeks, as well as all the Charles County and Prince William County feeder creeks, and don’t overlook the Aquia in Stafford County. Four-inch finesse worms, weedless lures like the Chatterbait, topwater poppers and small crankbaits (In occasional pockets of open water) will be all you need. Farther downstream, from the Route 301 bridge south, croakers were biting especially after sundown around Swan Point, but also at Ragged Point, Piney Point, Kitts Point, St. George Island, Cornfield Harbor and of course the Point Lookout river and Bay sides. Schools of Norfolk spot are also available.

WICOMICO RIVER:*** — The Bushwood area near Quade’s Store (301/769-3903) shows croakers, spot and white perch. Some days the croaker fishing can be frantic.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: *** — Slither a whacky-rigged worm across dense grass mats in this creek and you’re likely to have a bass rise and strike. The bass fishing, in spite of one tournament after another being launched in the creek’s Smallwood State Park, can be very productive. Catfish are biting; they like cut-up herring or perch.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: ***Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) has been fine for fly-rodders who use popping bugs on bedding bluegils. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) do the fly-rod popping thing, too. Then switch over to catching bass with lightly rigged 4-inch plastic worms or early morning topwater lures.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: *** — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117 near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) show fine numbers of bluegills that are on the beds. Get out the fly-rod and a small popper or Black Gnat and catch a mess. Bass have been going after small finesse worms or 4-inch-long hard or soft jerkbaits.

WSSC RESERVOIRS:***(Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Now that the bass keeper season is open, see if you can’t find a wall-hanger largemouth here. Both lakes have them. Use early morning surface lures, plastic worms, hard jerkbaits, such as the Rapala, and also spinnerbaits.

PATUXENT RIVER: *** — Big croakers have been caught on peeler crabs, bloodworms or squid at Broome’s Island, St. Leonard Bar, Greenwell State Park and the Hawk’s Nest. “Those concentrating on spot find them at Sandy Point, Green Holly, the mouth of Town Creek, Kingston Hollow, Drum Point and Fishing Point. Spot love bloodworms,” Ken Lamb said. Flounder have been hooked at Marker 5 (Fishing Point) and Buoy 3, the 3-legged marker near the mouth. The waters under the Solomons bridge also have turned up flounder. White perch are in the feeder creeks, and they’ll strike small white spinnerbaits or chrome/blue Tiny Traps.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: ***From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis said, “Buzzbaits, topwater plugs and flukes produced quality bass during the early morning hours this past week. However, when the sun rose to tree-top levels that bite was over and deep- running crankbaits, fished along the sides of long points, became the bait of choice. Some nice fish were also caught on jig’n’pigs pitched into deep mainlake blowdowns. Crappies are still inconsistent, but catfish love cut baits. Bluegills are in the middle of their spawn and are readily available.”

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