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Gene Mueller: Chumming begins

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The chumming for stripers and bluefish has started, especially in the lower Maryland parts of the Chesapeake Bay.

From Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reports that chummers are getting blues, rockfish and some croakers on the Middlegrounds, and Christy Henderson of Buzz's Marina on St. Jerome's Creek echoes the chum reports.

"This past week a lot of people switched to chum, and they weren't sorry," Henderson said.

The Target Ship turned up stripers, and she added that the Triangle area in general has been good for chummers all week.

"The bluefish are coming on strong now," she said. "They're all over the place, with the mouth of St. Jerome's Creek and the waters over to the Point No Point lighthouse producing lots of nice eating-size blues along with rockfish."

Elsewhere, with the exception of the lower Potomac, croaker fishing has been a big disappointment.

Black drum are in the vicinity of the Stone Rock and Sharps Island Light, but hooking one is a different story.

Cobia fishing begins in Virginia - Julie Ball (drjball.com), one of the best marine anglers along the Atlantic Coast, says hard-charging cobias have arrived in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Plus, there's also sheepshead caught as a byproduct when local boaters fish for drum.

"Black drum are still showing [up] along the shoals near buoys 10, 13, and 16 where clams are the top baits," Ball said. "Although we are on the downward trend for these brutes, they are still available for those willing to put in the time."

To add to the fun, large red drum are scavenging for food along the shoals off Fisherman's Island and Nautilus Shoal, with increasing numbers of these fish showing up on the 9-foot shoal near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Crabs have been great bait.

Ball said flounder catches in Wachapreague and Oyster are up and down because the water has been discolored and flounder prefer to sight-feed. In the Atlantic, spadefish are taking up station on inshore wrecks, as well inside the Bay at York Spit Light, Wolftrap Light and the Cell. Ball said some spadefish are available at the Chesapeake Light Tower, but the fish are holding tight to the tower legs.

Stripers and bluefish can be caught around the various islands of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which helps make up for the lack of flounder right now.

Wide variety offered by Potomac - Ray Fletcher in Georgetown's Fletcher's Cove (202/244-0461) says the blue catfish, stripers and occasional bass make for interesting fishing in his corner of the river.

"Some of the blue 'cats' weigh up to 40 pounds," he said. The big catfish prefer bottom-fished cut fish chunks.

Downriver, the largemouth bass in some of the feeder creeks are on a rampage. One of the local bass guides, Dale Knupp, has been finding 25 to 30 bass a day without hardly trying. They have liked Senko-style worms, Chatterbaits, topwater poppers or Baby 1-Minus crankbaits. Yesterday, I was out in my boat using 2- and 3-inch Berkley dropshot minnows on a 1/16-ounce jig hook tied to light line and caught 12 bass without effort.

In the Chicamuxen Creek, guide Andy Andrzejewski fished with two guests and they hooked more than a dozen bass and two Northern snakeheads. Snakeheads also were caught in the Mattawoman, along with bass.

Occoquan delivers plenty - From Fountainhead Park, ranger Smokey Davis says the grass is up on main-lake points and the mouths of major coves and late-spawning bass have moved into it. Weedless rigged plastic will catch them. The crappies like small minnows under a bobber. Look for blowdowns and beaver dams on the main lake. Popping bug fly-rodders score on bluegills that are just beginning to spawn.

Shenandoah bass are willing - Front Royal's Dick Fox said the fishing is great for smallmouth bass. The Shenandoah is in great shape, and they are hitting anything you throw.

*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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