Gene Mueller’s fishing report

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As we celebrate National Fishing and Boating week through Sunday, remember that this Saturday and June 14 are free fishing days in Maryland. No licenses are needed, so take a newcomer fishing; make a convert.

Striped bass and bluefish outings for many now mean ladling chum into the water and dropping a baited hook into the middle of the gooey, ground-up menhaden. The chummers are doing well especially in the lower Maryland portions of the Chesapeake, including the Middlegrounds and Target Ship areas.

Meanwhile, the upper Chesapeake’s Susquehanna Flats are alive with rockfish in the 20- to 26-inch class. Boaters cast to them with weedless topwater poppers, Zoom Flukes and Bass Kandy lures.

The black drum fishing is getting under way in the Chesapeake’s Stone Rock and Sharps Island Light sector, but getting one to take a crab-baited hook can be a chore.

Largemouth bass fishing fans have been striking paydirt in almost every one of the tidal Potomac’s feeder creeks. If you can catch a receding tide and the sun isn’t too bright, use topwater lures, short plastic worms and shallow-running crankbaits. You’ll score from the Piscataway down to the Aquia creeks.

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), Ray Fletcher said that blue catfish, stripers and even a few bass are available in a fishable river. “The thunderstorms Tuesday night didn’t change water conditions here,” he said. Downstream, bass fanatics are finding action in most of the feeder creeks. Mann’s Baby 1-Minus lures, topwater poppers and short “fat” worms do well along marsh edges, in grass beds and on shoreline wood. Surprising numbers of Northern snakeheads are seen, most of them small, but certainly indicative of the further expansion of this invasive species. In the lower Potomac River, the croaker fishing isn’t as good as it should be. In fact, some anglers who hoped to find croakers in the Route 301 bridge area are complaining about a lack of action. However, as you head toward Point Lookout, there’s a better chance to locate a school of them here and there — along with small, roving bands of snapper bluefish and 18-inch stripers.

WICOMICO RIVER:55 miles (**) — The Bushwood area up to Chaptico Wharf hasn’t been the best for croakers, but some are available, which is better than other areas.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — The DNR electro-shock boat was in the creek Tuesday, shocking up snakeheads. This Chinese invader of our waters has been seen increasingly in the creek. In fact, one shock survey found a dozen or so, all of them 12 to 14 inches long, which means a spawn might have taken place in the creek some time ago. The bass fishing, by the way, can be very good as marsh banks and spatterdock edges turn up decent fish to casters of Senkos, poppers and small crankbaits.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) is good for sunfish, some small bass and a few leftover trout, if you’re lucky. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) it’s fly-rod popper time for the fattest bluegills. The crappies and bass also cooperate.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (***) — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117 near Boyds, 301/972-9396) has been fine for bluegills on fly-rod bugs, but the bass would rather see a short finesse worms or tube. At nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) much the same action is available as you’ll find at Black Hill.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) The catch-and-release bass like 4-inch pumpkinseed worms, crawfish color Little N crankbaits and early morning topwater poppers cast to sunken wood and lake points early in the day.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Flounder have been caught in 21 feet of water close to Solomons Bridge during a rising tide, reported the Tackle Box in Lexington Park. Live minnows were the preferred baits. White perch are increasing in the feeder creeks and the weekend might see a few upriver rockfish caught by trollers.

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