- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2008

After the rainy days that visited the Washington area recently, we’re happy to report that good fishing finally has returned. As long as the wind doesn’t blow too hard, you’ll catch striped bass and some bluefish in the Chesapeake Bay this weekend. If it’s the upper tidal rivers you like, the bass and catfish are turned on, and if there’s farm pond available to you or you visit a local public lake, rest assured that the bluegills and crappies will cooperate.

Among the best catches this week was Ivan Erhardt’s 51-pound flathead catfish taken on bottom bait in the Occoquan Reservoir. What a fish! Erhardt, who lives in Manassas, Va., let it go after snapping a few photos.

Along the Atlantic Ocean front from Virginia into Maryland, headboats find sea bass and tautogs, while there are fast moving hordes of bluefin and yellowfin tunas and a few dolphinfish. Both states have boaters who’ve found bluefish that have been cavorting around an offshore area known as the Hambone, as well as other hangouts inside the 30-fathom line.

Virginia wreck fishermen also score on snowy grouper and tilefish, and the latest reports say that good marlin fishing will reach Virginia waters with increasing warm weather.

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 the river levels dropped and there is decent fishing for stripers, late-staying American shad, a few bass and fat catfish. As you head downstream, the bass are waiting. Chatterbaits, finesse worms, topwater poppers and buzzbaits, as well as shallow-running Baby 1-Minus lures can find fish in the weedy pockets, sunken metal or fallen trees of Broad and Piscataway creeks, also in Dogue Creek and Pohick Bay, Pomonkey, Powell, Neabsco, Quantico, Chicamuxen, Potomac and Aquia creeks. Only the Nanjemoy has been a disappointment. Blue and channel catfish are taken on bottom baits throughout the main stem. Below the Route 301 bridge in Charles County, trollers head downstream, and they find some keeper stripers from St. Clements to Tall Timbers and onward to Point Lookout. Snapper blues are seen now and then.

WICOMICO RIVER:** — In the Bushwood sector up to Chaptico Wharf’s deeper waters, croakers will take shrimp, bloodworm or squid baits. Some white perch are available. Remember, the fish in this river received a serious shake-up during the recent rains and subsequent water temperature changes. Warm weather will bring them back big-time.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: *** — Chatterbaits in white/chartreuse have been deadly on bass in the various weed-choked coves. Also try buzzbaits, then finish up with Strike King Zero or Senko worms in pumpkinseed colors.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: ***Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) shows fly-rod bluegills now. Small bass are also possible. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) the sunfish are bedding, which is ideal for popping bugs and various flies. Crappies take a small jig under a bobber and the bass are hungry in the stickups.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: *** — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117 near Boyds, 301/972-9396) shows bass, sunfish galore and catfish. At nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) you’ll find good fly-rodding for sunfish, plenty of crappies, bass and catfish.

WSSC RESERVOIRS:***(Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Good catch-and-release bass chances along lake points and sunken brush. Don’t forget, the bass-keeping season doesn’t open until June 16. Crappies are in brushpiles and all the shorelines are generally good for fly-rodding if you’re after sunfish.

PATUXENT RIVER: *** — Scattered 18-inch-and-over rockfish are in the mouth, with some white perch coming into the creeks between Solomons and Sheridan Point. Here’s hoping for hardheads will again be in the drops in front of Solomons Fishing Pier.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: ***From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) comes word of Ivan Erhardt’s 51-pound flathead catfish caught on a bottom bait. Meanwhile, Smokey Davis, the park ranger, says a 19-pound, 6-bass stringer won the Fountainhead Bass Club’s latest tournament. In addition, crappies and fat bluegills are biting nicely.

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