Gene Mueller: Fishing’s fine

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Whether you’re chasing after tidal river largemouth bass, farm pond crappies and bluegills, big catfish in a reservoir or the Chesapeake Bay’s striped bass, the fishing can be excellent. That’s good news after the recent heavy rains and less-than-desirable water conditions all around the Washington area.

Let’s begin with the Bay’s rockfish, some of which continue to be of trophy size. From the Tackle Box in St. Mary’s County’s Lexington Park, Md., Ken Lamb agreed.

“Big stripers are still trickling in,” he said. “Last week, trollers caught rockfish in excess of 40 inches every day that the wind wasn’t howling.”

As concerns smaller stripers, there have been breaking rockfish and blues just outside the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek and at the Point No Point lighthouse, while others connect on 18- to 24-inch stripers near Hooper’s Island Light and, amazingly, 35- to 37-inch rockfish mixed in with smaller specimens as far up as Poplar Island and the general Bloody Point area.

Lamb also recounted that trollers and lure casters found breaking fish outside the mouth of the Patuxent River north of the PR Buoy and at Little Cove Point near Buoy 77, “where some whoppers were busting the surface,” he said.

If you’re fishing in upper Bay waters and wonder where the croakers are, relax; they will be on their way soon.

“The crab shed is a least a month late,” Lamb said, “and [there is no] incentive for the croakers to venture into the upper bay as the crabs are among their favorite food sources.”

- From Occoquan Reservoir comes news of Manasssas, Va., angler Ivan Erhardt, who hooked a 51-pound flathead catfish earlier this week.

“I did not have a high capacity scale at the time, so I ran a rope through his lower lip and tied him to the dock overnight,” Erhardt said. “When I finally weighed him 15 hours after he was landed, he [tipped the scale at] 51 pounds. I released him in good health shortly thereafter.”

Erhardt promised to get back in touch when he breaks the 66 1/4-pound state record for the species.

Meanwhile, Fountainhead Park ranger Smokey Davis reported, “The bass bite continues to be strong as evidenced by a winning total of 19 pounds of bass [six fish] at last week’s Fountainhead Bass Club tournament. The big fish weighed 4.91 pounds. Several citation crappie were caught, with the biggest being a 16 1/2-incher weighing 2 1/4 pounds. Bluegills are gathering to spawn and are readily available. The reservoir remains at full pool with stained conditions prevailing.

- DNR biologist John Mullican says the upper Potomac River, which had been treacherous for a number of days, is getting back after recent heavy rains. Smallmouth bass are inhaling Zoom flukes, various grubs and tubes.

In the tidal portions below the District, largemouth bass aren’t bashful about attacking a Chatterbait, Senko-style worms, and even some topwater lures in all the feeder creeks as far down as the Aquia.

- Front Royal’s Dick Fox said the Shenandoah River is back in fishable shape and the hunt for smallmouth bass should be good this weekend.

- Local Lake Gaston bass specialist Marty Magone said, “Early morning topwater lures are still working on creek and main lake points. Use chatterbaits and jig worms later in the day near grass lines. Water temperatures up-lake are only 62.”

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