After the weekend rain and wind you would have thought that local waters would be discolored, with fish clamping their jaws tightly and not bite anything. But that’s not what has happened. Autumn fishing has begun and it is particularly noteworthy in the upper tidal Potomac River where largemouth bass, catfish and resident yellow perch aren’t the least bit bashful about attacking a lure.
From here on the fishing will only get better until several hard frosts arrive and the weeds and spatterdock die. Then we’ll work lures around boat docks, sunken wood and shoreline drops along creek marsh banks. Either way, the fishing in the tidal Potomac, Virginia’s Rappahannock and Chickahominy, or the Eastern Shore’s Choptank, Nanticoke and Pocomoke rivers never comes to a complete halt.
Meanwhile, in the Chesapeake Bay there are thousands of bluefish of all sizes that will tear a soft plastic lure or live spot bait to shreds. Along with the 2- to 10-pound blues that roam the Bay from Southern Maryland up toward Kent County and even the Susquehanna Flats you can expect various sizes of rockfish to be availabe as well. And if you hang around the lower Maryland waters of the Bay, don’t be surprised if you tie into a hefty redfish.
Starting Oct. 4, fishermen who troll or cast lures in Virginia’s part of the Chesapeake Bay will be allowed to keep two rockfish per day from 18 to 28 inches long. One of the two fish may be 34 inches or longer, but no fish may be kept between 28 and 34 inches in length. Those stripers right now are stacked up along the James River crossings.
On a different note, the Maryland DNR and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) have been attaching green tags onto striped bass. The return of a whole tagged fish will aid biologists in determining the impact of disease on the rockfish population. Tagged fish landed in Maryland waters by recreational fishermen will not count against daily bag limits and size/seasonal restrictions will not apply to tagged fish.
You’re asked to report incidences of diseased or dead fish in any of Maryland´s waters by using the Fish Health Hotline, 1-877/244-7229. If you catch a striped bass with a green VIMS or Maryland DNR tag you can get a $20 reward. Keep the fish cold (do not freeze) and call 1-866/845-3379. Please, make the call whether the tagged fish is healthy or appears to be sick.
Here is this week’s outlook:
(Ratings key: ****=excellent fishing; ***;=Good; **Fair; *;=Poor.)
AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: *** — Around the Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) waters you’ll be able to hook a fat catfish on bottom baits or a fine largemouth bass on crankbaits, jigs or plastic worms. Ernie Rojas and a friend had no trouble trolling up young rockfish in the Washington Channel between Hains Point and the Anacostia mouth. In the main stem and the tributaries below Washington, look for open lanes and pockets along the various weed beds. We’ve done exceptionally well twitching jerkbaits or using shallow-running Thin Fin lures in a stop-and-go method. The bass slammed these lures, as well as topwater buzzbaits, in a number of the river’s feeder creeks this week. The one creek that has been a big disappointment is the Nanjemoy in Charles County. The bass fishing should be on fire there, but no big catches are made — not even little ones.
WICOMICO RIVER:** — Rockfish are possible for buoy rockpile lure casters or trollers outside the river mouth. There isn’t much happening inside the Wicomico.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: *** — If you play the tides, the bass fishing can be great from the upper portions above the Indian Head ramp down toward the Sweden Point Marina. Our best catches this week came when we cast shallow-lipped lures into open lanes of weedbeds and did some very productive stop-and-go twitching and reeling of the lures. Topwater buzzbaits have worked and we’ve found some of the bass also on wacky-rigged worms.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: **Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) gives up a few sunfish, not much else this week, but cooler weather will activate the bass. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) the water will be drawn down to make repairs on the dam and the boat ramp will be closed down. However, fishing is allowed. If you care to carry a cartopper or canoe through the exposed mud shore, you can do so.
LITTLE SENECA LAKE: *** — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117 near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and the nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) are fine choices for the weekend. Cooler night and day temperatures will activate the feeding urges of bass, catfish and all the panfish.
WSSC RESERVOIRS:***(Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) There’ll be repair work done at Rocky Gorge’s dam, resulting in a drawdown. Expect closed boat ramps, but shore walkers or cartoppers who carry their little boats across slick, muddy shores, can do so if they with. At Triadelphia Lake the fishing is fine for bass and crappies.