- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2008

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.

PATUXENT RIVER: *** — Ken Lam, of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, said, “Blues and rockfish are active on falling tides in the mouth of the river near West Basin on the Naval Air Station. Rockfish are hitting topwater lures at dusk and dawn at Hog Point and up-river at Point Patience, Sotterly Point and the mouth of St. Leonard Creek. White perch are in the creeks along with puppy drum, spot, bluefish, rockfish, and some tiny speckled trout. The spot are still in the mouth of the river for bottom fishermen.” Reader Andy Croley wrote, “Brad Wagner and I went fishing from shore at Goose Creek, Patuxent Naval Air Station. We caught bluefish from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., got our limit and went home. Several of them were 20-inchers. It was a great night to be fishing.”

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: ***From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis said, “Medium-depth crankbaits in shad or crawfish patterns will attract bass up to three pounds in the Fountainhead Park area of the reservoir. Some fine crappies were taken off the pier and boardwalk on medium-size minnows under a bobber, but you must get there early. The catfish bite remains strong, with chicken livers, cut bait, and clam snouts doing the trick. The reservoir is still at full pool, slightly stained, with surface temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s.”

BURKE LAKE: *** — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) A great time of the year for bass and crappie anglers who visit this lake. You’ll hook crappies and bass by simply using a fringed tube around brushpiles. Use a little fish attractant on the plastic “bait” and you can score. However, don’t overlook small crankbaits and finesse worms for the bass.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MARYLAND

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: ***The DNR’s John Mullican and Keith Lockwood report the upper river to be running low currently, but the smallmouth bass and walleye fishing has been good. The water temperatures are now in the mid-60s and the fish are very active. Fishing tubes and jigs near ledges and dropoffs are excellent places to catch smallmouths and walleyes.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: *** — Lake guide Brent Nelson (240/460-8839) had fine fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass in a number of lake spots. Hard and soft jerkbaits, topwater poppers and stick baits have done well during cloudy weather. The DNR says if you’re looking for walleyes, yellow perch and crappies, you’ll find them near some of the deeper piers of the bridges.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: **Water releases from Conowingo Dam are more predictable now and the rockfish casters appreciate it. Evening hours have been best for stripers. Below Conowingo and down at Havre de Grace, largemouth bass have been caught on Senko worms and spinnerbaits around marina docks and main river coves and fallen wood.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: ***Ken Lamb, of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box, said, “The bluefish are everywhere, biting anything in sight. Trollers have found bluefish from 5 to 10 pounds from Buoy 72 to below the Target Ship. Surgical eels are very effective and durable lures for the bluefish. There are many big red drum swimming around with the blues in the lower Bay.” Lamb also said that surf-casters have found good action off the beaches and piers in the Bay and up in the lower ends of the rivers. If it’s flounder you want, they are fairly abundant on the ledges and dropoffs along the shipping channel, the Potomac’s Cornfield Harbor and at Point Lookout. The DNR’s Keith Lockwood says that Chesapeake Bay anglers find a mix of bluefish and striped bass chasing baitfish from above Cove Point toward the Susquehanna. “Fishermen are either casting to breaking fish or jigging [beneath them] with excellent results,” he reported.

/b75-150 miles ()

*** — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The area from the river mouth up to the Cambridge fishing bridge holds good numbers of white perch and many undersized rockfish. Farther upstream, from Denton to Greensboro, there is a fair chance of hooking largemouth bass on Baby 1-Minus lures, short worms and even topwater poppers when the tides recede.

>b/b140-170 miles ()

*** — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Marshyhope Creek ramp outside Federalsburg) Shallow crankbaits and early-hour topwater lures can score on some chunky largemouth bass.

>b/bb/b82 miles () —

*** Blue catfish and channel catfish are typical catches right now from Fredericksburg to Leedstown. Bass hookups in shoreline wood are possible above Port Royal, but we haven’t gotten any decent reports from the waters below the Route 301 bridge.

>b/b59 miles ()

*** — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass catches have been good from around various drops, points and wood in the upper end of the lake. Catfish and crappie also oblige.

>b/b179 miles () —

** — (Route 58, Clarksville) Locals around the Clarksville portion say the bass fishing has been very slow and even catfish catches aren’t what they should be. The bright spots are the lake’s crappies. Sunken brush piles and fallen trees hold good numbers of the speckled tusslers.

>b/b115 miles () —

**— (Williamsburg area) The bass fishing is only fair and the sizes of the largemouths could be better. Catfish are the main catch right now.

>b/bb/b75-85 miles ()

*** — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Nighttime stripers are possible down around the “S” Curve, but don’t overlook the largemouth bass. Good catches are made in stump fields and around lake points.

>b

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