Gene Mueller: Autumn fishing busting out

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Our regular Shenandoah River reporter, Dick Fox, came down to the tidal Potomac from his Front Royal, Va., home and summed up the great fishing in one sentence.

“Went to the Potomac [on] Sunday and caught about 50 bass,” he said.

Fox and the rest of us who have been hitting the river on a regular basis urge everyone to get busy and fish the upper tidal Potomac where shallow crankbaits, soft plastics, spinnerbaits and topwater lures can deliver memorable outings.

Some of the tidal river’s bass hounds do well around the Fox Ferry rockline, above the Wilson Bridge; others score inside the Broad Creek, also the Piscataway and other feeders on both sides of the river; but the Mattawoman and Chicamuxen tributaries have been best for me and our regular group of fishing pals.

In the District, by the way, the Washington Channel continues to deliver mirror and common carp of considerable size. For example, Paul Ockenden, of Stilton, England, was visiting and fished the Washington Channel. Before he stopped, Ockenden caught a 37-pound common carp. Ockenden, by the way, loves the easy fishing in the U.S.

Chesapeake Bay is hot - The Southern Maryland, lower Eastern Shore and middle or upper parts of the Chesapeake Bay are giving boaters great action. “The fishing has really turned on,” said Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina, on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County. “We finally saw a good number of rockfish and they had pretty good size to them. The bluefish got a lot bigger last weekend. It was this time last year when the big ones moved in, so hopefully this will be a repeat. They ranged from 3 to 10 pounds yesterday. About two miles southeast of Buoy 72 seemed to be one of the hotter spots.”

Christy said chumming, live-lining spot, trolling and jigging worked equally well in most areas.

From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb also reported that the bluefish are everywhere, but the stripers are getting bigger and more plentiful and a few Spanish mackerel are still around.

“The flounder are solid along the ship channel and along river dropoffs, and the red drum are in the Bay’s deep and shallow water,” Lamb said.

The upper and middle Bay waters also are delivering a fine mix of bluefish and stripers, but the annual migration of large ocean stripers has not yet materialized. It will happen in a couple of weeks.

Occoquan Reservoir- Smokey Davis said the backs of long, deep creeks, such as Three Fingers, Little Beaver and Hoos Run can deliver plenty of action for bass anglers.

“Topwater baits early, followed by shallow to medium depth crankbaits account for most of the fish,” Davis said.

He also mentioned that the crappie bite was slower, although a beautiful 19-inch, 3-pounder was caught off the pier on a minnow fished under a bobber. Catfish love chicken livers or clam snouts and bluegills are readily available. The reservoir is clear with surface temperatures in the low to mid-60s.

Shenandoah produces - “Just got off the river,” Fox said. “The bite was not as strong under an east wind, but we did catch a few nice smallmouth bass. Tubes worked well. The grass is starting to break up and the leaves are changing; the water [tempature] was 64 degrees and there was a slight stain, but the river is in great shape.”

Virginia bay and ocean - From Virginia Beach, Julie Ball (drjball.com) reports the fall offshore bite is on, with inshore action also picking up. Ball said hordes of striped bass in the 18- to 24-inch range are stacked along drop-offs and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. By the way, you can now keep two rockfish per day that measure between 18 and 28 inches, or one within that range and another of 34 inches and longer.

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