Weekend Fishing Report

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Fall is on its way. You can smell it in the early morning air. Those of us who launch boats before sunup now are beginning to wear a light jacket before heading out. The area’s fish populations already are beginning to respond to the change in the water temperatures, slight as it may be.

The Potomac River, home of the premier tidal bass fishing waters of the entire East Coast, will show a steadily increasing number of bass for anglers who start early and begin their fishing days by casting loudly splashing, popping and gurgling topwater lures. The bass will do the rest as they continue to hang out in vast weed beds and along marsh banks. Get to these areas while you can. Eventually, a hard frost will arrive, the grass will begin to die off and the bass will flee the then oxygen-depleted water to head for new ambush areas, such as weed-free docks, sunken wood and channel edges.

On the subject of the upper tidal Potomac, if you plan to be on the river Sept. 27-28, be prepared for crowded conditions. The Northeast Division of the Bass Fishing League will conduct its final tournament of the year out of Charles County’s Smallwood State Park during those two days. The BFL expects more than 200 participants, and the Potomac will be a busy place — that much is guaranteed.

If it’s the Chesapeake Bay you prefer, get ready for increased numbers of rockfish and a larger class of bluefish than we saw during the summer. In fact, there are still many Spanish mackerel in the Bay and trollers of small, shiny spoons will connect on the mackerel, but be sure to also put out an umbrella rig with small bucktails or Sassy Shads for the rockfish. Sure, the blues will chew up some of your lures, but you’ll have fun all the same because the fishing is good.

Here is this week’s outlook:

(Ratings key: ★★★★=excellent fishing; ★★★=Good; ★★ Fair; ★=Poor.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER:0-35 miles (★★★) — Ray Fletcher of Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) said fish activity has definitely picked up.

“The water is cooling down and the bass are responding. Quite a few can be caught. Of course, there are plenty of catfish, too,” he said.

Much the same story is heard up and down the tidal Potomac where water temperatures have declined enough to push some of the bass into shallower water at least during the early and late hours of the day. They respond to topwater lures, 4-inch scented plastic worms and medium-depth crankbaits in crawfish patterns.

Just about all the feeder creeks will deliver the goods ,and some might add excitement by way of Chinese snakeheads that occasionally attack bass lures.

Downstream, every rock-surrounded river buoy and multi-legged channel marker seems to be home to feeding rockfish. But you need to be there before the sun rises if you wish to catch them on lip-less rattle baits or topwater poppers.

If it’s croakers you’re after south of the Potomac River Bridge in Charles County, things don’t look very good. The same holds for spot, but white perch are taken on small Beetlespin lures and 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits just about everywhere there is some rocky rip-rap or a duck blind. The flounder catches continue to hold up from the Steuart Pier at Piney Point down to drops and channel edges at Tall Timbers and also in the Cornfield Harbor area adjacent to Point Lookout. The center of the river gives up blues and rockfish for trollers.

WICOMICO RIVER:55 miles (★★) — Stripers up to 22 inches have been caught during outgoing tides around the rock piles of the buoy at the mouth of the river. If there are any croakers caught I’ve yet to hear from anybody who was successful, but the white perch are active throughout the river.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK:40 miles (★★★) — Catch a vigorous outgoing tide and you’ll also catch bass. The largemouths have been active during ebbing water periods from the Sweden Point Marina area up the creek to the Mattingly Avenue boat ramp and on toward the Hancock Cove. By the way, the channel waters below the Mattingly Avenue launch ramps are great for catfish that love clam necks or cut fish.

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