- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 28, 2008

Unpredictable weather is keeping many anglers close to shore, says Virginia Beach’s Julie Ball, and if our own Washington meteorologists can be believed a lot of anglers will stay home over the next several days.

Mid-Atlantic forecasts include predictions of winds in the 20 mph range with gusts up to 45 mph, and the chance of rain is nearly 100 percent. On Friday, the chance of rain is 80 percent, with lighter breezes, but gusts up to 25 mph are possible. Things might improve a bit by Saturday, but a continued threat of rain remains.

Should the weather be sujiutable for fishing, Chesapeake Bay boaters will hook bluefish and striped bass with relative ease — there are that many fish in the Bay. Lexington Park’s Ken Lamb said that breaking blues are available in the rivers and in the bay and when they feed on small alewifes near the surface it will attract sea gulls and they, of course, point you to the action. Lamb said that among the schools of bluefish are small stripers near the top of the water, but big rockfish seem to hang out below in deeper water.

Fans of the Spanish mackerel will be able to hook a few, but the migration to southern waters now will slowly begin. The same goes for the croakers and the Norfolk spot, although some large hardheads continue to be hooked on the Bay’s Middle Grounds and the little spot are available in good enough numbers to allow continued live-lining for rockfish and blues from Southern Maryland all the way up to near Baltimore.

By the way, some large stripers are taken, including one last week that was hooked north of Cove Point; it measured 40 inches and weighed 30 pounds. As the rest of the Chesapeake is concerned, the bluefish and striper fishing can be fine from the Chester River mouth in the north down to the mouth of the Rappahannock River in the south of the bay. But if it’s red drum (redfish, channel bass) you want, most of the bigger specimens — the legal size is 18 to 27 iches — are found from the Point Lookout Bar across to the Middle Grounds. Most of the bigger fish are taken at night.

The fishing for largemouth bass in the area’s reservoirs and the tidal Potomac River can be very good now.

Here is this week’s outlook:

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


TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — Dan at Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) said, “The fishing can be good for catfish and bass, but not many fishermen are showing up.” I can’t understand that. The Fletchers stretch of the river can be terrific. Meanwhile, the main stem of the river and most of its feeder creeks turn up bass during outgoing tides. Marsh edges and weed beds that are still in one piece have been good to users of spinnerbaits, worms, crankbaits and topwater poppers and chug baits from Wilson Bridge to western Charles County. In the main steam below Maryland Point, early-hour Rat-L-Trap and RedEye lure casters can score on keeper rockfish around the various river markers and buoys that show rock rings around the navigation aides. I’ve done it successfully now four different times in the past 10 days. Every morning before a bright sun rose, the fish were there. The rockfish scenario also holds for the St. Clements Island in the Potomac and many of the river’s long points that attract baitfish. Flounder are here now on all the ledges in the mouth Potomac and in the Bay, says the Tackle Box’s Ken Lamb. All of Cornfield Harbor from Cornfield Point to Point Lookout Bar has flounder.

WICOMICO RIVER:55 miles (**) — Striped bass continue to roam the waters around the mouth and just outside the Wicomico in the Potomac where trollers find limited action. If it’s croakers you’re looking for, forget it. Most of them now are out in the Chesapeake Bay in the rolling dips and rises of the Middle Grounds.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Guide Andy Andrzjewski (301/932-1509) said he’s been having a fine time using spinnerbaits, topwater poppers and finesse worms along the upper marsh edges of the creek. The bass haven’t been bashful when the tide was ebbing.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) can be good for usually small bass and well-fed sunfish. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) the bass catches can be very good now and then. Try early morning twitch baits around waterlogged tree stumps and the dam’s rock line.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (***) — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117 near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and the nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) give up catfish by the numbers and the bass fishing has been pretty good, as well.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Reader Joe Fabian says Rocky Gorge’s ramps and gates are down and the water level is way down. Apparently there has been a drawdown, but you could carry a car-topper to the water if you must fish here. The ramps at the adjacent Triadelphia Lake are open.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — The Patuxent at Sotterly Point and the mouth of St. Leonard’s Creek have produced rockfish for both lure casters and trollers all week at daybreak and dusk, says Ken Lamb. Begin your day before sunup and you can find some willing rockfish by casting Rat-L-Trap lures from Sheridan Point’s sandbar down toward Greenwell State Park. Almost anywhere you see riprap or rock piles there’ll be rockfish willing to look at chrome/blue rattle baits. The white perch are still in the creeks around fallen trees and grass lines near shore. Flounder are available in the mouth of the Patuxent. Live minnows should be drifted at the Three-Legged marker in the mouth of the river. There are also flounder near the Patuxent River bridge and flounder were caught at Point Patience and at Sandy Point in the river.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis said: “Fountainhead ranger Brent Hodnet caught a 38-pound flathead catfish off the boardwalk last week The big cat was caught on clam snouts. A 15-pound flathead was also brought in. The last regular bass tournament [of the reservoir season] was held over the weekend and a six-fish limit weighing 19 pounds, 7 ounces took top honors. The biggest bass weighed 6.34 pounds. The crappie bite remains strong and bluegills are readily available. The reservoir is at full pool, slightly stained, with surface temperatures in the low 70s. As the temperature cools the fishing will only get better.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Cooler nights and even some cool days have helped the bass fishing. Get going. They like 4-inch plastic worms and 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits around sunken brush and the like.


UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) — DNR biologist John Mullican says the upper river is low, clear and many areas are choked with aquatic vegetation. The vegetation is beginning to die back and pull free from the bottom. As it does, the floating mats will add an additional challenge to fishing. Walleye fishing has been surprisingly good considering the low, clear conditions. Try crankbaits and grubs fished on 1/8-ounce jig heads in deep pockets. The smallmouth bass like tubes or short plastic worms in deeper river holes.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (***) — Lake guide Brent Nelson (240/460-8839) says smallmouth and largemouth bass are possible especially during the cooler hours of the day. Floating docks and rocky lake points are fish attractors, so don’t overlook them. In the deeper coves the yellow perch are inhaling worm or minnow baits.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (**) — The word is that the moment water will be released from Conowingo Dam there’ll be willing rockfish at the base of the dam and lure casters will be able to hook some nice keepers.


MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Ken Lamb, of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box said the bluefish are plentiful most everywhere you go on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. “Blues are breaking in the rivers and in the Bay, attracting birds that make the activity visible from great distance,” he said and added, “In the schools of blues are small rockfish near the surface and big rockfish below. Some trout and red drum join the feeding frenzy on the bottom Trollers are using bucktails, spoons, and surgical eels. Meanwhile the trollers on the Bay can connect on rockfish and blues (even some redfish) from inside the Targets up to Cedar Cove. The waters above that area and those clear up to the Chester River mouth provide snapper blues, a few larger bluefish and rockfish of various sizes. Windy weather will hurt.

VIRGINIA:75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (captbilly@captbillyscharters.com) has been catching a fine variety of rockfish, larger-than-last-week’s bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Down the Bay, toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, cobia fishing is going out with a bang, said Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association. It is blowing like crazy, but boats making it to Bluefish Rock and York Spit are experiencing some of the best cobia fishing of the year. In the more protected waters of the inlets and rivers, spot are providing good action. Puppy drum and speckled trout are also biting inside the inlets and rivers. Neill added that big croakers can be caught in the structure of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel if the wind will let you fish in peace. The flounder that hang around the Bridge-Tunnel aren’t biting right now, but they will when the wind lets up.


CHOPTANK RIVER:120 miles (***) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Scattered snapper blues and rockfish, even occasional Spanish mackerel, are seen in the mouth, but windy weather this weekend will ruin some of that good fishing.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Good bass catches are possible, particularly a mile or so below Snow Hill. Short plastic worms are best.

NANTICOKE RIVER:120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Marshyhope Creek ramp outside Federalsburg) Bass have been taken in the Marshyhope, and some marauding rockfish will jump on rattle baits downstream of the Vienna area on river points and sandy spits, but be sure to try it early in the day.


LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) It might be too windy for decent fishing over the next several days, but the bass and crappie fishing can be fine. The earliest early-birds also connect on some of the lake’s stripers with jerkbaits and topwater chug baits.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (***) — The largemouth bass have been hard to get, but upper river smallmouths are more cooperative in the low water’s occasional dropoff pools.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) — (Route 793, off Route 29) If it rains and blows you’ll have a tough time finding action, but if it doesn’t this lake can deliver bass, crappies, sunfish and catfish.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Fat channel catfish love clam necks on the hooks of bottom rigs. A few decent bass are hooked with shallow-running crankbaits or Power Worms in the ujpper lake area.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Peahill and Jimmy’s creeks were good to several of our readers who fished for bass — and found them on plastic worms and soft jerkbaits in various parts of lake vegetation or the boat houses and creek points that often hold decent bass numbers.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Bass and catfish hookups have been good; so are the crappie chances. Wind will hurt.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (***) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish would take a fat chunk of herring on the bottom around the Dutch Harbor sector, but are you willing to go if it blows and rains?

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (***) — (Williamsburg area) Fair to occasionally good bass catches are possible in the upper river.


SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (***) — (Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas) From the Front Royal area, Dick Fox reports: Just go off the river and the fish were biting well. Crawfish imitations seem to be what they wanted. The bass were schooled in rocky areas, and once you found them they were aggressive. The river is still low and very clear; the water temperature is 70 degrees.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Good bass and striper catches can be made if the wind and rain stays away.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Waders score on smallmouth bass, channel catfish and fat sunfish.


MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Oceanside fishermen have been hampered by strong northeasterly winds this week, says the DNR’s Keith Lockwood, but we’re betting the weekend won’t see any improvement. Winds and rains are forecast and, as Keith says, That makes it tough for flounder fishermen in the back bay areas and for surf fishermen. Meanwhile, expect some large red drum (channel bass) to show up along the beaches, including Assateague. There’ll also be some well-fed stripers in the surf and in ther Ocean City Inlet. If you could get outside the inlet, fat croakers await you in the not-too-far-off Atlantic waters.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Dr. Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says, Big flatfish will be found around the coastal wrecks. Some bull red drum are being caught at Sandbridge. Big jack crevalle and a few large amberjack are waiting to bust up tackle at the Chesapeake Light Tower. Fishing for king mackerel and false albacore should be taking off at the Light Tower area soon. Fall is a great time to hit the ocean wrecks for jumbo sea bass and triggerfish. It is not uncommon to catch both black and red drum while fishing the more inshore wrecks. Before this latest blow, offshore fishing was great for billfish and dolphin, with tuna fishing showing more life. My guess is that after this blow, we will see more of a scattered billfish bite and better fishing for wahoo and tuna, with plenty of dolphin still around. We just need it to calm down enough so we can get out there and find out. For charters, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/491-8000.

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