- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tropical Storm Hanna might throw a monkey wrench into our fishing plans for the weekend, but that’s not absolutely certain. If it follows the current path, North Carolina will feel it first, with resulting rain and wind most likely also occurring in Virginia and Maryland. However, all this is only guesswork; it doesn’t have to turn out that way.

If stormy weather stays away, the Chesapeake Bay and its feeder rivers will deliver good to excellent fishing for bluefish, stripers and Spanish mackerel. In the lower parts of the Bay there’ll also be flounder, redfish and sheepshead, especially if you fish the underwater structure around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which is only a hop away from the Atlantic Ocean.

Locally, on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., a host of volunteers will gather at the Potomac River’s Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge for the Fourth Annual C.A.S.T. for Kids event in Virginia. C.A.S.T. stands for Catch a Special Thrill and a C.A.S.T. For Kids Foundation was created to support these children’s events all over the U.S.

C.A.S.T. For Kids has many volunteers who want to help children who have special needs. Experienced boaters will take the youngsters and their parents out on large bass boats for a few hours of fishing and fun.

At the Leesylvania State Park event, 25 to 30 children from various Northern Virginia communities will be joining bass anglers, most of whom are members of Virginia Bass Federation Regions 1 and 9, the Potomac Bass Masters of Virginia, the Concerned Bass Anglers of Virginia, and New Horizon Bass Anglers.

If you would like to assist with the event, contact Ken Benson, the C.A.S.T. for Kids Virginia Coordinator, 703/730-8205 or ken.benson@dcr.virginia.gov.

Here is this week’s fishing outlook:

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

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — Ray Fletcher of Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) said the water is low, but largemouth and smallmouth bass have been caught by rental boaters and rock hoppers. Catfish also are plentiful. Downstream, weed pockets, rock lines, shoreline dropoffs in Maryland and Virginia feeder creeks and also the bridge abutments of several feeder s have been good for bass as long as there’s a good falling tide. We’ve seen no particular lure working better than another, so start with wacky-rigged Senko or Zero worms, spinnerbaits, poppers and crankbaits. They’ll all work. Yes, big catfish are always available in deeper water if you tie a clam- or fish-baited hook to your bottom rig. Not far from the Route 301 Bridge in Charles County, I cast blue/chrome Red-Eye rattle baits to rocks surrounding various river buoys and caught rockfish and catfish two days ago. The lower parts of the river, from St. George’s Island to Point Lookout can deliver blues, stripers and even Spanish mackerel for trollers. Cornfield Harbor, near Point Lookout, has been good for flounder, with some of them big enough to keep.

WICOMICO RIVER:55 miles (**) — Haven’t heard anything real good as far as croakers are concerned, but I know that the white perch are along grass lines and shoreline wood. You can catch them with small spinners, spinnerbaits, peeler crab chunks or bloodworms.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Again, fish during outgoing tides and you’ll find willing bass along marsh edges from the start of the slow zone up to an past the Mattingly Ave. boat ramp that once was known as Slavin’s boat ramp. Small crankbaits and spinnerbaits do the job if enough oppoen water can be cast to, but wacky-rigged or straight Texas-rigged plastic worms will do the job when all else fails.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) will deliver sunnies and some bass, but it’s the St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) that has been delivering exceptional bass this year. Once again, we pass along that apparently some more leakage is occurring in the lake’s dam, which could mean another drawdown to permit repairs.

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) will be fine if you arrive early enough to avoid fishing in the hot sun. Bass, sunfish and catfish are definitely in a biting mood.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (**) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Bass, crappie ad sunfish catfish catches perked up this week. Don’t know if the Tropical Storm Hanna will bring us rain, but if it does, the two reservoirs tend to muddy up in their upper portions.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Flounder are taken in the mouth of the river on drifted minnow bottom rigs. Snapper bluefish are inside the river from Solomons to near Benedict, but most of the shoreline boaters are hunting for big white perch and everybody but me finds them, it seems.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis said, Bass anglers fared very well this past weekend by targeting flats next to main-lake points. Carolina or Texas-rigged plastics produced the best, but medium running shad crankbaits also took some quality fish. The crappie bite off the pier and boardwalk was strong all weekend but only during the early morning hours. After sunup the bite disappeared. The reservoir is about a foot below normal pool, slightly stained, with surface temperatures in the low to mid 80s.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) The chance for a decent bass is good if you fish early in the day. Soft plastics and medium to shallow crankbaits, retrieved around visible obstacles, such as brush tops, can produce.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MARYLAND

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) — Everybody is waiting to see if Troppical Storm Hanna dumps rain on this part of Maryland. If it happens it can discolor the water, but will help a lot in the weeks to come. Currently, you’ll find good smallmouth bass, catfish and sunfish action from Hancock down to Point of Rocks, and again down to Edwards Ferry, but heavy grass is slowing down the fishing in some parts. However, the bass are inisde the stuff, so try weedless lures to draw them out. In open water, Inline spinners, tube jigs and grubs, topwater poppers and the like will receive hits from the smallies.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (***) — Lake guide Brent Nelson (240/460-8839) says some of the most obnoxious of the holiday boat traffic has disappeared, although it hasn’t stopped altogether. Earlybird fishermen find smallmouth bass around rock-filled lake points and a fair number of largemouths under floating docks and in the backs oif coves and around anchored boats that haven’t been moved a lot. SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (**) — The fishing has seen better days, but some of the insiders to this river find bass action in the weed-choked Susquehanna Flats. That can be exzciting fishing. Use weedless jerkbaits, such as those made by Zoom and Berkley.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAYMARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County said, We saw plenty of mackerel come in from the reef made up of Wilson Bridge rubble, and also south of Buoy 72. The flounder have been biting at the point at Point Lookout. One man said he caught 25 keepers but only kept two. We saw more stripers than we have been seeing in a while. Husband Michaels night trip produced jumbo croaker, blues, mackerel and one 30-inch red drum. The big news now is the arrival of big blues. We had a long weekend but we saw more boaters than we have been seeing, which hopefully is a good sign that people are adjusting to the gasoline prices. From the Tackle Box in Lexington park, Ken Lamb reported that bluefish are very active throughout most southern Maryland waters. The blues are breaking all up and down the ship channel with Spanish mackerel mixed in, he said. This is perhaps the best spanish season in many years with big fish up to 30 inches quite common. Lamb also said that the flounder are biting in Cornfield Harbor, in the mouth of Smith Creek,and the Point Lookout Bar. Other flounder hotspots are buoy 76 and the area north of the Gas Docks on the crab pot line, he said. Elsewhere on the Bay, trollers and live-liners that use small Norfolk spot are finding bluefish and rockfish, while trolling a small spoon at a good clip can result in Spanish mackerel. The fishing has been pretty good from the upper Bay’s Chester River down to the Bay Bridges and south to the Gooses.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (captbilly@captbillyscharters.com) finds Spanish mackerel, bluefish and some rockfish that are mostly on the small side. From Virginia Beach, Pensinsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association member Dr. Ken Neill said, A few large sheepshead are being caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Good numbers of spot are being caught at Twin Stakes and around Hampton Bar. This looks good for a fall run of jumbo spot this fall. Decent numbers of speckled trout and puppy drum are inside the Back River. Dr. Julie Ball (www.drjball.com) said the cobias are a Sure deal as they crowd along bridge pilings and lower bay buoys. Pods of fish are also appearing on the surface as they exit bay waters. Flounder can be a good bet as anglers continue to entice big flatfish from deep channels, and lower bay structures. The High Rise, the bend at the 3rd island, and the buoy 42 and Cell area are producing big fish lately.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MARYLAND

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Small bluefish and stripers are in the broad mouth of the river, with occasional good catches of perch and snapper blues far up inside the river. The bass fioshing in the Denton and upstream areas has been fair.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Good chances for largemouth bass that like Baby 1-Minus crankbaits and slender, scented plastic worms.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Marshyhope Creek ramp outside Federalsburg) The Marshyhope wasa good to Jack Bonner when he visited a few days ago. Plastic worms and hard jerkbaits fished around the many wooden stickups and broken pilings in the creek did the job.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) If wind and rain stays away you’lls core on early hour bass and stripers. Even crappies are possible if you use small minnows and bobbers in the backs of coves where the beaver huts are located.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (***) — Downtown Fredericksburg shows some catfish, but not much else. Upper river will turn brown if heavy rains come becuse of the Tropical Storm Hanna. We’ll see. Lower tidal parts are best for catfish from Port Royal to Leedstown and beyond, but largemouth bass are available in flooded wood and along spatterdock edges just south of Fredericksburg and downstream toward Hicks Landing.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (**) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Some bass have been hooked on plastic worms, but this lake is far better for sunfish and the like.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass catches have been fine around stickups and lake points. Crappies are still not as willing to bite as they will be come October. Catfish jump on clam necks.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Lakeside resident and recently converted Washington Redskins fan Marty Magone is nailing the bass up near the I-85 bridge. He said, Peristence pays off big-time, and I’m willing to stick with it for hours on end. His favorite lures include Texas-rigged finesse worms and crankbaits.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Lots of catfish and some quality bass in the upper ends of the huge lake. Nighttime crappie fishermen score nicely around bridge abutments and sunken brush.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (***) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Catfish and a few bass. The fishing will get better next month.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (***) — (Williamsburg area) Bass, perch and scattered juvenile rockfish hang around marsh edges in the river. Spinnerbaits can catch all three species.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (***) — (Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas) Low water, but decent catches of smallmouth bass are possible.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) The bass fishing has been good in sunken brush and various boat houses. Texas-rigged plastics have been best. Rockfish hookups have left a lot to be desired.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) If strong rains visit, it’ll hurt the river, but current success rates with the smallmouth bass have been very good. A variety of lures turns the trick. Catfish and sunfish are in good supply.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) The DNR’s Keith Lockwood said the fishermen along the coast find flounder, especially in the back bay areas of Ocean City while surf lure and bait slingers catch a summer mix of small fish species, such as kingfish and some little sharks or bluefish. The boats heading out to the wrecks and artificial reefs report fair sea bass fishing, he added and also reported that there’s been very good fishing for large flounder. The first croakers are showing up close to the beach and they’ll be caught in large numbers. Fishermen venturing out to the offshore waters are experiencing good fishing for bluefin tuna at locations such as the Hot Dog and Hambone and are also reporting a mix of dolphin, wahoo and a number of white marlin releases, said Lockwood.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Dr. Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Salwater Sport Fisherman’s Association said, Tropical systems are all over the place and the offshore action has really turned on. Dolphin action remains very good. The white marlin bite has busted wide open with boats getting double-digit shots. One boat came in with 20 releases. Good numbers of blue marlin and sailfish are around making a grand slam a real possibility. Tuna fishing is showing some life also. Bigeyes are being encountered at the Norfolk Canyon. Yellowfin tuna are still not abundant but the ones that are being caught are large, in the 60-80 pound range. Neill also said that the wahoos are showing up in better numbers and Spanish mackerel are abundant from the Chesapeake Light Tower all the way into York Spit Light. Some crevalle jack and amberjack are around the Chesapeake Light Tower and wrecks like the Ricks and Hanks. Spadefish are available on the coastal wrecks as are some nice triggerfish, he added. For charters, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/491-8000.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com. Also check out Gene Mueller’s Inside Outside blog at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

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