- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009

With just a little cooperation from the weather, enterprising fresh- and tidal-water anglers can score on rockfish and largemouth bass. It all depends on where you choose to wet your lines.

For example, on Tuesday a friend and I had a whopping good day in the main stem of the Potomac River and along a sharp drop-off ledge inside Virginia’s Pohick Bay. Ravenous largemouth bass and several youthful stripers jumped onto 3-inch-long, avocado-color Sting Ray grubs. It all happened during a slowly receding tide, and the bass acted as if they hadn’t eaten in a month, easily being fooled by the slowly hopped-along plastic fakes that kind of resemble a tidal bull minnow.

As this was happening, word came from Jim Hemby of the Lake Anna Striper Guide Service (jimhemby@hotmail.com) that the freshwater rockfish in the nuclear power station reservoir have been breaking on the surface, chasing bait. Hemby said he’s enjoying constant action in the Route 208 area and around Dike 3.

“The sea gulls are advertising where the fish are when they are not blowing shad out of the water,” he said. “And if you are stealthy, sneaking up on a school, you can be assured of multiple hookups.”

Live bait has been producing larger catches at Anna, but those who like to cast artificial lures should use Redfins, Zara Spooks or Pencil Poppers.

“They work great while the fish are up on the surface, and Sassy Shads, Super Flukes or most swim baits will catch the fish once they sound,” Hemby said. The guide warned boaters who spot a school of surface-feeding stripers not to run their boats too close to the fish.

As concerns the lake’s crappie fishing, Hemby said the speckled beauties are schooled in deep water.

“Bridge pilings, main lake points with rock drop-offs in the 10- to 20-foot range, humps, ledges and deep brush piles - all are holding crappies,” he said.

In the Chesapeake’s rivers - The Tackle Box in Lexington Park reported that large and small striped bass are hooked in the lower Potomac River, around Ragged Point, Piney Point and St. George Island. Some of these rockfish measure up to 50 inches long. Consistent catches of smaller stripers are possible on the Virginia side, from Nomini Bay down to the Coan River mouth.

If you like white perch, try dropping a piece of bloodworm into the deep holes of the Patuxent River mouth. Some 10- to 12-inch-long perch have been hooked off Green Holly in up to 60 feet of water. Fat perch also have been caught under the Solomons bridge, at the Hawk’s Nest and in Kingston Hollow.

If you’re out in the Chesapeake, off-and-on catches of big stripers by trollers are possible. Just remember that there are a lot of boaters who do not connect on a big rockfish, although I see cell phone photos sent by readers who’ve had good catches almost every day.

Shenandoah shows smallies - Smallmouth bass fishermen Dick Fox of Front Royal, Va., said the Shenandoah River is back to normal. “It’s clear, and the water temperature is 43 degrees,” he said.

Fox knows stable, cooler weather will put the smallies on the feed. Quality fish are possible. Fox has managed to pull some beauties from the deeper ledges in the river using flat-tailed grubs, black tubes and even jigging spoons.

Bridge-Tunnel rockfish - Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman Association has seen large rockfish hooked in the lower Chesapeake Bay, including some that weighed more than 50 pounds.

“Anglers wire-lining the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel are catching good numbers of fish around the slot limit,” he said. “The largest rockfish have been caught along the northern section of the Bridge-Tunnel and along the Eastern Shore side of the Bay.”

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