- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2009

From Virginia Beach, International Game Fish Association representative Julie Ball sent word of a pending world-record 51-pound, 5-ounce striped bass that was caught on a fly rod.

Folks, this catch deserves one huge “wow” from all sport anglers.

Ball said Richie Keatley of Norfolk fooled the big rockfish with a hand-tied, blue-tinted 3/0 Clouser fly at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on Dec. 17. After a 30-minute battle, Keatley brought the huge striped bass alongside his 22-foot boat. It wasn’t successfully netted until the fourth attempt by Keatley’s friend, Pete Sileo.

With the help of Ball, who is no stranger to world records, an application for a 20-pound tippet world mark was submitted.

Meanwhile, this being the perfect time of year for rockfish in the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and the adjacent Atlantic, Ken Neill reports the fishing has slowed. Blame the weather and discolored water if you must.

All the same, Neill said some action is possible.

“[There are more] boats than fish, but some stripers are caught, and the bite is improving,” he said.

Neill pointed out that rockfish are hooked at the Hampton Roads crossing, in the York and Rappahannock rivers, at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and along the oceanfront.

The biggest stripers seem to prefer the Bridge-Tunnel’s high-rise area and waters up into the Bay along the Eastern Shore side. However, starting on New Year’s Day, anyone fishing for rockfish in the Chesapeake must release them.

New Year’s Day tradition - As has been our tradition for several decades, local fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski and I will be out fishing somewhere on New Year’s Day. In the past, we’ve done it in ice-covered creeks of the Potomac, slipped on boat launching ramps and chipped enough of the frozen stuff to drop a boat into the waters of Lake Anna, Va. I cannot remember the first day of any year that we didn’t catch at least something.

The river guide said we’ll most likely be on one of the tributaries to the tidal Potomac, but it won’t surprise me if Andrzejewski switches signals and heads for Anna or some other Old Dominion waters.

Check on the Spoils’ crappies - If you can find an open ramp to launch your boat or a safe parking spot off Interstate 295 to walk to the shores of the Spoils Cove, just above the Wilson Bridge on the Maryland side of the Potomac, it’s possible to find willing crappies or maybe even one of the cove’s many bass.

January and February often deliver the goods because some of the warmer water that comes down from the Blue Plains Waste Treatment Plant reaches the cove’s inside and outside waters, even though it will be quite a bit cooler by the time it gets there. However, the water temperatures in the Spoils generally are higher than they would be, say, down around Mount Vernon or Marshall Hall.

If you can find some live minnows and want to fish with a bobber around shoreline drops and over stump fields, go for it. But our gang of cold-water fishing loonies does it with 2-inch-long Berkley PowerBait dropshot minnows. Either way can work nicely if you can deposit your lure in at least 6 feet of water.