- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2009

In the offshore waters east of Virginia Beach’s Rudee Inlet, world and state records are falling.

It begins with the best lady angler anywhere, Julie Ball, who left the inlet Sunday morning and headed east in the company of charter captains Skip Feller and Larry Regula. The fishing fanatics dropped their lines over various wrecks and promptly found tasty tautogs.

“We were catching so many large fish that we limited ourselves to two per person,” Ball said. Of the ‘togs they kept, all were citations.

Ball’s best tautog was a now-pending 16-pound-test line world record that weighed 14 pounds, 13 ounces. The existing record is 13 pounds, 11 ounces. Feller’s tautog was even bigger, but it was caught on heavier line. It weighed a whopping 21 pounds, 13 ounces and is the heaviest Virginia tautog caught this year.

Then comes our steady fishing reporter Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association, who fished with charter captain Max King and David Akridge in the waters of Norfolk Canyon to jig up some bottom fish. Neill said Akridge hooked a huge blueline tilefish that weighed 20 1/4 pounds.

“His fish is a pending state and world record” because it outweighed the current 19-pound, 14-ounce record, Neill said.

If you’re interested in the great Virginia offshore bottom fishery, check out www.pswsfa.com/Va%20Bountiful%20Bottom.htm.

Potomac bass going bonkers - Local bass fans who prefer the upper tidal waters of the Potomac River are scoring as if it were summer. Lures including Chatter Baits, Paca Craws, Baby 1-Minuses and Sting Ray grubs are attracting strikes from many largemouths in a variety of areas, including the Mattawoman, Chicamuxen, Aquia, Potomac and Piscataway creeks. Speaking of the Piscataway, if you drop juicy slabs of menhaden to the bottom just outside the creek mouth where the water drops sharply, you will hook tackle-busting blue catfish.

Maryland Chesapeake Bay — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Keith Lockwood said a lot of boaters are out on the Chesapeake to check their gear in anticipation of the April 18 trophy rockfish season opener.

“Fishermen have been catching and releasing ever-increasing numbers of striped bass in the process,” he said.

He added that the warm-water discharge at the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant has been turning up catch-and-release stripers that take soft and hard jerk baits and jigs.

The first good catches of stripers occurred over the Susquehanna Flats’ catch-and-release area. As water temperatures climb, so will the numbers of hookups. Some big stripers were taken around the Railroad Bridge and Garrett Island, Lockwood said.

River walleyes are hungry - The upper Potomac Rivers fresh waters are slowly warming, and the walleyes in the river are thinking of spawning. Curly-tailed, colorful grubs on jig hooks will work, as will live minnows and even some deep-diving crankbaits. Launch at Taylor’s Landing in Washington County and fish clear up to Dam No. 4. The entire upper river now turns up smallmouth bass as well.

Occoquan Reservoir action — Fountainhead Park ranger Smokey Davis said the upper areas of the Occoquan Reservoir, including the Bull Run arms, produce good catches of bass. The water temperature is in the low 50s, and that’s good enough for crankbaits to work well.

“Crappies can still be taken on small shad darts and 1/16-oz. jigs, but you have to spend some time locating them,” he said.

Shenandoah smallies bite Front Royal’s Dick Fox said a good smallmouth bass bite can be expected in the Shenandoah River. “They’re hitting tubes and grubs, but the bigger fish came on a Bandit 200 crankbait in crawfish colors,” Fox said.

St. Mary’s County boat show - The 21st annual Bay Country Boat Show will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 4-5 at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department in St. Mary’s County. Admission is $3 with free parking, and if you’re hungry you can buy typical St. Mary’s favorites fried oysters and stuffed ham. More than 110 boat and marine-related exhibits will be featured, including specialty fishing boats. To reserve exhibition space, call Debi Johnstone, 301/373-3449; for general information, contact Russ Millar, Hollywood Optimist Club, at millar1949@netzero.com or 301/373-5468.

• 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. Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

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