- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009

It is mid-November, and many Virginians already are in the forests and fields enjoying the firearms deer season, with Marylanders following suit next week. However, don’t stop fishing in the upper tidal Potomac River where the largemouth bass are active in the feeder creeks, coves and bays.

To be sure, a few things must come together simultaneously to produce a fine outing. You must have a good incoming or falling tide, be in a place where the fish can move from shallow to deep water in short order, and choose your lures carefully

Take for example, Northern Virginia reader Carl D. Brown, who fished Saturday and Sunday after the rains finally stopped. “I stayed inside the Occoquan [Bay area] and fished over and around grass toward Belmont Bay,” Brown wrote, then casually mentioned that he hooked 55 bass one day, another 40 the next, almost all of them during an outgoing tide.

Brown said many of the largemouths were juveniles, but he also had a good number of 12-inch-and-over keepers: “I caught them on green pumpkin Senko [worms], chrome Rat-L-Traps, Shaky-Head worm rigs and Mann’s Sting Ray grubs.”

A subsequent outing produced little action, but that’s how things go during November. It’s an up-and-down bass fishing month, and whenever the fish gods smile — hang on! You’ll have a great day.

Incidentally, Brown will try again especially since he heard rumors that some river stripers were hooked clear up inside the Occoquan past the Route 123 bridge.

Stripers galore — Large schools of barely legal rockfish, mixed with tackle-busting whoppers that have come into the Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic, are turning the Maryland and Northern Neck/Virginia portions of the Bay into a huge fishing playground.

You could start just south of the Susquehanna River mouth where small school stripers are found and continue toward the Bay Bridge, Sharps Island Light, Hooper Island Light and parts south toward the Middlegrounds, then move into Virginia waters just across the state line. Good action also is had from western shore drop-offs and channels near Calvert and St. Mary’s counties.

For example, long-time reader Ed Dombek sent a photo of his regular group of fishing pals that booked a trip out of Bunky’s Marina in Solomons. They trolled in 80 feet of water east of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant and caught rockfish from 38 to 42 inches. “We didn’t catch any small fish,” Dombek said.

Also add Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County. Christy said the past weekend was a blast as boaters returned with lots of large rockfish.

“Charter fishing captain ‘Walleye’ Pete Dahlberg fished out of [our marina] before departing for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel where he’ll be the rest of the season,” Henderson said. “He jigged up two red drum that were mixed in with the rockfish. I thought that was pretty cool.”

Occoquan Reservoir turns on — Although there’s little time left for anglers to visit the Occoquan Reservoir in the Fairfax/Prince William corridor, Fountainhead Park ranger Smokey Davis said the bass and crappie bite was very good over the past several days.

“Recent rains pushed the [bait] shad out of the coves into the main lake and the bass followed,” Davis said. “Deep rocky banks and main-lake blowdowns were the best areas where jig’n’pigs. Brush Hogs and 4-inch Senkos worked best. The lake is up about a foot, slightly stained, with surface temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s.”

Shenandoah happenings — “River is a foot high, showing a slight stain,” Front Royal’s Dick Fox said. “The Shenandoah should be good for the weekend fishermen looking for smallmouth bass.”

Lake Gaston bass and stripers — Lake Gaston, Va., resident Marty Magone isn’t a bass angler who scores only on his favorite fish. He also finds landlocked striped bass in the big impoundment on the Virginia/Carolina line. Besides a fine number of largemouths that went for Rat-L-Traps, he found a 15-pound, 10-ounce striper in Holly Grove Creek on a jerk bait.

Good and bad news from lower Bay — Virginia Beach angler Ken Neill reported that the nasty nor’easter that visited his area nearly resulted in a catastrophe. “We ended up with a massive barge on the beach at Sandbridge,” Neill said. A washed-up barge nearly took out the fishing pier at Sandbridge, he added. Not only that, blame the gale force winds on destroying the Lynnhaven Fishing Pier.

“Many private docks, marinas and other coastal properties experienced significant damage,” Neill said, but since the storm passed a few boats have tried to get out. “Anglers making it to the Triangle Wrecks found large flounder, bluefish, and thresher shark feeding on the bluefish.”

Also on the good news side, the rockfish apparently didn’t mind all that storm-churned water.

“Fish were caught at all of the area bridges,” Neill said. “Larger fish have arrived in mid-Bay waters. Trophy-sized striped bass action should be very good in the lower Bay by Thanksgiving.” Neill reminded us that November can be a really good month for yellowfin tuna and swordfish. Bluefin tuna should be arriving soon.

Rocky Gorge Reservoir bass — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ southern region fisheries manager, Mary Groves, said: “We completed a two-night sample on Rocky Gorge earlier this week and found a nice population of largemouth bass and crappies [both white and black]. We’re also happy with how the northern pike are doing in the lake. We’ve not stocked northern’s there for quite a while, but they are reproducing on their own and seem to be doing well. The reservoir is at full pool this year which means that there’s more wood in the water. Many of the fish we caught were holding to this cover.”

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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