- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 26, 2009

Some die-hard fishermen in our region will be out on the Chesapeake Bay on Thursday, long before the Thanksgiving Day turkey is served. All of them will be on the hunt for the large, ocean-run striped bass that now visit our waters, but not everybody is happy. Some boaters have been returning home without the trophy fish they came for.

All the same, the fishing can be fantastic.

From Lexington Park’s Tackle Box, proprietor Ken Lamb said, “There are rockfish in every nook and cranny of the Bay and Potomac River.”

Lamb believes the recent nor’easter pushed every rockfish on the Atlantic coast into the Bay, and now they’re found from Baltimore to Hampton Roads. Actually it’s not all that easy to find them, but many skilled trollers connect as they drag lures around Point No Point, Buoy 72, the HI and PR buoys, Hooper Island Light, the mouth of the Patuxent and inside the lower Potomac.

Talking about the Potomac, Kris Johnson of Montross, Va., took his bass boat out on the river around Piney Point, where he trolled tandem bucktails. Johnson landed a 43-inch-long rockfish without any trouble.

“It was my personal best. Not bad for a bass fishermen,” he said.

No, sir, that’s not bad at all.

Charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin of Ingram Bay Marina in Virginia’s Northern Neck said he’s finding the rockfish widely scattered throughout his part of the Bay.

“Chasing birds is an easy fish-finding method,” he said, mentioning that boaters who know how to find fish with their electronic depth sounders usually do not need feeding sea gulls to help them locate stripers.

Pipkin is finding action around the Cell and Buoy 41 area, as well as the Cut Channel.

“Scattered schools of bait are holding striped bass from 36 to 44 inches long,” he said, adding that Buoy 1 outside the Great Wicomico River has been good for hookups this week.

Lower Bay and Atlantic Ocean - From Virginia Beach, Ken Neill reports that he and some friends fished between the Chesapeake Light Tower and the Triangle Wrecks.

“We found working birds and saw fish busting on the surface,” Neill said.

The group put out some lures, and a mix of striped bass and bluefish struck almost immediately. Upon arriving at the Triangle Wrecks, they caught flounder, sea bass and a few more bluefish.

“On the way back in, we ran into working birds farther out than where we had left them [earlier],” Neill said. “We stopped and caught bluefish and rockfish until dark.”

Neill said the ocean rockfish run is definitely on. In addition, large rockfish are now being caught in the middle parts of the Chesapeake and are found amid schools of bait and under diving birds that see floating pieces of the baitfish.

“Some large fish are also staging around the pilings of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel,” Neill said.

Potomac’s smallmouth bass bite - Maryland fisheries biologist John Mullican said smallmouth bass fishermen must realize that the recent rains have increased the flow in the upper, freshwater parts of the Potomac River.

“The higher flows have stirred up leaves and weed fragments that tend to foul lines and lures on nearly every cast,” he said.

Despite the debris, the fishing actually has been good. Mullican said some of the best fishing of the year now can be had if it’s smallmouth bass, walleye, muskie and catfish you want, but he recommends that cold-weather anglers pick river spots where the current is reduced but also that offer depth and cover.

Occoquan Reservoir advice - Fountainhead Regional Park ranger Smokey Davis advised visitors to Occoquan Reservoir that this weekend will be their last chance to fish out of the park’s marina. The facility will shut down for the season at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The park will reopen March 1, 2010, if the weather allows it. Currently, largemouth bass are available on a variety of soft plastics along rocky banks in 12 to 15 feet of water.

“Crappies are in deep main-lake blowdowns and can be caught on minnows or small tube jigs,” Davis said.

Shenandoah River up - Front Royal’s Dick Fox said the Shenandoah River has risen a foot or so over normal levels and shows a bit of a stain.

“The past week was tough for us with the river rising and dropping and the water cooling down,” said Fox, who added that some smallmouth bass can be caught with hair jigs and small tube jigs that must be fished slowly.

c 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 Mueller’s weekend fishing report and his Inside Outside blog at washingtontimes.com/sports.

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