- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2009

After a week of wildly fluctuating weather and temperatures, the fishing in the next four or five days might be rosy for some and awful for others.

It begins with the upper tidal Potomac River between the District and western Charles County where bass anglers congregate even when the elements aren’t the best. However, even during the rain, northeast wind and dropping water temperatures, the winner of a two-day local bass tournament last weekend managed to catch a total of 25 pounds of largemouths, while others returned to the Mattawoman Creek weigh center with empty livewells.

On Tuesday, I fished with a friend in a tidal Charles County feeder creek and never even felt a tug on the end of my line. On the other hand, my partner caught five bass and three fat yellow perch — all on a small Rattlin’ Thin Fin crankbait that he fished slowly, twitching it near the surface along the edges of marsh banks or sunken wood on one shoreline. I did the same and never had a hit. Go figure.

A reminder that now is the time to visit any tidal river in our area and cast blue/chrome lipless rattle baits to the rock piles that surround many middle and lower river buoys. It works in the Potomac, Patuxent, Choptank, Nanticoke, Rappahannock and James rivers. Don’t overlook jutting points early in the day when the rockfish will be chasing alewifes and white perch in those places. The 1/2-ounce fish catchers go by such names as Rat-L-Trap, Red Eye, or Super Spot, to name a few. Don’t expect the stripers to hang around when the sun climbs high into the sky.

(Ratings key: ****=excellent fishing; ***=Good; **Fair; *=Poor)


TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) expect pretty much the usual: catfish, some largemouth bass, even occasional smallmouths and walleyes. The bass-boat crowd that prefers this river above all others, had a tough time last weekend, what with rain and strong northeast winds making an angler’s life miserable. However, a few good days lie ahead, even though the temperatures will fluctuate like a yo-yo. The creeks now see a lot of dying grass, much of it hydrilla and milfoil. Even so, stop-and-go retrievals of Rattlin’ Thin Fin lures around open grass pockets and/or sunken shoreline wood can result in vicious strikes from bass, with bonus bites provided by well-fed resident yellow perch.

In the salty waters below the Route 301 bridge in Charles and King George counties, some bucktail trollers report catches of 18- to 20-inch rockfish, while others can’t even catch a cold. Hookups increase as you head downriver past St. Clements and St. George’s islands.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (**) — We heard from several boaters who slow-trolled bucktails and small spoons inside the river and they connected on keeper rockfish, but this fishing also bounces from feast to famine. One day it’s good, the next day it’s Skunksville.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Soft-plastic craws and various-depth crankbaits have done quite well among the creek’s fallen wood and along sharply dropping marsh banks. Bass and catfish can be caught, with the catfish preferring clam snout baits on the bottom.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (**) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) and St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) received quite a bit of wind and rain over the weekend, and fish catches were almost unheard of.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (**) — At Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117 near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and the nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127), now that the weather has settled down, the bass fishing will perk up. However, the past weekend was a stinker.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) There will be some decent catches of bass and crappies coming out of both lakes this weekend. Constantly changing temperatures, however, turn choosing the proper lures into a chore. The crappies will jump on a 1/16-ounce white/red shad dart gently jigged up and down 3 or 4 feet under a bobber.

BALTIMORE AREA RESERVOIRS: 50-75 miles (**) — (Prettyboy Lake is on Route 137; Liberty is on Oakland Road in Eldersburg, Carroll County) Local anglers up this way predict fine bass fishing in the coming week. Also good crappie and catfish chances, but I haven’t seen enough proof of it in the past week. here’s hoping it will happen.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Lexington Park’s Ken Lamb said there have been rockfish caught from the river shore in the last several days. “A 35-incher was taken at Goose Creek just below Cedar Point Sunday,” he said, then urged us to use Sassy Shad lures and surface plugs. Another southern Marylander said he trolled up some keeper rockfish upstream of the Route 4 bridge.

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