MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles — Even if the place looks like New York Avenue during rush hour whenever a weekend comes around, this creek is still the best as far as sheer numbers of bass are concerned. We’ve caught 2- to 4-pound bass from near the mouth clear up to and past the boat ramp that now is part of the Indian Head municipal park (formerly Slavin’s ramp). Chatterbaits, medium-depth crankbaits, red plastic worms, Sting Rays, wacky-rigged Zero worms — all work. Bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) tried the wacky worms only a few days ago and “wacked” the bass over emerging grass beds inside one of the creek’s coves.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles — Gilbert Run Lake (aka Wheatley Lake) on Route 6, west of La Plata, will give up a few catch-and-release bass, some keeper crappie and sunfish, while at St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown to a left turn at Camp Cosoma Road) the bass fishing will pick up now as water temperatures have climbed. Rain will have a minimal effect here. The crappies jump on small white or chartreuse shad darts or plastic curly-tailed grubs, fished under a bobber in standing, water-logged timber.
WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles — Rocky Gorge and Triadelphia reservoirs in the Prince George’s-Montgomery-Howard counties area will not be crystal clear in the upper ends, where so many john-boaters look for bass bites and keeper crappies, but the water is fine. The bass are looking for spawning sites, and the fishing could be pretty good if you use bright, flashy spinners, spinnerbaits or noisy rattling crankbaits. Be sure not to keep any bass. Handle carefully and return them to the water.
PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles — Nothing much has been caught in the upper river between Jackson Landing and Hill’s Bridge, even farther up toward Queen Anne’s Bridge. In the lower river, the boating crowd is preparing for April 16 and the trophy rockfish season out in the main Chesapeake Bay.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles — Ranger Smokey Davis said the bass bite at Fountainhead Park continues to be strong. “Big fish for the week was a 7-pound, 2-ouncer,” he reported and mentioned that several more in the 6-pound range were brought in. “Spinnerbaits, fished on flats next to long, deep points seem to be the best producer, but jig’n’pigs and various soft plastics, pitched along rock walls, clay banks and other routes that the bass use as they move to the spawning beds, work well also,” Smokey said. By the way, the crappie bite is beginning, with small minnows fished in 3-foot depths around beaver huts and brush piles producing 9- to 12-inch fish. Before the rains came, the reservoir was at full pool and clear. Surface temperatures range between 49 and 53 degrees. If any discoloration occurred, it won’t last long.
BURKE LAKE: 29 miles — Bass and crappies cooperate if you concentrate your efforts on sunken brush, shoreline shallow-to-deep gravel drops or channel ditches where grubs, plastic worms and such can elicit strikes from the largemouths. In shallower water, try medium depth, lipped crankbaits. The crappies prefer a live minnow or a white 1/16-ounce feather or hair jig under a bobber.
CENTRAL AND WESTERN MARYLAND
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles — The river could be swift and discolored from recent rains, but remember to keep the Dam No. 4 area upstream of Washington County’s Taylor’s Landing in mind. The Maryland DNR says the number of adult walleyes in that stretch, in particular, is excellent. In fact, the overall number of walleyes is good throughout the upper river. Smallmouth bass are available up and down the mountain portions if the river slows and clears. Could be fine by the weekend.
DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles — Bass guide Brent Nelson (email@example.com) finds largemouth and smallmouth bass action, as well as a few pike and fat yellow perch.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles — Some decent-size, catch-and-release stripers are already taken on the Susquehanna Flats, but inside the river right now it’s mostly white perch and a few bass.
MARYLAND: 45-75 miles — Come on April 16, when the trophy striped bass season begins (it will continue through May 15). Remember, only one fish of 28 inches or longer will be legal per angler. Meanwhile, every boater we’ve talked to who has been out on the Chesapeake, test-trolling for rockfish, says the number of fish present now is remarkable. And anglers who cast Striper Kandy or Bass Assassin soft baits in chartreuse or white to the discharge waters in the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant find action. The same is true of the Susquehanna Flats, where various lures, especially soft baits, are struck by rockfish.
VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles — Lower parts of the Bay, from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the merger with the Atlantic Ocean, show scattered rockfish and some decent tautog catches. Best ‘tog numbers have come from the Cape Henry wreck. Expect flounder to bite just as soon as the water temperature rises a bit more. Some have been caught already, but it has been hit or miss. It’ll improve quickly if the water warms more. Currently, it’s in the 52-degree range.
CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles — If it’s bass you’re after in the Denton and above stretches, you’ll be disappointed. One of our friends fished over there last week and came home skunked. Nada. Nothing. Nichts.
POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (from Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) — A few bass will be hooked on crankbaits, plastic lizards and Berkley dropshot minnows, such as the 3-inch emerald shiner that Berkley sells.
NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp on Marshyhope Creek) — The Seaford, Del., section turns up fat white perch and some hefty bass that hang out in the emerging weeds and spatterdock edges. Downstream, the Marshyhope Creek is your best bet for bass because the Marshyhope is loaded with ideal spawning shorelines, dropped branches, old pilings, etc.
LAKE ANNA: 82 miles — An excellent lake for pre-spawn bass fishing. Shaky-head worms, dropshot minnows, lizards with chartreuse toes (just ask guide Wayne Olsen if you don’t believe me), and jerkbaits will get bass in shallow shorelines that drop off into 8- and 9-foot layers of adjacent water. Brushpiles are always good, but don’t overlook the crappies. The lake’s striped bass are up past the Splits. Watch for breaking bait or busy birds, and try not to run through the feeding fish.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles — Virginia fisheries biologist John Odenkirk says the city dock in Fredericksburg has dozens of anglers casting for white (aka American) shad and catching dozens of them. No, you can’t keep any, but what a thrill on light spinning tackle. Those are the heavyweights in the shad world, often exceeding 3 to 4 pounds. Odenkirk says he sees no reason why the shad shouldn’t be available above the town’s Route 1 bridge. “I don’t think the rain will make much difference,” Odenkirk said. “We didn’t get that much, and the worst that can happen is a slight stain, which will be fine for fishing.” In addition to the white shad and also hickory shad, there is a small presence of stripers and perch, as well as catfish. Downstream bass catches have been minimal, but the Hicks Landing area turns up a few largemouths on grubs and crankbaits.
LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles — Go after pre-spawn bass along shorelines and in coves where the shorelines are shallow, but there is a good drop nearby that the fish can use to disappear in. We’re already finding action on wacky-rigged worms and shallow crankbaits, such as the Mann’s Baby 1-Minus. The crappies and sunfish are willing if you are.
LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles — Most of the visiting fishermen are after bass and crappies — and they’re getting them. A few walleyes are caught more by accident than by design. They’ll go after the same live minnows that a bass might look at. (Concession stand, 540/672-3997)
LAKE GASTON: 179 miles — Bass are actively clearing nests in many of the lake’s coves along shorelines. Try shallow-running soft and hard jerkbaits, as well as crawfish-clawed soft plastics. Rockfish are roaming the lake waters and might be caught in the lower reaches one moment, the upper end at other times.