- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Have you wondered why in the past several days local meteorologists continue to remind us that it is very hot?

What are the chances of us not already knowing this? In the case of the weekly fishing report, we will not resort to the obvious except to say “get out early and come back in as soon as possible.” You won’t need us to remind you, as one local radio voice did this week, to “wear light clothing and drink plenty of water.” Duh!

Meanwhile, the fishing up and down the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers that empty into this marvelous, huge fishing hole can be wonderful. It begins in the Maryland portions of the Chesapeake where striped bass are caught by chummers, trollers and sight casters (whenever a surface eruption by the rockfish occurs) from the Virginia state line, past Point Lookout and Point No Point, up to the Patuxent River’s Cedar Point and north to the Gas Docks. For example, Capt. Jeff Popp sent word that he has been doing very well live-lining Norfolk spot at the Gas Docks and proved as much with a photo of a customer, Chris Sullivan, of Hampstead, Md., who caught a 35-inch striper. “Everybody on board caught limits of fish,” he said.

Catches of the striped delicacies are made clear up past Annapolis, and all along the deeper Eastern Shore sides from the Middle Grounds and Buoy 72 to Hooper’s Island Light and north to Love Point, at the entrance to the Chester River.

Not to be outdone, the Virginia parts of the Bay are alive with action from the Northern Neck and the Rappahannock River south to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The top news this week comes from a number of Virginia Beach fishermen, including Dr. Ken Neill, who sent word that one of the toughest fighting fish on Earth, the cobia, has finally made a good showing. It began when Capt. Jorj Head hooked eight of these whoppers in two days, and the numbers are steadily increasing.

Dr. Neill also tells of 7-year-old Brandon Drewry who had a 79-pound cobia while fishing with his father. The boy’s catch beats the current Small-Fry World Record by half a pound. A record application will be made with the International Game Fish Association. The old mark was held by a boy named Ken Braddy, who, it turns out, is Brandon Drewry’s cousin. A photo of Brandon’s 79-pounder can be seen at www.genemuellerfishing.com.

If it’s croakers, white perch and Norfolk spot you want, just about all of the Chesapeake Bay’s feeder rivers has them, especially the Rappahannock, Potomac and Patuxent. But there are anglers who simply don’t care for saltwater species. Instead, they seek largemouth and smallmouth bass and are finding them in good numbers. The upper tidal Potomac is king in matters of largemouth catches. Early hours, coupled to moving tides, provide good action from just below the District of Columbia downstream to Mallows and Wades bays, including all of the tributaries.

Smallmouth bass are caught in exceptionally low mountain rivers, including Virginia’s James, Shenandoah and Rappahannock, as well as Maryland’s Potomac. Leave the johnboat at home and go wading.

D.C. AND VICINITY

(All listed distances begin in Washington)

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles – In the District around Fletcher’s Cove (202-244-0461) you’ll connect on massive blue catfish even during the current heatwave if you drop cut baits to the bottom of the river. Yes, there’ll be a few bass caught, as well, but the catfish provide the most sport. Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509) has had no trouble finding main-stem and feeder creek bass as he casts early hour topwater baits around the edges and inside pockets of large weed beds. When the sun bakes the water, he switches to craw-style baits and small crankbaits wherever it’s possible to retrieve them without dragging in several pounds of hydrilla or milfoil. A reminder once again to not overlook rock piles anywhere in the main stem of the river. Shallow crankbaits and RageTail-type craw baits are deadly in the rocks. Downriver, from outside the Port Tobacco River mouth across on the Virginia shorelines, you’ll find plenty of white perch and catfish on spinners and small spinnerbaits. The perch picture is the same around the Morgantown power plant and on toward Swan Point where the deeper waters can give up a croaker or two. Ken Lamb, of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, said, “There were lots of reports of hefty croakers in the Potomac for shore and dock fishermen in the evenings and at night. Breton Bay, Colton’s Point, Piney Point and Ragged Point all have croakers, spot and perch. Squid, bloodworms, shrimp and cut spot will lure the croakers.” Don’t forget, there are flounder possibilities at the outer edges of Cornfield Harbor.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – Diligent bottom bait-dunking fishermen find keeper croakers and spot, while artificial lures such as an in-line, white Roostertail spinner or a small Beetlespin will be hammered by white perch along the weed edges inside the river. The buoy at the mouth of the Wicomico has given up a few keeper stripers to Rat-L-Trap casters very early in the day.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – Marsh bank dropoffs in the slow zone are good for bass that like green pumpkin craws or 4-inch finesse worms. A small or large Chatterbait will be looked at by the largemouths anywhere there are weed beds in the creek — and they won’t be hard to find. Don’t overlook early hour topwater buzzbaits and poppers.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – At Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) plenty of sunfish are hooked, but not much of anything else, although this lake has enough bass that could make things interesting. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn at Camp Cosoma Road) crankbaits come up with nice largemouths, although the next time I go I’ll go, one rod will have a Pop’R topwater lure on it and another rod will hold a 4-inch finesse worm, preferably a scented PowerWorm in junebug color.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes in the Prince George’s/Montgomery/Howard counties area show early morning bass action for those who concentrate on wood structure and lake points. Successful anglers start with a slowly-popped blunt-nosed surface lure, then switch to soft plastics or medium-lipped crankbaits in sunfish or crawfish colors. Sunfish are everywhere for kids using small bits of worm on small hooks below a bobber.

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