Gene Mueller’s Fishing Report

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Good news for Chesapeake Bay boaters who haven’t enjoyed decent sea trout fishing in some years.

Our St. Mary’s County friend, Ken Lamb, and a pal, Steve Helmrick, went across the Bay to the Eastern Shore side and the Honga River, Hooper Straits and Tangier Sound, where live minnows drew strikes from spotted sea trout, including a 5-pounder for Lamb, who said, “The ‘specks’ are in the holes and shallows of grass beds in the back bays and cuts.”

The two used Carolina rigs the way plastic worm-using bass fishermen do; only Lamb and Helmrick had minnows on their hooks.

Elsewhere in the Chesapeake, the rockfish continue to cooperate at the Gas Docks in Calvert County, but disturbing news comes from several Chesapeake charter boat captains who work the lowest parts of the Potomac and adjacent Bay. The fishing has headed south, they say, and we don’t mean the geographical meaning of the word. “We’re having a tough time finding fish,” said Eddie Davis, who captains a boat out of Smith Creek, not far from Point Lookout. Davis certainly is one of the most skilled fishermen in Bay Country, and when he says times are tough, he is not making it up.

Davis said he’s finding decent croakers some days, but the catch rates are unpredictable. Same story with the striped bass, although he said the bluefish are becoming more numerous and tasty Norfolk spot are everywhere.

On the subject of the Potomac, even upper tidal portions of the river that usually deliver outstanding catches of largemouth bass have seen a bit of a let-up. Blame the unrelenting heat that has “baked” the water to near 90 degrees. We’re finding a few bass, but it’s hard work and actually very little fun during the day hours. One outing to a rock pile on the main stem of the river turned up six bass that liked soft craw baits and the lure known as Chatterbait. However, by 11 a.m., it already was so hot we called it a day.

In the lowest sectors of the Chesapeake, Virginia anglers find red drum, cobias, flounder, spadefish, blues and Spanish mackerel from Cape Henry up to the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, with cobia and red drum catches made in the Baltimore Channel.

The Atlantic, meanwhile, has offshore boaters traveling to distant canyon waters where they find tunas, billfish, sharks, increasing numbers of wahoos and dolphin (fish), also known as mahi-mahi.

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) expect a few hefty catfish that like bottom-fished cut baits, but little else is happening right now. The water looks fine, so give it a shot. In the river below the District, bass fishermen are finding that even if the casting of lures is easy, the catching is not. Bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) says there are largemouths to be caught, but you must really work hard to get a good bite. For example, earlier this week we fished several main river and feeder creek spots — mostly along grass bed edges — using Chatterbaits, plastic worms and craw baits, even some topwater buzzbaits. Very few fish were caught. When we switched to several river areas that featured rock piles and old underwater, leftover boat dock stumps, the bass showed up during a feeding spree that had baitfish flitting about everywhere. It was a lucky coincidence for us. The bass slammed whatever lure was cast to them. All that in water that was bath water-warm, with a burning sun above cooking our fishing caps. It was no fun to be there, so we quit early. In the lower river, from the Route 301 Bridge south toward Tall Timbers and, eventually, Point Lookout, the rockfish numbers are sparse, but a slowly increasing presence of bluefish is seen. Croakers and spot are available in drops, holes and around deep-water structures.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – Sunrise or sunset hours have been good for some hardheads (croakers), along with plenty of Norfolk spot, catfish and white perch. Catch number aren’t the greatest as far as the croakers are concerned, but fish can be caught on shrimp, squid or crab baits.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – Slow going for all species, especially the largemouth bass. To be sure, there are fish under the grass mats and inside the spatterdock fields, but some of us believe they’re resting on the bottom with a towel wrapped around their heads because the water is so warm. Seriously, the fishing will get better when the water cools a bit. Meanwhile, a Maryland DNR fisheries crew was in the creek this week, picking up dead bass that had been released “alive” during last weekend’s Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) bass tournament. The DNR is doing a “delayed bass mortality” study. We’ll say this again and again: There should be no tournaments conducted when the water temperature exceeds 75 degrees.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – Slow going for bass, sunfish and catfish in Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, west of La Plata) and St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn at Camp Cosoma Road). The sun has done a number on the fish and fishermen. A little cooler weather will awaken both.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes in the Prince George’s/Montgomery/Howard counties area give up an early morning bass if you work underwater obstructions, lake points and flooded brush with shallow crankbaits, topwater poppers and soft plastic worms. Remember, the bass in both lakes almost always have cooling, deep water nearby, so they are more willing to hunt for food during low-light hours, being aware that they can disappear into a comfort zone within a few seconds.

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