- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If all is found proper and the applications are approved by Virginia officials and the International Game Fish Association, the Old Dominion can boast of an all-tackle world record freshwater blue catfish of 143 pounds.

The monster “cat” was caught over the past weekend by Nick Anderson, 29, of Greenville, N.C. It happened in the 50,000-acre Kerr Reservoir that straddles Virginia and North Carolina, and it is the second time in a few months that Kerr Reservoir (aka Buggs Island Lake) has given up a catfish record. Virginia angler Tony Milam caught a 109-pound state record blue catfish in March. However, Anderson’s catch eclipsed even the Missouri-Mississippi confluence where the now-threatened world record of 130 pounds was caught less than a year ago.

As far as freshwater fishing is concerned, we don’t offer much hope for decent catches in the mountain rivers. Once again, strong rains have discolored and raised the water levels in the Shenandoah and the upper Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. More rain is forecast, and that’s not good news. However, tidal Potomac River anglers, from the Fletcher’s Cove area in Georgetown downstream for many miles, can continue to catch a variety of species. It begins with the Fletcher’s Cove stretch, off Canal Road, where catfish of all sizes, scattered rockfish and some largemouth bass are caught. Continue your searches from the District to Charles County, Md., as well as the Virginia counties on the opposite shore of the river. Largemouth bass, channel and blue catfish, white perch, and more Chinese snakeheads are hooked every day. The water in all the feeder creeks is fishable, and if you concentrate on weedbeds and sunken wood, you’ll do well even if more rain arrives.

The Chesapeake Bay has been a sure bet for boaters who look for striped bass, croakers, Norfolk spot, white perch, even an occasional flounder or bluefish. Fishing has been good from above the Route 50 Bay Bridge south to the Virginia state line. In the lowest parts of the Chesapeake, boaters are picking up large sheepshead around various Bay Bridge-Tunnel pilings, while flounder fishing is improving all over. The one disappointment so far has been a scarcity of spadefish and cobias.

In the Atlantic, bluewater trollers in the canyon waters from Maryland to Virginia connect on marlin, tunas and large sharks, while the inshore ocean parts offer sea bass and bluefish. In Ocean City and along Virginia’s Eastern Shore, flounder fishing is improving daily.

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), Ray Fletcher tells me that there’s a slight stain in the water, but the fishing for catfish and scattered rockfish continues. There are also largemouth bass in that stretch. The bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509) and many other bass boaters do very well in the feeder creeks, occasionally also in main-stem weed carpets. Again this week, early and late hours can produce bass on topwater buzzbaits and poppers. But various soft plastics or the ever-popular Chatterbait will do the job when the sun is up.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – The Bushwood portions of this waterway offers croakers and increasing numbers of spot, as well as white perch and catfish. Check out also the waters up toward Cobb Island and the Chaptico.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – The premier bass creek of the upper tidal Potomac River system. Plenty of weedbeds are available that hold the largemouths, but my favorite waters also include the marsh bank dropoffs above the slow zone markers, to the upstream side of the state park boat ramps.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – At Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) shows plenty of sunfish action, but bass catches are. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn at Camp Cosoma Road)

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes in the Prince George’s/Montgomery/Howard counties are good for early and late hour bass that have been hanging around lake point drops. Soft plastics — worms or crawfish claw baits — can do very well. Sunfish are great for the kids’ worm and bobber rigs.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles – Tasty Norfolk spot are caught either as table fare or as live-lining bait for stripers, says Lexington Park’s Tackle Box. Along with varying numbers of croakers the spot are caught in the mouth of the river, from Cedar Point to Helen’s Bar, as well as inside Point Patience and in Kingston Hollow. Stripers are taken now and then in the lower river, and consistent catches of white perch that will hop on spinners, Tiny Trap lures or simple 1/8-ounce shad darts are guaranteed especially in the feeder creeks.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles – Fountainhead Park ranger Smokey Davis agrees that bass fishing with topwater poppers and buzzbaits can be good early in the day, but then you should switch to crankbaits (along rocky points), or soft plastics in weeds and sunken wood. Catfish and some decent crappies are available, but not easy to locate.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles – Bass will take a soft or hard jerkbait during the early hours. Cast toward sunken and shaded wood or lake points. Crappie catches have been only so-so. Plenty of sunfish are looking for flyrod poppers.

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