- 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.

CENTRAL & WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles – The fishing conditions might be okay this weekend. We’re hedging because of the ever-changing weather patterns that have plagued local smallmouth bass anglers this spring. The water temperatures will be in the 80s. Summer now has arrived and that means dropping your jigs, grubs, crankbaits and tubes into the deeper pockets often found on the downriver side of large boulders anywhere from Washington to Montgomery counties.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles – Lake guide Brent Nelson (captbrentnelson@gmail.com) recommends fishing for smallmouth bass around rocky points with jerkbaits and medium-diving crankbaits. The coves are home to a fine mix of pickerel, yellow perch and large sunfish, while the largemouths have taken up station under floating docks and various blowdowns in deep-water coves. Some walleyes are hooked on colorful tubes, crankbaits or on live minnows.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles – The Conowingo Dam releases water around the noon hour these days and that can be promising for fishermen who hope to find an errant rockfish now and then, certainly white perch and catfish that actually can be hooked from the dam to Port Deposit and on toward Havre de Grace, also out on the Susquehanna Flats

CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles – In the upper Bay, spoon and bucktail trollers will find action along the edges of channels. The action can begin at the Chester River’s Love Point and continue down to the Bay Bridge and Eastern Bay. During the early hours, chum baits have been working as well as anything. And here’s a rare catch we didn’t hear about until it was too late for last week’s fishing report: Angler Ray Sandy was trolling aboard a Rock Hall charter boat last Saturday when a 75-pound black drum struck his trolled spoon. What a catch! It’s especially noteworthy when you consider that very few of the big drumfish are hooked this year in their traditional May-June hangouts at Stone Rock and Sharps Island Light. In Southern Maryland waters, rockfish are hooked by trollers, live-liners, jig bouncers and crab or bloodworm-using bottom fishermen. Our friend Ken Lamb said that big schools of mixed size stripers have been hanging around an area from just a little north of Cove Point to the Gas Docks, mostly inside the boundary buoys. Be sure to carry along spinning rods with surface poppers on the line because the rockfish are sure to erupt on top of the water at some time every day. Lamb said if the regular popper isn’t struck, try removing the hooks on one of the lures and tie a 14-inch leader to the lure, which in turn holds a big shad dart and a strip of porkrind. Night fishing for croakers is getting more consistent now over the Middle Grounds. Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina in St. Jerome’s Creek sent us a photo of a Walforf, Md., angler, Gary Masters, who caught a 22-1/2-inch-long flounder in the mouth of the creek.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles – Croakers, small bluefish, white perch and mixed sizes of striped bass are available from the mouth and close insides of the Rappahannock River up to all the waters of the Northern Neck close to the Bay. Down the Chesapeake, Super lady angler Julie Ball (www.drjball.com) and a fishing pal, Bill Knapp, have been scoring on fat sheepshead around the Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Quite a few were of citation size and one weighed 12 pounds. Wow! Julie also reported that some anglers see cobias on the surface in the lower Bay and near the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, she said, “The fish are slow to respond to casters. Although working hard for their catches, most sight casters are finding that eels are their best bet.” Ball added that the flounder scene is holding up well fff Kiptopeke and near the four islands of the Bay Bridge Tunnel. “Anglers are finding luck working jigs and live bait around the pilings and the tubes of the Bridge-Tunnel, as well as drifting strip baits and minnows along drop-offs and channels.” The fourth island has been particularly productive.

EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles – Croakers, small rockfish, white perch and even channel catfish have been hooked from Castle Haven Point in the lower Choptank River up toward Cambridge. Occasionally, good catches are reported from the fishing bridge that spans the river as you come into town.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles – The week has been only fair for bass fishermen in the Snow Hill and Shad Landing sectors. Of course, with the rain there haven’t been as many anglers out.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles – The Marshyhope Creek in the Federalsburg continues to deliver at least a few bass and perch or crappies. By and large, though, this makes for a long expensive drive if you’re coming from the western shore.

CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles – Early and late hours can deliver good strikes from stripers around the place they call the “Split,” but do not overlook the bass that hang out in sunken brush or close to beaver huts up and down the lake. Shaky-head worms and craw baits will do the job. Catfish are always willing.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles – Forget it up and down the river for the next few days. Biologist John Odenkirk said the river will be high, swift and muddy for a few days. He said, with a little luck and no more rain you might be able to wet a line by the weekend.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles – Good sunfish flyrod popping any time of day, but the bass play hide and seek when the sun boils down. Plastic worms, fished slowly, can draw one to strike around sunken obstacles.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles – Concessionaire Darrell Kennedy, of Angler’s Landing (540-672-3997) for the latest water conditions. Currently, it’s mostly fair to good catfish chances, and if it’s bass you’re after, get there early and fish stickups and sunken wood.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles – Good bass chances in the creek mouths early in the day. Poppers and jerkbaits can do well in low-light conditions, but as the sun warms the upper layers of the water, switch to plastic worms and craws.

KERR RESERVOIR: 200 miles — A potential world record blue catfish of 143 pounds was caught by Nick Anderson, 29, of Greenville, N.C., last weekend. If approved — and there is no reason to think it won’t be — the blue cat exceeds the current mark by 13 pounds. Of course, it will also be a state record, beating an earlier mark this spring of 109 pounds. This lake is becoming the top blue catfish water anywhere. Crappies and bass are possible, as are stripers. What a lake!

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles – (Tidal Richmond and downstream) I suppose there’s no joy on the river as it now becomes only the second best blue catfish water in the state. Look above this item and you’ll see who the top dog in the state is now.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles – Fair to good bass chances along wood cover and marsh banks.

WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 60-85 miles – Front Royal’s Dick Fox reports that the fishing in the river currently is good, but most of the smallmouth bass have been in the 10- to 12-inch class. That’s only fair as far as smallmouths are concerned. The river is up and showing a stain. Water temperatures are 78 degrees. Te best fishing points to early and late hours. Dick says you can score with topwater lures, inline spinners (such as the Mepps or. Topwater ,inline spinners and tubes work best for us. Rain however is predicted for the rest of the week.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles – Stripers have been taking sunfish and herring baits during the dark hours. The creeks give up bass that like plastic craws and medium-diving crankbaits.

UPPER JAMES RIVER (at Scottsville): 130 miles — It probably will not be the best place to come to if you seek smallmouth bass because of the many recent rains. Maybe by the weekend, but that’s an iffy guess.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles – The Ocean City Fishing Center (410-213-1121) says offshore fishing really took off for charter captains who have been traveling to the Wilmington Canyon area where warmer water from the Gulf stream is noticed. The Fishing Center said several blue marlin in the 500-pound range have been boated and then released. A mix white marlin, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and a smattering of bigeye tunas round out the bluewater fishing. As you come into the inshore waters, there have been false albacore, dolphin (fish), bluefish, sharks and bluefin tunas. In the waters behind the resort city, the flounder fishing is improving. Sue Foster, of the Oyster Bay Tackle Shop in Ocean City, Md., and Fenwick Island, Del., said the surf has been turning up kingfish, croakers, tiny sea trout and a number of sharks and large cownose rays.Stripers and blues are still in the inlet and the Route 50 bridge gives up large bluefish at night — now and then. The headboats locate sea bass.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach – The fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill, says sea bass can be found on the coastal wrecks where triggerfish are also possible. “Offshore bottom fishermen are finding some tilefish and sea bass mixed together,” he reported and added that amberjack are at the South Tower but are not available in large numbers just yet. “The offshore boats have been encountering a good early season marlin bite. Boats are coming back to Virginia Beach flying multiple release flags. Dolphin fishing is very good and there are yellowfin tuna around,” said Neill.

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