- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Be reminded that the Maryland season for 18-inch-and-up striped bass is open in the Chesapeake Bay and the tidal Potomac, Patuxent, Chester and Choptank rivers, and the fishing can be, oh, so good.

You may keep two every day, but only one of the two can measure over 28 inches. The remaining Maryland tidal rivers and creeks will open with the same creel limits June 1.

Lexington Park’s Tackle Box passes along a message from Solomons Island, Md., charter fishing captain Greg Buckner, whose associate, captain Lee Tippett, runs the large charter vessel “Fin Finder.” Tippett, he said, had 26 anglers aboard last Sunday. Everyone on the boat caught a limit of rockfish, which included 26 trophies of 28 inches and larger, and 18 stripers that were in the 18-inch slot limit — proof that the various sizes are well represented.

Meanwhile, Buckner, on the wheel of the “Miss Susie,” went out into the Bay at 2 p.m. the same day and by 3 p.m. had 10 trophy-size rockfish and three smaller ones. Buckner said, “The [big] fish are schooled up tight and heading south. Bait is plentiful and any time you find the bait, the trolled lines fill up with rockfish.”

If it’s flounder you’re waiting for, Mike Henderson, who operates Buzz’s Marina, caught the first keeper flounder of the season in the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek — on a soft Bass Kandy lure, of all things.

In the freshwater lakes and rivers of Virginia and Maryland, the impoundments will deliver bass, crappies, sunfish and catfish, but it’s the mountain rivers we again are concerned with. John Mullican, the upper Potomac River specialist for the Maryland DNR, said, “I believe the river will be high and muddy this weekend. We’ve had quite a bit of rain, and more is forecast.” That, most likely, will mean the Shenandoah and the upper Rappahannock also will be affected.

None of that, however, will bother tidal Potomac River anglers from below the District to western Charles County. The bass, perch and blue catfish are as willing to look at your offerings as you are to present them. Go for it!

If you’re interested in a rockfish contest, the annual Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCA MD) Kent Narrows Fly and Light Tackle Striper Tournament will be held June 4 in a catch-and-release format.

The per-angler registration cost is $40 (includes a one-year membership). Registration can be made on the CCA MD website, www.ccamd.org. For more information, call 202-744-5013 or e-mail tony@ccamd.org.

D.C. AND VICINITY

(all listed distances begin in Washington)

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles – The Fletcher’s Cove area most likely will be affected by runoffs from the upper river where it’s muddy and fast. You can call Fletcher’s Cove at 202-244-0461 or go to www.Fletcher’scove.com. The area between Wilson Bridge and western Charles County is showing good bass, crappie and catfish activity with the better creeks for bass pointing to Broad, Piscataway, Little Hunting and Dogue creeks; add also Gunston Cove and the Occoquan River. If you want a bunch of Chinese snakeheads, take your boat inside the Occoquan River right up to the dam. That area is loaded with them, an insider told us. Don’t overlook the Chicamuxen, Potomac and Aquia creeks where bass, crappie, snakeheads and catfish are available in fine numbers. The Arkindale Flats and Greenway Flats turn up bass with the usual lures: Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, Paca Craws, Senko and Zero worms, and the KVD 1.5 or Baby 1-Minus crankbaits wherever you see enough open water to retrieve it properly, says bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509). Down in the lower parts of the river, you should find good catches of rockfish St. George’s Island clear to Smith Point. Smaller rockfish up to 22 inches have begun breaking on the surface in the Potomac near the mouth of Herring Creek, said Ken Lamb, of the Tackle Box store.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – Expect a few croakers to take your baits between Quade’s Store in Bushwood and the waters near Cobb Island. White perch are moving into weedy shorelines.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – Outstanding bass catches if you can find a spot not already occupied by multiple bass boats. Marsh bank edges, spatterdock pockets and sunken wood can turn up bass, some of which may still be spawning – or be in a post-spawn stage. Center channel near Mattingly Avenue boat ramp can give up fine channel catfish if you use clam snout baits.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – At Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) you’ll find a flyrod heaven if you’re after sunfish. Small popping or sinking bugs will be attacked along shallow shorelines where the bluegills are bedding. Deeper water (5 feet or so) can turn up shellcracker sunfish if you use worm baits and a piece of split shot on the line. Bass are possible, but don’t expect record setters. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn at Camp Cosoma Road) the bass, crappies and bluegills are hungry. All three species are in excellent supply. The lake is definitely fishable.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Upper ends of Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes will see some murky water, due to heavy rains this week. But bass, crappies and sunfish are available throughout if you concentrate on cover brush, fallen tree trunks or rock beds, especially in the coves of either lake.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles – Forget the upper parts of the river. There’ll be muddy water. However, in the lower section, from Solomons out to the mouth, you’ll have croakers and perhaps a few keeper rockfish flitting about.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles – “The last few days were great for bass and crappies and then the rains came,” said Fountainhead ranger, Smokey Davis. “Some bass were ready to spawn but rising waters may have pulled them back again. Right now the reservoir is rising and the water is heavily stained. With more rain yet to come, conditions will probably worsen but savvy bass anglers will still score by moving away from the banks and fishing deeper in channels and along rock walls. Medium running shad-color crankbaits and swimbaits along the rock walls should produce.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles – Crappies, bass, catfish and scattered walleyes are possible. The water will be fishable even after strong downpours.

CENTRAL & WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles – Forget it this weekend. Upper river specialist John Mullican, of the Maryland DNR, says the river will be muddy and high, not good for fishing. However, although this happened on April 14, the DNR released the information about Kenneth Files, 12, of Falling Waters, W.Va., only a few days ago. The boy fished a high, flood-stage upper Potomac River from shore with his father in the area below Dam Number 4, when a 31.75-pound muskellunge struck the plastic grub he was casting into the stained waters. It turned out to be state record, more than three pounds heavier than the old mark of 28 pounds, which also came from the upper Potomac.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles – Boaters working hard in the deeper coves of the impoundment, as well as lake points with steadily declining water depths on each side, will find some walleyes, bass and fat yellow perch.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles – The river below Conowingo Dam will run fast and it will be strongly discolored. We don’t see much fishing activity there. However, the Susquehanna Flats outside the river mouth show increasing numbers of fair-sized stripers that will occupy these weedy waters here on for some time. Bass Kandy lures and other soft plastic jerkbaits will be looked at by the rockfish.

CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles – The trolling for rockfish can be outstanding over much of the Bay. Although the large trophy stripers that have delighted thousands of recreational fishermen this spring are now slowly heading back down the Bay, many are still around and smaller rockfish are mixed in with them. Some of the charter captains fill their limits within an hour or so of trolling; others have to work a little harder. Croakers are showing up at Point Lookout State Park’s pier, while signs of flounder are noted in the St. Jerome’s Creek down in St. Mary’s County.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles – Even though the striped bass season is open now, the best news is shared by black drum anglers. The buoys 10 and 13, not far from Cape Charles, deliver the goods with lack drum weighing anywhere from 30 to 60 pounds. Sea clams (some call them chowder clams) are the top baits on 7/0 hooks and heavy bottom sinkers to hold the baits in the tidal pull found in waters of 20 to 30 feet deep. Bluefish have been caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles – Forget the rain-stained upper river if it’s bass you’re after and, to tell the truth, the lower parts aren’t doing much better. However, there’ll be some keeper-size rockfish caught in the mouth by trollers using small bucktails and spoons.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles – Things have been slow for bass fishermen in the Snow Hill to Shad Landing areas. Strong rain doesn’t bother this river as much as some others, but there’ll be strong runoffs in addition to the usual tides.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles – One of our Eastern Shore friends tells us that the Marshyhope feeder creek at Federalsburg is your only chance to pick up a bass or two, maybe some good-eating crappies. Not a word is heard about good catches elsewhere.

CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles – The lake is at full pool and then some, said my lake expert who lives there. Generally discolored water is seen near all the feeder creeks. The crappie fishing continues around docks and shallow brush piles, but it’s hard to find any of the bigger specimens. Some largemouth bass are still on their beds with the full moon this week, but most are now in a post-spawn pattern and some of those fish are really starting to feed in deeper water near the spawning grounds. Catfish catches have been surprisingly good.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles – Heavy rain and strong runoff will turn this river into a muddy, high mess from the upper reaches above Fredericksburg clear down to Port Royal and beyond.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles – Even if it’s discolored, a live minnow will find enough crappies for supper. The bass will look at (or rather pick up the scent of) PowerWorms and other baits that “smell good.”

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles – Some bass, crappies and catfish will be taken by weekend anglers although the water could be in better shape. Many of the bass have finished spawning.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles – Post-spawn bass can be tough to draw to a hook for a while, but they can be caught. Besides, some of the lake’s largemouths are still on their beds. Upper lake ends give up stripers. Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. and Ron Karpinski say that bass are being hooked on spinnerbaits and plastics in green pumpkin. Crappie fishing is hit or miss, but if you can find some, they are big ones.

KERR RESERVOIR: 200 miles — Bobcat’s Lake Country Store (434-374-8381) reports that bass catches are getting better. Best places include flooded brush where spinnerbaits, even buzzbaits and plastic lizards do a good job. Crappie catches are holding up around banks and shore structure. Catfish like cut shad and sunfish.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles – (Tidal Richmond and downstream) Blue catfish are hoping you drop a chunk or slab or herring, even bluegill flesh, down to them around Dutch Gap and other “cat” holes. River runoff will be murky and quick since it has rained strongly above Richmond.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles – River’s Rest (804-829-2753) reports only fair bass catches, but everybody down this way knows it will improve quickly. The crappie fishing has been good, with live minnows being the best way to hook enough for sinner. The catfish are biting very well now, going after herring or eel baits. The water is warming, but stained.

WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 60-85 miles – River is rising and muddy. Stay away for a few days until the skies clear and the sun shines. When things return to normal, our Shenandoah expert, Dick Fox, says many of the smallmouth bass will have moved into their summer areas, which can be fast-water eddys. Small Senko-type worms, spinnerbaits and tubes are the best lures.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles – The locals point out that alewive baitfish are spawning and that brings the bait schools close to shore during the dark hours. Of course the bass, rockfish and catfish know that and they’ll show up to get an easy meal. Fishermen in the know capitalize on that by casting flukes, various swimbaits, such as the Strike King Shadalicious, for a quick catch. Many bass are on the spawning beds and are easy to fool with soft plastics or topwater poppers.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles – It will be slow going, what with the rash of thunderstorms and heavy rains that visited the area. Skip it for a week.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles – Surf and nearby deeper ocean waters give up rockfish and redfish now and then. Sand sharks have shown up in the shallows, with the inlets holding some stripers and flounder, although the backwaters behind Ocean City will be okay for the flat fish this weekend. However, the best catches are yet to come.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach – The Fisherman’s Island area and other barrier islands near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay turn up red drum again, after a lull in the recent action. Crab and clam baits do a good job on the redfish. Some bluefish are found around Virginia Beach, and striped bass are possible at the junction where the Atlantic meets the Chesapeake. Eastern Shore flounder hangouts Chincoteague and Wachapreague have suffered from wind and rain, keeping rental boats ashore, but the fish are there.

For additional outdoors news, visit www.genemuellerfishing.com.