The time has come when many of our area’s warm-weather fishermen begin to stash away their boats and tackle. However, hard-nosed anglers who prefer to seek their quarry in the Chesapeake Bay, the tidal rivers of Maryland and Virginia, as well as the not-too-distant Atlantic Ocean, are not giving up - not by a long shot.
November is a fine month for the Chesapeake’s stripers (aka rockfish) in its middle and Southern Maryland portions. Down near the mouth of the Bay, in Virginia, the striped fighters will be available well into late winter, not to mention tasty tautogs that now begin to hang out in tight bunches over wrecks and alongside bridge abutments. Locally, there is no stopping for bass, crappie and yellow perch anglers. All three species will be available in varying numbers in the Potomac’s tidal feeder creeks. Included among the best, if it’s all three you’re after, are Spoils Cove, portions of the Piscataway Creek and Pohick Bay, and Occoquan Bay and river. Also, don’t overlook the Mattawoman, Potomac and Aquia creeks, as well as the main stem’s Mallows Bay.
For example, if it’s crappies you prefer, river bass guide Andy Andrzejewski has been using avocado-color Sting Ray grubs, dabbed with a fish attractant known as Smelly Jelly. He’s hooking crappies around river points and shoreline feeding flats from Swan Creek down to the Occoquan and farther south in the Aquia Creek. All of the crappie fishing spots also have turned up largemouth bass on the same lures, but once in a while the guide casts lipped crankbaits wherever he sees fallen trees in shallow-to-deep water. If a bass is hiding there, a decent fight can quickly ensue.
Currently, the mountain rivers, including the Potomac, Rappahannock and Shenandoah, give up some fine smallmouth bass. However, while fish sizes seem to increase, be prepared for fewer numbers.
The Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and the Northern Neck of Virginia are seeing increasing numbers of ocean rockfish that enter the Bay, chasing baitfish schools and fattening up before again leaving to go back to the Atlantic for the winter months. Some of the heavyweight stripers have been hooked near Buoy 72, the Middle Grounds, the mouth of the Choptank and near-shore waters off St. Jerome’s Creek and Point No Point, as well as the lower Potomac River. Down in the lower Virginia parts of the Chesapeake, speckled sea trout, tautogs and lots of striped bass in all sizes keep boaters busy.
If the wind ever slows down in the Atlantic Ocean, hardy offshore anglers will begin to travel many miles from land to go after bluefin tuna, while boaters a little closer to shore find tilefish, grouper, sea bass and tautogs over wrecks, especially those not far from Virginia Beach or the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
D.C. AND VICINITY
(All listed distances begin in Washington)
POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles – In the District at Fletcher’s Cove (202-244-0461), off Canal Road, there’ll be a few hungry catfish, maybe a smallmouth and largemouth bass here and there, but overall fishing success hasn’t been the greatest. Local bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) fishes mostly downriver and he’s been whacking the bass and crappies around river and feeder creek points and rock formations from below Swan Creek clear down to Virginia’s Aquia Creek. His lures of choice now are Mann’s avocado Sting Ray grubs and crankbaits in various colors. From the Port Tobacco River down to St. Clements Island, the fishing for stripers has been kind of slow, but no so as you reach lower river stretches where resident rockfish are mixed in with large sea-run stripers from St. George’s Island south toward Point Lookout. Ken Lamb, of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said, “Trollers are getting plenty of fish in the 22- to 35-inch range, with an occasional 40-inch-plus fish taken.”
WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – Maybe an odd rockfish now and then outside the river mouth, but the insides of the Wicomico haven’t given up much of anything except catfish.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – Try points and marsh dropoffs with crankbaits, Sting Ray grubs (if the weeds will allow it) and wacky-rigged worms on warm days. The bass will do the rest. However, as marine grasses begin to die, remember that the largemouths will begin to be drawn to sunken wood and fallen trees that shjow some nearby deep water.
SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) shows a few sunfish and small bass, not much else. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn on Camp Cosoma Road) the crappies will take a small jig or dart under a bobber wherever some kind of underwater change occurs. That means look for dips, channels, sunken wood and such. Bass catches have been down, but the largemouths haven’t left to spend the winter in Florida, so keep on trying.
WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes in the Prince George’s/Montgomery/Howard counties corridor has seen a little too much wind to allow cartopper boats onto the water. Crappies are occasionally hooked by shoreline walkers of both lakes. Bobbers and small shad darts, sometimes tipped with a tiny live minnow, can be deadly if you see a brushy area in shallow-to-deep cove waters. Lake points are good starter places for cranking long-lipped bass lures.
PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles – Trollers using a variety of bucktails, Sassy Shads or spoons are finding action on plenty of rockfish in the 22- to 24-inch range. Occasional 30-plus-inch fish have been seen in the deep river holes off Sotterly last week, reported the Lexington Park’s Tackle Box. It is believed that the rockfish are heading toward the Chesapeake now, having moved downriver, with good numbers taken from Cape St. Mary’s to Sotterly Point. “The bite can be short on the change of tide, and a good morning bite can lead to poor activity in the afternoon, or vice-versa. Sunny days can be difficult; rainy and overcast days tend to be excellent,” added proprietor Ken Lamb. By the way, lots of white perch are hanging out along 50-foot-deep ledges around the Hawk’s Nest, Kingston Hollow, Green Holly, and between the Route 4 Bridge and Point Patience. Bloodworws are recommended. Shad darts tipped with bloodworm fished on a doulble hook bottom rig can be good producers.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 33 miles — Crappies and bass are possible, but the wind curtailed much of the fishing earlier this week.