Outstanding catches of striped bass and occasional hookups with spotted sea trout are possible over many areas of the Chesapeake Bay.
That includes a large swath of water that begins around the Bloody Point area and Eastern Bay, then continues to the mouth of the Choptank River and on toward the lower Maryland parts, including Buoy 72 and the Middle Grounds.
In the upper Bay portions, anglers who enjoy catching white perch can do so around the abutments of the dual-span Bay Bridge.
The upper tidal Potomac River between the District and western Charles County is coming into its own as the water reached 51 degrees in some parts of the river. For serious crappie anglers, now is the time to look for them. The water is just right and shoreline drops covered with waterlogged trees and brush can deliver the goods. Virginia’s Aquia and Potomac creeks are giving up the speckled fish, and near the Wilson Bridge you can bet that crappies are showing up on anglers’ hooks inside the Spoils Cove.
As far as largemouth bass are concerned, the river from Alexandria down to Leesylvania State Park, as well as the Maryland feeder creeks and portions of the main stem in Charles County are turning up good numbers along rocky outcroppings, underwater stone piles and the edges of grass beds or spatterdock lilies. Even though the area experienced a good frost for two consecutive days early this week, the marine grasses continue to be green and apparently still are attracting bass and catfish. You can catch them on spinnerbaits, plastic craw baits and deep-running crankbaits in quarter-ounce sizes.
Some of the terrific smallmouth bass fishing in the Rappahannock and Shenandoah rivers has slowed a bit, but whatever you catch now appears to be of good quality. Three-pounders are not unheard of. Scented grubs, tubes, crankbaits and spinners of every type will turn the trick, usually among mid-river rock beds where deep pockets of water are usually found on the downriver side of large boulders. That’s where hungry smallmouths wait to ambush unsuspecting minnows and such.
The Atlantic Ocean was not kind during the recent Nor’easter that blew through portions of Maryland and Virginia. Although the rare October snow was confined to the western parts of both states, wind and rain pretty much put a halt to the fishing along the coast. However, all is getting back to normal. The sea bass fishing has resumed, chopper bluefish are found in good numbers, especially in Virginia waters, and tautogs are hanging onto wrecks near and far. As the red drum (channel bass) slowly make their way south, surf and pier fishermen along North Carolina’s Outer Banks are setting baited hooks on the shallow-water fighters.
Fans of striped bass should be interested that the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) finally approved the 81.88-pound rockfish caught by Greg Myerson, of Westport, Conn., on Aug. 4, as an IGFA All Tackle World Record. The previous world record was a 78.8-pound striper caught nearly three decades ago in Atlantic City, N.J. Myerson hooked the huge rockfish while fishing from a boat in the Long Island Sound in Westbrook, Conn. The record fish inhaled a 15-inch-long eel bait.
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, Ray Fletcher said, “A few catfish and bass are caught right now and let the people know that we’re pulling up all the rental boats this weekend. It’s that time of year.” However, that doesn’t mean the fishing stops. There are bass available in the towpath canal and the river itseld practically the year around. Local bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) called while on the river after he launched his boat at the Smallwood State Park ramps in preparation for a guided trip the following day. “The water is clear, with a surface temperature of 51 degrees. I’ve caught nine bass so far on plastic grubs and crankbaits,” he said. The bass guide finds action with hungry largemouths along rocky points and underwater stone formations, but he also gets strikes along weed bed edges and inside open pockets of the vegetation with his Rebel jerkbaits, Senko and Zero worms, also spinnerbaits and deep-diving Bomber Model A firetiger crankbaits. He’s been working anywhere from Maryland’s Marshall Hall area down to the Chicamuxen and across to the Virginia shore’s feeder creeks, including the Potomac and Aquia creeks. In the brackish to salty river portions below the Route 301 bridge, rockfish catches are possible, but totally unpredictable. Sassy Shad and bucktail trollers score fairly well below St. Clements, also Tall Timbers and across on the Virginia side, but things really improve when you reach the end of the river, from Point Lookout into the Chesapeake.
WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – Slow going for most everything right now, but there’s a chance for perch and catfish as always. However, don’t look for bonanza catches of any species.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – Grass beds are still green, but be reminded that we had a frost several nights in a row earlier this week. If more of that comes, there’ll be a vegetation die-off and the bass will move from the grass to shoreline wood, marsh banks and nearby deep dropoffs. Meanwhile, the grass still holds some decent largemouths and they like craws, scented worms, small crankbaits (if you can find cranking room in open pockets), plus 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits.
SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) chilled down enough to keep more than a few anglers away earlier this week, but sunfish and small bass are possible. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn on Camp Cosoma Road) it’s much the same story. Cooler night weather has slowed some bass activity, but they’ll bite nicely this week if you use shallow to medium crankbaits in timber and along the lake dam’s rock line. Crappies definitely will cooperate wherever there’s sunken timber, brush or a sudden depression in a flat.
WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes in the Prince George’s/Montgomery/Howard counties are turning up crappie and some bass catches. Find 3- to 4-foot-deep stickups, sunken brush and wood in either reservoir and there’ll be bass and crappies looking for jigs, grubs and live minnows as long as there’s deep water nearby into which the fish can flee.