- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We have mostly good news for weekend anglers in the Washington area. The heavy rains that fell throughout the region, which ruined many basements and even house foundations, are quickly receding and clearing. Even the mountainous portions of the Potomac, Rappahannock and James rivers will be very fishable in a day or two. In fact, you could visit them now and probably hook a few smallmouth bass. On Wednesday, the Point of Rocks section of the upper Potomac stood at a little over three feet. It had been as high as nine feet last week.

Fans of the upper tidal parts in the Rappahannock River will be happy to hear what the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries biologist, John Odenkirk, had to say about a recent electroshock study of largemouth bass in the stretches below Port Royal. He was delighted to see good numbers of them. “The fishing ought to be fine,” he said, adding that even the waters above Port Royal, in the Hicks Landing area, for example, should also deliver the goods for anglers. “The creek mouths have been loaded with bass,” he said.

One of the country’s most productive bass rivers, the tidal Potomac between the District and Charles County, Md., or Prince William County, Va., is seeing some debris and scattered murky water from recent monsoon-like rains, but the river is clearing nicely and will give up catches of largemouths, blue catfish, a few perch and Chinese snakeheads. In fact, if you happen to fish in a muddy, shallow corner of a feeder creek, a wacky-rigged plastic worm, a spinnerbait, or a short-lipped crankbait might be the ticket for a hookup with one of the foreign invaders. They don’t mind discolored water and certainly seem to like the shallows.

In the Chesapeake Bay, the coming days will see terrific catches of stripers and bluefish, as well as the soon to depart Spanish mackerel. The rockfish and blues are well-distributed throughout the Bay, with good catches coming from as far north as the Magothy and Chester rivers, the Bay Bridge’s pilings, and all the channels, ledges and dropoffs from the False Channel on the Eastern Shore to the Patuxent River on the western side. By the way, as the nights grow cooler and even the days are more comfortable, many local boaters are thinking of the great late fall striped bass fishing that isn’t all that far away.

Ocean boaters from Delaware to Maryland and Virginia are catching white marlin and dolphin (mahi mahi) in the far offshore waters, while inshore stretches all along the coast deliver flounder, croakers and bluefish in varying numbers. Bluefish, even some tautogs, often are in the inlets and back bays of the Atlantic resort cities. In Virginia, the lowest parts of the Chesapeake Bay, within shouting distance of the ocean, continue to turn up red drum (redfish) and cobias, while flounder anglers around the wide Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel are all smiles most days.


(All listed distances begin in Washington)

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles – In the District around Fletcher’s Cove (202-244-0461), Ray Fletcher said, “By the weekend, the river should be fine for fishing.” That means blue catfish, maybe a bass or two, perhaps even a walleye that washed down from up above during recent high water conditions. Currently, there still is some strong discoloration, but it’s clearing steadily and Fletcher said that boats are being rented. Meanwhile, the bass fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509) said there is no reason why largemouth bass, snakeheads, catfish and perch shouldn’t be interested in lures and baits right now. We fished parts of the main stem and several feeder creeks a few days ago and, although there was some floating debris and spotty discolored water, the bass bit, as well as some fat yellow perch. The fishing appeared to be best in open weed pockets and along weed bed edges. Small spinnerbaits and crankbaits can turn the trick. Yesterday, the river was in terrific fishing condition, reported Andrzejewski.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – At the mouth you’ll run into a few keeper-size rockfish, but don’t call the wife and tell her to heat up the frying pan until after you caught them. The fishing can be spotty. As nights are getting cooler and the water temperatures begin to drop, expect the departure of Norfolk spot, but some of them, along with croakers, will still be around. White perch and catfish are always around.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – The lower parts of the creek have been okay as far as bass catches are concerned. However, there are patches of muddy water that suddenly change into nearly clear portions, then back to murky conditions. It’s like a checkerboard. The bass have looked at white/chartreuse spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits and early hour topwater spoons and poppers. Conditions wil steadily improve up and down the creek since no new rain storms are in our future.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) will give up bluegills, maybe a small bass now and then, or perhaps a crappie. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn on Camp Cosoma Road) the cooler nights will affect water temperatures and that means the bass will become more active. Get ready. This lake is home to more than a few whoppers. Crappies will begin to school up later this month.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes in the Prince George’s/Montgomery/Howard counties are sure to turn up bass that are hungry after all the terrible weather we’ve had. Even if there’s some discoloration, loud topwater lures, rattling crankbaits or scented plastic worms can draw hits from the largemouths. Sunfish and some catfish are around for worm dunkers.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles – A whopping good report comes from the fishing proprietor of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box, Ken Lamb, who begins by saying that stripers are “infesting” the mouth of the river. That’s practically a guarantee that you’ll catch rockfish. For example, charter fishing captain Brady Bounds took a party of anglers to Hog Point and the area of the naval base’s O’Club to fish among the rocks there. His group landed and released 100 stripers in that quarter-mile stretch using only topwater lures. By the way, white perch continue to be caught in the creeks and Norfolk spot and croakers are cooperating with bottom fishermen.

OCCOQUAN RESEROIR: 33 miles — Don’t stay home this weekend. The reservoir will be okay for bass, catfish and sunfish hunters. Crappies are still a bit hard to locate, but they’ll soon begin to school up as the water temperatures decline more with every passing night.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles – The bass await your visits. They like a smartly-cast spinnerbait, jerkbait or plastic worm around sunken obstacles, lake points and stickups. Crappies aren’t easy to find just yet, but they will be later this month. Catfish like clam necks or strips of liver.

Story Continues →