- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Local and distant fishing success will suffer from an overabundance of rain in every Middle Atlantic State. The next four days could keep some of our area’s anglers indoors, but there also will be some who scoff at rain.

If the wind doesn’t “blow a gale,” as the guys in Chesapeake Bay country like to say, die-hard fishermen will at least be out on the tidal rivers, especially the lower Potomac and Patuxent. The tidal Potomac can handle large amounts of runoff water that is sure to arrive from Western Maryland. With a little luck, weekenders will enjoy hooking bluefish, some legal stripers, croakers, and plenty of white perch from below the Route 301 bridge in Charles County south to Point Lookout. The same is true of the lower ends of the Patuxent River.

It probably will be a different story in the mountains of Virginia and Maryland, where flood warnings have been issued. I’ll stick my neck out and say that you should forget fishing plans for such stellar smallmouth bass rivers as the upper James, Rappahannock, Potomac and all of the Shenandoah. We might as well add the Susquehanna River upstream of the Conowingo Dam, which is near the town of Port Deposit. The Pennsylvania stretches of the river are sure to see levels rise and water colors change to the color of coffee with cream.

However, you can bet a fair sum of money that there will be bass boaters on the tidal Potomac somewhere between Wilson Bridge and the Wade’s Bay area of the river, electric trolling motors over the bow, wearing pricey rain suits (some can cost as much as $400), and casting plastic worms or shallow-running crankbaits to the edges of massive weed beds in the main stem or in some of the river’s tributaries. The bass in this river are used to changing water conditions. They’ll bite if you put the lure in front of their noses.

The same holds true for the fishing fanatics down in the lowest portions of the Chesapeake Bay, only a slingshot’s distance from the Atlantic Ocean. They are a hardy lot and as long as the wind doesn’t push salty breakers over their boats, some will be working baits and artificial lures in a hunt for cobias and redfish. Others will drift with strip baits along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel’s pilings and stone-laden support islands, hoping to hook up with a sassy flounder or two, many of which are trophy specimens.

There also will be sheepshead and a few spadefish, not to mention schools of young and old bluefish that roam the open waters of the Bay. The wind will dictate activities more so than the tropical storm-generated rain, so please stay safe.


(All listed distances begin in Washington)

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles – In the District around Fletcher’s Cove (202-244-0461), Ray Fletcher said, “So far the river has only risen a bit, but that can change if the rain continues.” The Georgetown waterfront already has raised its flood gates. What does that tell us. A lot of water will be coming down from Frederick and Montgomery counties. However, the bass fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509) knows that there will be spots on the river and in its tributaries that will deliver bass, snakeheads and catfish. The blue catfish, especially, don’t mind changing water conditions. They seek their food mostly through their ability to scent objects from great distances away. Sight and sound are secondary. When it’s muddy or at least murky, the bass use their schnozzolas just like a catfish, but they also respond to flashy and/or noisy lures. For the latest upper tidal water conditions call Fletcher. It may help you plan a fishing trip farther downriver.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – You’ll most likely see a lot of muddy runoff from up above in the Allen’s Fresh sector of the river, but near the mouth a few croakers and plenty of catfish and white perch will be available even if you get drenched in the process.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – The upper creek areas will discharge muddy water, but by the time you reach the Smallwood State Park area, the weedbeds and spatterdock fields will hold bass even in discolored water. Shallow, noisy crankbaits or scented, soft plastics do the job.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) will be fine for fishing even if the water rises. But don’t expect more than hungry bluegills that like worm baits under a bobber. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn on Camp Cosoma Road) the water usually stays reasonably clear even after strong rains. Go try for a bass or two. They’ve been biting.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes in the Prince George’s/Montgomery/Howard counties will see plenty of murky, muddy water in their upper ends, but mid-lake and lower portions will be fishable, although high water can be a problem as far as launching a johnboat is concerned.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles – The croakers, perch and mixed bags of snapper bluefish and rockfish are there and they’re not about to leave. Wind will put a halt to a lot of boaters trying the river, but rain will not.

OCCOQUAN RESEROIR: 33 miles — Beware of high water if the rains continue for two more days. The reservoir will be discolored and that will affect this body’s fish population. All the same, catfish and a few bass can be hooked.

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