Over the past six days, local and distant sport fishing has gone into overdrive.
In the nuclear power station Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg, Va., a bass fishing-tournament organization known as Fishers for Men conducted its first contest of the year that would allow two contestants in each boat to enter only five bass. As the weigh-in was held at Sturgeon Creek Marina, the five-fish catch of Keith Estes, of Spring Grove, Va., and Donald Estes, of Henrico, Va., turned out to weigh 27.69 pounds, which included two largemouth bass that tipped the scales at more than 6 pounds. This winning catch turned out to be an all-time, five-bass lake record.
Now, along comes Tidewater fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill, whose saltwater exploits are known along the middle Atlantic coast. As he left a Virginia Beach marina last Sunday to go after tautogs that are found hiding in offshore wrecks, Neill eventually tied into something that seemed to weigh far more than the usual tautog that averages 3 to 6 pounds. A bragging-size ‘tog, as it’s frequently called, perhaps goes as high as 15 pounds. What Neill had on the end of his line was a potential state-record tautog. It weighed 24 pounds, 3 ounces and measured 32 inches long. When the application is approved by Virginia fishing officials, it will be the latest tautog state record – a veritable giant as far as the species is concerned.
Locally, boaters and shoreline anglers who seek their favorite quarry, the largemouth bass, are doing well in the Potomac River between the District and down-river portions in Charles County, Md., or Prince William County, Va. Although the first few days of the week were windy and many boaters chose to stay in safer waters, all the feeder creeks turned up excellent catches.
Be it the Pomonkey, Mattawoman, Chicamuxen, Occoquan, Powell, Quantico or Aquia, all will deliver the goods on a variety of crankbaits, rattle lures, soft plastics, occasionally even surface lures. In addition, Chinese snakeheads are moving about, and crappies are beginning to bunch up in anticipation of spawning season.
For fans of shad catch-and-release fishing, the Potomac at Fletcher’s Cove in Georgetown, the Susquehanna River above Havre de Grace, Md., (including Deer Creek), and Virginia’s Rappahannock River in the Fredericksburg sector provide fair to good chances of hooking hickory and American shad. Just be certain to let your catches go. They’re protected and cannot be kept. The Fletcher’s stretch of the Potomac also shows blue and channel catfish, as well as a few white perch and stripers. Boat rentals are available.
In the Chesapeake Bay, most everybody awaits the start of the striped bass trophy season that begins April 21 and runs through May 15. Private boaters and charter boat captains already are checking the waters, but they won’t get real serious until next month. Meanwhile, in the lowest parts of the Chesapeake, tautogs up to 6 pounds are hanging around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel tubes, the Concrete Ships on the eastern side of the Bay and all of the sunken wrecks. Don’t forget that the locals in the lower Bay have begun the black drum watch. Big black drum will be caught before you know it.
Fans of flounder fishing can make plans to visit Oyster, Quinby and Wachapreague waters on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Some of the more skilled flounder hunters already have scored. There also are rumors that some of the Eastern Shore’s barrier island channels and deep ditches have delivered strikes from channel bass (redfish). It’s a bit early, but this has been a strange March.
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 reports fair hookups with catch-and-release hickory and American shad. Ray said that the rental boats are in the water and visitors are finding white perch, blue and channel catfish, even scattered numbers of rockfish — and they, too, must be released. Down the river, from below Hains Point and the Blue Plains Waste Treatment to Fox Ferry Point, the Spoils, Belle Haven coves, and portions of Broad Creek, bass fans are finding their favorite fish. The same is true of Swan, Piscataway, Little Hunting creeks and the large Virginia coves and bays, such as Dogue, Gunston and Occoquan. Bass fishing can be fine in the waters of Fenwick, Greenway and Pomonkey Creek (not far from the Marshall Hall boat ramp), then also in the Mattawoman and Chicamuxen, also Virginia’s Powell, Quantico, Potomac and Aquia creeks. Don’t overlook Mallows, Blue Banks and Wade’s Bay on the main stem of the river. The grass is growing more every day and medium or shallow depth crankbaits “ticked” over the emerging weeds will bring strikes. So will Pure Poison lures and Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps and RedEye rattle baits, soft craws and, occasionally, even topwater lures. A reminder that snakeheads are stirring in all the above-mentioned waters. Crappies are showing signs of schooling and blue catfish are active up and down the river’s channels and deep underwater ditches.
WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – Nothing doing yet in the lower river, but some perch are available in the upper river, at Allen’s Fresh (Route 234).
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – One of our fishing pals tried a Pop’R surface lure a few days ago and he hooked a 2-pound bass on it. Bass catches are possible from the underwater rocks near the mouth, up the creek in coves and along shorelines that show downed trees or brush. We cannot over-emphasize the role a smartly cast crankbait plays in waters that appear to be wide open, but beneath the surface there’ll be steadily growing milfoil and hydrilla and the bass will be in there, chasing baitfish.
SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) offers sunfish and a few young bass. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn on Camp Cosoma Road) the crappies, bass and sunfish are stirring. In fact, the crappie fishing can be extra fine.
WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes in the Prince George’s/Montgomery/Howard are ready for you bass hounds (even if you have to release them), and crappie fanciers who can keep enough for dinner. Some fat catfish are found from shore in both reservoirs. Use liver or fish strips on the bottom. The “cats” will love it.