Gene Mueller’s Fishing Report

Early-morning anglers have inside track on stripers

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WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles – If you check with the Quade’s Store in Bushwood and ask about the croakers, you’re likely to hear that four consecutive days of 80-degree temperatures (with night temperatures staying well above 50 degrees) are needed and the croakers will arrive. Mrs. Quade knows a lot about the “hardheads,” as locals here call them. The advice about the warm weather is legitimate.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles – Be prepared for sparse parking and busy launch ramps due to the many bass tournaments that are scheduled to come out of the Sweden Point Marina in Smallwood State Park. It’s enough to pull your hair out what with out-of-towners acting as if they owned the very facility that local boaters and fishermen paid for with their taxes and registration fees. Meanwhile, there are bass, crappies and catfish in the creek. The bass can often be found on grassy flats where shallow crankbaits or Rat-L-Traps do well, but soft plastics, including craws, also do very well there as well as in sunken wood.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles – Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) delivers hits from fat sunfish, even a bass now and then. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown to left turn on Camp Cosoma Road) the crappie and bass catches have been very good. Check it out, although windy weather has been a problem.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles – Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge lakes in the Prince George’s/Montgomery/Howard counties have been wind-blown in the past week and that kept johnboaters from taking risks. Deep-water coves that show sunken brush or stickups will deliver crappies and bass.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles – Catfish are biting very well in the upper river areas. Try clam snouts on your bottom rigs. And with the arrival of much warmer weather, don’t be surprised if white or chartreuse Beetlespin lures will draw strikes from fat white perch in the feeder creeks. The warmer weather might also bring a few croakers into the mouth. Catch-and-release stripers are always a possibility inside the river.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 33 miles – Weekend boaters will find better crappie fishing in flooded brush, often in side pockets and coves. The bass are either spawning, have spawned, or haven’t even begun to do their thing. Take your pick, then start casting shallow crankbaits, small spinnerbaits and short plastic worms (or Paca, Rage Tail, and other craws) around and into sunken trees and lake points.

BURKE LAKE: 31 MILES – Crappie chances are better for some johnboaters who concentrate on certain shoreline flats where the speckled fish are sweeping out their spawning redds, but never ignore a sunken brushpile with your jigs or live minnows. Bass fishing can be quite good if you use shallow to medium crankbaits or 4-inch finesse worms in junebug or watermelon colors.

CENTRAL & WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles – Water levels have been fine for smallmouth bass and walleye fishermen. In fact, the smallmouth bass fishing in Washington, Frederick and Montgomery counties can be quite good if you use small crankbaits, tubes and small, brown or black jigs trimmed with pork strips that are the same color.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles – Lake guide Brent Nelson said that largemouth and smallmouth bass will be in the spawning coves, with the bass moving to shallow areas during warm afternoons. If you fish for a spawning large- or smallmouth bass, please release the fish immediately. Actually, it would be best if you didn’t fish for them at all since bass season is closed until June 15. Instead, go after the crappies that are under the docks and in the lake’s brush piles. The walleyes now are in shallow water near rocks and such. Brent says to use small 1/16-oz. fuzzy grubs tipped with a minnow. “They are lethal,” he said. By the way, a utility lure is the chrome Rat-L-Trap. It will attract both, walleyes and bass.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles – More stripers arrive daily on the Susquehanna Flats and various soft jerkbaits can result in vicious strikes. The shad inside the river’s Deer Creek are still around, but it shouldn’t last much longer.

CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 25-65 miles – Among the many successful rockfish trollers, our friend Carl D. Brown wrote, “I launched out of Deale and headed towards the Eastern Bay. Water temperature was 59 degrees. Stayed in the channel trolling at 40 foot depth; caught a 33-incher on a white tandem bucktail rig 150 feet out from the transom.” Down in the Southern Maryland parts of the Chesapeake, Tackle Box owner Ken Lamb said, “The fishing for stripers is great as long as you catch them before 8 a.m. [It was true] at least during the past week, as sunlight and tides were triggering the fish to bite early.” Lamb added that trollers have done well all over the Bay, but the middle Bay parts between St. Jerome’s Creek, Point No Point and Buoy 72A have been particularly productive. What bothers me are the several complaints from what I know to be good fishermen who say they haven’t had even the first strike from a rockfish. Perhaps Lamb is right when he says you should be on the water before 8 a.m. It appears the umbrella rigs and tandem bucktail setups do best before the sun rises too high.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles – Northern Neck trollers are doing what their neighbors to the north are doing. They’re dragging striper rigs through lower Potomac and/or Maryland bay waters in hopes of connecting on a trophy rockfish. They do very well, by the way. Meanwhile, in the lower Chesapeake’s waters some cut bait drifters score on flounder around the first and second islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, also the concrete ships on the eastern side of the Bay. All the lower Bay’s rivers now deliver croakers for bait fishermen who prefer crab pieces, shrimp or squid strips.

EASTERN SHORE/MD.

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