By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
The young drop coverage to avoid higher premiums
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
During the current open season for trophy striped bass in the lower portions of the Potomac River and Maryland's part of the Chesapeake Bay, conflicting reports are heard from boaters who are out by the hundreds looking for big rockfish.
The upper tidal Potomac River currently delivers unbelievably great bass fishing. The past week has seen a veritable explosion of largemouth bass that are willing to strike a variety of lures. It's the talk of the day among tidal river fishing fanatics.
As you read this, the air will tell what typical February weather should feel like, but the past six or seven days' spring-like temperatures have worked wonders on man and fish.
When Lake Gaston, Va., resident Marty Magone visits the tidal Potomac River just south of Washington, it generally is to be with old friends, the river's largemouth bass simply being pleasant interruptions between story telling and keeping up with the latest news.
While Washington-area saltwater anglers are not doing very well close to home, the same cannot be said of those who launch their boats at Virginia Beach's Rudee Inlet and begin fishing the moment they're in open water.
OK, so we're not having Arctic weather, but it will be cold again soon enough. When the mercury drops and the wind turns a 40-degree day into one that feels like it's 25, more than one of the Potomac's fishing insiders begins to take a hard look at the Occoquan River in Prince William and Fairfax counties.
Continued threats of rain and rising water levels in the mountain rivers of Virginia and Maryland are sure to worry fishermen in search of smallmouth bass. However, one angler, Dick Fox, of Front Royal, Va., says the fishing in his favorite waterway, the Shenandoah, has been fantastic.
Rain might raise the water levels of mountain rivers, but Western Maryland fishermen don't believe it can stop them from going after smallmouth bass in the Potomac.
The proliferation of large blue catfish in the upper tidal portions of the Potomac River is astounding. In a river that not too many years ago wasn't even home to this tough piscatorial adversary, the Potomac already has given up several in the 60-pound range and, a few days ago, an angler up around Fletcher's Cove in Georgetown came to the concession building to show off a 55-pounder. It is believed that these catfish could have migrated north from Virginia's James and Rappahannock rivers.
Imagine, exotic tarpon swimming about in Virginia waters. One of the best saltwater anglers along the East Coast, the fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill, went to the Eastern Shore where during certain hot summers fishermen in the know hook tarpon from Wachapreague down the coast to barrier island cuts and channels near the Chesapeake Bay's mouth.
Saltwater fishing fanatics up and down the middle Atlantic states say the summer season has begun even if the official start of the season has not. Yellowfin tuna are hooked in the offshore ocean parts from Maryland to Virginia, with some of the blue-water Virginia boats connecting also on early numbers of dolphins (the fish, not the mammal). Flounder catches in the Atlantic backwaters of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia have increased, and in the lowest parts of the Chesapeake Bay, expect flounder, red drum and cobia hook-ups.
SHENANDOAH RIVER: 60-85 miles – Front Royal's Dick Fox said, "The river is up about 3 feet and has a heavy stain, with the water temperature at the 68-degree mark. Fox said the fishing will be good again as soon as it clears up a little. Smallmouth bass are hitting topwater lures early and late in the day. Inline spinners, such as the Roostertail, work well also. There are a lot of small ones but fish up to four pounds can be had."
SHENANDOAH RIVER: 60-85 miles – Front Royal fisherman, Dick Fox, said, "The Shenandoah stands at normal level, stained, with water temperatures in the 68-degree range. The smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing has been very good, although larger specimens are hard to find. We suspect they are resting after the spawn and the bite will pick up soon. Lures such as creature baits, tubes and flukes work well. Bluegills are everywhere and catfish are also biting, plus the carp spawn is in full swing."