- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

Last weekend's nasty winds and generally cold conditions there even was some snowfall in western Maryland might have kept fishermen from the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and some of our area rivers, but it will be a different story over the next several days.

Sea trout catches are made over wide areas of the Chesapeake Bay, with good catches reported inside the Choptank River mouth, the Hooper Island area, parts of the Patuxent mouth, Tangier Sound and down around the Maryland/Virginia state lines.

The Chesapeake's stripers are schooling from Breezy Point south, but they are quite unpredictable one reason our sport is called fishing, not catching. On quiet mornings, scan the water surface for eruptions by feeding stripers. Although most are small fish, the fun you can have with them is simply wonderful. Do everybody a favor, though, and pinch down the hooks' inside barbs on your topwater lures. You'll be able to release undersized fish quickly and without doing any damage to them.

Along the Atlantic offshore areas, longfin albacore catches are better than those delivered by yellowfin tunas. If the weather is good, you'll find catches from the bluewater areas of Maryland down to North Carolina.

The Maryland DNR's Angel Bolinger reports that the state's streams, rivers and reservoirs remain low, but she points out that trout fishing opportunities are plentiful anyway and the fish are willing to take flies. "Places such as the North Branch of the Potomac River and the Savage River are doing very well, as is the Gunpowder in Central Maryland," she says.

Bass and crappies awaken River angler Dick Fox, who travels clear from Front Royal, Va., to fish the tidal Potomac and its tributaries, says he's finding fat crappies in a number of creeks, including the Mattawoman, where he also connected on largemouth bass. The crappies that seemed to hang around sunken brush and shorelines trees in the creek jumped on a 2-inch green grub, but the bass stayed along marsh bank dropoffs and hammered small crankbaits.

Much the same story is heard from Virginia's Aquia and Potomac creeks, as well as portions of Pohick Bay. But the better-sized bass of late have been coming from what bass insiders refer to as "uptown," areas of the river that are located anywhere north of the Piscataway Creek.

Take a fishing survey Maryland's Freshwater Fisheries section is conducting an Angler Preference Survey for Gunpowder Falls.The survey asks anglers if they favor the stocking of fingerling rainbow trout or if they prefer a total wild fishery.The survey will be available at the Fisheries Service Web site starting Wednesday afternoon. Anglers have the option of printing a copy off the Web and snail-mailing the survey or e-mailing comments directly to Bob Lunsford, Director of Freshwater Fisheries.Call him at 410/260-8321, or e-mail blunsford@dnr.state.md.us.

The Fisheries Service is also conducting a largemouth bass tagging study in the tidal waters of the Potomac, Patuxent, Chester, Choptank and all Upper Bay rivers. The study is designed to collect information on migration/relocation, age verification, and exploitation and catch rates.

A number of bass have been tagged with a 2-inch-long yellow streamer tag that is located near the back of the dorsal fin on the left side of the fish. On the tag, anglers will find "Maryland DNR" and a tag number on one side and "Fisheries 410/260-8320" imprinted on the other. If you catch a tagged largemouth bass, please have the following information ready when you call: the tag number, date, length of fish, location caught and whether it was kept or released.

Northern Neck action good From charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin of Capt. Billy's Charters at Ingram Bay Marina (804/580-7292) in Virginia's Northern Neck comes word that the Chesapeake Bay's water has cooled considerably over the past six or seven days. Current temperatures are holding around 59 degrees, and that can make for good striped bass fishing. Pipkin says the rockfish continue to be abundant in Southern Maryland and the nearby Virginia waters, with average sizes standing at 20 to 22 inches, while some larger specimens are also seen.

Although Pipkin says chumming continues to be good on the Middle Grounds and the Buoy 62 area outside the Great Wicomico River, he and other rockfish hounds agree that trolling with parachute bucktails and umbrella-rigged Sassy Shads also seems to be a good way to go.

One thing is certain: Chumming will not be productive much longer if water temperatures plummet even more. Plenty of rockfish are also hooked in the lower Potomac River's channel waters and between the No. 1 Buoy outside of the Ingram Bay/Reedville area down to near Windmill Point at the entrance of the Rappahannock River.

Gray sea trout continue to migrate through upper Virginia waters in the Chesapeake. Some of the trout measure up to 22 inches long and are hanging out along the channel edges from Smith Point down to Windmill Point in 50 to 70 feet of water. The best location at this time is from the Great Wicomico river south. Although bottom fishing with squid or cut bait is turning up catches, try jigging with metal lures or chartreuse plastic baits.

Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Friday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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