- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2001

From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park (St. Mary's County) come reports of huge rockfish caught by Chesapeake Bay trollers who scored on umbrella rigs, big spoons, bucktails and parachute lures. The Maryland rockfish season ends today in the bay, but the Virginia areas of the bay and the Potomac River, which operates under separate regulations, remain open until the end of December.

On the subject of the Potomac, its lower portions have been turning up good numbers of rockfish from below St. George's Island down toward Point Lookout, including the buoys 70 and 68 areas and across the river toward Smith Point.

In the upper and middle parts of the bay, striped bass action has been inconsistent, Maryland fisheries biologist Angel Bolinger says. In the middle parts, the area along the western shore from Buoy 85-A and heading south, some nice stripers are hooked.

Stripers are also caught in the Ocean City surf, inlet and just a brief distance from shore. Bluefish action has improved in the surf. A small number of charter boats continue to head out for tuna weather permitting and they're doing well.

Virginia lakes deliver At south-central Virginia's Kerr Reservoir (also known as Buggs Island Lake), the water continues to be at least eight feet below normal pool, but bass fishing is rated as good. Rat-L-Traps and some lipped crankbaits draw strikes from largemouths in waters that are as shallow as one foot. The boat launching ramps at Occoneechee, Longwood and Rudds Creek are said to be open, but many others can't be used because of the low water conditions. Striped bass fishing is also fine in the Clarksville area for slow-trollers and drifters using live bait. The lake's famous crappies are found in 10-foot-deep water over rocks and stumps, but the catfish have taken a holiday.

At Kerr's sister lake, Gaston, Bobby Colston at the Tackle Box in the town of Gaston says fishing is either nonexistent or everybody has gone deer hunting.

However, in the southwestern parts of the state, Smith Mountain Lake, despite lower water levels, shows good striper fishing as long as you use live bait, such as shad or shiners. Even the largemouth bass turned on this week, and to prove it, a 17.2-pound stringer of five bass won a tournament. Second place was won with 15 pounds. That's very good. Anytime you can weigh five fish that average 3 pounds apiece you're doing well.

At nearby Lake Anna (west of Fredericksburg) the High Point Marina's Carlos Wood said this has been a big week for bass. Shallow areas produced fine catches, with most of the better bass taken in less than six feet of water on spinnerbaits, Ring Worms and grubs. Justin Keith of Singersglen, Va., had a 6-pound, 7-ounce bass, while his father, Bill, weighed a 6-pound, 9-ouncer. Bill Curran of Spotsylvania had one that went 4 pounds, 12 ounces. And Mark Finley of Charlottesville had five bass that totaled 17 pounds, 2 ounces.

Anna's stripers are cooperating (now and then) above the Splits, where the gulls often give away feeding schools. Crappies and white perch are found in brushy dropoffs on Silver Buddy blade lures.

Local rivers offer mixed results The Rappahannock River above Fredericksburg is too low for good fishing says the Fall Line Orvis Shop there, but down around Hicks Landing, in tidal water, blue catfish some of them weighing more than 40 pounds are hooked. Sadly, bass catches are still not where they should be this time of year.

In the tidal Potomac River, Reel Bass Adventures guide Andy Andrzejewski reports good bass fishing in his neck of the woods. He recommends that you fish creek and main-stem ledges that touch water depths of nine feet or more. Such areas have been good for plenty of bass. They like deep-diving crankbaits or 4-inch red shad plastic worms and avocado color grubs. Andrzejewski also points out that dropshot-rigged Bud's Helgies will catch bass, crappie and jumbo bluegills in the feeder creeks.

The tidal Potomac's rockfish picture is more than a little confusing. Above the Route 301 bridge, you might happen into a keeper now and then, but most of that is purely accidental. In the waters below the bridge, from Swan Point to St. Clements, several days last week there was a mass of keeper rockfish with some specimens occasionally measuring 34 to 36 inches long. Earlier this week the fish seemed to have vanished. They might return by the time you read this. One thing is certain, the rockfish would like a little colder weather.

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

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