Here’s a good reason to thoroughly enjoy November days go fishing. Why? Because you’ll find action in dozens of places, from freshwater lakes and tidal, brackish rivers, to the salty waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
Let’s start with the big Virginia reservoirs. At Buggs Island Lake (also known as Kerr Reservoir), Bobcats Lake Country store in Clarksville says the impoundment’s water levels are down by eight feet but the bass fishing is up. The largemouths are found in the backs of the creeks in two to eight feet of water. Better yet, since Kerr is noted for its fantastic crappie fishing, be advised that the speckled fish are inhaling live minnows or jigged grubs in almost every brush pile you can find.
Now add the landlocked rockfish that have turned on from the Clarksville area up to Buoy 23. Live shad, jumbo minnows, or a variety of spoons, metal squids or Sassy Shads can do the job. Catfish are also on the menu, including some whopper blue cats.
At Kerr’s sister reservoir, the adjacent Lake Gaston, Bobby Colston at the Tackle Box in Gaston says one angler caught 22 stripers while fishing at the mouth of Pea Hill Creek and crappies are located in waters from four to 15 feet deep along bridge abutments and rip-rap corners. The largemouths still go for soft plastics, and catches have been rated good.
In southwestern Virginia, Smith Mountain Lake is turning up good numbers of white bass near the Water Wheel Marina. They’re caught on jigged Hopkins spoons, and some are big enough to fill a frying pan. Catfish and striped bass are also available.
Closer to Washington, Virginia’s Lake Anna (west of Fredericksburg) shows the largemouth bass preferring shallow water around creek points, even the secondary ones inside the feeder creeks. Shad-color crankbaits, jig ‘n’ craws, or plastic worms will do the job. The rockfish make daily topwater appearances, but if you’re not on the spot when it happens, be aware that the “bite” doesn’t last long. Freshwater rockfish give you only a small window every day when they feed and you must be on your toes. Watch for seagulls suddenly diving down to snatch up bait remnants. They can be a big help in giving away the striper schools.
Smallmouth bass fans already know that all our area rivers are very low and clear, making successful fishing a tough chore now and then. But it can be done and some of the smallies that hang out in scattered pools are light-line tackle busters.
Tidal bass and crappies hungry Maryland tidal river bass fans could do a lot worse than pay a visit to the state’s Potomac and Patuxent on the western side of the bay and the Choptank, Nanticoke and Wicomico on the Eastern Shore. The bass know that lean times are on their way and they will definitely look at a soft plastic grub, tube, “fat” worm (such as the Senko of French Fry), quarter-ounce crankbaits in crawfish colors, occasionally even a topwater popper.
We’ve done well in the Potomac River’s Charles County feeder creeks, while some of the bass guides have scored nicely in river portions around the District and Wilson bridges. Bonus catches of crappies are possible if you stick to small grubs or darts fished in brushy shoreline spots.
Over on the upper, tidal Patuxent, bass, crappies and resident yellow perch are taken in Hall’s Creek, as well as above Jackson Landing’s Jug Bay toward Wayson’s Corner, while the Eastern Shore’s Marshyhope Creek (a tributary to the Nanticoke River) has been good for bass, as has the Choptank in the Denton area, as well as Salisbury’s Wicomico.
The one downside of Potomac River fishing has been the lack of truly good numbers of rockfish around the U.S. Route 301 bridge and adjacent power plant outflows in Charles County.
Chesapeake Bay delivers the goods Ken Lamb, of the Tackle Box in St. Mary’s County’s Lexington Park, says, “Glorious rockfishing, super sea trout and hungry bluefish are the order of the day during this fabulous weather.” Lamb says the stripers are active from the Patuxent River’s Sheridan Point clear down to the river mouth, with trollers scoring on keeper-size rockfish and sea trout all along the river’s channel dropoff ledges.
In the Chesapeake, the autumn fishing for big stripers appears to be starting, especially around the Virginia state line. Although the schools of sea trout are difficult to locate at times, once found, they will bite like the dickens on jigged bucktails with soft plastic worm trailers and the like.
Virginia Northern Neck charter fishing captain Ferrell Mclain (www.bayfish.net) says, “Our captains are seeing a severe downturn in bookings despite the great trout and striper fishing. This may be due to the sentiment resulting from the September 11 terrorist attacks, but a day of fishing may be just what folks need to get away from it all.”
Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Friday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.