- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Big rockfish are being taken in the Chesapeake Bay's Southern Maryland and Virginia waters. Trollers are cashing in on the bounty from the Patuxent River area down to the Northern Neck. Ken Lamb, who runs the Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, St. Mary's County, says, "Boaters are trolling umbrella rigs, and they're catching rockfish up and down the ships channel, with some specimens measuring up to 40 inches long."
Lamb said some of the fish had sea lice in their gill rakers, which means they've come into the bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The Chesapeake's resident striper population doesn't carry these sea-borne parasites.
Chum boats, meanwhile, are also scoring on striped bass. It starts with the Gas Docks around Cove Point and continues well up to Stone Rock on the eastern side of the bay, but chummers also score nicely in the Middle Grounds' Buoy 72A area.
If it's bluefish you're after, check out the mouth of the Potomac River, where trollers, chummers, bait drifters and surface lure casters can score. It all depends on the mood of the fish. The lower Potomac is home to thousands of the tooth-laden critters, some of them as small as eight inches, but there are also some 8-pounders available.
In the lower Patuxent River, meanwhile, over an area that stretches from Benedict to Solomons, you'll find plenty of young bluefish and stripers on river points. This is especially useful for small-boaters who use spinning tackle and quarter-ounce Rat-L-Traps or surface popper lures very early in the day, or late afternoons when the sun drops behind the trees.
Sea trout are available for jiggers and trollers from Point No Point to Point Lookout in the Bay. Some of the trout are whoppers, and they often are found in dense schools on the bottom of the Chesapeake in well over 20 feet of water. Also try the flounder fishing, but do it quickly. The nighttime cold spells will chase them from their current haunts around Buoy 76 and Hooper's Island Light.
Northumberland County charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin says the Virginia Marine Resources Commission has added 1,000 tons of concrete pipe onto the Northern Neck Reef's northeastern side. It's marked with a yellow buoy, and if you have a Global Positioning System unit, you can find it at 37-48.26N/076-08.88W. Another reef addition was placed on an existing structure known as the Asphalt Pile. You'll find it with your GPS unit at 37-44.76N/076-13.3W. Both fishing reefs sit in approximately 30 feet of water.
Tidal water bass biting The Potomac and Patuxent rivers' largemouth bass aren't the least bit bashful about inhaling a smartly popped topwater bait, a plastic worm or a medium-depth crankbait in shad color. We had a good outing in the feeder creeks of western Charles County day before yesterday.
Not only that, a couple of fat rockfish hung around long creek points that sat near the Potomac River. Shallow-lipped jerkbaits, such as the Redfin, Rapala, Bang-O, or Rebel will be looked at early and late in the day. Just cast it out, let it sit a moment, then begin a steady, slow retrieve. No stop-and-go jerking necessary. If floating weeds don't get in your way, a blue/chrome Rat-L-Trap or Diamond Shad also will be looked at by the striped wonders.
The only complaints we hear concern the tidal Rappahannock River's largemouth bass. To be sure, the stretches between the downstream outskirts of Fredericksburg, Hicks Landing, Port Royal, Leedstown and beyond will produce a few fish, but catches aren't nearly as good as they were last October.
The upper parts of the James, Rappahannock, all of the Shenandoah, upper Potomac and Susquehanna rivers continue to be fine choices for smallmouth bass fans who like to float-fish or wade. Topwater poppers, spinners, small crankbaits and soft plastic jerkbaits will deliver the goods.
Offshore ocean fishing slowing down The middle Atlantic's waters are beginning to change now, and signs of this are seen as tuna catches have slowed east of Ocean City and Virginia Beach. Some are caught, but recent winds haven't helped. However, if calm weather arrives, surf anglers and inlet fishermen from Maryland to North Carolina will connect on scattered stripers, bluefish and sea trout.

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