- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2002

Despite heavy rains this week, the current drought isn't history. Not by a long shot. Problems persist in the freshwater rivers and reservoirs of Virginia and Maryland. It begins with the closing of the boat launching ramp at Montgomery County's Little Seneca Lake in Black Hills Regional Park. Blame low water on that. Extremely low water levels at Maryland's Prettyboy Reservoir (Baltimore County) and Cunningham Falls Reservoir (Frederick County) have forced the closing of those boat launching facilities.

If you plan to visit the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's Triadelphia Reservoir and its Greenbridge boat landing, be advised that launching will be tough, but it can be done. Brown Bridge and Scott's Cove boat launches on the adjacent Rocky Gorge Reservoir are open. So nobody is saying that the fishing has stopped, it's only that you must work a little harder to get a boat into the water. Hopefully, more rain will fall in coming days to help raise the water levels.

To underscore the effects of a severe drought, bass fishermen in the tidal Potomac between the Port Tobacco River and as far north as the Mattawoman Creek have had days when they used surface lures around river points and weedbeds and hooked as many young bluefish as they did bass. The water salinity obviously has risen enough to bring the bluefish upriver. Not only that, more than one bass hound between Washington and the Chicamuxen Creek in Charles County has complained that soft plastic lures were bitten in half by you guessed it blueclaw crabs.

In the real saltwater world, from the Chesapeake Bay over to the Atlantic Ocean, fishing has been spotty in some cases, fantastic in others. In the Chesapeake, huge schools of snapper blues, even some in the 3- and 4-pound range, are seen by boaters from as far up as Kent County down to the Virginia state line. In the Atlantic, the flounder fishing has been fair to good in the backwaters from Ocean City, Md., down to Wachapreague, Va., but tuna catches in the offshore waters are up and down, very unpredictable.

On the subject of flounder fishing, Virginia marine officials have established a 17½-inch minimum size for flounder. You'll be allowed to keep eight per day, and there will be no summer closure. Your next job is trying to find eight flounder that measure at least 17½ inches. Good luck with that. You'll need it.

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