- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002

Yesterday morning, as this was written, the TV weather gurus did their level best to scare the bejeebers out of all of us with their predictions of snow and slick roads. Ever wonder why it is meteorologists smile so much when forecasting bad weather? Take a look at Bob Ryan on WRC-4. He's grinning from ear to ear about the prospect of us sliding into a ditch. Go figure.

As far as the fishing in the area is concerned, I have a date to do just that tomorrow. However, icy boat launching ramps or inaccessible back roads might put a crimp in my plans. We'll see.

Meanwhile, from the Tackle Box store in St. Mary's County's Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reports, "Plenty of big rockfish were caught this week as the big cows from the ocean have shown up in great numbers in the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers of southern Maryland. The lower Potomac has big stripers up and down the Virginia shore and in the channel at St. Clements Island.

"Trollers are finding willing fish all over the ship's channel and on the 40-foot ledge off Point Lookout. Big trout are also taking lures and are mixed with the rockfish. Little trout are fodder for the trophy rockfish and provide the incentive for the ocean run fish to feed up in the deeper troughs near the HI and HS buoys in the mid-bay region."

Lamb says yellow, green, or white umbrella rigs are the lures of choice and most trollers are fishing deep with braided or wire line, using up to 28 ounces of lead.

Incidentally, as far as being allowed to keep a couple of rockfish, there's still time. The Maryland season runs through Dec.15, and the Virginia, as well as the separate Potomac River season, continues through Dec.31.

Meanwhile, from the Northern Neck of Virginia, charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com) said, "Despite relentless winds and rough conditions, anglers flocked to the water over the Thanksgiving weekend to find an abundance of rockfish. With the Chesapeake's water temperature finally dropping below the 50-degree mark, these rockfish have begun to school aggressively in the mid-bay region.

"While large concentrations of menhaden remain available in bay waters, ocean stripers migrating south from the New England states will enter our waters for a 'beefing up' period until further migration takes them to the North Carolina coast for wintering."

Pipkin says that many of the top fish-producing locations this week were the eastern edges of the shipping lanes from Smith Point to the No.1 Buoy off the Great Wicomico River, along with Buoy 59A, and the east side of the Cut Channel.

Pipkin echoes Lamb as he, too, recommends umbrella rigs with parachute bucktails or Sassy Shad lures, but this captain also uses Crippled Alewife spoons and Mann's Stretch 25 lures on some single lines. He does recommend that when using lures with multiple treble hooks, you should pinch down the barbs on the lures' rear hooks. It'll make the release of fish a lot easier.

Fishing guide shares hot spot To show you that it's not always about money, one of our better known local fishing guides chatted with a fellow bass boater who sorely needed some action a few days ago. The guide decided to share a hot spot with the man. He told him to head up to the Wilson Bridge area of the Potomac River, particularly the waters around the Fox Ferry area. The man listened and here are the results:

As he and a pal used 3-inch Sting Ray grubs in avocado color, as well as a 4-inch crawfish-color grub or metal Silver Buddy lures, they burned the bass. The two anglers said they caught at least 80 to 100 fish by 3 p.m., including several 3- to 4-pound bass, a bunch more than 12 inches and plenty more just under the foot-long mark. All of them were "fat and happy," and all were released, said the fishermen.

And in the upper Potomac River in Washington County, Maryland DNR biologist John Mullican said the river levels currently stand at 2.8 feet, very clear, with 39- to 40-degree water temperatures. Mullican said the fishing for walleyes has been excellent. The majority of the toothy fish are 13 to 15 inches, which makes them members of the record 2001 year class. Any small jig fished near the bottom should turn the trick. Not only that, it will probably attract a fair share of smallmouth bass.

Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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