- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2002

Newcomers to the Washington area might be interested to know how the various Northern Virginia reservoirs stack up as successful bass fishing sites. After electro-fishing studies were done that dealt primarily with bass measuring 15 inches or larger, 218-acre Burke Lake in Fairfax County rated tops.

Burke rated best in the relative stock density of bass and in something known as CPE-P, a biologist's term for "catch per effort of preferred fish," which were the bigger specimens. After Burke Lake, the 2,100-acre Occoquan Reservoir on the Fairfax/Prince William counties line rated second best, followed by Motts Run in Spotsylvania County, Lake Manassas (temporarily closed to the public) in Prince William County and Lake Brittle in Fauquier County.

Also doing well was Goose Creek Reservoir in Loudoun County and Lake Orange in Orange County. By the way, Lake Anna, the biggest reservoir checked by the biologists, ended in ninth place out of the 19 reservoirs that were checked. The worst ratings among the lakes belonged to Mountain Run and Pelham in Culpeper. They had the lowest catch per effort and lowest in bass stock density.

Chesapeake Bay fishermen, meanwhile, are having no trouble catching rockfish and croakers, but bluefish, sea trout and Spanish mackerel are also coming on, particularly from the St. Mary's County waters down into the Virginia portions of the Bay. The surprise for many trollers have been well-fed sea trout, some in the 5-pound range, anywhere along the eastern side of the ship channel from near the Choptank River mouth down to the Kedges Straits. And oceanside flounder fishing fans should go to the boat rental places in Chincoteague, Va. The flatfish are biting.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be hooked in good numbers in the Potomac and the Susquehanna rivers. The bigger-mouthed variety, although occasionally seen in mountainous portions of these rivers, are more prevalent in the tidal sectors, while the smallmouth bass hold court in freshwater hill country. The Potomac, from below the District down to Virginia's Aquia Creek, can deliver fine catches of bass on soft plastics and spinnerbaits now despite heavy weekend tournament traffic.

In all, the fishing is fine. Why not plan a day on the water?

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