- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2002

It's been mostly a raw-weather week, with rain and wind making the lives of fishermen miserable. Despite all that, it is possible to find some action as long as you're careful and don't as one reader suggested he might take a flat-bottom johnboat into the Chesapeake Bay. That would be so foolish as to defy description.

However, our friend Billy Pipkin, a charter fishing captain from the Northern Neck of Virginia who operates out of Ingram Bay Marina (www.captbillyscharters.com) in the Heathsville area, says, "The Bay-wide Rock-a-Rama striped bass tournament will be held this Saturday. Anglers from around the region are expected to compete in this first big-money contest. With $100,000 going to the first-place fish, there is much excitement stirring among anglers. Check with a marina or tackle shop near you to enter this event."

Captain Billy also passed along word that the striper fishing has stalled in Southern Maryland but is doing well throughout Virginia waters.

Come now, Billy. You and your fellow captains who come from Southern Maryland fish the same waters. Why, sometimes you actually bump gunwales when you're out there, and you're friends with most of them. To say that Southern Maryland waters prove fruitless while the Virginia parts of the Bay are OK is like saying you have different water over there in the Northern Neck.

Anyway, if you need information about the big rockfish contest, call Pipkin at 804/580-7292.

Those of you who are looking for rockfish can concentrate on any of the lower Bay's undulating bottom waters. Find sharp rises and drops, channels and ditches, then slowly troll three or four rods with white/red or chartreuse/red bucktails, parachute lures, or umbrella rigs loaded with Sassy Shad lure bodies. You'll catch fish plenty of them whether you're in Maryland or Virginia portions of the Chesapeake.

Incidentally, Pipkin passes along information that most of the feeding rockfish remain in the 20-to-24-inch range, but some heavy-duty stripers up to 30 pounds are seen occasionally.

"The [bigger fish] are holding along the western shores from the Great Wicomico River south to the Rappahannock River mouth," he said, "The morning bite has been the most productive."

Stripers have also been biting in the lower Tangier Sound, the bottom of the Cut Channel and the Ghost Hole.

Tidal bass aren't bashful If it's tidal water bass you like, scent-sprayed or smeared grubs, such as Mann's Sting Ray, will do well on Potomac River largemouths around the Belle Haven Marina cove in Alexandria, the Spoils Cove on the Maryland side, as well as sunken barges and "metal junk" all around the Wilson Bridge vicinity. Crawfish-patterned crankbaits also will score.

Bass guide Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) said he fished a club event last weekend and had 40 bass in the Wilson Bridge area and didn't win. Meanwhile, the 3-inch avocado Sting Ray grubs produced for bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509), who found a number of well-fed largemouths inside the Mattawoman Creek. The grubs also attracted eight or nine rockfish inside the creek within sight of Slavin's boat ramp. Alas, none would measure the required 18 inches if it's a rockfish dinner you want.

Pharmacists have all the luck Gregg Hendley, a pharmacist from Butler, Ala., won the 28th annual BASS Outdoor Adventures Sweepstakes after submitting one entry a day for a month using the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society's Web site (www.bassmaster.com). His persistence won him a lifetime BASS membership, as well as a 2002 Chevy TrailBlazer LT, a 2002 Triton Bassmasters Classic boat with a custom trailer, a 200 hp Mercury Optimax motor, a Lowrance electronics package, a MotorGuide trolling motor, a 2002 Kawasaki Mule utility vehicle and a check for $40,000.

"I didn't believe it at first," Hendley said. "Then I got kind of sick to my stomach. It was a queasy feeling; I'd never won anything that big before." Hendley, who has been living with his parents, now plans to buy a house.

In the past 10 years, BASS has given away $2,830,000 in cash and prizes through the annual sweepstakes.

Magazine to sponsor bass tour Field & Stream magazine has signed on as a sponsor of FLW Outdoors, effective with the first bass tournament in January. FLW Outdoors is the leading marketer of competitive fishing tournaments including the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the world's most lucrative bass tournament series; the EverStart Series, known as the pathway to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour; and the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League for weekend anglers.

As a sponsor, Field & Stream will be featured in a variety of media formats maintained by FLW Outdoors, including the "FLW Outdoors" television program that is now broadcast to 45million cable subscribers across the country by the Outdoor Life Network.

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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