- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2002

If it isn't raining or too windy, you could do a lot worse than to give the tidal Potomac River a shot this weekend. An area that reaches from the District's Blue Plains waste treatment facility down to the Wilson Bridge is alive with fishing action. A boat is a must to reach bass, crappies, rockfish and yellow perch in waters from five to 15 feet deep. Moving tides are essential, and the best of the lot is a nicely outgoing tide.
Find underwater humps, wrecks and rock piles on the Maryland side of the river and start throwing scented spider jigs, Sting Ray grubs, drop-shot rigs with finesse worms or even plain, 4-inch-long, Texas-rigged worms and you will score.
Bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) did just that two days ago, and between them the two men must have caught at least 25 bass, 20 crappies, a half-dozen yellow perch and several rockfish.
Down around the mouth of the Mattawoman Creek and several of the Potomac's points, such as Moss Point, Possum Point, as well as the Aquia's Brent Point, there's a good chance that rockfish will hang around during the early and late hours. Rat-L-Trap lures in blue/chrome, or white Sassy Shads, as well as the avocado Mann's Sting Ray, will be struck if the stripers are there. One angler scored on a couple of keeper rockfish between the Nanjemoy Creek and Port Tobacco River using a Rapala minnow-like jerkbait.
Pontoon boat captain Steve Riha (804/224-7062) says he finds a few rockfish around the Route 301 Bridge's pilings. "But one day they're there, the next day they're gone," he says. "You can't rely on the fish being there as we were used to a few years ago."
The fishing action doesn't stop in the tidal Potomac. No, in the upper, freshwater portions of the river, from Dam Number 4 in Washington County down to Dickerson in Montgomery County, the chance for a smallmouth bass (even a walleye) is pretty good. Use small crankbaits, jigs, tubes and the like among the river rocks, pools and at the tailrace of a dam. Success can be yours.
Much the same can be expected in the upper James, Shenandoah and Rappahannock rivers of Virginia. The tidal parts of the Rappahannock, by the way, are still not up to snuff with the largemouth bass population. However, the lower end of the river, from Tappahannock to Deltaville, shows a good population of stripers that will strike cast Sassy Shads, rattle baits, soft plastic jigs and tubes.
Chesapeake Bay stripers bite The DNR's Angel Bolinger says, "Chesapeake Bay anglers have been catching a fair number of large striped bass around buoy 83, and from Parker's Creek south to the HS buoy."
Trollers have been using parachute bucktail rigs, and some of the rockfish they've hooked ranged in the 36- to 40-inch range (15- to 24-pounders).
A few large striped bass have been taken in the lower Potomac, but everybody in Southern Maryland agrees that the rockfish catches are not nearly as plentiful as in seasons past.
From the Northern Neck of Virginia, charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (804/580-7292) says, "The fishing is heating up as water temperatures cool." Pipkin has found a better presence of stripers along the edges of the ship channel. He also has found action in the Smith Point and Reedville area on fish in the 30- to 38-inch class. His best lures have been the Mann's Stretch 25, or 6- to 8-inch-long Sassy Shads rigged to large bucktails.
Sea trout catches have been sporadic, with gray trout moving southward along the eastern channel edges from Smith Point to the Asphalt Pile. Problem is that the trout are in as much as 70 feet of water. That makes jigging a tough proposition.
Fishing is most popular Ever wonder which leisure activity is No.1 as far as the numbers of participants? According to a recent Harris Poll, sport fishing rated the top spot, followed in order by swimming, walking, golf, camping, boating, hunting, bicycling, bowling and hiking. Bowling, now the ninth most popular activity, used to be the second not all that many years ago. Seems like it has really fallen from grace.
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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