- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Imagine waking up in the morning, listening to a weather report and hearing, “The current temperature is 31 degrees.” Then, by 7:45a.m., you’re in a boat heading up the tidal Potomac River, dressed like an Eskimo with thermos bottles of hot coffee by your side.

That’s what we’ve done this week. Despite biting-cold morning temperatures and the possibility of finding iced boat ramps, we also found fish. On Tuesday, local river guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and I had our first blue-nose outing. We fished with 3-inch-long Mann’s Sting Ray grubs pushed onto -ounce or ⅜-ounce ball-head jig hooks and dabbed the plastic lures with shad-scented Smelly Jelly.

The result: Two five-bass Maryland limits, a bunch of crappies, a lost monster carp and heaven only knows how many missed hook-settings from what appeared to be more largemouth bass.

We fished the Wilson Bridge, Spoils Cove and Fox Ferry Point stretch. Other boaters — yes, we aren’t the only local wackadoos — tried the warmer outflow waters at the Blue Plains waste treatment plant, upstream of Fox Ferry Point, and some of them scored with soft plastics and shiny Silver Buddy lures, known as “blade baits.”

Good action in Virginia waters — The tidal James River between Richmond and the Chickahominy tributary, has been productive. Blue catfish are hooked on cut-fish bottom baits from the Dutch Gap area to the Appomattox River mouth. There are also scads of roving stripers in the river says Donald Satterfield, who fishes the James this time of year. Translucent chartreuse or plain white Sassy Shad and Zoom Fluke soft baits on -ounce jig hooks do the job when rockfish feed on shiners and shad in the backs of coves and around river points.

At Buggs Island Lake (Kerr Reservoir) which straddles the Virginia/North Carolina line, expect landlocked striper action with live herring or shiners in the Nutbush and Grassy creeks sectors, while at neighboring Lake Gaston most of the crappie anglers who work the bridge abutments in the feeder creeks report good catches. A few freshwater stripers have been hooked close to Lizard Creek.

Smith Mountain Lake’s landocked rockfish are where feeder creeks meet the main lake, but few people are trying for them because during the current deer hunting season the locals try to put some tasty red meat into their freezers.

West of Fredericksburg, at Lake Anna, there’s a chance of happening onto a school of feeding striped bass. Carlos Wood at the High Point Marina says the rockfish are chasing bait in the Splits area as well as the Stubbs and Holiday bridge waters. Cloudy days are better than sunny ones.

Chesapeake Bay happenings — Charter boat captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com in Heathsville, Va., 804/580-7292) wants us to know he’s temporarily moving his fishing operation south to Virginia Beach’s Rudee Inlet because the striper catches have been so fantastic down there.

Back home, on the fishing grounds off the Northern Neck, the Chesapeake’s water temperature has slipped to 43 degrees, while it is a bit warmer farther south around the Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

“Fishing action has slowed in the middle and upper bay,” says Pipkin in an understatement.

However, in the Smith Point to Windmill Point stretch, there have been a few 15- to 20-pounders caught this week, but most of the larger fish remain to the south. Pipkin says the heavier rockfish can be found at the Chesapeake’s mouth to either side of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The promise continues that these fish are moving northward, but the migration has been much slower this year than in years past.

From the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association we received word that near the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, closer to the ocean than the bridge, several club members fished last Thursday and caught stripers up to 25 pounds until they couldn’t crank the reel handles any longer. Then came captain Nolan Agner, who fished a half-day charter just south of Rudee Inlet and caught 15 rockfish to 39 inches long, along with a like number of bluefish up to 34 inches. Want to learn more about this kind of fishing? Try fishaquaman.com. Incidentally, Agner hosted an ESPN cable TV fishing show crew a few weeks ago. Agner traveled into Carolina waters and found lots of tuna. The show will soon be seen on a Saturday morning.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.


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