- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Just how much havoc the current Middle Atlantic weather systems will wreak on the local fishing is anyone’s guess, but it’s safe to assume that today will not be the best for dropping a line into the water. The weekend is another story. If strong winds stay away, there’s a chance for decent rockfish, bass, crappie and catfish outings in local waters.

A Tuesday outing that was supposed to deliver large numbers of crappies in one of the tidal Potomac River’s feeder creeks resulted in an all-bass day — and not too many of those. The Mattawoman Creek’s crappies didn’t cooperate, but the bass two of us caught on 2- and 3-inch white or green grubs were of good size.

If it’s crappies you’re after in the Potomac, try the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Belle Haven Cove and Spoils Cove areas.

The other rivers — Our friend Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box says, “The Patuxent River has rockfish from 18 to 27 inches. The stripers hang out on the oyster bars from Benedict to Point Patience.” Lamb adds that a few big rockfish are hooked in the lower Potomac, but large concentrations of such fish have not yet been seen.

The tidal Rappahannock River most likely will be muddy, but catfish will bite from Port Royal down to Leedstown. Chris Hicks, at Hicks Landing on Route 17, reports that three Northern Virginians caught blue catfish from 25 pounds up to 41 pounds. Bass catches, however, aren’t good.

The tidal James River below Richmond is experiencing red-hot blue catfish action. The Fish & Skin Shop in Varina, Va., has seen anglers with blue catfish weighing anywhere from 28 to nearly 55 pounds. Most are caught on stout bottom rigs baited with cut herring, perch, or sunfish. The Dutch Gap stretch has been very productive.

Fish caught in the lakes — In the Maryland suburbs, Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge Reservoir offer fat bass and tiger muskies, but few people are out there trying for them. Use jig’n’ craws or jig’n’ pigs around weed edges and dropoffs around lake points for good success. Long-lipped crankbaits also can produce.

Virginia’s Lake Anna shows many of its bass mixed in with schools of feeding stripers, but the largemouths also are found on main lake points now as they’re leaving the creeks. The smaller Sassy Shads in white or Silver Buddy lures can produce both, rockfish and largemouths. Crappie anglers can score with small grubs, jigs or live minnows in 8 to 12 feet of water near bridge abutments, rip-rap, or brush piles.

Kerr Reservoir (also called Buggs Island Lake) shows decent striper catches up around Bluestone Creek, increasing crappie numbers all over the lake, fat catfish and a few bass in sunken brush or around points and the drops next to them. At Kerr’s neighbor, Lake Gaston, the Tackle Box store says landlocked rockfish are after bait schools on the surface, but the window of opportunity for such topwater action is small. Brushy areas in the creeks turn up plenty of crappies. Bass catches are down.

Hit or miss on the Chesapeake — Ken Lamb says trollers report hit or miss action anywhere south of the Hooper’s Island Light in the Chesapeake, and nearly all hands aboard the boats eventually get a couple of keeper fish. “The bulk of the fall fish just aren’t here yet, even though good catches are made here and there,” he adds.

In the Northern Neck of Virginia, charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin says the water temperature is holding at 56 degrees from Reedville to the Bridge-Tunnel. Pipkin says when it drops to 50, the larger rockfish will begin heading north into our waters from down near the ocean. Meanwhile, Pipkin’s parties connect on keepers, even an occasional 40-incher, as he trolls his umbrella rigs loaded with chartreuse sassy Shads between Smith Point and the Cut Channel.

Ocean action hot — Tuna fishing has been fantastic out of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach, reports Ken Neill of the Peninsula Sportfishermen’s Association. “The great run of big bluefin tuna continues,” he says. You may not keep bluefin tunas now, but the yellowfin bite has been very good around the 100 fathom curve. Tautogs are biting in the Chesapeake near the Bay Bridge-Tunnel around some of the wrecks.

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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