- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

Would anyone disagree that this is not a good day to run the detailed fishing report you normally see on Thursday? We’ll have an abbreviated version and let you know what, if anything, is happening on the fishing front, then resume the regular reports next week until the first hard frost arrives.

Blame the entire deal on Hurricane Isabel and the strong rains that visited the Washington area again early this week, forcing any number of streams and rivers to climb over their banks. The new flooding scared the bejeebers out of people who think it’s really “neat” to live at the edge of the water. It isn’t, as discovered by an acquaintance who lost his home on Cobb Island in Charles County.

Now, if you must go fishing, here’s what’s happening:

From St. Mary’s County, Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park says he’s been without power for a week, and the only thing that connects him to the outside world is his cell phone. However, he wanted us to know that rockfish, bluefish and a few sea trout are caught around the Point Lookout State Park area, even near shore.

Solomons-based charter fishing captain John Montgomery (301/873-1327) called yesterday morning from aboard his boat, the Miss Susie, and said, “I’m catching rockfish and bluefish right now while we’re chumming. The Bay between the Patuxent River mouth and Point Lookout looks good but warn your readers about all the floating debris that’s on the water. No boater should go out in the dark. You need to see the stuff so you can dodge it.”

Montgomery said he’s finding rockfish in the 5- and 6-pound class, which is very good. As we chatted by cell phone, he suddenly shouted to his mate, “There they are! Look at ‘em breaking!” It was in reference to a surface eruption of bluefish or rockfish.

So catches are possible on the Chesapeake, and the farther south you go the better it seems to be. That includes the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, there is treacherous debris floating about there, too, but word comes from our Virginia Beach friends that offshore hookups already include tuna and dolphinfish.

However, ocean and bay fishing piers took it on the chin. The Virginia Beach area’s Sandbridge Pier is out of commission; so is Harrison’s Pier and the Buckroe Beach and Grandview piers. In North Carolina, the Outer Banks’ Jennette’s Pier is gone. Decking planks are missing on the Nags Head Pier; Kitty Hawk and Frisco piers are damaged or completely gone, but the Avalon Pier still stands.

Because of Isabel’s unprecedented coastal flooding, the Maryland Department of Environment has stopped shellfish harvesting in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay, including all tributaries, until Sunday. If additional water quality problems are noticed, the closure will be extended. This impacts only the harvesting of shellfish like oysters and clams; it does not apply to fishing or crabbing.

The rivers and streams in our area are generally discolored and high, including the Shenandoah, upper Potomac and Rappahannock. I wouldn’t say that it’s impossible to catch a few bass or catfish in the tidal Potomac, but debris and discoloration will turn your trip into a chore. The lakes are a little better off. Virginia’s Lake Anna, Gaston and Kerr will be fishable, but I plan to wait until next week before attempting serious outings.

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

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