- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 10, 2004

Productive rockfish outings are reported by anglers throughout the lower Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland portions of the Chesapeake Bay. The fishing could be better in the upper bay, but on the good news side the current scuttlebutt has it that black drum are seen on the depth sounders of some charter fishing boats in the Stone Rock and Sharps Island area. We’ll find out today if they’re willing to take a peeler crab bait.

As far as the croaker (hardhead) fishing is concerned, it all depends on whom you speak to. Some anglers claim they can’t get a bite, while others say they’re loading up on limit catches every day. It also is a fact that commercial netters are catching huge numbers of the tasty fish from the Northern Neck of Virginia up into Maryland.

Bluefish are being caught by trollers and sight-casters from the mouth of the Chesapeake toward the Patuxent River. The numbers are still relatively small, but they’ll increase daily, as will the presence of sea trout.

In the tidal Potomac River, between Washington and western Charles County, the bass fishing has settled into a summer pattern. Early mornings call for loud, clacking buzzbaits that are cast across the weed beds, spatterdock and such. As the sun rises, switch to soft plastics, especially the “fat” worms that can be fished in the middle of aquatic vegetation without a slip sinker. The bass will do the rest.

Along the Atlantic Ocean, offshore boats find bluefish, some tunas and sharks, and if you’re in Virginia waters, the ocean fishing this weekend also includes spadefish and Spanish mackerel.

(Ratings key: ****= excellent fishing; ***= Good; ** =Fair;*= Poor.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — Ray Fletcher of Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461) says the river is clearing nicely after heavy rains brought mud from western Maryland. “By tomorrow we should be in good fishing shape,” he said. That sector of the Potomac delivers pan-size rockfish, plenty of channel catfish, occasional walleyes and bass. Fishing guides, Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) have been working buzzbaits across the vegetation during overcast or early-morning hours. Good catches can be had, said Andrzejewski, who prefers a black Glamour Shad buzzbait. But soft jerkbaits and the like also work, as will spinnerbaits and most certainly those plastic worms that are now being described as “Stick Worms” by river rats. Name brands include Senko and Zero, and almost any color works. They can be fished Texas-style without a slip sinker. Catfish and white perch are willing if you cast bottom rigs with clam necks to the cats in deep water and worms or small spinners to the perch in shoreline shallows anywhere from the Swan Creek and Piscataway area to Marshall Hall and beyond. Pontoon boat captain Steve Riha (804/224-7062) continues to catch croakers in the Route 301 bridge area, and croaker hunters down inside the Wicomico score most days. Best times to fish are low-light hours. For boat rentals in the Wicomico, check out Quade’s Store, Bushwood, 301/769-3903.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Early hours coupled to topwater buzzbaits and poppers can be productive if you cast into spatterdock and hydrilla pockets. Use soft plastics after sunrises and always check for bass by flicking a worm at the edge of a dropoff that is close to a spatterdock bed. Channel catfish like cut herring or clam necks in the middle of the creek up or down the waterway.

40-50 miles (…) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) was another wonderful day when a white flyrod popper or a size 10 black spider was gobbled up by redbreasted sunfish in the upper third of the lake. You can do it from the floating fishing docks. Some bass are hooked as well. In St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, Camp Cosoma Road), the bluegill fishing has been fine, especially for those using lightweight flyrods and poppers early in the day. Bass catches are also good. Use small plastic worms in the standing timber or along the dam’s rock line.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (…) — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117, near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and the nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) have been fine for channel catfish, some good bass and plenty of sunfish. Wednesday will be the first day to keep bass.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Bass are hanging around the staircase-like dropping waters found around lake points. Fish with a Senko or Zero worm and let it slowly sink without a slip sinker. Watch for sudden movements on your line and be ready to set the hook. Some anglers are finding success with pig’n’ jig combinations in up to 20 feet of water.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb said recent northeast winds slowed fishing. The croakers should be back this weekend on the feed, and the fishing ought to be pretty good. Expect also some good bites from Norfolk spot, maybe a few small rockfish.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — For the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) to Bull Run section, ranger Smokey Davis said that recent rain left the water stained, but the topwater bite during early and late hours can be very good. Long, deep coves, such as Three Fingers, Little Beaver and Wolf Run, have produced good bass action on buzzbaits. Crappies are caught around piers and live minnows are best. Catfish like clam snouts. Bluegills are everywhere. Get that flyrod ready.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Four-inch scented rib worms will draw strikes from bass around lake points and submerged cover. Bluegills will take a youngster’s piece of worm under a bobber, or they will inhale a flyrod popper or sinking fly.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MARYLAND

POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (..) — Expect cloudy water conditions, but there will be some smallmouth bass caught on 1/4-ounce firetiger or gold color crankbaits. There’ll also be a few bass taken on topwater chug baits. In Washington County, a tiger muskie or two is possible if you crank big spinnerbaits around fallen trees and deep-water rock beds.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (…) — Smallmouth bass seem to have gone deep, in up to 20 feet of water in some cases, but the largemouth bass continue to hang out in coves and main-lake structure in water less than 5 feet deep.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (..) — Some decent rockfish are taken on the Flats and inside the river mouth. Largemouth bass and some smallmouths are found in Port Deposit on the rocky shorelines.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — The scuttlebutt in the middle portions, around Sharps Island and Stone Rock, has centered on the black drum. Several charter fishing captains say they’re seeing them on their electronic fish finders. Trollers in the upper and middle bay aren’t doing all that well with the rockfish, although slow trolling with size 17 and 18 spoons eventually generates some action. In the lower bay, the Southern Maryland and Eastern Shore waters, chummers found plenty of fish on the Middle Grounds in the past two days, although last weekend was tough. Snapper bluefish are showing up in increasing numbers and now and entire schools of the toothsome critters are seen breaking on the surface chasing baitfish. When you visit the Point Lookout area, remember that croakers are taken from the public pier at the park and also inside the adjacent Potomac River.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association bets that there’ll be an explosive cobia bite this weekend and all next week between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the Chesapeake’s Eastern Shore waters. The bridge-tunnel right now is seeing widely scattered spadefish and some hefty rockfish. Farther up the bay, Northern Neck charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (Ingram Bay Marina, 804/580-7292) finds croakers, mixed bags of striped bass and young bluefish. A good area continues to be the Smith Point light and south along the channel toward the Rappahannock’s Windmill Point.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MARYLAND

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Cambridge) Croakers are in the river, some clear up to Cambridge, but the talk of the river are the many fine crabs that are caught. Upper river around Denton and Martinak promises fair bass fishing.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (…) — (Snow Hill to Shad Landing) Good bass fishing in spatterdock fields and sunken wood with short plastic worms or small spinnerbaits. Fish downstream of Snow Hill.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) Bass fishing has been fair in the Marshyhope Creek, and some of the main stem spatterdock fields upstream toward Seaford. Topwater poppers and buzzbaits can do well before full sun hits the water. After it becomes bright, soft plastics, spinnerbaits and some crankbaits do well.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Along Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Most of the largemouth bass are found early in the day in shallows, often around main lake points and secondary points inside creeks. But when the sun bakes the water, be prepared to search for drops and ditches at creek junctions and fish with jig’n’ craws, or pigs’n’ jigs, as well as Senko or Zero worms that sink.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (..) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) River has been messed up from heavy rains. Can’t find anybody who’ll admit to having had a good day of fishing up or downstream of Fredericksburg. Things should get better by the weekend.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Cloudy water, but plastic worms and spinnerbaits can see bass action. Flyrod bugs are fine for a string of bluegills, usually found close to shore.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (…) — (Concessionaire: Darrell Kennedy, 540/672-3997; sign on Route 20 before town of Orange) Some hefty catfish come out of this lake, and clam necks or herring slabs are best when fished on the bottom. The bass have been playing hide and seek, which happens when the water temperature rises sharply.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) The fishing with Senko or Zero worms around rock piles or creek points and boat houses can be pretty good if you work at it. Some stripers are taken on the main lake, and word has it that early- or late-hour topwater chug baits have been responsible.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) The crappie fishing has been fairly good, but you must learn how to use a slip-bobber rig in up to 15 feet of water. A local Clarksville angler last week had a 46-pound flathead catfish. Bass catches can be good on Carolina-rigged plastic worms.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (…) — (Williamsburg) Buzzbaits and poppers during the very early hours are good for bass in the middle to upper river portions. Also, give a Zoom Fluke a try and let it dance around, left-right-left, in the spatterdock. Catfish love liver, clam necks or cut fish pieces on the bottom.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (..) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Stripers are hooked in many portions of the river, especially down past the Varina bridge area. Catfish fans will have to wait awhile because the big blue cats are spawning.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas shows good water but poor fishing. To be sure, some smallmouths are hooked on little grubs and jigs, but it’s not as good as it should be.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (…) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Trolled sassy Shads and spoons will bring a strike from a rockfish. The bass fishing hasn’t been all that good, but crappie chances are getting better.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (.) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, town of Scottsville) A few catfish maybe but nothing else right now in high, murky water.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (..) — (Ocean City) At the Ocean City inlet, the tautog are caught from the jetties and along the bulkheads between Second and Fourth streets. The same inlet also turns up a few nighttime stripers and sea trout. Yellowfin tunas are possible along the 70- to 100-fathom line between Baltimore and Washington canyons. Even some offshore dolphinfish are taken. Bluefish have been in the surf, but catches are up and down, very unpredictable. The headboats: Bill Bunting Dock, 410/289-7424; Miss Ocean City, 410/213-0489.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (..) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says there’ll be bluefin tunas hooked on the 26 Mile Hill, even though the big chopper bluefish are jammed into the waters there right now. Neill says yellowfin tunas, a few billfish, and gaffer dolphins were hooked from the Triple O’s up to the 50- to 200-fathom line. The Chesapeake Light Tower, 11 miles east of Rudee Inlet, has spadefish and Spanish mackerel. Claude Bain, director of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, reports the ocean’s back bays of the Eastern Shore are turning up flounder worth putting on ice. For charter information, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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