- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Should you be in the middle parts of Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay and the croakers don’t seem to want to bite, relax. The fish haven’t left the bay; they only have taken a temporary powder. A pod of bottlenose dolphins has been seen roving the bay’s waters, and whenever Flipper’s cousins turn up, the smaller fish disappear until the coast is clear.

Now, if you also experience less than stellar fish outings in the freshwater rivers and lakes where the cicadas have made your ears ring, the explanation is simple: The fish are gorging themselves with the insects. In fact, flyrodders are using various patterns that resemble the cicada. Heck, there’s even a cicada fly for carp anglers.

All is not lost, however. The area’s best fishing waters are in the Charles County stretch of the Potomac River. Charles County has seen few if any cicadas. Regular garden variety topwater lures, plastic worms and spinnerbaits do the job in water-weed pockets, marsh banks and creek dropoffs.

On the Atlantic Ocean front from North Carolina north to Maryland, offshore boaters are finding yellowfin tunas, mako sharks and chopper bluefish, with the lower Chesapeake Bay providing good chumming for rockfish.

In celebration of National Fishing & Boating Week, which starts Saturday and ends June13, the national Discover Boating and Fishing Mobile Tour exhibit will be on Capitol Hill on Tuesday from 11a.m. to 7p.m. at Constitution Gardens, South Lawn, corner of Maryland and Independence avenues, SW. This free, interactive exhibit starts out as an 18-wheel truck and morphs into a breathtaking 4,000-square-foot boating and fishing extravaganza. For a calendar of stops on the Discover Boating and Fishing Mobile Tour and for more information about boating and fishing, visit discoverboating.com or waterworkswonders.com.

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

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

0-35 miles (***) — Ray Fletcher of Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461) says there’s a chance for a rockfish or two, plenty of catfish and a fat bass now and again. Down around Hains Point and Washington Channel, you will find some bass on plastics, and perch on small spinners or worm-baited hooks. Small numbers of stripers are possible in District waters. Fishing guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) find good topwater buzzbait or popper action alongside or in the middle of weed pockets in the feeder creeks from the Piscataway down to the Aquia. Zero and Senko worms have done nicely on bass in main-stem weed fields on the Maryland or Virginia shores. A lot of times, however, the bass will not be motivated to bite until the tide begins to drop. Remember that and you can save yourself a lot of useless bass hunting. Pontoon boat captain Steve Riha (804/224-7062) finds enough croakers to keep his customers happy around the Route 301 bridge in southern Charles County. The same can be said of croaker successes in the Wicomico River, even after the many thunderstorms we’ve had chased some of them out into deep waters at the mouth. By the time you read this, boat renters out of Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) will be back into the fish in the Wicomico and all downriver areas.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Bass are available around many of the creek’s spatterdock pockets and marsh bank dropoffs. Use “fat” worms, slow-rolled spinnerbaits and early hour topwaters. But don’t forget the fine catfish that hang out in the creek’s center channel waters. A bottom rig, a 2-ounce sinker and clam neck baits on the hooks will do the job.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) was good to me and my flyrod popping bug a few days ago. They struck the little popper readily all around the shoreline, but I also saw one shoreline angler use a casting rod and a chug bait, and he hooked a bass that looked to weigh about 3 pounds. In St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) the bluegills, bass and catfish are willing to take baits or lures.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (***) — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117, near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) will give up sunfish galore, catfish and some decent bass but remember bass can’t be kept until June16.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Bass like plastic worms and small spinnerbaits, fished slowly around rock or wood obstruction but don’t forget the cicadas are also falling into the water and fish are having a feast. Carp have been sucking in flies that look like cicadas.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb says the white perch are in the river’s feeder creeks and along seawalls. Use small spinners and shad darts with curly tailed plastics on the hook. Croaker bites have been good in the mouth of the river, with big croakers found over large stretches of water between Drum Point and Little Cove Point. Check out First Beach, Second Beach and the Chinese Muds. Inside the river, Green Holly has been good, and so have Solomons Bridge, Fishing Point, Kingston Hollow and Hawk’s Nest. Don’t be surprised when a few Norfolk spot show up on the hooks.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — For the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) to Bull Run section, ranger Smokey Davis reports, “Cooler weather and cool rains have energized the bass.” Smokey points out that a six-fish tournament here was won with 17 pounds, 7 ounces. The bass were hooked on Texas-rigged plastic worms fished along bluffs and main lake points. Crappies, sunfish and catfish are also biting.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Located on Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Bluegill flyrodding continues but check out the bass on lake points where they lie in ambush for unsuspecting baitfish. Plastic worms, lizards or spinnerbaits have worked. Early hours are good for surface lures.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MARYLAND

POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (**) — Smallmouth bass, sunfish and small channel catfish are a sure bet from Washington County’s Knoxville down to the Seneca Breaks in Montgomery County. Further rains will hurt. Water is already a little up and discolored in some areas.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — Memorial Day fishing was fine as the largemouth bass were cruising shallows looking for food. Senkos and Zeros without any slip sinkers did the job. Rocky shorelines also have been good for smallmouth bass.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (**) — Now that rockfish are legal to keep, some fishermen will live-line a small white perch, which the stripers prefer. The white perch and bass are found around Port Deposit’s rocky shoreline and the weed pockets in the Havre de Grace sector.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Upper Chesapeake rockfish hunters haven’t done all that well, but in the middle to southern Maryland portions, the fishing can be pretty good. Trolled No.17 and 18 Tony spoons do the job on some keeper-size rockfish, but when you come into Southern Maryland and lower Eastern Shore waters, chum boats find action on stripers or bottom fishing for croakers, some Norfolk spot and occasional snapper blues. From his Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb says chumming is excellent, with charter fishing customers getting their take-home keepers in an hour or so. Just ask Gilbert Dukes, who fished with his fellow post-office employees a few days ago. Dukes had rockfish and plenty of good-sized croakers as his charter party fished around the No.72 buoy.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association reports some cooperative spadefish in the lowest parts of the bay, around the Cell, which also turns up gray sea trout, croakers and a few flounder. But Neill warns that the flounder bite has been sporadic this year. Chum boats are near the Bay Bridge-Tunnel waiting for a cobia to inhale cut bait. The cobias have arrived. Closer to home, Northern Neck charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (Ingram Bay Marina, 804/580-7292) says he continues to find stripers for his customers. In fact, one of his customers was fishing aboard Pipkin’s boat, catching croakers, when he hooked a 15-pound rockfish. Pipkin also has found speckled trout in the Windmill Point area of the Rappahannock, and he reports the lower Rappahannock and Potomac rivers are good for sizeable croakers. Snapper bluefish have been taken between Mobjack Bay and Smith Point.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MARYLAND

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (***) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Croakers can be caught clear up to Cambridge, but the mouth area has been the scene of a number of bottlenose dolphins hunting fish so expect the worst when they show up. Upper river bass fishing hasn’t been good.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (**) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) The upper river, from Snow Hill to Shad Landing, has a few bass, but currently the catches aren’t good.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) From Sharptown to Seaford early hours are best for shallow water bass that like topwater poppers and buzzbaits. “Fat” worms are great later in the day, and you won’t even need a slip-sinker with them.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Along Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Bass can be found around main lake points early in the day when a surface popper or spinnerbait will be hammered. Soft plastics are better as the day wears on. Work the creek points and brush piles, boat houses, etc., in the feeder creeks.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (**) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) If heavy thundershowers stay away, the upper river will give up smallmouth bass from above Fredericksburg to the Rapidan and above. Tube jigs in chartreuse-with-black flakes work well. Tidal water bass fishing is only so-so, but the channel catfish can be enticed to take a piece of cut bait.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass like scented plastic worms, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits. The earlier you can fish here, the better it is. Bluegills and catfish oblige, but crappie numbers haven’t been the best.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: Darrell Kennedy, 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 just before entering town of Orange) Bass like a hard or soft jerkbait early in the day around lake points and stickups. Strikes can be sudden and vicious, so hang on to your rod. Crappies are few and far between, but sunfish are willing.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Some hefty bass are hooked on Senko-style worms around main lake rock beds and points, as well as on secondary creek points. Not much crappie activity this week.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Bass, bluegills and crappies will bite. Live minnows are best for the crappies, but the bass will lie in flooded brush or fallen trees and inhale a plastic worm.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (***) — (Williamsburg area) The bass catches can be quite good some days but lousy the next. Soft, scented plastics are good, as are soft jerkbaits, such as a Zoom Fluke, thrown across river points that show water vegetation.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (**) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish aren’t done spawning, so the bite has been lacking. Some bass and rockfish are taken, but even that hasn’t been the best.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (**) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretch can be affected quickly when strong thundershowers visit. If they don’t, you will hook bass on tubes, jigs, crankbaits and small spinnerbaits or inline spinners.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) — (Located on Route 122, east of Roanoke) Trollers continue to score on land-locked stripers, but the sizes of the fish aren’t as big as they used to be.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (.) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, at town of Scottsville) Heavy rains have changed the fishing outlook, but if the weekend stays dry, you will find some smallmouth bass on Zoom Flukes or small crankbaits.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (**) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Offshore boats at Washington Canyon find yellowfin tunas and scattered mako sharks (highly priced for their tasty flesh). The Jackspot area is loaded with bluefish, the DNR says. These bluefish will strike any kind of lure they see flitting through the water. In the surf at Ocean City, there’s a chance to hook a striper, kingfish and even a small number of bluefish. Sassy Shads in white or white/blue will attract rockfish around the Route 50 bridge. And how about this: Flounder are biting better than they have. 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 the end of May brought a good tuna bite in the Norfolk Canyon area for offshore boaters. Amberjacks are biting at the South Tower. Eastern Shore flounder catches are like a roller coaster, up and down. For charter information call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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