Rockfish chum boats are doing very well in the lower Maryland parts of the Chesapeake Bay, especially on the Middle Grounds and also along the Point No Point and Point Lookout stretches of the bay’s western shore.
This could very well be the week when smallmouth bass anglers who prefer the mountain rivers of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania can score. Rain that has steadily discolored or raised water levels in the James, Rappahannock, Potomac and Susquehanna rivers during spring and the early summer was absent this week. So get going. A variety of tube jigs and grubs, crankbaits and small surface buzzbaits and poppers will see action.
Tidal water bass fans can score on the Potomac below Washington if they properly parlay the tides and times of day. For example, when it’s overcast or early in the morning and there’s plenty of incoming or receding water, topwater buzzbaits and poppers will be attacked in weedbed pockets and along spatterdock edges found on the main stem or in the feeder creeks.
A catfish-loving reader from Virginia called to say the state record for blue catfish fell a few days ago. Word has it that a North Carolina man fishing in Kerr Reservoir hooked a 921/4-pound blue “cat.” If and when it is approved by the state, it will demolish the current mark, a 75-pounder that came out of the James River this spring.
Are you interested in flyfishing? The Freestate Fly Fishers, a Maryland club, will be making several trips this summer, and each is open to the public. During July a Potomac River outing is planned, followed by Shenandoah River fishing in August. Get additional details by calling publicity director Mike Price at 410/320-0080.
AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY
POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — In the District, the Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461) portion is sure to provide some catfish and a few bass. River guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) find early-hour topwater success with loudly clacking buzzbaits cast across weedbeds or into the inside pockets of spatterdock fields. Plastic worms of various types, including Berkley’s Pulse Worm, draw strikes after the sun rises over such areas as the Piscataway and Pomonkey creeks, Occoquan and Belmont bays and most of the Virginia and Maryland feeders. Also check out the main stem grass from Washington to western Charles County. The croaker fishing in the lower river presents a new set of problems this weekend. Environmental officials have identified a large swath of blue/green algae along Colonial Beach and ask that fish caught in the area not be consumed. Swimming also is discouraged. This type of algae bloom generally disappears in a few days, especially if it is overcast. Pontoon boat captain Steve Riha (804/224-7062) finds croakers along with some spot and perch and the always-present channel catfish anywhere between the Route 301 bridge and Swan Point Bar. The Bushwood area of the Wicomico River continues to give up good numbers of hardheads and white perch.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Bass boaters find action in creek weed pockets, shoreline rocks and trees. Plastic worms, spinnerbaits and even small crankbaits or topwater poppers score. Channel catfish like clam necks, cut fish chunks or liver strips on the bottom anywhere from the main creek channel next to Marsh Island to the Hancock gravel pit area. Remember to keep weights on the bottom in the center of the creek. The “cats” will do the rest.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) has sunfish, small bass and occasional crappies. St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) offers more of the same, especially if you’re in a small johnboat that allows maneuverability. Both lakes have plenty of shoreline fishing spots.
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) provides decent bass opportunities, but fish early in the day. Catfish and bluegills are available.
WSSC RESERVOIRS:# 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge will give up bass if scented plastic worms are crawled around sunken rocks, lake point drops and fallen trees or brush. Small spinnerbaits also can score. Bluegills like flyrod bugs or a small piece of worm under a bobber.
PATUXENT RIVER:# 25-60 miles (***) — The upper river gave me some crappies, channel catfish and a whopper of a pickerel but no bass earlier this week. I was using a 1/8-ounce curly-tailed grub smeared with Smelly Jelly and fished in sunken wood and blowdowns. Marsh edges didn’t give up anything. In the lower river, Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park says boat renters at Bunky’s in Solomons (410/326-3241) are catching croakers. Occasionally, a few spot show up. Don’t be surprised by a cow-nose ray — they are in the bay and the river. Also sighted this week were some bull sharks, unusual for this part of Maryland. The sharks are hunting the plentiful rays.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) waters up the lake to Bull Run, the stickups, rock ledges and points will turn early-morning bass action with buzzbaits, Pop-R’s and plastic worms. Flyrod fans can catch a mess of bluegill, using small poppers.
BURKE LAKE:# 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Bass are snatching up plastic worms around lake points and in brush piles. Crappie catches are down, but sunfish and catfish are available.
AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.
POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) — Surprisingly good smallmouth bass fishing is expected from Knoxville to Brunswick, Point of Rocks to Dickerson and White’s Ferry to Seneca. Some walleyes and tiger muskies are hooked more by accident than design in the Washington County parts of the river. Only heavy thundershowers can ruin this weekend.
DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — Chain pickerel and yellow perch have inhaled live minnows in the backs of coves, but the smallmouth and largemouth bass have been showing up more in and around main-lake dock hideouts, weedbeds and rock piles, where tubes or plastic worms will turn the trick.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (**) — White perch are biting and so are a few bass, but the overall success in the tidal parts of the river up to Conowingo Dam has not been great.
AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY
MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Rockfish trollers find a few keepers in upper Bay waters, including Love Point in the Chester River and the dropoff ledges around Hackett’s Bar and the Diamonds. Stripers and bluefish are hooked by menhaden chummers around the Gooses, Janes Island to the Middle Grounds and practically the entire western side of the bay from south of the Patuxent River mouth to Point No Point and toward Point Lookout. Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box reports that stripers also are coming close to the shorelines early in the mornings along the Naval Air Station in St. Mary’s County. A high tide is needed for this, and just about any lure, from Sassy Shads to -ounce poppers and Rat-L-Traps will be struck. There’s no reason why this kind of action can’t be found all over the Chesapeake. The flounder and Norfolk spot are here, but big numbers are sadly lacking.
VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — The Northern Neck’s Billy Pipkin (804/580-7292) finds a few Spanish mackerel, bluefish and catch-and-release stripers. Also, check out the Cell and buoys 42 and 40 for flounder. A few keepers have been caught around there. The Rappahannock River mouth has plenty of croakers and some fat Norfolk spot. The Peninsula Sportfishermen’s Association says down around the Bay bridge-tunnel there will be flounder, spadefish and blues, but many of the lower Bay anglers are disappointed that not more cobias are found. There should be more, but so far the catches of these hard fighters have been few. Scattered red drum (channel bass) are possible at the bridge-tunnel.
AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.
CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Cambridge) In the upper river around Denton, a few largemouth bass are hooked, but the numbers aren’t very good, and it is slow going at the Cambridge fishing pier/bridge: a croaker now and then and a few white perch. In fact, the crabbing is better than the fishing, say some bridge regulars. At the mouth of the river, however, croakers, small stripers, some Norfolk spot and snapper bluefish are possible.
POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (Snow Hill to Shad Landing) Try a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait around flooded shoreline stickups and see if a little bass won’t inhale it. Occasionally, a 2- and 3-pounder is seen, but apparently not when I fish there.
NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) Marshyhope Creek is seeing some fair bass taken on 4-inch rib worms and 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits. Main stem blowdowns and spatterdock edges can turn up a keeper bass.
AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA
LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Recent cool nights energized the bass. Shallow ledges around points and waters inside boat docks turned up good catches as anglers found early-morning topwater fish and later action on plastic worms. Some pre-dawn and sunset rockfish action also has been noted. Daytime rockfish trollers try to get a strike with deep-trolled Mann’s Stretch or Norman DD-22 lures.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (***) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Lots of catfish, a few bass and long runs in the tidal river as boaters hunt for productive spots. The upper river from Fredericksburg to the Rapidan junction will see smallmouth bass striking tube jigs, grubs, short worms, topwater poppers and spinner lures of every type.
LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass, sunfish and catfish will be on the menu this weekend. Zero and Senko worms can do a fine job on bass along dropoffs at lake points.
LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; left turn on Route 20 before entering Orange) Bass are possible early and late in the day. Topwater buzzbaits, poppers or soft plastic as well as hard jerkbaits are the ticket.
LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bass are jumping on topwater Pop-R’s and the like, but it’s best to switch to “fat” worms or regular soft plastics later in the day when the sun heats the water. White perch will attack slowly retrieved Shyster, Mepps, or Roostertail spinners.
KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) — (Route 58, Clarksville) The lake levels are almost at full pool, and bass anglers report better catches this week. The same is true of the crappie fishing. Blue catfish are slowly beginning to cooperate again after a lengthy spawning season.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) The bass fishing isn’t the best, but catfish and fat sunfish might make up for it.
JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (***) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue and flathead catfish are biting again, and a few nice-sized bass are hooked in the Graveyard and other backwaters on the river.
AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA
SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (***) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretches turn up sunfish, catfish and some average size smallmouths and largemouths. There’s a rumor of a 9-pound, 3-ounce smallmouth bass caught near Alba, but we can’t get a confirmation. That would be a huge smallmouth bass, certainly not typical of the Shenandoah “smallie” population.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (**) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Deepwater areas like the “S” Curve are turning up stripers for jig bouncers and trollers. The largemouth bass have been slow to bite.
UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) There’ll be some decent smallmouth bass fishing this weekend. Because of bad weather in recent weeks, fishing pressure has been practically nonexistent.
AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN
MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Ocean City) The tuna bite is on in the offshore waters, including Baltimore Canyon, Hot Dog and Massey’s Canyon. A few billfish and dolphinfish are available as well. Big bluefish and reports of some false albacore are reaching shore. The action is at the Fingers and the Jackspot. In the back of the resort town, some flounder and trout are possible. In fact, the Ocean City inlet has given up large sea trout the past several days.
VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Offshore boaters find yellowfin tuna, marlin and dolphinfish from the Cigar to Norfolk Canyon and the Fingers. Closer to land, some amberjacks are at the South Tower, and a few spadefish are taken at the Chesapeake Light Tower. Pier fishing has been fair for croakers and spot. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.
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