- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 26, 2004

There’s good and bad news for our region’s anglers this weekend. It begins with a success story. Montgomery County fisherman Ron Huffman, fishing with a live minnow under a bobber at Rocky Gorge Reservoir last Saturday, hooked a 2-3/4-pound crappie. Friends, a 2-3/4-pound crappie is a trophy anywhere in the country. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission ranger, who patrols Rocky Gorge and its sister lake, Triadelphia, said it’s the biggest crappie he’d ever seen at either reservoir.

And the story gets better. After the fish was witnessed, weighed and registered at WSSC’s Brighton Dam office and snapshots were taken, Huffman let it go. What a guy!

On the bad news side for anglers — not the fish — the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Keith Lockwood says the rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay right now are spread out over wide areas, gorging themselves on something called May worms, also known as clam worms. Lockwood says the worms are polychaete worms that live in mud and oyster bars on the bottom of the bay. They can grow to 5 inches but generally are 2 to 3 inches and appear similar to bloodworms. If there are plenty of them, why would a fish want to snatch up an artificial lure? That means your fishing for the smaller size stripers might be a little tougher for a while.

All is not lost, however. From his popular Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, owner Ken Lamb says the Southern Maryland chum boats are gathering on the Middle Grounds and catching rockfish, many up to 27 inches. Also, schools of breaking stripers are seen in some areas between Point Lookout and Point No Point. Now remember that the croakers fishing can be fine. In the Potomac River’s Wicomico, around Bushwood, boat renters routinely catch limits of 25 “hardheads,” and other locales report similar success.

As far as the bass fishing is concerned, one trip a few days ago was one of the best in years for me as Strike King’s Zero worm, fished Texas-style without a slip-sinker in weed pockets south of the Mattawoman Creek, resulted in a bunch of bass.

(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) reports there are still some medium stripers hanging around his river portion and some of the boat renters use cut bait to catch them. Ray says the catfish and bass have been cooperating even in mildly discolored water. The fishing guides, Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062), have done very well. Some days they’re fishing north of their usual launching places, such as Marshall Hall, or heading south when they come out of Mattawoman Creek. In every instance, they find bass in main stem and feeder creek weed beds and marsh edges. Scented worms, especially “fat” worms that are fished without slip sinkers, have been outstanding producers. Topwater buzzbaits and poppers will definitely be struck in overcast weather or at the dawn hour — anytime the sun isn’t baking the water. Pontoon boat captain Steve Riha (804/224-7062) finds croakers north and south of the Route 301 bridge in waters that are 20 to 30 feet deep. Store-bought shrimp and strips of squid on weighted bottom rigs do the job. Croakers are biting very well in the Wicomico River as boat renters out of Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) connect on limit catches. Good catches of croakers are the rule south of the Wicomico in the Potomac on either side of the shore. White perch are beginning to show up as the perch have finished spawning up in the District and now are entering creeks as far down as the Port Tobacco River.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Early hours can be good for topwater poppers and buzzbaits around the edges and inside pockets of spatterdock and milfoil beds. Plastic worms of all types also connect after the sun rises. Fish the pads, drops, and marsh banks.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (…) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) is always fine for sunfish, maybe a few crappies and bass. In St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road), the fishing has been excellent for shoreline sunfish flyrodders, but worm-and-bobber anglers also find shellcrackers in 3 to 5 feet of water. Bass like 4-inch ribworms

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 fine chances for bass, catfish and sunfish. Don’t know if you’ll hook a tiger muskie, but it could happen.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) How about Montgomery Countian Ron Huffman and the 23/4-pound Rocky Gorge crappie he caught, had verified, then released. Way to go, Ron. Meanwhile, submerged wood in the upper ends of the lakes will give up some nice bass if you use plastic worms, lizards, grubs and the like. Topwater lures can produce early in the day.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reports that evening hours are still the best for croakers anglers in the general area of the river mouth. The boat renters at Bunky’s on Solomons Island (410/326-3241) find fish, but some days are better than others. One report had it that croakers were hooked up as far as Benedict, but I can’t verify it. White perch action is slowly improving.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — For the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) to Bull Run section, ranger Smokey Davis says, “The bass are in a post-spawn mode now and as a result of the heat have moved into deeper water (10 to 12 feet) along rock walls and main-lake points. Jigs and Texas-rigged soft plastics will produce strikes in those areas. Bluegills are still on the beds and crappies are caught in deep-water brush piles, blowdowns and beaver huts. The catfish bite is good, with clam snouts and chicken livers being the preferred bait.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Located on Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Sunfish continue to provide ultra-light flyrod sport. Some fat bass are hooked, and the catfish oblige if you use a bottom rig baited with clam snouts.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MARYLAND

8:POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (..) — Smallmouth and scattered largemouth bass are taken in the upper, discolored waters. Bright noisy lures result in occasional strikes, but remember that the smallmouth bass are spawning now, so this type of fishing will be less productive. Catfish catches have been, even some walleyes are hooked anywhere between Washington County and Montgomery County.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (…) — One angler told the DNR fishing reporter that he had 27 bass, including a 41/2-pound smallmouth. Most of the fish were caught on tubes and jigs.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (..) — The Port Deposit to Havre de Grace area shows some bass and white perch, while the Susquehanna Flats are home to tons of spawning carp, and a few fat bass are possible.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — The Tackle Box in Lexington Park says the rockfish action changed almost overnight. Instead of trolling for trophy stripers, now it’s chumming for the medium-size fish, although even the chummers on the Middle Grounds and shelf anglers from Buoy 72A south to Buoy 60 will hook a 40-incher now and then. “Trollers using No.17 Tony spoons and small bucktails can find rockfish as close to land as the Point Lookout State Park Pier.” Breaking schools of rockfish have already made the scene from the Potomac River mouth out into the bay. In the middle parts of the Maryland bay portion, keeper rockfish are definitely possible, but don’t expect great things right now because the stripers are gorging themselves on clam worms. Croakers are moving up into the rivers, with the Choptank perhaps being the best bet next to the Potomac.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says a smattering of black and red drum, also some spadefish, are biting in the lower bay, but most of the guys down this way are looking for cobia. At the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, expect continued strikes from gray sea trout, although the bites are too few. Northen Neck charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (Ingram Bay Marina, 804/580-7292) reports that the water temperatures stand at 73 degrees and his parties are managing keeper stripers up to 32 inches. Bottom fishing is going very well, says Pipkin. “A mix of croakers, spot and gray sea trout have been available this week.”

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MARYLAND

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Word has reached us that croakers are coming into the river clear up to the Cambridge fishing bridge. Rockfish are in the mouth, and the largemouth bass in the Denton to Martinak area are more cooperative now.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (..) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Upper river, from Snow Hill to Shad Landing shows slightly improved bass catches. Shallow-running Manns One-Minus lures are fine in flooded roots and timber, but soft plastics are better in the pads and deep sunken wood.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) From Sharptown to Seaford and beyond, the bass fishing in the main stem and in the feeder creeks has been good. The spawning is over, and bass are looking at smartly popped surface lures, or soft plastics, as well as spinnerbaits.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Along Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Bass are definitely off the beds, and already some decent bass of up to 6 pounds are reported by bass boaters who work lake points, drops and creek shores with stump fields and such. Hard jerkbaits and Sassy Shads are good above the Splits where the stripers have been roaming about.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (..) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) It’s not so much that the fishing is slow; it’s that so few boaters are out on the upper tidal portions. Blue catfish are spawning, so don’t expect many strikes from them. Upper river might clear enough to allow a little smallmouth bass fishing.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Go get yourself a bunch of bream for supper. They’re ready to strike little Bumblebee or Black Gnat flyrod bugs. The bass have been picking Senko and Zero “fat” worms. Fish them without a slipsinker, but do a Texas rig.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (…) — (Concessionaire: Darrell Kennedy, 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 just before entering town of Orange) The same as in lake Brittle: massive areas where flyrod bugs or small worm-baited hooks will be gobbled up by spawning bluegills. Bass fishing hasn’t been red-hot, but a few fat catfish are seen.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bass are done with reproductive chores, and now they’re cruising the lake and creek points, hunting for an easy meal. Plastic worms and grubs will do, as will spinnerbaits and early-hour topwater lures.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) It’s all a matter of picking the right fish species. Currently, for example, the blue catfish are spawning, so they won’t be very cooperative. But if it’s bass or crappies you want, find flooded trees or brush and you’ll get action.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (…) — (Williamsburg area) Surface lures are doing well on largemouth bass. Red shad and blue fleck color plastic worms have been doing well attracting the bass.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (..) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish are spawning, so don’t expect much, although a few are hooked. Trolled lures or live shiners bring strikes from striped bass.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretch will give up bass, but the fishing simply isn’t what it should be. The water is a little high, but not dangerously so. The smallmouths have been showing a preference for chartreuse/pepper grubs.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (…) — (Located on Route 122, east of Roanoke) Trollers who use a wide variety of soft and hard-bodied lures will catch stripers eventually. Crappie and bass fishing has really perked up.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (.) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, at town of Scottsville) Lake Moomaw water releases have ruined the fishing again as water levels rose and discolored them.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Stripers are possible in the surf, and even some bluefish have made a showing. Use cut bait on your surf rigs. Crab baits fished on the bottom in the Ocean City jetty waters brings sassy tautogs. Headboats find seabass and tautogs. Word from Poorman’s Canyon is that the season’s first yellowfin tuna have arrived, and some hefty sharks are there as well. The headboats: Bill Bunting Dock, 410/289-7424; Miss Ocean City, 410/213-0489.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Red drum (channel bass) are found in the barrier islands of the Eastern Shore, including Smith, Cobb and Fisherman’s islands. Bluefish have arrived in good numbers for bluewater boaters. You can expect to hook flounder in the backwaters of Chincoteague, Metomkin, Wachapreague and Oyster. For charter information, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.)

EVENTS

• Freestate Fly Fishers meet — Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., at Davidsonville (Md.) Family Recreation Center. The topic will be western Maryland trout stream outings from June 11 to 13. The public is invited free. Information: Jim Pryne, 410/674-2596.

Trout Unlimited chapter meets — June 3, 7:30 p.m., at Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. The Northern Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited invites the public to a free program about West Virginia trout fishing. The scheduled speaker is Gil Willis, operator of Elk River Touring Center in Pocahontas County, W.Va. Information: www.nvatu.org.

Surf fishing school — Sept. 9-12, Oct. 21-24, Outer Banks in Nags Head, N.C. Each session is scheduled to coincide with productive fishing periods. Pro guides Joe Malat and Mac Currin are instructors. Cost: $250. Contact Malat, 252/441-4767; [email protected]

You can reach us via e-mail at [email protected]

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