(The time has come to switch our weekly fishing report from the lengthy warm weather format you’re familiar with to a shorter version that provides the best locations for fishing action near and far during the cold months. The longer, standard report will return in the spring, but for us the fishing never stops. Every Thursday, we’ll be talking about wetting a line somewhere.)
The tidal Potomac River near the District was good to three of us fishing for bass and crappies near Wilson Bridge on Tuesday, the day the cold snap arrived.
Using 3-inch-long Mann’s Sting Ray grubs in avocado, dabbed with the fish attractant cream known as Smelly Jelly, we connected on something like 20 bass, maybe more. While my boat pals stayed with the Sting Rays, I switched to a 1/4-ounce Blakemore Road Runner lure, its hook dressed in white or chartreuse marabou feather, and the crappies took a liking to both types.
The trick with fishing the popular Road Runner this time of year is to crank that reel handle slowly, just enough to get the little blade spinning. Once in a while, lift and lower the rod to give the lure a slight rising/falling appearance as you reel. The fish will do the rest. In fact, one largemouth bass and a fat yellow perch agreed with the crappies that the lure looked like whirling, inviting food.
Then along came local angler Ernie Rojas, who e-mailed us to say he put his boat in at the Ronald Reagan Airport ramp around noon one day last week and took his 19-foot center-console to the Washington Channel down at Hains Point.
“We decided to troll for stripers along the Fort McNair wall,” Rojas wrote. In three hours he had seven rockfish and, “All of them were healthy and feisty.”
Rojas and his friend Bev landed one 15-incher, one 17-incher, three of 18 inches, and two that measured 19 inches. They caught them on 10- or 12-pound line while using 5-inch and 6-inch deep divers in water from 10 to 20 feet deep.
“Most of them were caught between the police station and the statue at Fort McNair no more than 30 yards from the wall,” wrote Rojas.
In the Chesapeake — Trollers on the bay found larger rockfish in the ship’s channel Saturday and Sunday. Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box said the winds subsided enough to allow the bigger charter boats to work along the 60-foot deep channel edges.
“Although the action was not red-hot, almost everybody got their limits,” he added.
Most of the fish were in the 34- to 37-inch size, but there were some specimens of 40 inches or more. The most popular lure arrangements have been umbrella rigs and daisy chains. White or chartreuse 12-inch Sassy Shads with trailer hooks are getting the biggest and most fish.
Lamb says most of the big ocean stripers are still south of Smith Point, Va., with trollers at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel reporting huge numbers of stripers heading toward the Northern Neck and adjacent Maryland, where the best action has been in the buoys 74 to 68 stretch.
There are large numbers of 10- and 12-inch juvenile stripers in the Buoy 72 area, with equally small sea trout found in the deep holes between Hooper’s Island and Punch Island.
In the Patuxent River, bottom anglers jigging with shad darts, small grubs or Silver Buddy lures are hooking large white perch in deep holes up and down the river. Trollers are finding decent rockfish up the Patuxent from Sheridan Point to the mouth of St. Leonard Creek.
The DNR’s Keith Lockwood says the chumming fleet has been thinning out at the Gooses as more and more boats switch to trolling and others are put to bed for the season. The boats that are still chumming report the throw-back ratio can be high at times. Most are using razor clams for bait.
Those boaters who troll are getting larger rockfish as long as they troll close to the bottom with small bucktails and spoons.
What about the ocean? — Seaside anglers are finding good to excellent surf fishing for striped bass and bluefish along the beaches in Ocean City and Assateague Island. The Ocean City Inlet is good for tautog and striped bass, but offshore fishing has been seriously reduced by strong winds. Maybe the big headboats get out, and when they do, they find sea bass.
Eastern Shore rivers — The Choptank River has been giving up bass between Greensboro and Martinak State Park, while the Nanticoke River’s Marshyhope Creek shows plenty of bass activity. Same goes for the Pocomoke River, where the bass catches have been very good around sunken wood and cypress knees.
Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: email@example.com