- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Weekend fishing begins in the tidal Potomac River, where guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) have found bass in channel waters and ledges of feeder creeks and inside the coves off the main river. Yes, the favored “bait” is a Mann’s Sting Ray grub in avocado color, but they also use some medium- to deep-running crankbaits.

A real productive area has been the Spoils Cove near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, but the guys also connected on a few bass and young stripers down around Marshall Hall and the main river’s Mount Vernon stretch, in Gunston Cove and in downstream creeks like the Mattawoman.

In the upper Potomac, the water is in good shape for smallmouth bass and walleye fishing. The DNR’s Keith Lockwood says, “There also is the chance of tangling with a muskie.” He refers to the mountain river from Dam No.4 in Washington County down to Frederick and Montgomery counties.

So fill a small tackle bag with tubes, spinners and crankbaits for the bass and walleyes but also bring a couple of big spinnerbaits and a stout rod and reel. Cast to submerged blowdowns, cove entrances and grassy spots — all favorites for muskellunge.

Try Lake Anna — If it’s lake fishing you like, Lake Anna (west of Fredericksburg) has seen the largemouths going after shiny spoons and blade baits like Cicada and Silver Buddy. Plastic worms and grubs also work as bass boaters seek out shallow waters around lake points and cove entrance points while the sun warms water and fishermen.

If you’re an early bird, carry along a rod with a topwater popper or Zara Spook, or maybe a hard jerkbait like a Rapala or Rebel. The stripers can show up suddenly around the Splits while herding baitfish into a frantic ball. If you’re there, make as little noise as possible and start casting into the fray.

Blue catfish on the James — Blue catfish and rockfish are possible in the tidal James River downstream of Richmond. Most of the stripers are small but willing, and the blue “cats” are so big they might break your rod.

From Dutch Gap to Varina, and downstream, catfish fans, using freshly cut chunks of herring, perch, or whole small eels are seeing action on specimens that easily can weigh 40 pounds or more.

Along the Virginia/Carolina border — At Kerr Reservoir (a k a Buggs Island Lake), there have been fine catches of landlocked rockfish between Bluestone and Grassy creeks. Typical sizes are around eight pounds, but bigger ones are possible. The bass and crappie fishing is rated good now at Kerr, so make a weekend of it and visit this super lake not far off I-85 near South Hill, Va.

Troll blindly and score — From his Tackle Box store in Lexington Park (St. Mary’s County), Ken Lamb said last Wednesday and Thursday were golden for trollers. They caught big rockfish up and down the ship’s channel from Hooper’s Island Light clear down to the Cut Channel off Windmill Point at the mouth of Virginia’s Rappahannock River.

The fish are biting on the turn of the flood tide and for the first hour of the ebb tide. Most of the action involves blind trolling watching for bait and larger marks on the depth finders.

Big Tony spoons in either chrome or white have produced some fine catches. Umbrella rigs are the most popular lure arrangements for trophy-sized rockfish.

In the Patuxent River, trollers using small bucktails on wire or braided lines and heavy weights are finding stripers from Sheridan Point to St. Leonard’s Creek. These fish are from 18 to 29 inches long and can deliver a fine fight — never mind the fine dinner they’ll make.

More ocean stripers coming? — Northern Neck Virginia charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com or 804/580-7292), says as the Chesapeake’s water temperatures get near 50 degrees, the ocean rockfish migration will heighten and more of the larger fish will arrive.

Catches of whopper stripers that normally arrive in November have been spotty. However, some fish that measure more than 40 inches are possible. This week the best opportunities have come between Smith Point and the Cut Channel because of the presence of menhaden that the big rockfish have been devouring. Most of the large stripers are off the Ocean City and Chincoteague shorelines.

Most of the boats are trolling big umbrella rigs, but chumming for rockfish hasn’t stopped. Steady action on the Northern Neck Reef keeps the chummers trying. The chum boaters are able to find fish up to 28 inches among masses of 18-inch specimens.

Ocean shores look promising — The Ocean City and Assateague beaches deliver increasing numbers of striped bass and bluefish during the north-to-south migration. Swimming shad-style lures and live eels can be a winner.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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