- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Despite the threat of rain here and there, the weekend promises excellent fishing in the rivers, the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Let’s begin around the mouth of the Chesapeake at the Bay Bridge-Tunnel between Cape Charles and the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. Our contact down that way, super angler Ken Neill, says, “Big spot continue to be caught, but it looks like everyone is getting tired of spot and moving on to the red-hot flounder bite. Big flounder are caught along the Baltimore Channel on the ocean side of the third and fourth islands.” Typical sizes for the flatties are in the 20- to 23-inch range, he added.

As you move up into the Chesapeake, from Virginia’s Northern Neck to the Southern Maryland and lower Eastern Shore waters, there are literally thousands of willing stripers and bluefish. They’re caught by menhaden chummers or by light-tackle anglers using small, live spot. Plus, there’s the constant possibility of surface eruptions by feeding rockfish and snapper blues. A popper or rattle lure can strike gold.

The fishing can be absolutely frantic anywhere from the Point No Point area over to the Middle Grounds and into the Northern Neck Reef area. The stripers are in the 3- to 4-pound range, and bluefish average 2 pounds. Occasionally, some small sea trout can be caught, and undersized flounder are in ample supply. Much bigger ocean rockfish will be in the same areas by the first week of November.

Locally, tidal water bass anglers can do quite well some days in the Potomac, Rappahannock and Pocomoke rivers, with the Patuxent River continuing to deliver outstanding white perch action. For bass hounds, topwater poppers, scented plastic worms and crawfish-pattern crankbaits are all you need for a full day’s fishing. The drawback: There’s lots of floating weeds now that some of the aquatic vegetation is dying off.



(RATINGS KEY: ****=EXCELLENT FISHING; ***=GOOD; **=FAIR; *=POOR.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

0-35 miles (***) — In the District, the Fletcher’s Boat House stretch of the river (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461, fletchersboathouse.com) will turn up some bass, fat channel catfish and even some crappies. Most of the crappies come out of Fletcher’s Cove. Ray Fletcher said the rental boats will be available through the end of the month, maybe a little later. “It all depends on the weather,” he said. Bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are finding plenty of floating debris and dying grass, much of it wild celery, but they’re also hooking bass. The feeder creeks continue to show largemouths that are turned on by topwater lures, scented and soft plastics, as well as crayfish-color crankbaits. Andrzejewski and Knupp use various Mann’s Baby-1 Minus in crawdad patterns, as well as a Minus 4 and Minus 8, plus various Normal Little N’s and others. Just remember, now is the time to look at weed bed edges as well as sunken wood along a shoreline. Both will have bass, with the wood getting the edge as more grass dies off. In saltwater parts of the river, you need to head down the Potomac to below St. George Island, Blackiston Island and finally into the Point Lookout area, where daily surface-breaking rockfish and blues make fishing a blast.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Bass have played hard to get, but they are there. Don’t forget there’s a fairly large tournament coming out of Smallwood State Park’s boat ramps Saturday. This will be one busy creek this weekend. The bass have been caught on medium-diving crankbaits along marsh edge dropoffs and in sunken wood.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — At Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata), the fishing has been slow, but some bass and sunfish are ready to take a bait or lure. Don’t forget, the state has stocked trout here, so get your gardenworms or salmon eggs ready. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown on Camp Cosoma Road), the bass fishing has been very good. Small jerkbaits, short plastic worms or tubes, shallow crankbaits — all work.

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) have been good for catfish, some bass and sunfish. Cool nights have improved the fishing.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) This is a fine time of the year to cast crankbaits and jointed jerkbaits around sunken objects, fallen tree trunks and so on. The bass will do the rest. Plastics also will come in handy. A soft, scented Power Worm in blue fleck or junebug colors can score. Crappies will school up soon, and then a small shad dart three feet under a bobber will catch a mess if you cast it into and around brushy water spots.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — In the mouth, expect continued strikes from Norfolk spot, but most are small and serve as ideal live-line bait for rockfish. Some small sea trout and bluefish are also in the mouth, as are roving bands of stripers of all sizes. Look for breaking schools of rockfish and cast topwater chug lures at them.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area up to Bull Run, you can expect good bass action around lake points, stump fields and brush tops if you cast Senko or Zero scented worms. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits also work. Some crappie and catfish action is reported.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Good bass, sunfish and crappie chances now. Bass like small plastic worms or a Little N crankbait in crawfish colors.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) — From Knoxville down to White’s Ferry, the river is clear and flows nicely. DNR biologist John Mullican continues to hook tiger muskies, including a 38-incher he had last week. Jig and minnow combos find bass, walleyes, catfish and even some of the muskies. But also use small crankbaits, spinners, topwater poppers and eighth-ounce or quarter-ounce buzzbaits that will draw strikes from the smallmouth bass.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — Some of the nutty summer boating traffic has declined sharply now that cold temperatures are the norm at least during the early and late hours. Smallmouth bass, as well as largemouths, are biting fairly well. Use tubes, worms, jigs and grubs. Also check out floating docks and backs of coves with medium to shallow crankbaits.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (***) — A largemouth bass study is under way on the Susquehanna Flats. The largemouths, walleyes and smallmouth bass are active just below Conowingo Dam. The Port Deposit area also gives up yellow perch if you cast a spinner or eighth-ounce crankbait.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Occasionally hefty rockfish are taken up around the Chester River and inside the Patapsco River, while quite a few chum boats still go after small stripers. As you head down the Bay, past the Bay Bridges and Bloody Point, toward the Diamonds and Stone Rock, you will run into breaking schools of rockfish and blues that can be caught by trolling, bait-chunking or casting lures. Trollers and chummers can score from the Gooses down to the mouth of the Patuxent, but the rockfish generally are small, and so are the bluefish. The action picks up steam when live-lining boaters use live spot to draw strikes from blues and rockfish (some of them in the 4- and 5-pound range) anywhere between Point No Point and the Middle Grounds. We spent a morning doing just that on the Middle Grounds two days ago, and six of us on the boat had a limit of rockfish before 8a.m., then kept some bluefish. The fishing was frantic and wonderful with charter fishing captain Greg Buckner aboard the Miss Susie (call 301/873-1327), out of Calvert Marina in Solomons.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck captain Billy Pipkin (804/580-7292) says, “Striped bass are biting throughout the region. The Northern Neck Reef offers specimens from 18 to 26 inches long each day. Larger migratory rockfish have yet to arrive.” Chum boats are working the reef area, as well as the Windmill Point and Asphalt Pile sectors. Trollers are picking up 2- to 3-pound rockfish and blues during mornings and late afternoons. A few jumbo spot and small sea trout also are taken. However, the fishing really heats up down around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says the flounder are big and sassy around the third and fourth islands of the bridge-tunnel. Huge spot are also available in the Hampton Roads area, and school stripers are everywhere.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Bass fishing is not good; a recent electroshock operation yielded only about a dozen bass, and they were on deep, sunken wood above Denton. If you did an electroshock deal anywhere on the Potomac, you easily would double and triple that number over a similar area. Meanwhile, some snapper bluefish and schoolie stripers are in the mouth.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Local DNR officials say the river is full of bass anywhere between Snow Hill and Shad Landing and below. A variety of crankbaits, topwaters, worms and grubs will catch them.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) Bass hunters reported good to excellent bass catches this week over a wide stretch, including the Marshyhope Creek and the main stem from Vienna to Sharptown and upriver areas toward Seaford.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) With cooler weather, the bass are visiting shallow banks and lake points, especially early in the day. Bigger fish, however, are staying in 15 feet of water and more. Soft plastics are favored, but hard jerkbaits and medium to deep crankbaits also score.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (**) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Hicks Landing reported a bass tournament in which it took 14 pounds to win. That is five bass weighing a total of 14 pounds. Crappies are hooked also, but catfish are the only slow species right now. The upper river’s smallmouth bass are taking tubes, short worms, topwater poppers and spinners of every type.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Crappies are schooling, so go after them with small, live minnows under a bobber or simply tie a 16-ounce dart or mini-jig on light nylon, snap a cork to the line and add a bobber some three or four feet above. Fish around obstructions, such as sunken trees or brush. A few bass are hooked on shallow crankbaits.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Crappies, sunfish, catfish and a handful of bass are available. This is a fine place to fish in.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) No hard fishing pressure this week, although some hefty bass can be found in the creeks around points and secondary points, bridge pilings and rip-rap. Don’t forget, with the water cooling, some of the bass will be along rip-rap walls, and a smartly moved jerkbait is just the ticket.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Crappies are striking jigs or minnow baits some eight to 10 feet down. Bass like plastic worms and grubs in flooded bushes, but the stripers can make your day between Buoy 15 or thereabouts and Bluestone Creek. Trolled Redfin lures catch some fine specimens.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) Everybody keeps talking about the stripers and how they would hit a trolled lure. Don’t believe it. There aren’t that many rockfish in the river. The neighboring Chickahominy Lake has been alive with bass, sunfish, pickerel and crappie action.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (**) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish bite suffered during a high pressure system but should pick up again this weekend. Flathead catfish, however, have been biting. Maybe they don’t care about pressure systems.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (***) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas have improved, and the fishing is much better now. Smallmouth bass like tubes, grubs, jigs and spinners.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) A lot of boat traffic this weekend because of a big bass tournament, but fish are caught. The stripers have been particularly cooperative around the Campers Paradise sector.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) This should be a productive smallmouth bass weekend. Try tubes in chartreuse with black flecks or crawfish pattern lures of all types.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Hungry bluefish are in the surf and in the back bays, with some stripers, trout and flounder close to the Ocean City Inlet. Live spot are fine baits, as are large, live shiners. Offshore waters deliver bluefin tunas around Poor Man’s Canyon, even the Hambone.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says schoolie stripers, mackerel and false albacore have been taken around the Chesapeake Light Tower, only 11 miles east of Rudee Inlet. Wahoos and tunas are hooked in far off in the canyon waters, but large chopper bluefish are closer to land. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

Reach us via e-mail at gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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