- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Will our weekend weather worries ever come to an end? What a nutty year this has been.

Now the weather forecasters promise at least some rain for tomorrow and Saturday, maybe wind, all because of that nasty Hurricane Ivan. The whole deal makes me happy and thankful that I don’t live anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico — and never will.

Meanwhile, you’ll probably get a chance to do a little local fishing. It begins with the lower ends of the Potomac and Patuxent rivers, where Norfolk spot and white perch are in great supply. Striper and bluefish chummers score on the Chesapeake’s Middle Grounds and elsewhere, but many boaters already have switched to trolling with multiple-lure umbrella rigs in hopes of hooking larger striped bass. The big fall migration for trophy stripers, however, usually doesn’t happen until the middle of next month.

In the tidal rivers, the largemouth bass and channel catfish are quite active, but a mixed bag of fishing is reported from the mountain rivers that are sure to get more precipitation this weekend.

If the wind stays low enough over the next several days, Atlantic Ocean blue-water specialists can hook up with marlin, yellowfin and bigeye tunas, amberjack and bluefish from Virginia up into Maryland’s offshore waters.

A reminder for our area’s hunters: our four-state hunting chart with a hunting outlook for the coming seasons appears in this Sunday’s sports section.

Reach us via e-mail at [email protected]

(Ratings key: ****=excellent fishing; ***= Good; **= Fair; *=Poor.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

0-35 miles (***) — In the District, Ray Fletcher of Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461, fletchersboathouse.com) said, “The water is muddy and fairly swift.” That means slow going for fishermen over the next several days. River guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) find fair to good bass action along weed edges and sunken wood up and down the main stem and in most of the creeks, including the Chicamuxen, Chopawamsic, Pomonkey, Quantico and Potomac Creek. Topwater lures, soft plastics, and crankbaits wherever the water is open enough, will turn the trick. In the salty parts of the river, from the Route 301 bridge downstream to Cobb Island, Bushwood, St. Clements, Tall Timbers, St. George’s Island, and also on the Virginia side clear down to the Coan River, you’ll get white perch in shallow water, spot in some of the deeper holes up to 12 and 15 feet down, a few flounder, and plenty of constantly moving, young stripers and bluefish.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles(***)— Crankbaits in crawfish or shad colors are workling nicely on bass around open pockets along and inside weedbeds, as well as sunken wood up and down the creek. Topwater buzzbaits and poppers also score during these overcast and even rainy days. Catfish like cut baits fished on the bottom.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) will be OK for bluegill fishing, but rains will not make it very comfortable. The lake stays fairly clear even after a downpour. St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown on Camp Cosoma Road) has given up fine numbers of bass, sunfish and pickerel. It, too, stays fishable even after heavy rains.

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) will have channel catfish of good size, some surprisingly big bluegills and a decent bass here and there. Heavy rain will hurt.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) These reservoirs will turn muddy at least in their upper ends if more heavy downpours arrive. Bass have jumped on crawfish color crankbaits, but also will look at a Senko or Zero worm fished with the lightest slipsinker possible.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — The feeder creeks are still full of white perch, as are main-stem rockwalls and rip-rap hiding spots. Norfolk spot, some of them of jumbo size, are in the mouth around the Chinese Muds and Second Beach. The three-legged marker in the mouth of the river has given up flounder, as has the area known as the Cedar Point Rip. In the far upper reaches of the river, above Jug Bay, there had been fair catches of bass, resident yellow perch and channel catfish on small crankbaits or 1/8-ounce and 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits retrieved along spatterdock and hydrilla edges, but that kind of fishing will be useless this weekend because muddy water will show up from above Routes 4 and 50.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area up to Bull Run, the bass fishing has been very good. Ask local tournament hotshot Dick Fox, who, while fishing with his wife, had 20-odd bass earlier this week on soft plastics. However, if strong rains visit over the next several days, this place will be high and muddy.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Good bass, sunfish and catfish opportunities even during bad weather.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (*) — It doesn’t look good, especially after the upper river received a slug of mud from various creeks last weekend. If more is on the way, forget the fishing for a few days.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — Even though the heavy boat traffic has somewhat subsided, the bass, walleyes, perch and sunfish still require full-time attention of anglers. They’re available but aren’t jumping into the boats.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (**) — Murky water is to be expected. The fishing will suffer. Some perch, catfish and bass are possible around marinas and weed bed edges, but it will get much better in a few weeks.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — If heavy rains and wind materialize, the fishing anywhere in the bay will be put on hold, but if it’s just a soft rain, get going. In the upper bay, from the Chester down to the Magothy, rockfish and some snapper bluefish are available, but they’re not caught in great numbers. Heading down the bay, from Stone Rock across the channel water to the Gooses, trollers are doing fairly well with bucktails of all sizes, small spoons, and even surgical tubing. Bluefish and occasional Spanish mackerel also have been hooked. In Southern Maryland and across to the Eastern Shore, rockfish chummers find keeper fish along with bluefish in the 1- to 3-pound class. Spanish mackerel, blues and rockfish fall for trolled spoons and bucktails, but chummers on the Middle Grounds also score. Point Lookout State Park pier offers small blues and plenty of spot even during the day hours.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck captain Billy Pipkin (804/580-7292) says trollers are doing quite well on stripers and young bluefish, along with Spanish mackerel, some of which travel well into the lower Potomac River. The Smith Point Bar often is alive with snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Some decent croakers and fat spot highlight the action in the lower Coan and Yeocomico rivers, also in the Rappahannock River. Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says the cobias have been biting better than they have all year. Check out the areas around Kiptopeke and the Bay Bridge-Tunnel for these hard-fighting fish. Some flounder also are available, but wind might be a problem.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Spot and perch are in the mouth, with some fat perch and spot seen even as far up as the Cambridge fishing bridge (where the crabbing has been fine, too). Upper river above Denton shows some decent bass fishing in shoreline obstructions and along spatterdock fields. A lot of rain will hurt.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Bass catches have been pretty good. Crankbaits are best if you can retrieve them without picking up weeds. Senko and Zoom worms also produce.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (**) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) Things have slowed a bit, but Broad and Marshyhope creeks are good for some bass action.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) If the wind doesn’t blow, topwater popper and buzzbaits can find bass around brush piles and stickups. Plastic worms and crankbaits do well around lake points. If heavy rains come, the upper lake will be a mess, but the lower end should be fine.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (**) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) It doesn’t look all that good for the upper river because of rain forecasts, but tidal water, even if discolored, will give up some bass to Rat-L-Trap users in feeder creek mouths below Hicks Landing. Catfish will bite no matter what.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (**) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass catches have slowed a bit, but catfish and sunnies are willing. Water will be murky.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (**) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) A few bass and hefty catfish are taken. Catfish like clam snouts, but bass can be fooled with artificial lures such as a scented Zero or Power Bait worm.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (**) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bass catches had improved in the Bracey area for boaters using plastic worms and spinnerbaits. Don’t know what heavy rains will do to the water.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (**) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Slow bass fishing, but not so if it’s catfish you like. Some crappies are hooked with bottom rigs and live minnows in the general Clarksville area.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) Catfish and a few bass are hooked, but this river really has not produced as well as it has in past years.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (*) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) The water had just started clearing a bit, and now Hurricane Ivan threatens more deluges and resulting mud baths.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (*) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas will see rain and muddy water if the weatherman is right.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (**) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Some stripers, especially at night, but the bass fishing has seen better days.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (*) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) The river most likely will see more muddy water.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) If the wind doesn’t blow too hard, there’ll be more billfish, bluefin and yellowfin tuna, longfin albacore and occasional wahoos taken from the Hambone to Baltimore Canyon. Croakers are caught closer to shore in as much as 80 feet of water. Even some flounder are taken in 60 feet of water, says the DNR’s Keith Lockwood. The Ocean City surf turns up kingfish, spot, snapper blues and some sea trout. The inlet has given up sheepshead and triggerfish.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Same as in Maryland. Plenty of tunas and some white marlins. Another 100-pound-plus wahoo has been hooked. The wrecks have sea bass, while amberjacks are found on the light towers. Eastern Shore flounder catches are poor. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

EVENTS

• Trout Unlimited chapter meets — Today, 7:30p.m., at Schweinhaut Senior Center, Silver Spring. This meeting of the Potomac-Patuxent chapter of Trout Unlimited is open to the public. See an underwater video by Ozzie Ozefovich on what trout see, including movement and color above and below the water surface, how they see artificial flies, and how white shirts, watches and even bright rod finishes can spook trout. Information: pptu.org or 301/652-3848.

• Save a Fish, Eat a Pig Barbecue — Sept.25, 5p.m., at Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. Held by the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association. Food, door prizes, flycasting clinic, auction items. Information: Rob Allen, 703/626-2668.

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