- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Here we go again with rain and wind possibilities. For anglers, it doesn’t look great today, and even if the rain stops, the fishing could be very iffy tomorrow and through the weekend.

When you read our report, remember that various lakes and rivers will be affected and could show muddy or murky waters, while others will be fishable. This was written yesterday before water conditions changed, so all we can do is play a guessing game.

The Chesapeake Bay — if the wind is kind — will be a sure bet for rockfish, blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder, even some welcome sea trout.

In the tidal rivers’ upper portions, bass, catfish and white perch can be caught. For example, an outing Tuesday in one of our Potomac River’s feeder creeks in Charles County resulted in 25 or more largemouth bass, a number of resident yellow perch and some fat sunfish — all caught on 1/4-ounce crawfish-color crankbaits, topwater poppers or scent-filled plastic worms. There were three of us in the boat.

Those of you who wish to try your luck in the Atlantic Ocean may have to contend with wind, but if it doesn’t blow, there are yellowfin and bluefin tunas, as well as some billfish out in deep canyon waters. Inshore species such as bluefish, flounder and sea trout are possible.

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

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

0-35 miles (***) — In the District, the Fletcher’s Boat House area (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461, fletchersboathouse.com) probably will see some muddy runoff from the freshwater river portions above the dam. The tidal stretches below Washington should not be as affected by rain, although backwater reaches of the feeder creeks will see some discoloration. The river guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) now are using shallow and medium depth crawfish-color crankbaits in 1/4-ounce sizes to catch good numbers of largemouth bass. Plastic worms in all shapes and sizes also do the job in the feeder creeks, particularly along edges of hydrilla beds and in milfoil weed pockets. Overcast skies are great for slowly jerking and retrieving surface poppers. Down in the saltier portions, from the mouth of the Wicomico down to Point Lookout, there’ll be white perch in the shallows, a chance for flounder along river ledges and scads of roving snapper bluefish and stripers. Expect also isolated strikes from large croakers that are heading downstream toward the lower Chesapeake.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Find a weed bed, which isn’t hard to do around the Sweden Point marina area, and start throwing topwater poppers or buzzbaits into open inside pockets or along the edges of the green stuff. The bass will come along eventually. The sunken wood and spatterdock field edges also hold bass that will take a small crankbait or a short plastic worm. Center channel waters in the creek give up catfish that like cut fish strips or clam necks on the bottom.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) has gotten a lot quieter now that children are back in school. Sunfish and a few bass will be available if you use small lures, grubs, jigs, or spinners. St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown on Camp Cosoma Road) is home to more than one trophy bass. The trick is to find them. But small bass are no problem. Three-inch broken-back Rebel or Rapala jerkbaits work very well around waterlogged wood, as will short plastic worms.

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 give up sunfish, catfish and some decent bass, maybe even a tiger muskie if all goes right. 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) If a deluge arrives, the upper ends of the lakes will be muddy very quickly. Until then, lake points and sunken wood are home to fine bass that like plastic worms, medium-depth crankbaits in the case of weedless water and topwater lures. Small bits of worm or a tiny 1/16-ounce shad dart under a bobber will be snatched up by bluegills or crappies around brushy water.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — The Tackle Box in Lexington Park reports great Norfolk spot fishing in the mouth of the river. Good catches of the tasty panfish come from Second Beach, Drum Point, Green Holly and the Hawk’s Nest. Croakers are big but not traveling in dense schools, and you might have to do some searching to get a bite. Bluefish and some flounder are in the mouth. The 3-legged buoy in the mouth of the river turns up decent catches.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (**) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area toward the Bull Run sector, the bass and catfish will bite very well until so much rain falls that the lake rises and becomes muddy. Right now, things are fair, but that could change rapidly.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) This lake can take a lot of rain and still look pretty good, but monsoon-like rains will hurt, and that’s what has been forecast. Meanwhile, bass are on the prowl and soft plastics slowly dragged around obstructions in the water will do the job. Sunfish and catfish round out the fishing. The crappies have not started to school up.

AREA 2: CENTRAL/WESTERN, MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (.) — If we take the word of local weather forecasters, you can forget the fishing, because water levels will rise and become muddy. If that doesn’t materialize, you could call Bob Ryan or Doug Hill, just two of the local meteorologists who say heavy, sustained rains will be the order of the day.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — There’s a good chance of hooking largemouth and smallmouth bass around lake points, sunken wood and alongside boat docks and weed beds. Spinnerbaits and tube lures are good producers.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (***) — As of yesterday, good catches of bass, stripers and catfish were made inside the river. The Flats are fine for evening hour stripers.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — In the upper bay, around the Chester River and below, many chum boats continue to look for stripers, and they’re scoring, too. However, most of the fish are small. In the middle portions of the bay, striped bass, bluefish and some Spanish mackerel are hooked between the Bloody Point area and the Gooses — a mighty stretch of water. Spot and white perch are available in close toward the shorelines on either side of the bay. In Southern Maryland, Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park reports that rockfish are easily chummed up (or caught with simple chunks of bait on the hook without a lot of chum being dumped) on the Middle Grounds and over on the western side of the bay from Point No Point to Point Lookout. Typical rockfish sizes are in the 18- to 25-inch class and bigger ones will arrive next month. Bluefish seem to be everywhere. Large schools of them are breaking anywhere between Cove Point and Point Lookout on the western side, or Hooper’s Island Light down into the inside of the Tangier Sound. Drifted strips of spot or flounder belly will catch them, as will trolled, small spoons.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck captain Billy Pipkin (804/580-7292) says Spanish mackerel are doing well along the western shore of the bay, from the Rappahannock’s Windmill Point up to Smith Point and the inside of the Potomac River. Troll with a small Drone or Tony spoon and you’ll hook mackerel, bluefish and some rockfish. Always carry a spinning rod along that has a short metal leader on the business end of the line and to which a topwater chug lure or a small Rat-L-Bait is tied. You’ll wander into a school of surface-feeding blues sooner or later. Shut off the motor to keep from spooking the fish, then cast and retrieve. What great fishing fun! Pipkin says the spoon trollers have even latched onto some red drum (redfish) while trolling along looking for mackerel and blues. A few gray sea trout have shown up mixed in with Norfolk spot and croakers between the Rappahannock mouth and the Lewisetta area of the Potomac. In the lowest part of the bay, at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the flounder catches are not letting up. Ken Neill reports that jumbo Norfolk spot and a few big cobias are hanging around the bridge abutments and rock piles of the crossing.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The lower ends of the river have been slow to produce decent saltwater fish species, but the upper river from Denton to Greensboro has been fine for bass. Scratch that, however, if the heavy rains come.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Bass boaters have found some decent-sized bass with crankbaits and plastic worms. Catfish and bluegills are in good supply.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) The Marshyhope Creek between Federalsburg and the main stem of the Nanticoke has been a good bass producer, with most of the fish coming to plastic worms and spinnerbaits. Check out also the Barren Creek area down at Vienna.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Boat docks, stump fields and sunken brush piles will give up bass of size, especially if you concentrate on feeder creek mouths. Jointed Rapala jerkbaits, medium depth crankbaits, topwater poppers, plastic worms, spinnerbaits — all work at one time or other. Trolled, deep-running lures will find a striper now and then.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (**) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Bass catches have been fair to good in tidal water, but if the rain materializes as it’s forecast, there’ll be lots of upstream runoff and muddy water.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (**) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass, catfish and sunnies were biting. Don’t know what the heavy rains will do. They won’t help, considering all the rain we’ve had over the past several months.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (**) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Plastic worms have done well on bass in the backs of coves early in the day. Topwater poppers and small buzzbaits also can score during these overcast periods.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (*) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Slow going for all species. Tremendous holiday boat traffic, especially by jetskiers, has not helped the fishing.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (**) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Below Kerr Dam, the rockfish are biting, but if huge amounts of rain fall somebody will open the floodgates to relieve pressure and for the time being the fishing will be finished. In the lake, some huge catfish, a few bass and crappies are biting.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles ([*]) — (Williamsburg area) More rain has messed up this place and slowed the fishing even more than last week.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (*) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Forget it. This is the second week in a row that the fishing has come to a screeching halt.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (*) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas probably will get hammered by heavy rains.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (*) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Still slow going for bass and stripers..

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (*) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Remnant rains of Hurricane Frances are coming through this sector and are expected to raise river levels and muddy the water.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Rough seas last weekend and continued brisk winds today are not helping offshore fishermen who know that bluefin and yellowfin tunas as well as longfin albacore are out there ready to strike chunked baits or trolled lures. Nearer to the Ocean City shoreline, seabass and flounder are biting, with bluefish still hanging around the Jackspot and Fingers. Backwater flounder and snapper bluefish are available.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Wind and rough seas have made fishing tough, but those who got out caught billfish, wahoos, tunas and bluefish. King mackerel are showing up south of the Light Tower, and bluefish are roaming the waters not all that far east of Virginia Beach’s Rudee Inlet. Eastern Shore flounder anglers find some fish, but few keepers. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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