- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Much of the weekend fishing depends on whether dire predictions of heavy rains along the western stretches of Virginia and Maryland actually materialize. If strong and prolonged downpours occur, they will discolor rivers and creeks in the mountains, raise water levels and probably ruin much of the smallmouth bass fishing in the Shenandoah, Potomac, Rappahannock and Susquehanna rivers.

On the good side, all our mountain rivers could stand a little rain. The water levels in the Potomac, for example, have been so low that you could pretty much wade across most western Maryland portions.

In the Chesapeake Bay, increasing numbers of Spanish mackerel make things interesting for trollers who use small chrome spoons that ride high in the water column. Continued good numbers of keeper striped bass and a wide range of bluefish sizes make the bay a good choice over the next several days.

Ocean fishermen score near and far, from Virginia’s and Maryland’s canyon waters, where billfish, sharks, wahoos and tuna are caught, into the near-land portions of the Atlantic where, especially in Virginia, amberjacks, spadefish and large bluefish oblige around the various light towers.

Finally, for all the hunters who also read the fishing reports, don’t forget the dove season opens today in Maryland and, by the weekend, in Virginia. The same holds for resident Canada geese that provide area hunters an opportunity to avail themselves to generous goose limits. They’re not bad table fare either. In fact, in our house, a roasted Canada goose is considered a taste treat.

Good luck and safe hunting.

You can e-mail us at [email protected]

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


POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — Ray Fletcher of the Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; 202/244-0461) says, “We’re catching catfish and a few bass, but let’s face it, we’re in a typical summer pattern.” Ray also wished that a little rain would fall to raise river levels. Bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) say, “We are experiencing fair to good topwater action early in the morning working poppers over flooded grass flats. As the tide drops, we work the outside edges of the grass beds and creek drops, especially those near marsh drainage areas, with small stick baits or small worms. Smallish crankbaits also work well in these areas. In areas with clumps of submerged aquatic vegetation, swim a Dragon Jig [a jig with a metal lip] over and around the clumps.” Farther down the river, rental boat users at Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) find spot and perch, but the crabbers and their trotlines are doing even better. On the main stem of the river, expect some rockfish and blues to strike trolled, small bucktails and spoons, with deep-water shoreline duckblinds, rip-rap and dock waters turning up white perch and spot.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Good bass fishing can be had if you work with small, slender plastic worms and light slip sinkers around marsh banks and spatterdock pockets up and down the creek. Early-morning topwater lures might produce a good fish now and then.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (..) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) shows a bit of sunfish and bass action, but in the current heat and humidity, not many people are trying. The same holds for St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road), where bass, sunfish and a few catfish are taken by shore walkers along the shallow lake.

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) are doing very well if you like sunfish, catfish and even some hefty bass now and then. Plastic worms or spinnerbaits are your best bet for bass.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Spinnerbaits, topwater poppers and soft, scented plastic worms are the combination for hooking bass around stickups, rocks, lake points and downed trees.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — White perch continue to deliver the goods, but Norfolk spot are also biting from Benedict to the mouth of the river. Early-morning hours, before the sun really climbs over the trees, are best for casting surface poppers around river points. Rockfish frequently are in the shallows then, feeding on small perch and minnows. Shallow coves that have fallen trees bring strikes from perch and catfish if you use a small spinnerbait.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area, park ranger Smokey Davis reports, “Bass are beginning to become a little more aggressive because of cooler night temperatures and nice, gentle rains. However, the main action continues to be off the main lake points and the inside points of major coves. Texas- and Carolina-rigged plastics are still the best producers. Catfish up to 11 pounds have been caught, with cut baits and chicken livers the baits of choice. Crappies up to 14 inches are hooked off the pier and boardwalk on small minnows. Bluegills are everywhere. The reservoir is slightly discolored with water temperatures in the mid-80s.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Catfish might be the best bet if you use clam necks or liver baits. Some bass activity is seen early in the day, but heat and humidity are keeping some bass experts away.


UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (..) — DNR biologist John Mullican says the upper river is very low and clear, but that might change if rains arrive as predicted. Mullican says smallmouth bass like small tube baits or crawfish-colored crankbaits. Think about downsizing your lures if the fish don’t bite. During overcast days or evening hours, switch to small topwater poppers or buzzbaits.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (301/596-5712, evenings) finds morning and evening bass action as he uses fringed tubes, spinnerbaits and various topwater lures around boat docks, points, stickups and the like.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — If it rains in the mountains, there’ll be some water released through Conowingo Dam, but as of yesterday that hasn’t happened. Consequently, local anglers have to find deep holes and underwater rock pockets where some bass hang out. But over the Susquehanna Flats, bass lie in ambush under weed carpets, and a smartly fished plastic worm or topwater grass rat can be met with a vicious strike.


MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — From the most productive portion of the Chesapeake Bay, Southern Maryland and the lower Eastern Shore’s bay side, Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, buzzsmarina.com), in St. Jerome’s Creek, St. Mary’s County, says, “The Spanish mackerel are in. We’re seeing more and more hooked at the Mud Leads, the Triangle, Point No Point, and the lower Potomac. The Point No Point Lighthouse is still producing some nice rockfish and there appears to be an abundance of bluefish in the 4- to 6-pound range just about anywhere you want to fish. Norfolk spot are found in the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek and make great bait for live-lining. Croakers and flounder are still being picked up in Tangier Sound. It has been a good week for anyone who made it out there.” From the upper and middle Chesapeake portions, Keith Lockwood of the Maryland DNR reports, “Bluefish can be found throughout much of the upper bay as an added bonus [to striper catches], and Spanish mackerel have been seen jumping. Some of the best bluefish trolling has been centered on the Love Point area, especially for those anglers trolling red surgical tubing lures. A lot of boats have been having good luck trolling in the southern end of the upper bay near Sandy Point Light, Baltimore Light, the mouth of the Magothy and the sewer pipe. Bottom fishing in the upper bay region continues to be good throughout the entire region. Fishermen in the northernmost regions are catching white perch and channel catfish. Farther down the bay the bottom fishing for white perch continues to be very good, with a mix of spot and occasional small sea trout down to the Bay Bridge.” In the middle bay, Lockwood says, anglers find stripers, bluefish and Spanish mackerel spread through the entire region. Boats have been trolling along channel edges off Poplar Island, Parkers Creek and the Radar Towers with some of the best catches. Trollers are using in-line weights, planers and downriggers to get down to the 25- and 30-foot depths where most of the fish are found. Tandem bucktails dressed with sassy shads or twister tails, Tony spoons and swimming shad lures work well for rockfish. Chumming for stripers continues at the Gooses, but throwbacks are common. Bottom fishing for white perch and large spot has been good. Large spot are hooked at the mouth of the West River, Eastern Bay and the mouth of the Choptank River.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Northern Neck charter captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com or 804/580-7292) hooks bluefish and throwback rockfish almost at will trolling, sight-casting or chumming. Spanish mackerel are around, and a trolled 3-inch or 4-inch silvery spoon will get them. Use only light inline sinkers on mackerel lines. The mouth of the Rappahannock River is full of Norfolk spot as are many of the dips, rises, duckblinds and channels between the Rappahannock and the Potomac. Down the bay, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association reports, “Sheepshead continue to be caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Cobia are grouping up to head south. If you happen to run across one of these pods [of cobias], fishing can be fantastic. Red drum continue to bite on the shoals. Flounder fishing is good and if the tropical systems leave us alone, flounder fishing should be very good through October.”


CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (…) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Mouth of the river shows spot, perch, some rockfish and snapper blues. There’s a fair chance of doing well on the same species up around Cambridge’s fishing bridge. A few bass are hooked on soft plastics up around Denton.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (..) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Bass fishing took a nosedive last weekend, but it’s picking up a bit again. Hot days and nights don’t help, especially in this river.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) One bass boater found rockfish and bass around marsh bank points downstream of Federalsburg and Sharptown. Topwater Chug Bugs and Rebel Pop ‘Rs did the job. Plastic worms, however, are recommended in the creeks and around obstructions.


LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Lake points that show staircase-like dropoffs are ideal for plastic worms and 1/8-ounce slipsinkers. The bass have been hanging around these areas, sometimes in as much as 20 and 25 feet of water, but early in the day they rise to near the top — even take a surface bait.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (..) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Smallmouth bass will bite in a few of the deep rock pockets in what appears to be mostly shallow river water. The water will be fine if predicted rains don’t materialize, although a little rain will help. In the tidal river parts below Fredericksburg, it’s mostly catfish. Only a few bass are seen.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Catfish, sunnies and some bass are possible. The water is very warm, so try to fish as early or as late as possible.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass like surface poppers and buzzbaits early in the morning but then most likely will look at a plastic, scented worm or jig. Catfish are always willing to sample a clam snout or cut fish bait.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Lake specialist Marty Magone said, “Nights are starting to cool and the backs of the creeks are responding with bass activity. Schools of baitfish will point the way. Grass and dock patterns point to topwater lures early and plastics during daylight hours. For some bonus fun break out an ultra light and a small jig/grub combo. Pick out any number of main lake rock clusters and catch some feisty handsized bluegills.” Marty also says he has heard that a large number of stripers were found dead in the hydrilla above the I-85 bridge. “It’s possible that a homeowner decided to get rid of the vegetation by using a chemical concoction. It has happened before,” he said.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Some main-lake points and backs of feeder creeks have turned up fair numbers of bass that like scented Berkley Power Worms. The majority of hard-nosed anglers here is fishing for big blue and flathead catfish, though.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (..) — (Williamsburg area) Only fair fishing, and then it’s usually catfish that are caught. Very few decent bass are seen.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish are hooked on bottom-fished cut baits from just below Richmond down to the Appomattox and beyond.


SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (…) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretch will get muddy if it rains a lot. If it doesn’t, you’ll hook a batch of young smallmouths.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Some decent rockfish action is had by nighttime bait drifters and metal jig users. Occasional catches of surface-feeding stripers are made around the “S” Curve. Bass fishing hasn’t been red-hot, but some are hooked around points and boat houses.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (…) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Pray that it won’t rain heavily. If it doesn’t, the smallmouth bass catches will be fine. If it does, all bets are off.


MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Yellowfin tunas are showing up on the offshore 30-fathom line and the Hot Dog, says the DNR. Most are caught trolling, although bait chunking accounts for some decent catches as well. The Washington and Baltimore canyons have given up blue and white marlin, along with a mixed bag of false albacore, wahoos and fat dolphinfish. The nearby wrecks are good for sea bass, tautogs and flounder, The Ocean City surf holds mostly small stuff, including some snapper bluefish, but inside the inlet striped bass continue to delight nighttime fishermen. The backwater flats turn up mostly small flounder.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association says, “Offshore, the red hot billfish bite was cooled way down by the east blow. It is not over yet and plenty of billfish will be caught over the next month. The tuna bite should [also] turn on in the next few weeks. Wahoo are around in numbers, as are the dolphin. The inshore wrecks are holding sea bass, triggerfish and spadefish, although the spadefish are not being very cooperative. Now is a good time to fish the Chesapeake Light Tower for amberjack and jack crevalle. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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