There’s no accurate way to predict the weather, which means we haven’t a clue as to what will happen over the next several days. Strong thunderstorms remain a constant threat. We certainly were burned last weekend when heavy rains visited some parts of our region and messed up more than one trip while the fishing report painted a glowing picture. However, serious fishermen understand the vagaries of summer weather.
The Chesapeake Bay is alive with fishing action. For example, St. Mary’s County charter fishing captain Pete Dahlberg (better known as Walleye Pete), who runs the Four Seasons Guide Service (410/586-8340), came into Buzz’s Marina in St. Jerome’s Creek a few days ago with a black drum, a red drum, large sea trout, croakers, bluefish and stripers. Talk about variety — Walleye Pete delivers it.
Although the mountain rivers received rain and most exhibit discoloration, the tidal Potomac River and its tributaries downstream of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge continue to deliver bass by the numbers. Early hour topwater poppers or buzzbaits, followed by an assortment of plastic worms, usually are all you need to enjoy success.
By the way, if you like to eat white perch — and who doesn’t? — now is the time to go after them using small spinnerbaits, inline spinners, mini Rat-L-Traps and such. They’re caught in profusion in the lower Choptank, Chester, Pocomoke, Patuxent and Potomac rivers, as well as the lower ends of the Rappahannock and James rivers. Shallow-to-deep river points, grass bed edges and fallen trees are typical perch hangouts. To give you an idea, in our group a good-size white perch would have to measure 10 inches or more before it’s judged worthy of the frying pan.
(RATINGS KEY: [….]=EXCELLENT FISHING; …=GOOD; [..]=FAIR; [.]=POOR.)
AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY
POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — Around the boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; 202/244-0461) Ray Fletcher says a fair number of bass and catfish cooperate, along with plenty of channel catfish. Charles County bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) say the fishing for bass is simply wonderful. Fifty bass a day are not unheard of, but remember that some of them will be tiny specimens. Normally, you will hook one good keeper out of every 10 bass caught, but the largemouths are biting in every feeder creek and the main stem wherever grass beds, fallen trees, or rock piles can be found. In Bushwood by the Wicomico River (St. Mary’s County side), croakers, spot and white perch are possible, but it’s best if you fish at dawn or at sunset. Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) has rental boats and bait. The main stem of the Potomac from St. Clements down to Point Lookout offers a mixed bag of rockfish, some small blues, croakers and spot, but flounder have been hard to come by.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Submersed vegetation is the secret for bass success. Fish the edges and open pockets with poppers and small buzzbaits early in the morning and hang on. The bass will do the rest. As the sun super-heats the water, it will have to be Berkley Power worms, Bungee worms, Senkos, Zeros and so on. Catfish are biting, but crappies have taken a powder.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (…) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) shows mostly young bass and sunfish and not much else, but I’m not complaining. The water level is low at St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown on Camp Cosoma Road), as it has been for some time, but bass and sunnies can be hooked. Dam repairs and the refilling of the lake will not be complete until next year.
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 the summer blues, but if you arrive early and fish with small jerkbaits and soft, scented plastic worms, you will score on bass. Fly rod or bobber users can find plenty of bluegills, while bottom baits bring catfish.
WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Soft plastic worms fished on a Carolina or dropshot rig will find bass around points where the water drops from 2 and 3 feet to 20 feet or more. Early hours can deliver bass strikes if you use a Pop-R lure or similar models made by other companies. Catfish can be caught on cut fish pieces or clam necks.
PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park says croaker catches are good in the mouth of the river. He adds, “Spot fishing is excellent from Drum Point clear to Half Pone Point, north of the Solomons bridge. The spot are mixed with beautiful white perch.” In fact, white perch really have arrived in the shallows, and a Beetlespin lure in white or chartreuse is all you need to catch 30 or 40. If you want a rental boat on Solomons Island, call or visit Bunky’s, 410/326-3241.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From the area of Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County), park ranger Smokey Davis reports, “Recent heavy rains have left the reservoir high, muddy and full of debris. The fishing has been poor. Some bass have been taken on spinnerbaits cast into flooded buck brush and weedbeds along main lake points, but the fish are scattered and difficult to find. The catfish bite remains strong, with chicken livers being the bait of choice, but crappies have all but disappeared. Bluegills still are attracted to meal worms, but even they have slowed down considerable.” However, the Fountainhead area clears up quickly. If further rains stay away, you will be fishing again in no time.
BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) The earliest hours are needed for decent bass success. Use a scented, plastic worm in electric blue or watermelon sparkle colors. Spinnerbaits also work. Catfish love a clam neck or cut bait.
AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (…) — The fishing will depend on the weather. If no more rain falls, you will be fine, but if it comes down pretty hard, it could mess up the fishing quickly. Tubes, spinners, 1/4-ounce and 1/8-ounce crankbaits can work in open water pockets anywhere from Taylor’s Landing in Washington County down to the Seneca area in Montgomery County.
DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (301/596-5712, evenings) finds his bass before the heat of the day has you thinking about taking a dip. Bass, large sunfish, yellow perch and a few crappies are available, but the walleyes need to be hunted at night.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — Rain runoff has been tough on fishing, discoloring the water, but if further downpours stay away, the bass fishing from the Susquehanna Flats into the river toward Port Deposit will be OK. Mornings and evenings are recommended while you work over the weed beds with weedless grass rats and poppers. Don’t stay out during the noon heat. Some nice perch and catfish are available, too.
AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY
MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box reports that breaking rockfish are seen during early mornings at Cedar Point and across the bay at Hooper’s Island. “These fish are small, mostly in the 13- to 15-inch range, but below them are much bigger stripers from 18 to 25 inches,” Lamb says. “Trollers using bucktails or chrome and white Number 15 Tony spoons will catch plenty of keeper stripers. Some fine rockfish and big sea trout have been hanging around the ships channel near Punch Island.” Lamb says these stripers are near the surface but have 80 feet of water under them. Lamb and Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, buzzsmarina.com) in St. Jerome’s Creek agree that the chumming for rockfish continues near Buoys 72 and 72A. Some days it’s red-hot, some it’s only lukewarm. The bluefish presence is steadily increasing. Henderson reports that some nice sea trout and fat bluefish have been hooked not too far outside the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek. Charter captain Walleye Pete Dahlberg and his clients returned to port with a 34-pound black drum, a 20-pound red drum (channel bass), big sea trout, croakers, bluefish and stripers. Obviously, this captain doesn’t want to hear complaints about a lack of action. Farther up the bay, rock and bluefish chummers score at the Gooses, the Hill and the Diamonds. Rockfish chumming is also productive past the Bay bridge, at Love Point at the Chester River, Swan Point and Hickory Thicket.
VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com or call 804/580-7292) reports that the bluefish are showing up in increasing numbers. “Blues up to four pounds are feeding in chum lines between the Northern Neck Reef and Buoy 62,” he says. “I’ve been having success using a long-shank hook with 30-pound test monofilament leaders. There’ll be a few cutoffs, yet that combination entices more bites.” Trolling for bluefish also works in a number of areas, including east of Buoy 62, Windmill Point Bar, Buoy 68 and the flats surrounding the Hannibal target ship near Smith Island. Troll a Drone spoon with a planing device or an inline sinker. Pipkin, who runs the charter vessel Liquid Asset, says he also landed a few large red drum while trolling small Drone spoons at the edge of Buoy 62, but check size regulations before you keep one. Down the bay, toward the York and James rivers, croakers, some bluefish and throwback rockfish are the rule.
AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.
CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (..) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Bluefish, some stripers, croakers and perch are possible inside the mouth of the river, but fishing fortunes fluctuate from day to day. No bass report has been available.
POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (…) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Expect better than average bass bites early in the day, especially up toward Snow Hill. But the current heat wave is taking its toll, so start early and quit early. Plastic worms and small spinnerbaits work well.
NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) Vienna marsh edges have held some rockfish and bass that jump onto a Baby 1-Minus lure or a spinnerbait. Marshyhope Creek slowed down considerably over the past several days, but upstream main stem areas toward Seaford have given up bass to smart plastic worm users.
AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA
LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) This is the lake for early birds. Bass and stripers are possible before the sun climbs over the trees. Work lake points and rip-raps with jerkbaits and Senkos or Berkley Bungee worms.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (…) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Can’t get a make on how much rain fell above Fredericksburg, but if it was marginal, the smallmouth bass will jump onto tubes, spinners, small topwater lures and short plastic worms. In tidal water, some bass are hooked from Hicks Landing south to Port Royal and then on to Leedstown, but remember that this place cannot compare to the Potomac River.
LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (..) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Summer heat and sudden rain squalls have slowed fishing action — or should we say fishing participation.
LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Catfish are the mainstay, but some bass are hooked on plastic worms and soft jerkbaits early in the day.
LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) The early and late hours are best for bass. If you decide to do it, pitch a 4-inch Zero or Senko to deepwater boat house supports. Main lake points and stumps turn up bass to soft jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and loud poppers.
KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (..) — (Route 58, Clarksville) There’s catfish and some bass, but the fishing simply hasn’t been exemplary.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) The bass fishing has been so bad that the river will be stocked with a new supply soon.
JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (..) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Catfish, mostly. Bottom-fished cut baits from Richmond clear down to the Appomattox River show an increasing blue catfish presence.
AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA
SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas will turn up a few bass of the largemouth and smallmouth variety, but the fishing simply hasn’t been up to par lately.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (.) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) A few rockfish are taken by nighttime anglers. Bass fishing has been slow.
UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (….) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) The best of the lot as far as smallmouth bass rivers are concerned. Heavy weekend rains will hurt.
AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN
MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Back bay waters at the resort city are messed up from heavy rains, so forget the flounder fishing for a few days. But stripers, croakers, spot and some bluefish are possible as you get near the Ocean City inlet. Surf fishing is confined to small kingfish and young blowfish. The near offshore fishing for sea bass has improved over the wrecks, which also hold some fat flounder. Distant offshore waters promise bluefish, schoolie bluefin tunas, some sharks, dolphinfish and king mackerel. The better yellowfin tuna catches come from Washington and Baltimore canyons.
VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association passes along news from friends who have fished offshore waters from the Hot Dog to the Norfolk Canyon. Tunas were caught almost everywhere in those areas with dolphinfish, sharks and king mackerel always possible. The flounder drifters along the Eastern Shore between Chincoteague and Oyster have seen better days, but a few sea trout now come into the inlets and will take a combination of squid strip and minnow. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.
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